Threat-detecting ship patrols L.A. harbor

The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have gained added protection from chemical and biological weapons following the launching of a new ship that can detect those potential terror threats.

"The port complex is one of the most critical infrastructures in the United States," Jack Ewell, who is in charge of the project for the Sheriff's Department, told Los Angeles' CBS2. "It is the largest and the busiest container port in the U.S., with 40 percent of all U.S. imports coming through the port complex. It is estimated that it would cost the U.S. economy $1 billion a day if the port complex was shut down by an incident."

The $3 million biothreat detecting ship has been in use since last week according to the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department. The vessel is staffed by explosives experts and is equipped with the tools to screen for threats on cargo ships prior to their entrance into what is the nation's busiest port complex.

The ship's experts also board incoming ships to screen for substances that have applications as weapons of mass destruction.

Upon entrance to the port, the ship's are then subject to further inspection.

The new ship also features a sonar system that allows it to scan for underwater threats.

In addition to the new threat detecting ship, a helicopter has also been added to the arsenal of the deputies patrolling the ports. The helicopter is able to screen for radioactive material.