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Can you clarify the roles of each of the agencies that operate in marked boats on the Intracoastal Waterway in New Hanover?

F.T. Norton
StarNews

To answer this question we contacted a number of agencies that work the Intracoastal Waterway.

The following are the functions of each:

The U.S. Coast Guard & Coast Guard Auxiliary: According to Petty Officer 3rd Class David A. Weydert, the Coast Guard has three basic roles: Maritime Safety, Maritime Security, Maritime Stewardship.

According to Petty Officer 3rd Class David A. Weydert, the Coast Guard has 3 basic roles: Maritime Safety, Maritime Security, Maritime Stewardship.

By law it also has the following 11 missions:

Security of the ports, waterways, and coast

Drug interdiction

Aids to navigation

Search and rescue

Living marine resources

Marine safety

Defense readiness

Migrant interdiction

Marine environmental protection

Ice operations

Other law enforcement

For more detailed information you can visit this site: http://www.uscg.mil/top/missions/

For the Coast Guard Auxiliary visit http://www.cgaux.org/

 Wildlife Officer: The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission is a state regulatory agency and wildlife officers are directed by state law to enforce the Boat Safety Act of 1971, with the responsibility for enforcing recreational boating laws for vessel operation and safety, and conducting boating accident investigations.

“Their authority as law enforcement officers is granted by N.C.G.S. §113-136.  More information on boating requirements and safety is available at www.ncwildlife.org/Boating,” said Geoff Cantrell, spokesman for the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission

New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office Marine Unit: According to Sgt. Jerry Brewer, the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office Marine Unit is responsible for marine enforcement as well as search and rescue missions.

The primary vessel of the Marine Unit is a 24-foot silver ship. The vessel has been modified by the manufacturer to fill the specific needs of the department.

“The unit is capable of being rapidly deployed to help in water rescues, locating missing persons or to assist other agencies in our area,” Brewer said.

“The New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office Marine Unit has assisted local, state and federal agencies including such agencies as the U.S. Coast Guard, The National Transportation Safety Board, The Secret Service, N.C. Marine Fisheries and N.C. Wildlife Commission,” he said. “The goal of the unit is to provide assistance to those in need and to prevent crime by deterring those who would violate the law through highly visible proactive patrolling of the area waters.”

Wilmington Police Department: “We are operating under the standard mutual aid agreement with the corresponding agencies. The WPD boat is assigned to the Cape Fear River and we sometimes travel to the intracoastal waterway from the Cape Fear to our jurisdiction near Wrightsville Beach,” Ed Pigford with the Wilmington Police Department said. “We mainly complete homeland security patrols related to the waterfront on the Cape Fear. We participate in specific operations usually headed by Wildlife or New Hanover County Sheriff’s Department when we complete boat stops and safety checks of vessels. We assist the Coast Guard Station in Oak Island with river closings related to the fire works and special events in the downtown area.”

Pigford said the WPD does not complete random safety checks of vessels unless operating under an operations plan. 

“We will stop vessels that are operating recklessly or we observe violations being committed on the vessel in our jurisdiction. We will stop and assist or respond when requested to vessels or persons in distress,” he said.  

Pigford said the Cape Fear Maritime Task Force works together during operational plans and usually consists of a mixed crew where someone on board has jurisdiction and powers of arrest in the area we are assigned.  It is a way to increase manpower without burdening participating agencies.  It ahs one officer assigned full time to work with the NHCSD boat unit. 

Pigford noted that recently the Cape Fear Maritime Task force worked in conjunction with the office of Homeland Security Customs Enforcement.

“We had a customs agent with one WPD boat operator and we worked the Cape Fear River from Sutton Steam Plant to Snows Cut completing Homeland Security-target hardening special checks and vessel contacts with area vessels that work in the area on a daily basis. We gathered information and provided contact info to vessel captains if they observe suspicious circumstances in their daily travels.  We responded to a possible environmental hazard spill near Sutton Steam Plant related to these contacts and made a report to the U.S. Coast Guard pollution unit for follow-up,” he said.

 On the Fourth of July, the WPD worked the river closing for the fireworks with Wilmington Fire and Coast Guard Auxiliary. 

“We enforced the safety zones and ancorage areas prior to the fireworks and responded to and assisted three vessels in distress that where in the Cape Fear River,” he said. 

RELATED LINK:

What kind of unmarked vehicles are used by Wilmington Police?  

Why are Wrightsville Beach police allowed to run license plates of cars without violations?

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