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US Navy's Role in Countering Maritime Terrorism

NCJ Number
Terrorism Volume: 6 Issue: 3 Dated: (1983) Pages: 469-480
R W Barnett
Date Published
12 pages
Counterterrorism as carried out by the U. S. Navy involves actions to deter or defeat direct terrorist activity (against the ship itself) and indirect activity (against other U.S. interests).
U.S. Navy ships are especially well organized, constructed, and equipped to deal with the former, but they would be virtually powerless to assist U.S. merchant ships against the most probable threats (bombing, hijacking, and attacks) in the most probable location (overseas ports). There have been few spectacular acts of maritime terrorism. About ninety-five percent of all incidents of what would be classified as transnational maritime terrorism involved bombings, hijackings, and 'other' attacks. Nearly all of these took place when ships were in port, and the victims were predominantly merchant ships. Only a small number of terrorist attacks have been reported against men-of-war -- none against U.S. Navy ships. Bombing, including various forms of mining, comprises the major threat to merchant ships, while the dangers of U.S. Navy ships would be aggravated by the presence of nuclear weapons or nuclear propulsion plants. (Author abstract)