Naval bases across Southeast to review security after Norfolk shooting
By Clifford Davis | The (Jacksonville) Florida Times-Union | Published: March 26, 2014
The captain of Norfolk Naval Station said Tuesday he will review security procedures at his sprawling base after a civilian attempted to board the USS Mahan, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, and fatally shot a sailor.
Naval bases across the Southeast also will be doing the same, according to Mike Andrews, a spokesman for Rear Adm. Rick Williamson, commander Navy Region Southeast.
“We’re always reviewing our security procedures,” Andrews said. “I think it’s safe to say everyone will be reviewing their security after this.”
The shooting occurred about 11:20 p.m. Monday while the Mahan was docked at Norfolk’s Pier 1. The Navy has not yet identified the gunman, nor the sailor.
“The suspect approached the Mahan’s quarterdeck and was confronted by ship security personnel,” said Norfolk’s commanding officer, Capt. Robert Clark.
Quarterdecks usually serve as the main access point entering or leaving the ship, where the brow connects the ship to the pier, and are usually manned by three sailors: the officer on deck, the petty officer of the watch and the messenger of the watch. Ships also use roving guards to enhance security.
“A struggle ensued, and the suspect was able to disarm the petty officer of the watch,” Clark continued. “The suspect then used the weapon to fatally shoot our sailor responding to render assistance.
“Naval security forces then killed the suspect.”
If the civilian approached the ship and did not have permission to board that specific ship, security would have stopped him, according to a spokesman for Williamson, the commander Navy Region Southeast.
“Any person requesting access to a ship must have the permission of the commanding officer of that particular ship,” Andrews said. “Access is tightly controlled and the responsibility for access rests with the command.”
The case is likely to again bring scrutiny to security procedures used to control civilian access at the U.S. Navy bases.
Just six months ago Aaron Alexis, a former sailor and civilian contractor, killed 12 people and wounded three others when he snuck a shotgun into the Washington Navy Yard.
That same day, a report was released by the U.S. Inspector General that noted serious misgivings about RapidGate, a system the Navy uses to grant access to civilian workers. However, neither Alexis, nor it appears Monday’s shooter at Norfolk, used that system.
In Monday’s shooting, Clark said a Transportation Worker Identification Credential [TWIC] was found on the civilian’s body.
TWIC cards are issued by the Transportation Security Agency or TSA which is most familiar to people as the agency that runs airport security checkpoints.
The agency’s website calls TWIC a “vital security measure that will ensure individuals who pose a threat do not gain unescorted access to secure areas of the nation’s maritime transportation system.”
Port facility employees, truck drivers, longshore workers, merchant mariners and others who need unescorted access to secure areas of maritime facilities and ships use TWIC.