NYPD gets new anti-terrorism boat

By Allison Gendar
The New York Daily News

NEW YORK A fast boat sliced through the waters of upper New York Bay and pulled within 100 feet of an empty fuel tanker flying a foreign flag.

The crew of the tanker peered down from their deck as the 31-foot NYPD craft slowed and five counterterrorism cops aboard eyeballed the ship.

Before the crew could wave, the NYPD boat had scanned the tanker for radioactive weapons.

"Clean," Deputy Inspector Joseph Cordes said, as the NYPD craft cut back across the bay.

The sleek craft – the NYPD’s latest weapon in the war on terror – has been patrolling the waters around the city since June.

The boat can top 57 mph. But it’s not the speed that makes it formidable. It’s the innocuous white tubes mounted on its right side. The tubes are state-of-the-art radiation detectors.

The NYPD is field testing radiation detectors created by the federal Department of Energy. What works here will eventually be replicated across the country.

“New York has been attacked twice and targeted close to 20 times,” said Cordes, the NYPD counterterrorism maritime coordinator. “As we outfit boats with detectors, we create a web to safeguard what is the economic heart of the region.”

The police boat is also equipped with a 20-inch remote “sub” that scans ships’ underbellies and sends detectives live video feeds. The footage is used to combat terrorism and drug smuggling.

“Drugs have always been smuggled in and on ships. We know terrorists are looking at established drug routes to see if they can use them for their purposes,” said NYPD Counter Terrorism Lt. Robert Stapleton.

The cops also use old-fashioned detective work, routinely checking shipping manifests.

“We know if a ship has been carrying sugar from Latin America for the past five years suddenly switches to sesame seeds from Yemen, with a whole new crew,” said Detective Keith Duval. “We check it out.”

Copyright 2007 New York Daily News

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