SAN DIEGO – At sea, US Navy ships are floating fortresses; armed to the teeth, alert and equipped for battle. Each ship class is equipped with a different set of armaments suited to its mission and capabilities. However, in port, Navy battle groups are potentially vulnerable and this is where specialized port security teams come in.
At the end of the working day, these warships are manned by what is called a service section. When the sailor returns home at the end of the working day, part of the crew remains on site to maintain security and carry out maintenance and training. To supplement the ship’s crew, the Navy employs a Harbor Patrol Security Division to protect the base’s ships, docks, and waterfront personnel. The Naval Base San Diego Harbor Patrol Unit (NBSD) is tasked with guarding the largest congregation of U.S. Navy ships on the West Coast. NBSD has a quay line nearly two miles long and is homeport to 50-60 ships, depending on homeport changes, commissionings and decommissionings. But SDNB Harbor Patrol’s area of responsibility does not stop there.
“The Harbor Patrol’s mission is to secure the waterfront for the three metropolitan area facilities, Naval Base Coronado, Naval Base Point Loma and Naval Base San Diego,” said the senior chief of Arms Bernard Hyppolite, the principal non-commissioned officer of the NBSD Harbor Patrol Unit. “We are very unique; we are the only port security to do so.
Port security is a different operating environment from land security, which typically has security force sailors tied to more fixed positions. Each Port Security Team covers a wide area and is able to quickly cover large distances when needed, but operating a Navy Security Boat is no simple task. Each boat becomes its own coordinated unit, with each member playing a vital role. The crew member who steers the boat, and who is ultimately responsible and responsible for the vessel, is the coxswain. The coxswain must be able to expertly maneuver the boat and effectively steer its crew members.
“Port security is very different in the sense that we’re not just tasked with guarding a specific post, we’re tasked with securing the waterfront of each base, PSBs [portable security barriers], and all Navy assets,” said Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Byron Mead, a coxswain on the NBSD Patrol Harbor Security Boat. “So it comes with its own aspects and challenges, like being able to safely operate a Navy security boat.”
The crew of a safety boat requires dedicated training and specific qualifications, and the team must stay current with constant training to maintain their qualifications and hone their skills.
“We organize monthly training to maintain our skills. We also conduct quarterly, semi-annual and annual exercises with the three facilities with different scenarios and threat environments to maintain our skills and qualifications,” said Master-at-Arms 1st Class Jacob Engle, supervisor of boat training from harbor security. “My favorite part is getting on the water and coaching the guys. Watching them become more comfortable with the boat and seeing them improve overall to become better operators is the most fun part of the job.
Harbor patrols train to be prepared for any security threats they may face, but fortunately most days are calm with the majority of offenders being boaters, fishermen and crabbers who linger a bit near the security barrier of the base. With a flash of the lights from the safety boat and a call from the loudspeaker, the Harbor Patrol draws their attention and drives them away. Most incidents are resolved quickly and amicably, but if ever a threat arrives by sea at one of San Diego’s Naval Bases, Port Patrol will be ready to meet it head-on.
“The work is very difficult and very demanding. It’s good that most of the time no security threats take place. But, God forbid, if they do, those sailors are the first line of defense,” Hyppolite said. “It can be a thankless job, but I appreciate them every day for what they do.”
|Date posted:||29.03.2022 21:44|
|Location:||SAN DIEGO, CA, USA|
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