October 12, 2004

Washington State Ferries probed for terror attack?

"Groups of men, including one tied to a federal terrorism investigation, have videotaped Washington ferry operations, prompting federal authorities to conclude the system has been under surveillance as a possible target for an attack."

That's how The Seattle Times led into a story published Sunday that has received widespread media attention. You can read the entire story on the Seattle Times website.

In a statement on security its website, Washington State Ferries notes that "Both the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security have been warning that public transportation and ferry systems are vulnerable to a potential terrorist attack. So, it should come as no surprise that Washington StateÍs ferry system, the nationÍs largest, is at risk."

Security measures in place at WSF include Security Screening of all vessels. Washington State Patrol Officers, or teams of Officers accompanied by explosive-detection canines are present in vehicle holding lanes. If the dog detects explosive materials, the vehicle will be subject to physical inspection and wonÍt be allowed to board the ferry until the situation is resolved. The dogs are trained to detect explosive materials only.

In advice to passengers, WSF says "report suspicious persons, objects or activities to crewmembers. Suspicions should be based on activity, not what someone looks like."

WSF alerts passengers to watch for:

  • Unusual photography of ferry operations.
  • People displaying heightened interest in secure areas onboard the ferries.
  • Suspicious questioning of WSF personnel about security procedures.
  • People critically observing ferry operations while taking notes or making computer entries.
  • Suspicious waterside activities in and around docks and ferries.

Ferry security will be a strong focus of the program at the upcoming MARINE LOG FERRIES 2004 event in Delray Beach, Fla., Nov. 8-10.

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