Coast Guard's to Patrol Air With Machine Guns

The Coast Guard is adding some muscle to its patrols along the Connecticut shoreline.

They're adding machine guns to the helicopters that fly over Long Island Sound, giving the men and women who serve in the Coast Guard another tool to help protect the public, The Day of New London reports.

"We fly near areas where we have critical infrastructure, like the Thames River, Millstone (Power Station) and the port of New Haven with the oil terminals," Capt. Daniel Ronan told The Day.

The Coast Guard patrols are nothing new.  The agency has always monitored areas like the Naval Submarine Base, too keep other river traffic from getting too close to security zones. 

Capt. Ronan told the Day that the Coast Guard has been using armed helicopter patrols in the Caribbean since 2000. The guns are used to shoot out engines of boats carrying drugs to Miami. They've been adding more armored patrols at ports around the nation since the Sept. 11 attacks.

Some Coast Guard boats that patrol Long Island Sound already have guns, but Capt. Ronan says armed helicopters are an important component as well. 

"It makes perfect sense to put that capability in a helicopter as well," Ronan told The Day. "You have a vantage point from a more stable platform. If you shoot down, it's a much safer evolution than shooting on a horizontal angle from a small boat while bouncing on the waves."

The addition of the M240 machine guns will happen in the next few weeks. 


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