The U.S. Coast Guard says it is at its highest state of alert and readiness since World War II after the president authorized military action against the terrorist regime in Afghanistan.
Ports are also under tighter security than they have been in more than fifty years. The Coast Guard has stepped up both the frequency and vigilance of its armed patrols, which were significantly increased just hours after the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks Sept. 11.
“Coast Guard air and sea patrols are keeping a watchful eye on all vessel movements around the clock in many of the more than 300 ports and 88,000 miles of U.S. coast and shoreline,” said Lt. Cmdr. Brendan McPherson, a spokesman for the Coast Guard Atlantic Area command in Portsmouth.
Coast Guard Captains of the Port are carefully screening all vessels entering U.S. ports, inspecting cargo manifests and crew lists. The COTPs have also been enforcing 72 security zones that have been put in place to protect critical port facilities, U.S. naval vessels and ships carrying hazardous cargo.
Most commercial vessels entering any U.S. port are now required to provide 96-hour advance notification to the Coast Guard. On a case by case basis, these vessels are being boarded by armed Coast Guard boarding teams for inspection prior to entry.
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