In light of the numerous tributes to 911 yesterday we thought we should remind boaters of “America’s Waterway Watch.” America’s Waterway Watch is similar to the Coast Watch program of World War II, which caused a group of citizen-volunteers who were mobilized as a uniformed, civilian component of the Coast Guard to scan the coast for U-boats and saboteurs attempting to infiltrate the shores of the United States. Today, America’s Waterway Watch goes one step further: It calls on ordinary citizens like you who spend much of their time on and around America’s waterways to assist in the War on Terrorism on the Domestic Front.
The enemy this nation faces today is unlike any other in our history. The operatives who may be attempting to enter the United States via our waterfront areas, whether as stowaways on ships entering our ports or on pleasure craft entering our marinas, do not wear a uniform or carry arms openly. They have chosen to attack us using unconventional warfare, and we must be prepared to report events such as people entering our country illegally along the hundreds of miles of coastline, and people preparing to attack our critical infrastructure. America’s Waterway Watch calls on all port and waterfront users to report suspicious activity in and around the area where they live, work and play.
Who better than the families living along our shoreline to recognize when the behavior of visitors in and around their community is not consistent with what usually takes place in the neighborhood?
Who better than the longshoreman to know whether an individual who is loitering near a restricted area while video taping, taking photos, or making sketches is out of place and does not belong there?
Who better than a marina operator or a dock master to know if the crew that is not a “normal” customer is acting suspiciously?
And who better than recreational boaters, while traveling in familiar waters, to notice unusual and suspicious activities going on around them?
It is not the intent of America’s Waterway Watch to spread paranoia or to encourage spying on one another, and it is not a surveillance program. Instead, it is a simple deterrent to potential terrorist activity. The purpose of America’s Waterway Watch is to allow you and your fellow Americans who work and spend their leisure time on the waterways and waterfront to assist the federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies by being ever vigilant in recognizing possible threats and crimes on and around our waterways.
Many Americans like you have asked, “How can I help?” The answer is clear:
By participating in America’s Waterway Watch!
To report suspicious activity call the National Response Center at 1-877-24WATCH. For immediate danger to life or property, call 911.