NYPD's new boat ready to counteract terrorism

UPPER BAY, New York Harbor (WABC) -- Sleek and fast, an NYPD catamaran is one of the newest weapons in the department's arsenal in the war on terrorism.

"We can't forget the big threat: the nuclear threat, the improvised explosive or a basic nuke," said Deputy Chief John O'Connell, the commanding officer of the Counter Terrorism Division.

In the midst of Fleet Week, considered a high threat event with all the naval vessels docked here, the Counter Terrorism's Maritime Unit is on stepped up patrol with the new boat.

"Every day, we come out proactively and will do a screening of the ships. Basically screening their hulls, making sure nothing is attached," said Sergeant Harold Salters with the Maritime Unit.

With special radiation detection equipment built in the twin hulls, the boat is maneuvered within 30 feet of a vessel and alerted to any suspicious materials.

For commercial ships, they use a different approach.

"We set up like a choke point, just like a vehicle choke point, where most of the vessels would have to pass through the boats and the radiation equipment gets close to the vessels," O'Connell said.

At the helm of the ship, one of the detectives calls out on a radio to a nearby Coast Guard ship, "Looking to enter the zone to do a rad sweep."

He is requesting permission to enter a 150-yard security zone around the USS Little Rock docked at the Homeport on Staten Island.

With the heightened security around the Navy ships, even these detectives need permission to get close.

"We're going in to do our radiation sweeps. We will raise the Coast Guard to let them know so they can talk to the bridge of the Navy and give us permission to enter the security zone, Salters said.

They are granted permission and move closer to perform the radiation sweep around the large ships' hull.

What makes the boat unique is that it was designed by the NYPD and built by Moose Boats in California. At 47-feet-long, it is agile and the perfect counter terrorism tool.

"It integrates the latest technology. It's probably one of the best boats out here on the water for radiation detection," O'Connell said.

Just as important as its work is its namesake, fallen NYPD Officer Russel Timoshenko who was killed in the line of duty in 2007.

"It's important that he gets remembered, and these guys are very proud. We did the launching ceremony in April," O'Connell said.

The eight-member team mans two other smaller boats in what is an elite and critically effective unit.

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