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PORTSMOUTH, Va. Heightened security for the last few weeks has required adjustments from everyone, including mariners in the Hampton Roads area.
Fishermen and pleasure-boaters need to be aware of a permanent security zone around Newport News Shipbuilding and a similar restricted area off the nearby naval station. The zones have always been there, and are marked on official National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration charts. But the Coast Guard has been maintaining a 24-hour, 7-day security presence in the area to supplement patrols by shipyard police, according to LTJG Matthew Baer, operations officer at the Coast Guards Group Hampton Roads.
The Coast Guard has been stopping and turning away a handful of boats each day in the security zone, Baer said. The Coast Guard also has kept a vessel posted there since Sept. 11.
Baer said the shipyard security zone extends about 300 yards off Newport News Shipbuilding, between the James River Bridge on US-17 and the Monitor-Merrimac Bridge on I-664. A similar restricted area exists off the naval station.
More stringent restrictions may apply if a naval vessel is nearby the Coast Guard continues to restrict vessels within 500 yards of naval ships to the minimum speed required to maintain a safe course, and boats that must pass within 100 yards of a naval vessel must make contact with patrol craft on VHF-FM Channel 16.
Boater cooperation and understanding in allowing the Coast Guard to do its job is both greatly appreciated and helpful in difficult times, Baer said.
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