Schumer Vows to Fight Move of NY-Based Coast Guard Team

Sunday, Feb 7, 2010  |  Updated 11:15 AM EDT
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Schumer Vows to Fight Move of NY-Based Coast Guard Team

Petty Officer 3rd Class Henry G. Dunphy

A Coast Guard crew from Station San Diego patrols San Diego Bay aboard a 33-foot Special Purpose Craft - Law Enforcement boat Oct. 23, 2009. Crews from the Station carry out maritime law enforcement, search and rescue, and security missions in the San Diego area. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Henry G. Dunphy.

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Sen. Charles Schumer said Sunday he will fight a federal budget proposal to transfer elite Coast Guard teams from four cities, including one stationed at New York Harbor since the Sept. 11 attacks.

The New York senator said that besides consolidating the New York team with one based in Boston, the Obama administration's plan would eliminate the special teams from San Francisco, New Orleans, Anchorage and Kings Bay, Ga., as part of national consolidations. He called the cost-cutting proposal unwise and unsafe.

The U.S. Coast Guard's Marine Safety and Security Team in New York includes 90 specially trained personnel who have patrolled the harbor and surrounding waterways since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

The Democratic senator said in a news release that if the Obama administration doesn't abandon the cost-cutting proposal, he will block it.

"Since the mission of these teams is to provide security during major events and when there is a specific threat, taking the teams away from New York City would leave us more vulnerable during the most sensitive times,'' Schumer said in the release.

While the Obama administration needs to consolidate cost when it can, "taking the budget ax to New York City when it comes to terror just doesn't make sense," he said. "I urge them to scrap this plan to ensure New York City's harbor and waterways stay safe and secure.''

A spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

The teams handle port security and do harbor security missions, including assignments to provide security for major events and specific threats. The teams provide surveillance and guard areas that are targets of threats.

The MSSTs also respond to natural disasters, board suspect boats and ships, and escort hazardous cargo.

"We are very concerned that it would take too long to deploy an MSST team from Boston in cases of extreme threat, disaster or attack," Schumer said.

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