- Coast Guard cuts could leave shores unprotected from bioterrorists

A proposed U.S. Coast Guard budget cut could take Camden County, Georgia's maritime Homeland Security team away from Kings Bay, leaving the area unprotected during threats of biological, chemical or radiological attacks.

The 85 member Maritime Safety and Security Team is trained as a quick-response unit for a host of port security and harbor defense missions as well as in the performance of maritime law enforcement and interdiction. Additionally, the team supports and protects U.S. and allied forces in the detection of weapons of mass destruction.

Kings Bay's unit has been in operation since 2003 and boats several teams operating six high-speed tactical boats that are powered by twin 225-horsepower motors. The boats are also armed with fore and aft machine guns.

The Kings Bay team was one of 12 teams created to protect strategic locations on the nation's coasts following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The Coast Guard is currently recommending that five of the teams be decommissioned in a budget-saving move. The other teams facing a cut are in San Francisco, New Orleans, New York and Anchorage.

Kings Bay features a high profile ballistic missile submarine base and is close to the Jacksonville, Fla., Navy complex, which is expected to regain an nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. Both locations would be prime spots for a bioattack or other WMD attack.

"There are still a lot of people out there who wish to do us harm," Keith Post, a St. Marys city councilman and president of the Camden Kings Bay Council of Navy League, told the Tribune Georgian. "This St. Marys unit is within four hours of the ports from Charleston to Jacksonville. The cuts would leave the East Coast with response teams only in Miami and Boston."