Anti Terrorism Training At Port Of Gulfport - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

04/16/04

Anti Terrorism Training At Port Of Gulfport

There was one cargo ship docked at the Port of Gulfport Friday morning. The Department of Homeland Security carefully worked with the ship's captain to use his vessel as a training tool for local law enforcement divers.

A radio call went out from the Harrison County Sheriff's Department boat. "State Port of Gulfport, homeland security unit," the deputy said. He wanted everyone to know officers were on patrol. "Be advised we have divers in the water," he said.

The 13 divers were with the Gulfport Fire Department, the New Orleans Police Department, and the Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office.

Bill King headed up the anti-terrorism training. "Part of the education for them is to be able to go under there and be able to determine what should be there and what shouldn't be there," he explained.

For five days, divers trained in the classroom, and in the murky waters off the Port of Gulfport. Frank Rizzuto was one of the divers. "It's dark, cold, everything is done by feel," he said, referring to his under water training. Rizzuto is an anti-terrorism officer from the New Orleans Police Department. He believes the week long training exercise "is going to put us one step above them, I'll tell you that."

During one of the 30 minute training dives, officers spotted something odd on the hull of the cargo ship. The classroom training taught the divers to mark the unknown object, and then report it to other experts. According to King, "The challenges that they have are immense, just going under these ships and tagging them out. But as far as the ability to go and utilize these techniques and go down there and come up and say with a high degree of certainty that nothing is there, it's very effective."

by Brad Kessie

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