Answering the Bell: Inauguration security patrol with the Coast Guard
J.J. Green, WTOP's National Security Correspondent
J.J. Green, wtop.com
WASHINGTON - It's a cold, dreary, rainy late afternoon in January, a few days before the 57th Presidential Inauguration. Three quick snaps of a rope produce three sharp rings of a bell on board Cochito, the 87-foot Coast Guard cutter. A crew member bellows, "Now boarding Coast Guard Sector Baltimore."
The Cochito has journeyed up from its home port in Hampton Roads, Va., to assist in the security preparations for the inauguration. A crew from Coast Guard Station Washington, which is a part of Coast Guard Sector Baltimore, and a group of media on board a smaller Coast Guard vessel, have arrived at the Cochito, which is positioned in the Washington Channel. The plan is to give reporters a behind-the- scenes look at what inaugural security is like from the water.
"We're paying attention to certain critical infrastructure in the area where people may be lingering longer than normal (and) maybe they're taking pictures from a vantage point where normal tourists wouldn't take pictures from," says Lt. Celina Ladyga, commanding officer of Coast Guard Station Washington.
The security zone went into effect on Jan. 15 and runs through Jan. 24. The waterways will still be open during that time to all vessel traffic, but there will be an increased law enforcement presence.
"Movement may be restricted, depending on inauguration activities," says Capt. Kevin Keifer, Sector Baltimore Commander.
The quiet engines on the brand-new boat rev up to speed and whisk the group out of the channel onto the Potomac River.
Hear more about what happened during the ride-along in the attached audio clip.
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