Patterico's Pontifications

12/1/2007

Port Security Good News/Bad News

Filed under: Government,Terrorism — DRJ @ 7:16 pm



[Guest post by DRJ]

Here’s a good news/bad news story:

“Two stowaways from the Republic of Djibouti were detained for immigration violations after being discovered hiding aboard a military cargo ship.

The two men were found three weeks ago on a ship carrying military equipment to the Port of Beaumont, U.S. Coast Guard officials said. The stowaways were detected after they asked crew members for food and water.

The ship, owned by Alaska-based Tote, was headed toward the 842nd Transportation Battalion, said U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. James E. Walters. The incident did not affect operations at the port, officials said. The ship was boarded offshore and the men were taken into custody before the vessel entered the Sabine-Neches waterway.”

The Good News:

US port security successfully detained illegal immigrant stowaways on a military cargo ship before they entered the US …

The Bad News:

… apparently the stowaways were not found for days/weeks until they turned themselves in because they were hungry and thirsty.

(Sigh.)

— DRJ

9 Responses to “Port Security Good News/Bad News”

  1. Always look on the bright side of life.

    At least they were people, and not gigantic piles of ebola virus interspersed with anthrax spores. I bet that would have been worse than an additional two people sneaking in to America on top of the million+ that do it every year.

    Kevin (4890ef)

  2. True, Kevin, and I am a good news kind of person.

    DRJ (a6fcd2)

  3. If this was just a merchant ship leased by the Navy, which it sounds like it was, then the crew was probably less than 30 people. It would be easy for them to hide somewhere. Also, they probably weren’t looking for them. Heck, when I was in the Navy we had a guy go AWOL on a ship with 3000 people on it. He too was only found when he got hungry.

    Dagpotter (d338cb)

  4. Two observations which place me in the bad news column on this:
    1) This was a military cargo ship–leased merchant or not, it was a ship with military cargo headed to a military base.
    2) Djibouti is where Djibouti is. For those who don’t remember off the top of your heads, take out a map of Africa, and notice the small country (it used to be called French Somalia) across the strait from Yemen, tucked in among Somalia, Ethiopia, and Eritrea. Then consider the possible connections of someone from Djibouti.

    kishnevi (6273ad)

  5. Dagpotter – Good point, but this was military cargo. I like to think there is some effort to guard it at the point of origination.

    Kishnevi – There’s more bad news, at least in my view. I’m fairly certain this ship originated in Alaska so the stowaways probably boarded there.

    DRJ (a6fcd2)

  6. The ship’s owners are an Alaskan company; the ship itself could be sailing anywhere in the world.
    (And I would think someone smuggling themselves into the US would go for some point of initial entry other than Alaska, and look for a ship to stow away from headed to the West Coast–a ferry to Seattle, perhaps.

    My guess is this was a cargo transiting from the Middle East to the US, and the stowaways boarded it somewhere there.

    kishnevi (92c33b)

  7. Kishnevi,

    What you say makes sense but this story was also reported in the Anchorage Daily News, but I didn’t find it anywhere else. Maybe that’s because it involves an Alaska company but I got the impression Alaska was also the point of origin.

    Based on what I’ve read about Canadian immigration, it seems plausible to me that the stowaways entered Canada, crossed into Alaska somewhere, and used an Alaskan ship to try to get into the US. Maybe they didn’t realize how long a trip it would be from Alaska to the Texas coast.

    DRJ (a6fcd2)

  8. Did you know that 20,000 containers enter LA harbor every day? There is no way you can search even a few per cent of that. Or even open the doors.

    Kevin Murphy (0b2493)

  9. Djibouti is a major US staging area for the ME. It is considered the only secure port on the Red Sea – which was a point raised in the Cole investigation questioning why the skipper of the Cole went to Aden instead of Djibouti for a port call.

    Absent other info, I would assume these guys were stevedores who helped load the ship, and decided to try to get to the Promised Land.

    Someone in the port of debarcation is going to have some hard questions to answer to as to why the ship was not secured before its’ departure (a simple head-count of who goes aboard and who comes off is a good start).

    Attempting to inspect every container arriving at US ports would be a hopeless task. That is why DHS is trying to initiate a program to inspect/register overseas shippers, and to rank them as a risk factor to US Security. In this manner, they will be able to prioritize their manpower to the shippers that are of the greatest potential risk, and maximize the number of their containers that undergo a physical inspection. The goal is that every container, and its’ cargo, would be identified before it ever enters a US port, the same as passenger manifests on jets have to be submitted before that aircraft takes off so that the names of the passengers can be compared to the “do not fly” lists that DHS maintains.

    Another Drew (8018ee)


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