Videoray - News - March 3, 2005
Coast Guard's anti-terror
unit at the ready
Island-based team unveils
homeland security capabilities
By Angela Hill, STAFF WRITER
COAST GUARD ISLAND — With a roomful of
high-tech equipment, underwater robots, the latest
in chemical protective gear and two frisky explosive-detecting
dogs named Max and Hawk, the U.S. Coast Guard's
Maritime Safety and Security Team showed off its
now-complete homeland security capabilities Tuesday
at an open house for local law enforcement agencies.
"These are the tools that evolved after
the Sept. 11 attacks," said Commanding Officer
Mike Baroody, who greeted members of nearly every
police department in the area, including Oakland,
Alameda and the Alameda County Sheriff's Department.
"We're one of the new units established
after 9/11, commissioned in 2003," Baroody
said. "And it's been kind of a ramp-up process
to develop our training and equipment. So now,
after a year, we've reached the point of full
operational capability. We're as ready as we can
The unit has been described as the marine version
of a SWAT team, out patrolling San Francisco Bay,
ready with high-tech radiation detection equipment,
specially outfitted boats and high-powered rifles.
"Our guys are trained to go on board and
take control of a vessel," Baroody said.
One of the team's newest devices is a VideoRay,
an 8-pound remotely operated vehicle. It's a mini-remote
submarine with cameras that looks a little like
a small food-processor with pontoons. It's designed
to search for explosives on the bottom of ships'
hulls and around pier facilities and will augment
the unit's seven-member dive team.
Also on display were handheld radiation detection
units, protective suits, chemical gear and a detection
device to home in on trace amounts of chemicals
The Coast Guard also has invested heavily in
nonlethal technology, Baroody said, such as a
"net-entangling system" in which a large
web of netting is shot out to the front of a suspicious
speeding boat whose pilot has refused to stop.
The net catches in the propellers and slows the
Above and beyond all the gadgets are the highly
trained team members. The 100-person, six-boat
unit is the eighth in the country established
in response to 9/11. The Maritime Transportation
Anti-terrorism Act of 2002 allocated more than
billion to Coast Guard programs, and the first
Coast Guard security and safety team was commissioned
in 2002 in Seattle, 10 months after the attacks.