Reservist

ISS2 2018

Reservist Magazine is the award-winning official publication of the United States Coast Guard Reserve. Quarterly issues include news and feature articles about the men and women who comprise America's premier national maritime safety and security

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vessel, foreign or domestic in the territorial waters of the United States, [and] may inspect such vessel at any time, place guards there on, and, if necessary . . . secure such vessels from damage or injury, or to prevent damage or injury to any harbor or waters of the United States . . . ." The Act's text also states that the Treasury Secretary "may take . . . full possession and control of such vessel and remove therefrom the officers and crew thereof and all other persons not specially authorized by him . . . ." The Espionage Act also shifted responsibility for safety and movement of vessels in U.S. harbors from the Army Corps of Engineers to the Treasury Department. In 1917, Treasury Secretary William McAdoo assigned Coast Guard officers to oversee port security in the strategic maritime centers of New York, Philadelphia, Hampton Roads, Va., and Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. The Act provided these officers near-dictatorial power over shipping in these locations. In addition to controlling anchorages and movement of vessels, units under these officers safeguarded waterfront property, removed suspicious or dangerous passengers or crew from merchant ships, and regulated the loading and shipment of hazardous cargoes. The power of these officers was most evident in the port of New York. During the war, New York embarked more weapons and war material than any other U.S. port. In the span of a 18 months, New York loaded nearly 1,700 ships with more than 345 million tons of shells, smokeless powder, dynamite, ammunition and other explosives. Capt. Godfrey Carden commanded the Coast Guard's New York Division, which included nearly 1,500 officers and men, four tugs borrowed from the Navy and the Army, five harbor cutters and an assortment of smallcraft. In all, his division was the Service's largest wartime command. With the threat of a catastrophic explosion in the back of his mind, Carden ruled port operations with an iron fist. He issued special orders to be rigidly enforced by his division. Carden's men guarded every ship and barge loading ordnance, enforced cargo-handling regulations and kept unauthorized persons off munitions ships. Meanwhile, his cutters patrolled every inch of New York Harbor's anchorages and restricted areas. In an article published after the war, Carden wrote: "To lose a ship by carelessness was to play the enemy act; and the guards had instructions to deal with any careless person as with an enemy. No chances were to be taken." Carden became the best-known Coast Guard captain of WWI and the term "captain-of-the-port" was invented to describe his role as overseer of New York's port security. His division orchestrated the movement of munitions ships between piers and restricted anchorages to alleviate collisions or boarding by saboteurs. At the same time, hazardous cargoes were loaded as rapidly as 48 hours with no serious mishaps within his division's area of responsibility. After the war, Treasury Secretary Carter Glass commended Carden, writing, "The enforcement of anchorage regulations during the war period was a duty which involved a heavy responsibility and which could not properly be performed except by a man who combined firmness of opinion with exceptional balance of judgment." The Espionage Act would be invoked in World War II when the nation shipped millions of tons of weapons and ammunition from U.S. ports to the front lines. It also supported Coast Guard port security operations during the Korean Conflict, Vietnam War, Gulf War and in the recent War on Terror. This act became one of the most important legislative acts to empower the Coast Guard in its port security mission, and its importance continues today. � Aftermath of the Black Tom Island munitions explosion. U.S. National Park Service Sketch of tug moving a World War I munitions ship in New York Harbor. Coast Guard Collection Issue 2 • 2018 � RESERVIST 29

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