America’s Waterway Watch (AWW), a combined effort of the Coast Guard and its Reserve and Auxiliary components, continues to grow, enlisting the active participation of those who live, work or play around America’s waterfront areas. Coast Guard Reserve personnel concentrate on connecting with businesses and government agencies, while Auxiliarists focus on building AWW awareness among the recreational boating public.
If you are a tow boat operator, a recreational boater, a fisherman, a marina operator, or otherwise live, work or engage in recreational activities around America’s waterways, the United States Coast Guard wants your help in keeping these areas safe and secure. You can do this by participating in its America’s Waterway Watch (AWW) program, a nationwide initiative similar to the well known and successful Neighborhood Watch program that asks community members to report suspicious activities to local law enforcement agencies.
As a person who spends much of your time on or near the water, you already know what is normal and what is not, and you are well suited to notice suspicious activities – activities possibly indicating threats to our nation’s homeland security. And as a participant in America’s Waterway Watch we urge you to adopt a heightened sense of sensitivity toward unusual events or individuals you may encounter in or around ports, docks, marinas, riversides, beaches, or waterfront communities.
You should always remember that people are not suspicious, behavior is. And if you observe suspicious behavior or activity, you should simply note the details and contact local law enforcement. You are notexpected to approach or challenge anyone acting in a suspicious manner.
America’s Waterway Watch is a public outreach program, encouraging participants to simply report suspicious activity to the Coast Guard and/or other law enforcement agencies. Unlike some Neighborhood Watch programs, for example, you are not formally joining an organization — there are no meetings, membership cards or membership requirements — and you do not become an agent of the Coast Guard or any other law enforcement agency.
WHY DO WE NEED AMERICA’S WATERWAY WATCH?
America’s coasts, rivers, bridges, tunnels, ports, ships, military bases, and waterside industries may be the terrorists’ next targets. Though waterway security is better than ever, with more than 95000 miles of shoreline, over 290,000 square miles of water, and approximately 70 million recreational boaters in the United States, the Coast Guard and local first responders can not do the job alone.
America’s Waterway Watch is similar to the Coast Watch program of World War II, which caused the early growth of the Coast Guard Auxiliary, a group of citizen-volunteers who were mobilized as a uniformed, civilian component of the Coast Guard to scan the coast for U-boats and saboteurs attempting to infiltrate the shores of the United States. Today, America’s Waterway Watch goes one step further: It calls on ordinary citizens like you – who spend much of their on and around America’s waterways – to assist in the War on Terrorism on the Domestic Front.
The enemy this nation faces today is unlike any other in our history. The operatives who may be attempting to enter the United States via our waterfront areas, whether as stowaways on ships entering our ports or on pleasure craft entering our marinas, do not wear a uniform or carry arms openly. They have chosen to attack us using unconventional warfare, and we must be prepared to report events such as people entering our country illegally along the hundreds of miles of coastline, and people preparing to attack our critical infrastructure. America’s Waterway Watch calls on all port and waterfront users to report suspicious activity in and around the area where they live, work and play.
? Who better than the families living along our shoreline to recognize when the behavior of visitors in and around their community is not consistent with what usually takes place in the neighborhood?
? Who better than the longshoreman to know whether an individual who is loitering near a restricted area while video taping, taking photos, or making sketches is out of place and does not belong there?
? Who better than a marina operator or a dock master to know if the crew that is not a “normal” customer is acting suspiciously?
? And who better than recreational boaters, while traveling in familiar waters, to notice unusual and suspicious activities going on around them?
It is not the intent of America’s Waterway Watch to spread paranoia or to encourage spying on one another, and it is not a surveillance program. Instead, it is a simple deterrent to potential terrorist activity. The purpose of America’s Waterway Watch is to allow you and your fellow Americans who work and spend their leisure time on the waterways and waterfront to assist the federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies by being ever vigilant in recognizing possible threats and crimes on and around our waterways.
Many Americans like you have asked, “How can I help?” The answer is clear: By participating in America’s Waterway Watch!