As a Coast Guard long-range interceptor passes by, New York Naval Militia crew members make a check of Patrol Boat
(PB) 440 following a patrol up New York’s East River. The PB 440 is berthed at the Coast Guard station on Staten Island.
about a dozen people, making it ideal for boarding operations.
“The boat is great,” Lucarino said. “It’s roomy, it’s stable and it’s warm. When we do boardings from one of our
[Coast Guard] boats, we usually end up having to ride
outside. During the winter, that’s not much fun.”
Under an operating agreement with the Coast Guard,
the service supplies fuel for the PB 440 as well as the berth
at the Fort Wadsworth station. The NYNM can take out
as many as two Coast Guard boarding teams in a day.
“We are here primarily at the service of the Coast
Guard,” Smith said. “Whatever the Coast Guard needs,
we are here to help them.”
“It’s great to work with them,” Lucarino said.
“There is good cooperation between the Coast Guard
and the militia. We’re all doing this for the same reason: to keep people safe.”
The one thing notable in its absence aboard the PB
440 is weaponry. The boat is not armed, nor are the militia members, as per New York State Division of Military
and Naval Affairs policy. During boarding operations, an
armed Coast Guard boat — such as the long-range interceptor with its bow-mounted M240 7.62mm machine
gun that accompanied the Maersk Georgia operation —
will escort the PB 440 in case any trouble does erupt.
Since militia members are not sworn law enforcement
officers — although Raynock works as a police officer in
Suffolk County, N.Y. — they also do not have authority
for search, seizure or arrest. They report suspicious or
unlawful activity to sea service authorities or local law
enforcement, who will then act on the situation.
When the PB 440 is not assisting with boarding operations, it conducts patrols in the waters around New
York City and portions of Long Island. Following the
Maersk Georgia boarding, the boat traveled up the East
River between Manhattan and Brooklyn, passing a number of barges, tugs and other commercial vessels in the
bustling New York Harbor along the way, as well as the
Brooklyn Navy Yard, the U.N. building, Roosevelt Island
and the mayor’s residence at Gracie Mansion.
According to NYNM Rear Adm. John Ingram, the
deputy commander and New York Navy League member who accompanied the PB 440 on the East River
trip, “We’re another set of eyes and ears. We look for
suspicious activity or boats that are somewhere they
shouldn’t be and report what we see.”
That makes for one more layer of homeland security
protection, which, when factored into the better communication and cooperation fostered between the maritime
services, law enforcement and homeland security agencies since 9/11, makes for better readiness, he said.
“We are much better prepared and much more
aware today than we were on Sept. 10 ,” Ingram