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Border Force boat for Norfolk and Suffolk is Alert by name and alert by nature

PUBLISHED: 08:44 30 August 2017

A new Border Force vessel operating from Yarmouth.
Minster of State for immigration, Brandon Lewis with Rod Lowson from Head Border Protection squadron.
Picture: Nick Butcher

A new Border Force vessel operating from Yarmouth. Minster of State for immigration, Brandon Lewis with Rod Lowson from Head Border Protection squadron. Picture: Nick Butcher

Archant © 2017

The latest weapon in a battle to keep our borders secure has been unveiled - as she showed off how she could catch criminals out at sea.

A new Border Force vessel operating from Yarmouth.
Picture: Nick Butcher A new Border Force vessel operating from Yarmouth. Picture: Nick Butcher

Alert is one of four new vessels that have been taken on by the Border Force to patrol the nation’s coast looking for anything suspicious in our waters.

On a typical day, Alert could investigate up to two vessels as she patrols the waters off the Norfolk and Suffolk coast.

Last year, there were just three Border Force vessels patrolling over 11,000 miles of Britain’s coastline at any one time. In comparison Italy had 600 vessels for 4,700 miles of coastline.

Explaining the merits of Alert, the Border Force’s head of border protection squadron, Rod Lowson, said: “We go out and patrol the UK coastline looking for criminal activity, whether it’s illegal immigration or customs offences.

“We have other cutters which are much larger, but they can’t get into the smaller ports and marinas or the near beach activity, so they’re really good vessels that we’ve got.

“We work on a two weekly pre-planned patrol cycle, so the vessel will have certain tasks to do. They may be visiting ports and harbours to build information, asking the general public to report suspicious activity through Project Kraken where they are asking for the community to report any unusual or suspicious activity near the coastline through Crimestoppers and 101.

“We’ll have the vessel going out looking for specific vessels of interest. Then we go and challenge those vessels, we’ll call them on the radio, asking where they are from, where they’re going, we can then board them and see if they can identify criminal offences and bring those vessels in.

“It’s hard to patrol the whole coastline, so we rely on intelligence and we work with the navy, police and the community.”

The crew of Alert will be showing off her capabilities at Yarmouth Maritime Festival.

Alert can make quick turns, pick up speed well if a chase is needed and can stop very quickly. She can also go into shallow waters and get up close to vessels which larger ships cannot do.

She has a crew of five and is a former rescue boat and below decks used to be a hospital. Brandon Lewis, Minister of State for Immigration, was on board as she was revealed to the media as she headed out of Yarmouth.

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