Magazine article National Defense

Gas Tankers Prompt Tight Security

Magazine article National Defense

Gas Tankers Prompt Tight Security

Article excerpt

BOSTON - Three specially designed tugboats yank the hulking pale green liquefied natural gas tanker from its dock near Boston Harbor.

More than 1,000 feet long, with an odd color and sets of pipes sticking out the top, it's apparent that this is no ordinary ship.

And with three Coast Guard boats, and four others from state, city and port authority law enforcement agencies surrounding it, this is no ordinary departure.

Bringing up the rear is the Pendant, a 65-year-old, 65-footlong ocean-going tugboat, and one of the oldest platforms in the service's inventory that pulls double duty in the winter as an icebreaker. Today, she is serving as the command and control center for the 10-boat security operation.

Chief Warrant Officer 3rd Class Donald Tucker pulls out a pair of binoculars and scans the harbor.

"There's not much boat traffic," he says. "That makes my job a little easier."

Escorting the LNG tankers in and out of the harbor is serious business. Every five to seven days, the Coast Guard is called on to provide security for the ships carrying fuel from Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean. Although this tanker is mostly empty, the procedure is the same here and at other U.S. ports that handle LNG shipments. The fear is that a terrorist will attempt a USS Cole-type attack by ramming an explosive laden boat into its side.

The city, state and port authority boats guard the outer perimeter, while two Coast Guard tactical response boats, each armed with an M240 machine gun, serve as a last line of defense at port and starboard. …

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