Floating bomb detector stops terrorist boats - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Floating bomb detector stops terrorist boats

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - The military is considering using a new kind of maritime security in its war on terror. So-called "smart buoys", or floating bomb detectors, could alert the military about dirty bombs that may be hidden in boats or in the water.

When the USS Cole was attacked while harbored in a Yemen port back in 2000, it wasn't a warship that attacked it, but a rigid inflatable boat full of explosives. On Thursday we got an exclusive look at a new buoy that could prevent an attack like that here in San Diego Bay.

The U.S. Coast Guard patrols our bays and coastal waters looking for everything from improper registration to human and drug smugglers. While more often than not, boat boardings go off without a hitch, it's the other boats on the water that aren't searched that could be the real danger.

Patrolling the waters on a daily basis is one thing, approaching boats and checking them out first hand, but having knowledge before they arrive at that boat could be critical to their mission.

"It started as a concept to tie the ships together with wi-fi," Intellicheck Mobilisa Senior Scientist Dr. William Roof said.

But it soon grew into a Homeland Security buoy capable of detecting biological and chemical components in passing boats, and more importantly radioactive material from a dirty bomb.

"The radar locks onto the target, it tracks it, we get images from both the shore camera and the buoy camera," Roof said.

Roof says while the buoy tracks the suspect boat, Coast Guard, harbor police and other Homeland Security departments can be notified and have access to the live feed.

"That data can go to the Joint Harbor Operations Command and they may be interested in data on specific vessels at specific times of day because they've identified trends for smuggling narcotics and humans," Roof said.

While nothing can replace the eyes of the Coast Guard, the deployment of this buoy in San Diego bay would make it and the crews that guard it safer.

"If we had that information preemptively then that's half the battle," Chief Petty Officer Charles Martin said.

Intellicheck Mobilisa launched an additional buoy in the Potomac River near Washington, D.C. and has been monitoring boats since October.

We're told the recent meeting with Coast Guard command here in San Diego went extremely well, and that a second meeting is planned to discuss the buoy further.

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