Skip to comments.Gas Tankers Prompt Tight Security
Posted on 06/19/2006 8:30:04 PM PDT by LibWhacker
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, its 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-foot-long ocean-going tugboat, and one of the oldest platforms in the services 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.
Theres 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. The tugboats carry water hoses capable of shooting 10,000 gallons of water per minute in case of fire.
We dont do warning shots in the port of Boston, Tucker says. If were going to shoot, were going to shoot to kill.
Liquefied natural gas is not as flammable as its gaseous state, and there has never been a major accident with a LNG tanker on the water, but regulations call for tight security whenever such vessels arrive in a U.S. port.
Cmdr. Thomas Miller, chief of the prevention department at the Coast Guards Boston sector, says protecting the gas shipments is a top priority in Boston. Theres no other place in the United States that has an LNG tanker thats going right through a metropolitan area.
Most small boat operators in the harbor know not to sail too close to the ships. Doing so will result in a three-month license suspension. Recently, one water taxi operator, who was too involved in a cell phone conversation to take notice of Tuckers hails, steered his boat too close and breached the security zone. He found himself out of work for 90 days.
As the tanker slowly makes its way toward the harbor islands, a small boat speeds on a parallel path. It does not respond to Tuckers calls, and he dispatches one of the state police boats to intercept. The boat stops to let the tanker pass.
A few minutes later, the security operation ends, and the tanker is left alone to make its journey back to the Caribbean.
Any escort on the open sea?
"one water taxi operator, who was too involved in a cell phone conversation to take notice of Tuckers hails, steered his boat too close and breached the security zone. He found himself out of work for 90 days."
---I don't have problems with responsible people on cell phones, but with the others, Can we PLEASE do this on the roads? Sometimes these blind bats almost get us killed!!!
Does anyone know... Wasn't there a tanker like this that blew up in a Texas port back in the 30s? Killed hundreds. Was that an LNG tanker?
"Does anyone know... Wasn't there a tanker like this that blew up in a Texas port back in the 30s? Killed hundreds. Was that an LNG tanker?"
I think you're talking about the explosion of the GrandCamp at Texas City in 1948. She was carrying nitrate. LNG tankers are a recent development.
Potentially Devastating indeed.
Remember reading about this one?
'largest man-made explosion until Hiroshima'
That's it, thanks!
That's it, thank you.
Never heard of the Mont Blanc. Very interesting!