Coast Guard warns about dangers aiming lasers at vessels

BALTIMORE — Coast Guard Sector Maryland-National Capital Region wants to remind boaters of the dangers in aiming lasers at commercial vessel.

For commercial vessels, the main threat is that exposure to laser light can cause blindness to the ship’s operators possibly causing a collision in the shipping channel. For the Coast Guard, a laser aimed at a Coast Guard asset could cause a search-and-rescue mission to be delayed – or even aborted.

In a recent case, Coast Guard Investigative Service worked with Calvert County Sheriff’s Office to investigate and locate an individual shining laser lights to at least eight commercial vessels transiting the Chesapeake Bay between Cove Point and Drum Point.

“The partnership between the sheriff’s office and the Coast Guard continues to be an asset to the citizens of Calvert County,” said Sheriff Mike Evans, Calvert County Sheriff’s Office.

Coast Guard Sector M-NCR Command Center personnel received a phone call from a good Samaritan that provided the exact location of where they observed the laser.

This information was passed to CGIS and Calvert County, which resulted in the individual being identified as a local resident. During an interview, the local resident admitted to law enforcement that he had shined the lasers at passing ships to see how far the lasers would reach. Once he was made aware of the dangers of lasers being pointed at vessels on the water, he stopped targeting the vessels.

“Thanks to the quick response and collaborative efforts by Calvert County Sheriff’s Office Special Operations Team, the source of the laser was found and a maritime incident was avoided,” said Capt. Lonnie Harrison, commander, Sector M-NCR.

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