NEW YORK—Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano Sunday, Feb. 7, asking the Obama Administration to keep the elite Coast Guard unit currently patrolling New York City harbor where they are.
The new budget released by the Obama administration includes downsizing the Coast Guard’s Maritime Safety and Security teams (MSST), and the New York City based team will be transferred to Boston. The MSST program was created by Congress in 2002, with each having at least 75 personnel.
“This plan is simply penny wise and pound foolish,” Schumer said. “Since the mission of these teams is to provide security during major events and when there is a specific threat, taking the teams away from New York City would leave us more vulnerable during the most sensitive times.
While the Obama administration is right to seek to consolidate resources where it's warranted, taking the budget ax to New York City when it comes to terror just doesn’t make sense. I urge them to scrap this plan to ensure New York City’s harbor and waterways stay safe and secure.”
Schumer said if the Obama administration would not abandon its plan to transfer the team, he would move in Congress to block it. The New York City based team has 90 members of the Coast Guard, and was assigned to patrol the harbor after 9-11. The team is stationed at the Port of New York/New Jersey, the nation’s second largest port.
The New York City MSST performs both port security and harbor security missions. Schumer says they also provide additional security for major events along with responding to specific threats with surveillance and guarding. They are also responsible for boarding suspect vessels, patrolling critical infrastructure, escorting potential hazardous cargo like gas vessels, and responding to unanticipated events, and natural disasters.
Along with the New York City team, five others from San Francisco, New Orleans, Anchorage, and Kings Bay are being transferred or eliminated.
“We are very concerned that it would take too long to deploy an MSST team from Boston in cases of extreme threat, disaster, or attack,” Schumer said.