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The Super Bowl’s Super Security Boat

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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Moose on patrol. Image courtesy of the New Jersey State Police.

The Super Bowl poses mammoth security challenges in any given year. This year’s championship game—the first since last April’s Boston Marathon bombing—raises the stakes by bringing the game, which the Department of Homeland Security designates a “Level One” national security event, to New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium. Not only will kickoff take place just miles from the World Trade Center site, but the majority of the festivities leading up to the event are taking place across the Hudson River in Manhattan. Dozens of law enforcement agencies and antiterrorism units have fanned out to cover the region via land, air and sea.

Maritime defense is particularly important for Super Bowl XLVIII. Both the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos are staying in hotels along the Hudson River, the same body of water that many fans will traverse via automobile, bus and train on game day. Which makes it the perfect opportunity for the New Jersey State Police, the agency coordinating security efforts among dozens of federal, state and local agencies, to show off a $1 million, state-of-the-art patrol and transport vessel purchased with Federal Emergency Management Agency funds.

The state police this week have deployed one of their two Moose boats to transport security personnel, including its special operations teams, along the Hudson. The Moose—so called because it’s made by Petaluma, Calif.-based Moose Boats Inc.—is a 13.4-meter diesel water jet-propelled aluminum catamaran that can reach about 80 kilometers per hour and stop “on a dime” (within a length and a half of itself), says Sergeant First Class Ken Ryan, a 17-year veteran of the force who’s spent the past eight with the Marine Services Bureau.

The water-jet engine features an electronic control system that enables the boat to hold its position without an anchor or quickly swivel 360 degrees from a fixed position. If there’s an emergency, “you can actually push a button, walk away from the helm, and the boat’s going to hold position while troopers are in the back of the boat pulling somebody out of the water,” Ryan says.

The Moose can also operate in water as shallow as a half meter. That’s significant, especially for a boat of that size, because the state police could basically run the Moose up onto a beach for loading or offloading personnel in a hurry, Ryan says. The boat is also equipped with an infrared camera that gives the crew night vision on a monitor inside the vessel’s cabin and a hydraulically driven fire fighting system that sucks water from below and propels it through nozzles on the deck.

The state police, whose Super Bowl security detail includes more than 500 troopers, bought their first Moose in January 2012 using a FEMA Port Security Grant and added a second, 11.3-meter catamaran in November. A third Moose boat will join the fleet in March, followed by a fourth in October. The New York Police Department and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey likewise have Moose boats, although it’s unclear whether theirs will be deployed for Super Bowl security.

About the Author: Larry is the associate editor of technology for Scientific American, covering a variety of tech-related topics, including biotech, computers, military tech, nanotech and robots. Follow on Twitter @lggreenemeier.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.





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  1. 1. Spironis 12:50 pm 01/29/2014

    If an organic chemist were of such a mind as to do about 40,000 people in a stadium, said educated and skilled entity could do it for less than $1000 in any of a large number of ways. It is unstoppable.

    Deaths are off the menu. Even a second year undergrad can do way better than that from the open literature. If our enemies are sufficiently stupid to avoid the obvious, how smart is their opposition for letting them thrive? Our side is about agenda not outrage.

    Also detain and forcibly interrogate biologists, engineers, programmers…and anybody with an entry ticket. It shows intent.

    Link to this
  2. 2. oldfarmermac 3:56 pm 01/29/2014

    I am of the opinion that terrorists taken as a group must be serious underachievers because as Spirinos points out there must be dozens of ways that a lone terrorist or a small group of terrorists could very easily destroy or at least severely damage a city or town using only easily obtained materials that are entirely uncontrolled and and not even tracked because tracking them would involve tracking every last one of us every minute of every day which is imposs- hey , wait a minute!

    There’s a couple of black Suburbans pulling up in front of my house and I haven’t even posted this comment yet!

    Where ya headed on a dry windy night with that Bic and that cooler full of soft drinks and a five gallon can of gasoline?

    One person to drive and one to lob molotov cocktails during a dry windstorm and a drought and we could be looking at a firestorm the likes of which we haven’t seen since the cow kicked over the lantern.

    The only reasonable conclusion that I can come to is that there just aren’t that many wannabe terrorists running loose in this country.

    I don’t like the police state that is aborning this very minute but either it is working quite well and catching them or at least keeping them out or else they must indeed lack the brains that God gave a billy goat.

    I wouldn’t post a comment of this nature for fear of giving some idiot ideas but this one has been in unconventional warfare manuals since shortly after the widespread adoption of the automobile and it has been used in the plot of countless shoot ‘em up novels and movies.

    Link to this

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