Coast Guard Steps Up Patrols on River and Bay for Homeland Security
Personnel, Larger Boats, Added to Saginaw River Station
March 16, 2003
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By: Dave Rogers
Coast Guard Spokesman Christopher Hoffert likes the Great Lakes
The U.S. Coast Guard at the Saginaw River station is increasing patrols as well as search and rescue efforts under the new Homeland Security initiative of the federal government.
Christopher Hoffert, a young Coast Guardsman from the Saginaw River station, spoke to the Bay City Rotary Club on March 4 and enlightened members about the activities of the service in this area. Hoffert, a native of the state of Washington, is an engineer and fireman who sought assignment to the Great Lakes.
"We want to make sure the waters are safe -- that's our job," said Hoffert. "We (the Coast Guard) are upping our manpower immensely." The local station, on the east side of the river near the Karn-Weadock Plant of Consumers Energy Co., has 32 men assigned, with three more coming this month, he said. In addition, larger boats are being supplied to the local station, according to Hoffert.
"The boats need to be faster to get to people in need of help," said the Coast Guard spokesman.
The Coast Guard also has a presence in the Mideast during the present crisis, said Hoffert. Special units are patrolling harbors in that region.
The Coast Guard here also is empowered to intercept and search freighters if they deem it necessary,Hoffert said. "Freighters have to notify the station when they are at light number one, (in Saginaw Bay) which is quite a ways out," he said. "We need to know what they are carrying and we can pull them over and search them. That is a long process, whichmay take up to seven days, since we have to go through every nook and cranny and bang on every wall." The Coast Guard doesn't need a search warrant to stop and search freighters, he said.
Even the Coast Guard doesn't understand why fishermen, snowmobilers, ATV drivers and even guys driving trucks go out on thin ice, Hoffert indicated.
"We don't like having to pick people up out there after the ice begins to thaw," Hoffert said. "Driving a truck on the ice is the stupidest thing I have seen here; at least seven vehicles have gone through the ice this winter, along with ATVs, and snowmobiles."
However, people rescued from the ice don't have to pay a thing, Hoffert said. "We're here to rescue anybody who needs it."
Dave Rogers is a former editorial writer for the Bay City Times and a widely read,
respected journalist/writer in and around Bay City.
(Contact Dave Via Email at email@example.com)
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