By Leo Ryan, AJOTWithout great public fanfare, the United States and Canada have formally launched a first-of-its-kind accord in North America to enhance security on shared waterways and coastal areas. An agreement was signed in late May under which a so-called Shiprider pilot project was converted into a permanent arrangement between the two countries. Chief targets are drug smugglers and terrorist suspects. The scope of implementation includes the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence maritime corridor and the Strait of Georgia between British Columbia and Washington State where container vessels transit on calls to Port Metro Vancouver, Seattle and Tacoma. Under the agreement, officers from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the US Coast Guard can cross-train, share resources and personnel and utilize each other’s patrol boats in the waters of both countries. A US officer can command a vessel in US waters while a Canadian officer can command a patrol boat in Canada’s waters. As a result, jointly-crewed patrol boats can conduct an uninterrupted pursuit of smugglers, drug operators or terrorist suspects in all border maritime waters. Canada’s Minister of Public Safety, Peter Van Loan, and Janet Napolitano, US Secretary of Homeland Security, signed the Shiprider agreement during a ceremony on May 26 in Detroit. “The Shiprider concept involves law enforcement officials from both countries operating together in integrated teams,” said Mr. Van Loan. “This agreement sends a strong message to criminals that illegal activity will not be tolerated.” Napolitano stressed that “through coordinated enforcement along our shared waterways, we can better interdict offenders trying to flee across our maritime border.” “Borders create seams, and if you are not careful, they create exploitable seams,” remarked Rear Admiral Peter Neffenger, commander of the US Coast Guard’s 9th District, who attended the signing ceremony near the Windsor-Detroit Ambassador Bridge. The Shiprider pilot project was introduced two years ago as part of the Security and Prosperity Initiative. Joint operations by integrated marine teams had positive results, with 41 arrests made upon the boarding of 187 vessels. None of arrests reportedly involved suspect terrorists.