Coast Guard Conducting Regular Escorts of Ferries Into Nantucket Harbor

Coast Guard Station Brant Point has begun escorting Steamship Authority ferries as they arrive in Nantucket Harbor and boarding the vessels for security sweeps once they are docked.

The relatively new escorts have become a regular part of Station Brant Point’s day-to-day operations, according to Master Chief Boatswain’s Mate Andrew Babione, and while they have come as a surprise to some island residents, the reaction has been generally positive, he said.

“Search and rescue is our primary mission, but a very close second is homeland security, and that’s maintaining a secure presence on the maritime transportation system which includes all the ferries in and out of Nantucket,” Babione said. “What people may be seeing is a change in posture, how we execute the mission. What we’re doing is shadowing and officer presence. What it does is makes us better to be able to respond in case of an actual emergency on the ferry. That’s why the public has seen us interact more and more with the public on board the ferries. Were not responding to a particular threat or incident, we’re just being proficient in what we do and at the same time providing the best security we can to the public.”

Not every Steamship Authority vessel gets an escort, and there is no set frequency, Babione added. By Coast Guard definition, the operations are not technically considered an “escort,” but rather “shadowing” and they allow Coast Guard members to better familiarize themselves with the different ferry vessels that service the island. The increased presence has led to some questions from islanders, Babione said, but mostly appreciation.

“I know why they would ask the question and have the concern, but it’s no different than a State Police Trooper on the highway or a local police officer in front of a shopping center , that’s the same presence we’re out there doing with the ferries.”

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