KITTERY, Maine — The harbor patrol unit at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard is participating in an anti-terrorism and force protection exercise this week.
Officials say marked U.S. Navy harbor patrol boats and Facility Response Team boats are being used to enhance the readiness of security forces charged with protecting the shipyard.
Installation Security Officer Jeffrey Koenig said on Tuesday morning that they train the way they fight so they are working with equipment that would be utilized in combat, including machine guns.
A Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement System is being used to test marksmanship.
“It helps the sailors concentrate on their use of force decision making. They are training at a high rate of speed so they have to make quick decisions on whether the incoming boat is a bad guy or if they need to engage them, so it’s something we don’t get to train on as frequently, and it’s going to be really great for them to do that,” Koenig said.
Koenig said the Navy has different types of training every day, but more complex trainings like this one do not happen as frequently so it is essential to make sure their sailors are prepared if they ever do have to respond to an attack.
Koenig said the most typical question he gets from the public is if these anti-terrorism trainings are in response to a specific threat.
“In this instance, and most instances, there is not a specific threat other than the overall threat that we know. We know there’s bad people out there who don’t like us, they don’t like the United States, and we have to be prepared to deal with that if they wanted to come and engage us on our ground,” Koenig said.
Koenig said the intelligence community is always collecting information and credible concerns are passed along to his crews.
Members in local communities may hear the sounds of blank ammunition in Portsmouth, New Castle and Rye as part of this exercise.
The training is scheduled to end on Thursday. The U.S. Coast Guard will disseminate a notice to mariners hourly while the blank ammunition exercises are happening.