New York’s Naval Militia
State naval force aids Coast Guard, other agencies
to bolster maritime security, domain awareness
By PETER ATKINSON, Deputy Editor
Another Layer of Protection
Outside, NYNM Chief Yeoman
John M. Smith and Boatswain’s Mate
2nd Class James Belfiore help guide
the boarding team members — fully
outfitted in assault gear — off the PB
440’s bow and up onto the rope-and-rubber ladder, which leads to Maersk
Georgia’s gangway, and stand ready
to pull them back if rough seas or
separation between the two boats
jeopardize the transfer.
Once one boarding team member
reaches Maersk Georgia’s deck, the
next one begins his ascent. It takes
about five minutes to get the entire
team up the ladder and onto the
fully loaded container ship to begin
the operation. While the team conducts its business, the
PB 440 — now joined by a Coast Guard long-range interceptor boat — moves a few hundred feet away and circles, awaiting the call to retrieve the team.
Depending on the nature of the operation — a full
security sweep, engineering check, safety/maintenance
check or passport/manifest check — that can mean up to
several hours. In one instance earlier in the year, the captain of a merchant ship was suspected of being drunk
and a boarding team stayed on-station for 14 hours.
During that time, the PB 440 made five trips out to the
ship and back to the Coast Guard station at Fort
Wadsworth on Staten Island, where the boat is berthed
and boarding team members gather, according to Smith.
This time, however, the four-man NYNM crew is
still catching its collective breath when the call comes
over the radio after just 20 minutes that the operation
is complete and the Coast Guard team is ready to leave.
Then it’s back alongside Maersk Georgia for a transfer
operation in reverse.
“It was an American-flag ship with a mostly American
crew, so all we really had to do this time was check paperwork, make sure the crew list matched up with their
The New York Naval Militia (NYNM) is one of about a half-dozen
state naval forces in the United States.
■ NYNM’s 10-vessel Military Emergency Boat Service was created following the 9/11 terrorist attacks to bolster homeland security
and maritime domain awareness in New York state waters.
■ The militia maintains a close working relationship with U.S.
Coast Guard Sector New York out of Staten Island.
■ NYNM’s new Patrol Boat 440 provides a fast, stable platform
from which Coast Guard security teams perform boarding operations on merchant vessels.
As dawn breaks over the Atlantic on a chilly late-November morning, the New York Naval
Militia’s (NYNM’s) 44-foot Patrol Boat (PB) 440
bobs in the water alongside the nearly 1,000-foot-long
container ship M/V Maersk Georgia, at anchor near the
Ambrose Light about 10 miles out from New York Harbor.
Aboard the PB 440, six members of U.S. Coast
Guard Sector New York Safety and Security Team 3
await their turns to scamper up Maersk Georgia’s
Jacob’s ladder for a boarding operation. This morning,
waves present but a light chop as the icy wind that was
howling down from the north just a few hours earlier
had subsided, but that still can make for some anxious
moments getting aboard.
“This is where it gets tricky,” notes NYNM Chief
Master-at-Arms Richard Raynock, chief of the boat, as
he maneuvers the PB 440 into position using its fly-by-wire steering system, a joystick-and-mouse setup more
akin to a video game than the traditional steering wheel.
“When they’ve got one foot on the ladder and one foot
on the deck, you don’t want any sudden movements,” he
said. “The guys can get tangled up, or worse, go over into