Surface Forces: May 14, 2003


Homeland Defense studies have shown, once more, how vulnerable American ports are to naval mines. For example, if some terrorists dropped a few mines in Long Beach or Los Angles harbor, shipping would be halted for weeks. Worse yet, drop a few mines in Puget Sound and one in the Panama Canal and you could tie up the whole West Coast, perhaps for months. Why? Don't we have mine clearing capability? Yes we do. But the Texas Congressional delegation strong-armed the Navy into concentrating virtually all of its mine warfare resources at Ingleside, Texas, on the Gulf Coast a little north of Brownsville. The high tech mines hunting ships and equipment is thus perfectly located to quickly deal with nothing. The only important ports in reasonable proximity are
the complex around Houston and that around New Orleans. The nation's other principal ports and naval bases are all far away on the east and west coasts. The ideal solution would be to position some mine clearing ships and equipment at Norfolk, San Francisco, and New Orleans (so they can be use way up the Mississippi). But it's unlikely that this will happen any time soon, given the leverage Texas has in the present administration.


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