DoD Beefs Up Persian Gulf Port Security

By Rudi Williams
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 6, 2000 - DoD is beefing up port security
to protect U.S. ships and other forces in the Persian Gulf
region, Pentagon spokesman Navy Rear Adm. Craig R. Quigley
said during a Dec. 5 Pentagon press briefing.

Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen ordered additional
units to deploy to the Middle East in response to a request
by commanders in the area. The order comes in the aftermath
of the Oct. 12 terrorist bombing of the destroyer USS Cole
in Yemen.

Quigley said stateside Navy and Coast Guard port security
units will deploy in coming weeks to strengthen port
security in the region.

"If you have more people with additional equipment
performing the same mission, you are, generally speaking,
better served in that regard," he said.

He told reporters "there's a great desire to relax"
security restrictions, "to have a more comfortable and
relaxed standard of living for our sailors and Marines in
that area." But, he emphasized, "the first priority has got
to be force protection."

Bilateral negotiations are being held between the nations
involved and the U.S. ambassadors to enhance safety and
force protection for U.S. ships and other forces.

"We have to deal with the capabilities of any given nation,
the physical layout of their port structure and what
services they can provide that we could use," Quigley said.
"You're going to find a different answer, I think, at each
and every port."

The day the Cole was attacked in Aden, Yemen, commanders in
the Middle East ordered all ships out of port. They haven't
decided whether to start allowing ships in the region to
restart port visits.

For security reasons, Quigley said he wouldn't discuss the
number of personnel involved or their deployment dates and
destinations. By noon Dec. 6, the Navy hadn't announced who
it would deploy to the gulf.

Coast Guard spokesman Chief Petty Officer Adam Wine,
however, said 27 men and women of Port Security Unit 309,
Camp Perry, Port Clinton, Ohio, are preparing to deploy
during the holiday season. He said the unit has 140 reserve
and five active duty Coast Guardsmen. Most of the
reservists are from Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana and

Wine said the unit deploys worldwide to provide maritime
defense of U.S. and coalition assets, equipment and
personnel within a critical harbor. This includes command
and control, shore security, waterborne security and
logistical support, he noted.

Meanwhile, the crippled destroyer is being transported to
Pascagoula, Miss., aboard the Blue Marlin, a Norwegian dry
dock vessel. The Cole is expected to arrive next week,
depending on weather conditions at sea. Repairs are
scheduled to begin in January and are expected to take
about a year to complete.