Tuesday, September 9, 2014

National Security on the Cruising Frontier

ON BOARD GOLDEN PRINCESS, SKAGWAY, AK  Hey, John Derbyshire!  You have a problem with five cruise ships docked at the bustling metropolis of Juneau, Alaska, population 33,000?  How about four ships docked at Skagway, Alaska, population 800?

Yesterday in Juneau there were two Holland America, one Princess, and one Celebrity boats; today in Skagway we have one Holland America, two Princess, and one Celebrity.

Imagine!  Skagway has docking facilities for four or more thoroughly modern cruise ships.  Think of a little place like that having thoroughly modern docks like that! Somehow, I reckon that I paid for those docks, courtesy of Uncle Sam and his cute little tax collector at the IRS, Lois Lerner.

Anyway, we had a great time at Juneau yesterday.  In the morning we went out to watch the whales in a nice little tender sporting three 250 HP outboards.  Yep, with that kind of power you can get the tourists out to the feeding humpback whales in half an hour at a healthy 30 knots.  That's fast enough to do four 2-hour whalewatching trips per day.  The guide for our trip, Brian, was a photojournalist that gave us a quick digital camera lesson while we were in the bus traveling from the cruise terminal to the whale-watching marina.  You'd be surprised how few of his students had ever shifted their digital cameras out of Auto.

And were those whales hard at it. Feeding on herring, I mean.  And I'm glad to say that they were ably assisted by a bunch of Stella's sea lions.

You may know that our national government's whale enforcement officers have decreed that our nation's whale-watching boats should not approach closer than 100 yards to a whale: a sensible and thoughtful environmental regulation.  You can imagine our consternation when a whale or two carelessly approached our whale-boat well within the legally prescribed limit.  Oh no!  Would the local whale-watching enforcement SWAT team swoop down in a cigarette boat with a 0.5 in machine gun locked and loaded on the foredeck?  It was nip and tuck for a moment, but fortunately nothing happened.  I imagine that the whale-watching enforcement SWAT team was on a break during the fateful minutes when our boat was in violation of the national whale-watching enforcement regulations.  Or maybe the whale enforcement interagency security evaluation team had met that morning and decreed that we were only at WHALESEC0, which does not require the whale-watching SWAT teams to leave their ready room back in Juneau.

Still, it was good to get our cruise cards checked by a security officer sitting next to a MARSEC1 sign. He seemed in the last stages of personal disintegration.

When you get out of the big city you really get to appreciate the exquisite care that our national government takes to ensure our safety.  On the approach to Juneau we were escorted by two US Coastguard cutters, one on the port and one on the starboard, each with a helmeted gunner on the foredeck attending a 0.5 in machine gun.  And that was only for MARSEC1. While sailing into the Strait of Juan de Fuca we encountered a Trident missile submarine on its way to the open ocean. The ineragency nuclear threat evaluation team must have decreed NUCSEC2 that day because there were four US Coastguard cutters accompanying the submarine, one up ahead, one astern, and one on each side of the sub.  (I am assuming here that you can tell how many US Coastguard cutters are needed to escort vulnerable and/or valuable US assets by dividing the SEC number by two).  And you can be sure that there was a skilled Alaskan gunner on the foredeck of each cutter with his hands on the locked and loaded 0.5 in machine gun.  Just in case.

Yes. It's comforting to know that while we sleep peacefully each night in our teeming cities our national government has arranged this robustly planned and executed national security theater performance for our protection.

If only the regular foreign and national security policy establishment that deals with ordinary Islamist proto-states and eternal thug dictators were as robustly organized and executed.

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