Coast Guard reminds all who work and play in Hawaii’s waters to stay vigilant with AWW

HONOLULU — The U.S. Coast Guard in Hawaii is taking steps to encourage people who live, work or play along the waterfront to stay watchful and participate in the America’s Waterway Watch program.

America’s Waterway Watch (AWW) is a coordinated counterterrorism and public outreach effort by the Coast Guard, Coast Guard Auxiliary and numerous federal, state and local agencies.

Much like the well-known “Neighborhood Watch” programs, the purpose of America’s Waterway Watch is to use the “eyes and ears” of waterfront users, such as boaters, marina operators and other waterfront shop owners, to detect and report suspicious activity that may be terrorist related.

Though AWW is primarily a public outreach and awareness program, bu enlisting Auxiliary support in the traditional areas of vessel safety checks, public education, visitation and public affairs, the program also addresses the Coast Guard’s prevention mission. The Coast Guard’s multi-mission strategy of prevention, protection and response is designed to promote public awareness and involvement in maritime domain awareness (MDA) activities of both the Coast Guard and the Auxiliary.

“There are more than 95,000 miles of shoreline in the U.S. and 1,052 miles in Hawaii alone,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Desirre Roys, a marine events and AWW coordinator stationed at Coast Guard Sector Honolulu. “Local first responders cannot do the job alone.”

The Auxiliary’s activity in AWW is focused specifically on the recreational boating community and on assisting the Coast Guard in outreach to others in the maritime community.

The AWW program was originally established shortly after the terrorist attacks of 9/11 with the goal of creating a nationwide organization similar to the familiar “Neighborhood Watch” program that asks the citizens of a community to report suspicious activities to local law enforcement agencies, said Lt. Cmdr. Marcella Granquist, a marine safety officer stationed at Sector Honolulu.

“Unlike the Neighborhood Watch program, the AWW doesn’t require volunteers to join an organization, attend meetings, or become an agent of the Coast Guard or any other law enforcement agency,” said Granquist.

On a AWW informational video (viewable at www.americaswaterwaywatch.org ), Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Thad Allen, says, “AWW volunteers must remember: people are not suspicious; behavior is. So, if you observe suspicious behavior or activity, simply note the details and contact local law enforcement.”

Suspicious activities may also be reported to the National Response Center at 877-24WATCH, but if there appears to be immediate danger to life or property, observers should call 911 or the Coast Guard on VHF marine band channel 16.

Boaters in Hawaii interested in learning more about the local AWW program may pick up a free March issue of the Hawaii Boats and Yachts Magazine. The AWW message and campaign is featured in the “Dock Talk” section. Please visit http://www.hawaiiboats-yachts.com/ for more information.

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