Aquatic sentinels to patrol All-Star Game

While baseball fans hope for home runs splashing into the Bay during Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game and festivities, San Francisco police and the U.S. Coast Guard will patrol below the water’s surface using a new sonar device to guard against underwater remote vessels or terrorist scuba divers placing bombs.

Rather than police divers searching the sea floor quadrant by quadrant, an Echoscope — a product from British firm CodaOctopus that was used to scan Jacksonville’s waterfront for Super Bowl XXXIX in 2005 — will continuously sweepthe underwater area using sonar, which will then provide a three dimensional picture to authorities.

From McCovey Cove to the Ferry Building and elsewhere in the Bay, the San Francisco police Marine Unit will use the device to monitor the sea world for anything suspicious. Scanning is expected to begin soon, and locations will be revisited to identify any changes, said Anthony Davis, senior vice president with CodaOctopus.

“By the time you get to next week, they want to have a baseline of what’s going on [underwater],” Davis said.

The Echoscope deployment is part of a larger effort to secure the water around the ballpark that includes controlled entry points and strict regulations, a reality that is at odds with the normally “free-spirited” feeling of being on the water, said San Francisco police Sgt. Danny Lopez, who heads the Marine Unit.

“It’s very unusual to have something that could be intrusive, to be treated like you’re at the airport when you’re on the water,” Lopez said.

Retired land surveyor John Margaroni, 65, said nothing would keep him from attending the All-Star Game with his son, or the Futures Game with his grandson.

“Personally, I feel that if you’re going to live in fear, lock yourself up in your house,” the San Mateo resident said.

IN McCOVEY COVE-CHINA BASIN

» Public access is limited to human-powered watercraft, 20 feet or less in length.t

» The number of public boats will be limited for security.

» The public is asked to preregister vessels with the Giants at www.sfgiants.com/mccoveycove.

» Boaters must consent to a search before entering the security zone.

» Unsafe watercraft such as inner tubes or pool toys will not be allowed.

» Everyone must have a life jacket with a whistle and flashlight if remaining after sunset.

AT AT&T PARK

» Everyone entering will be subject to magnetometer and wand checks.

» Paper or plastic bags, fanny packs, purses, backpacks, lunch bags, diaper bags, soft-sided coolers, handbags and briefcases must not be larger han 16 inches by 16 inches by 8 inches in size.

» Alcoholic beverages, glass bottles, cans, laser pointers, noisemakers, hard-sided coolers and weapons are not permitted.

– Source: Major League Baseball

dsmith@examiner.com


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