The Port of Los Angeles kicked off an anti-terrorism exercise on Wednesday in a bid to help protect ships against attacks by terrorists using small watercraft, authorities said.
The two-hour drill featured the first-ever use of the port's "Small Craft Intrusion Barrier," a floating, plastic-and-steel boom deployed in sections by tugboats, said port spokesman Gordon Smith.
The barrier will close one of the port's channels near the World Cruise Ship Terminal, Smith said.
At one point, a hinged opening in the barrier will allow a port police boat to pass through, giving participants "hands on" experience in activating the device, Smith said.
"Security experts are increasingly concerned about the vulnerability of cruise ships and large cargo vessels to terrorists attacking in small watercraft," Smith said.
Meanwhile, port police conducted land- and water-side operations using hazmat, canine and tactical teams, and conducted an underwater sweep of the pier.
On Oct. 12, 2000, a small craft blew a large hole in the USS Cole in Aden, Yemen, killing 17 American sailors aboard the destroyer and wounding 39 others in a suicide attack believed to have been carried out by al-Qaida.