December 12, 2019

Maine armed forces intensify security; BIW cancels 2 shifts

Military bases and shipyards along Maine’s coast heightened security levels Tuesday in the wake of the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history.

The aircraft attacks on the World Trade Center twin towers in New York City and at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., had a ripple effect up the Atlantic coast.

From northern New Jersey to Eastport, the U.S. Coast Guard has “heightened our threat level throughout all buildings, bases, ships and air stations,” said Chief Warrant Officer Steve Sapp of the district’s public affairs office in Boston. The Coast Guard’s first district encompasses the area from Eastport to northern New Jersey.

The Coast Guard would not disclose its level of alert for security reasons, Sapp said, but it is “standing by ready to assist as needed, wherever needed.”

Commanding officers at the Navy installation in Winter Harbor did not return calls Tuesday. A statement said that the base, along with military bases worldwide, had “increased its security posture” in response to the events of Tuesday morning. “It is not prudent that we divulge what those actions are.”

At the former Cutler Navy base in Washington County, the acting technical director said, “We have increased our security conditions, but I can’t say anything else.” The Cutler base was disestablished in June 2000 and is now a detachment of the Norfolk, Va., computer and telecommunications center.

Jan Hussey, a spokeswoman at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, said Tuesday the shipyard was in “a heightened security posture. In accordance with long-standing Navy policy, we do not discuss the details of physical security.”

Farther north, Brunswick Naval Air Station increased its security condition to Threat Condition Delta as a precautionary measure, which is “when intelligence has been received that terrorist action against a specific location or person is likely,” according to a press release from its public affairs office.

Bath Iron Works in Bath, which builds Navy destroyers, was closed at 11:30 a.m. First shift employees were sent home, and second and third shifts were canceled, BIW spokeswoman Sue Pierter said Tuesday.

“We are working very closely with the U.S. Navy,” Pierter said.

At the naval air station, all nonessential personnel were sent home, but the base was maintaining full operational capability and status, the base said.

The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard public affairs office announced to its employees that they should expect “significant delays” at the shipyard gate when reporting to work.

The base exchange and the commissary, where members of the active, retired and reserve military community can shop for food and merchandise, were closed at the Portsmouth shipyard and BNAS.

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