|SLUG: 2-270121 US Navy / Cole (L only)||DATE:||NOTE NUMBER:|
TITLE=U-S NAVY / COLE (L ONLY)
INTRO: U-S officials say they hope to negotiate new security agreements with all countries whose ports are visited by American warships. V-O-A Pentagon Correspondent Alex Belida reports the goal is the introduction of stricter practices to prevent attacks like the one on a U-S destroyer in Yemen in October.
TEXT: A Pentagon spokesman says the new security measures could include the deployment of armed patrol boats in foreign harbors where U-S Navy ships are anchored.
The spokesman, Rear Admiral Craig Quigley, tells V-O-A other measures could provide for increased security at fuel pumping or ship repair facilities in foreign ports. Additional measures might include tougher security probes into the backgrounds of foreign port crews involved in assisting U-S vessels as well as physical checks of all shipboard visitors.
Admiral Quigley stresses different circumstances in different ports will require highly-individualized agreements. But he says the goal is the same - ensuring the maximum degree of safety and force protection that can be negotiated with nations around the world.
In an interim measure aimed at enhancing security in the Middle East and Persian Gulf regions, Defense Secretary William Cohen has ordered additional navy and coast guard units to ports in the area.
The forces are understood to include explosives experts and patrol boats. However for security reasons, the Pentagon is declining to say just how many personnel are being deployed, which countries they are going to, or when they will go.
U-S forces throughout the Middle East have been on heightened alert since the terrorist attack last October on a U-S destroyer refueling in the Yemeni port of Aden. Seventeen U-S sailors were killed in the attack on the ship, the U-S-S Cole. (Signed)