FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
July 11, 2007

CONTACT: Sebastian D’Elia 
Communications Director
908-527-4419 - Cell: 908-770-3662

 

UNION COUNTY UNVEILS NEW HOMELAND SECURITY
MULTIPURPOSE VESSEL
Boat is dedicated to UC Iraq War Vets, named “UC Marine 1”

ucmarine1
(Photo by Jim Lowney/County of Union)
 

ELIZABETH---Citing the need to provide increased security to industrial plants along the coastline of the “most dangerous two miles” of America, the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders today unveiled UC Marine 1, a new homeland security vessel that will patrol the Arthur Kill and Newark Bay waterways.

The Union County Police will operate the vessel, which is a 36-foot SeaArk Dauntless model with firefighting, diving, tugging and rescue capabilities. The powerful vehicle has two 360-horsepower engines to power its motor, as well as an additional engine that enables it to pump and fire 1000 gallons per minute of water at a distance over 100 yards. The vessel was dedicated to Union County residents who have served or continue to do so in the Iraq war.

“This is a major step in the right direction for Union County,” said Freeholder Daniel Sullivan, who is from Elizabeth, which is home to the Port and Airport. “This provides a level of deterrence, surveillance, and response to any incidents along the Chemical Coastline.”

Even with the additional funding allocations made to Union County and six other Counties under the Urban Area Securities Initiative (UASI), Sullivan noted that the State of Montana still receives more Homeland Security funding per capita than New Jersey.

Terrorism experts have estimated a worst-case attack could bring harm to more than 12 million people in a 14 mile radius, including the NY-NJ region.

“There’s no doubt the Federal Government must do more to help secure the region,” said Freeholder Chairwoman Bette Jane Kowalski. “There are more than four million containers that arrive in the Port alone each year, and many are still unsecured.”

The County vessel, which cost $541,000, was paid for through Federal Homeland Security funds obtained through the efforts of the County’s Homeland Security Committee, which is chaired by Freeholder Chester Holmes, and includes Freeholders Rick Proctor and Nancy Ward. The County Police will provide a three-man complement on the vessel, and will patrol County waterways, including the Arthur Kill and Newark Bay, which is home to the nation’s second largest containerport, a refinery, chemical plants, rail lines, the Goethal’s Bridge, Newark-Elizabeth Liberty International Airport, and more.

Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage added the County’s homeland security vessel “will add an additional layer of security along our City’s coastal front.”

“Later this year a new $7 million dollar fire facility, located less than a mile from the waterfront, will house a Hazardous Material Team, as well as engine and ladder companies, which will better safeguard our residents and protect our community,” Bollwage said.

Vessel named in honor of Iraq War Veterans

The vessel was dedicated in honor of all Union County residents who are serving or have served in the Iraq war and recent wars. Three Union County residents have made the ultimate sacrifice in the war:

  • SGT Steven Checo US Army, Elizabeth, NJ, killed in Afghanistan, December 12, 2002; Age 22.
  • SFC Gladimir Philippe, US Army, Linden (Roselle), NJ; Killed in Iraq, June 25, 2003, Age 37.
  • PFC Stephen C. Benish, US Army, Linden, NJ, Killed in Iraq, November 28, 2004, Age 20.

“Our nation is eternally grateful to our Iraq war veterans and their families and for the sacrifices they have made,” said Freeholder Sullivan, at the ceremony christening UC Marine 1, which was held at Veterans Memorial Waterfront Park in Elizabeth, and attended by various veterans and reservists who are employed by Union County.

One veteran, Lt. Robert McGuire, of the Union County Police, spoke at the event. McGuire also serves as a Master Sergeant in the Army Reserve, and served as an adviser and trained Iraqi national troops in Iraq.

“I would like to thank the Freeholder Board and the County for their efforts in assisting our veterans and remembering them today,” McGuire said.

UCMARINE1

The two-level boat contains a sophisticated radar and GPS navigation, a long-distance zoom lens camera system, thermal imaging and infrared systems for night surveillance. The vessel can hold as many as 12 people, and is equipped with a water pumper to fight fires, as well as a water rescue basket, diving amenities and a towing system.

“The vessel has such a powerful navigation system that if you covered it with blankets, you would be able to maneuver it to where you need to go,” said Freeholder Sullivan.

With less money in the federal budget dedicated to homeland security, all 50 states including New Jersey are bracing to receive less money when the Department of Homeland Security announces funding next month, perhaps as early as next week, according to a report published by the Associated Press.

Nationally, the Homeland Security Grant Program has seen a 43 percent funding reduction in three years, from $3 billion in fiscal ‘04 to $1.7 billion in ‘07. That includes a reduction from $2.2 billion to $900 million in specific programs from which counties and law enforcement agencies throughout the country draw their funding, the report stated.

New Jersey received $52 million in anti-terrorism money from the feds for the current fiscal year, down from $56 million the prior year.

New Jersey’s allocation for counties and law enforcement has dwindled from a high of $55 million in fiscal ‘04 to less than $17 million in fiscal ’06, the report stated.

However, the funding New Jersey got for seven densely populated counties in the northeast portion—including Union County---of the state deemed at high risk for a terrorist attack nearly doubled from fiscal ‘05 to ‘06, from $19 million to $34 million.

That area is one of 46 nationwide dubbed Urban Area Security Initiatives, which are entitled to special funding.

New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer and New Jersey Gov. Jon S. Corzine wrote a letter in January to Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff saying they feared a drop off in funding after the feds lumped New York City and northern New Jersey into one high-risk region for funding purposes.