At left, U.S. Coast Guard Sector New York Safety and Security Team 3 members descend from the container ship M/V
Maersk Georgia following a boarding operation off New York Harbor Nov. 24. At right, New York Naval Militia (NYNM)
Boatswain’s Mate 2nd Class James Belfiore, left, and Chief Yeoman John M. Smith, right, help a boarding team member
onto the NYNM’s Patrol Boat 440.
passports. Everything checked out,” boarding team
member Machinery Technician 2nd Class Stephen
Lucarino says as the PB 440 makes its way back to the
Coast Guard station, situated near the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. “It was gravy.”
But it’s not always “gravy” on these operations.
During the trip out, boarding team members regaled
one another with “war stories” about nearly getting
run over by roll-on/roll-off ships or passing out from
the fumes in a ship’s walk-in freezer.
“Imagine that, death by ice cream, what a way to
go,” one team member cracked as the others erupted in
“Nothing’s ever routine,” said Raynock. “Each boarding presents its own challenges. You just never know.”
Later that day, Maersk Georgia, which was returning
from a trip to the Middle East, would be piloted through
New York Harbor to the port of Newark, N.J., for an
offload before returning to its homeport in Norfolk, Va.
The NYNM has been assisting the Coast Guard with
merchant vessel boarding operations off New York
Harbor for the past year, following the christening of the
PB 440 into service with the militia’s 10-vessel Military
Emergency Boat Service (MEBS) Feb. 1, 2008. The boat
service was created following the 9/11 terrorist attacks to
bolster homeland security and maritime domain awareness in New York state waters, primarily New York
Harbor — the nation’s third busiest port — and the exclusion zone around the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant
in Westchester County, just outside of New York City.
The NYNM is one of about a half-dozen state naval
forces in the United States, and the only active, federally recognized naval militia that has been in continu-
ous service for more than a century. It was formally
mustered into state service in 1891, though its origins
trace back to the Revolutionary War.
The NYNM currently has a force of about 3,000
Navy, Coast Guard and Marine Corps Reservists and
volunteers. Based in Latham, N. Y., it is a component of
the New York State Division of Military and Naval
Affairs, which is responsible for the New York National
Guard, and operates under state authority. The militia’s
current commanding officer is Maj. Gen. Robert Wolf,
a retired Marine.
With the creation of the MEBS, the NYNM has taken a
much more active role in contributing to maritime security throughout New York, as well as supporting U.S.
Customs and Border Protection, according to Commodore Donald K. McKnight, MEBS officer-in-charge.
MEBS boats have taken part in border security operations along Lake Champlain; provided additional security during major events in and around New York City,
including the 2004 Republican National Convention,
the annual Fleet Week celebrations and meetings of the
U.N. General Assembly; and participated in interagency
maritime exercises, such as last summer’s Operation
Trojan Horse, which included the Coast Guard, Civil Air
Patrol and New York City Police Department.
The state-of-the-art PB 440 — purchased for $790,000
from Moose Boats of Petaluma, Calif., with a federal
homeland security grant — has allowed for yet another
level of cooperation with the Coast Guard, Smith said.
The water-jet-powered boat is capable of speeds up to 40
knots, has a catamaran-design hull and computerized
steering system for increased stability, and a climate-controlled crew compartment that can accommodate