Monday, September 17, 2001

Buffer zone created to
protect Navy ships

By Gregg K. Kakesako

For perhaps the first time since the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, the Coast Guard has instituted protection zones around Navy ships to guard against terrorist attacks in Hawaiian waters.

Civilian vessels must stay at least 100 yards from Navy ships at all times, according to the policy enacted nationwide Friday and authorized until June 15.

Vice Adm. Ernest R. Riutta, the Pacific Area Coast Guard commander, signed the temporary order creating Naval Vessel Protection Zones. On the Atlantic coast, Vice Adm. Thad Allen, Atlantic Area Coast Guard commander based in Portsmouth, issued a similar order -- the first since German U-boats prowled the Atlantic.

Gary Openshaw, Coast Guard spokesman here, said yesterday the Coast Guard's job in Hawaii is made a little easier because Pearl Harbor, where the Pacific Fleet is anchored, is "already restricted to civilian vessels."

He does not believe that civilian maritime traffic would be adversely affected.

However, Openshaw urged mariners using local waters to exercise caution during this time of heightened security because of Tuesday's attacks in New York and Washington, D.C.

The Coast Guard regulation is enforceable in U.S. territorial waters, which extend 4.45 miles from the U.S. coastline.

Immediately following Tuesday's attack, the Coast Guard here launched three heavily armed cutters and patrol boats to police island shores and harbors.

Under the newly enacted regulation, Openshaw said:

>> All vessels within 500 yards of a Navy ship must operate at minimum speed necessary to maintain a safe course and proceed as directed by the official patrol.

>> Vessels are not allowed within 100 yards of a Navy ship unless authorized.

>> Vessels wanting to pass within 100 yards must request permission on VHF-FM channel 16.

>> Under some circumstances, vessels that can operate safely only in a navigable channel may pass within 100 yards of a Navy ship.

>> Commercial vessels anchored in a designated area may be permitted to remain anchored while Navy ships pass within 100 yards.

E-mail to City Desk

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]

© 2001 Honolulu Star-Bulletin