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by Anthony Turner, Chief External Communications Division, National Department of Public Affairs, U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary
LOS ANGELES, Calif. Most people can detect when something is “out of place” or when something “is just not right” especially when they are in their “own backyard.” It is this natural level of awareness when in familiar surroundings that is the premise behind the America’s Waterway Watch program. However for the program to really work the U.S. Coast Guard is asking that the public act on that natural level of awareness when they notice something “out of place” or when they notice something “is just not right” and call the National Response Center at 877-24WATCH and report it. Of course in the case of immediate danger to life or property call 911 right away.
The America’s Waterway Watch program is a nationwide initiative similar to the well-known and successful Neighborhood Watch program that asks community members to report suspicious activities to local law enforcement agencies. “The America’s Waterway Watch program just makes good sense” said Robert Nelson, a spokesperson for the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, “people who spend much of their time on or near the water, already know what is normal and what is not – just like they do when it comes to their own backyard, and they are well-suited to notice suspicious activities, including activities possibly indicating threats to our nation’s homeland security.” America’s Waterway Watch is just one example of how the average person can “lend a hand” just by keeping their eyes and ears open to any suspicious activities – and reporting that suspicious activity to the National Response Center and local law enforcement.
“With the concern over the potential of terrorist using a small vessel as the delivery method to carry out an attack, the America’s Waterway Watch program has become even more relevant” said Coast Guard Lt. John Taylor, who serves as America’s Waterway Watch Assistant Program Manager. “Terrorists have demonstrated their ability to take command of a small vessel and use it to carry out their intent to do harm, for example, the USS Cole attack.” Additionally, small vessels could be used by terrorists to smuggle weapons or other terrorists into the U.S. In an effort to address the small vessel threat, a series of Small Vessel Security Summits have been held by the Coast Guard throughout the country. The next Small Vessel Security Summit is being held on June 7, 2008 at Massachusetts’s Maritime Academy. This meeting will engage small vessel stakeholders in the Northeast region of the country.
For more information about the America’s Waterway Watch program visit www.aww.aww-sp.com. A video public service announcement is available to view at the same website.
As the uniformed, civilian component of the Coast Guard, the Coast Guard Auxiliary has the primary responsibility for America’s Waterway Watch outreach to the recreational boating community. For more information about the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary visit www.cgaux.org.