BAR HARBOR (NEWS CENTER Maine) – A Facebook post has people questioning the presence of a heavily armed Coast Guard boat off the coast of Bar Harbor.
“I’ve never seen this in 30 years,” the poster wrote—calling the boat a “gun boat.”
Some people commented on the post speculating that it was a “Secret Service detail.” Others called it “scary” writing, “It’s the world we live in now.”
The Coast Guard said the boat, with a machine gun mounted to the bow, is very common and used in ports across the country.
The team operating the boat in Frenchman Bay is based in New York. They have been tasked with patrolling the bay and escorting the 180 cruise ships visiting Bar Harbor in and out of port this season.
"This mission has been going on for quite a while, but our team specifically post 9/11. We are a deployable specialized force that specializes in harbor patrols and security,” LTJG. Joseph Kelly said.
The special unit is known as a Maritime Safety and Security Team. Kelly said while the boat might look intimidating, the crew on board is made up of trained professionals.
“The goal for us is to really just promote public safety and deter criminal activity and any act of terrorism that may happen in the harbor,” Kelly said.
There is not a team like this in the Portland harbor, according to Kelly. The local Coast Guard sector handles cruise ships there.
“It’s not only vital to the economy here, but we have to protect those thousands of passengers coming in and out,” Kelly said.
Portland expects to see some 170,000 passengers on 118 cruise ships this season compared to 245,000 on 180 ships expected in Bar Harbor.