The US Coast Guard announced that is investigating multiple laser strikes during the past month, aimed at commercial vessels transiting the Chesapeake Bay, in order to note the danger of this act.
As USCG explained, during all incidents, the laser light was described as steady, powerful and painful to the eyes. The reporting source believes the laser originated in the area between Drum Point and Cove Point, and lasted for approximately 15 minutes.
Specifically, four incidences occurred early Wednesday morning between midnight and 3 a.m., involving the motor vessels Salome, Bulk Spain, and AM Annaba. Additionally, a pilot vessel was lased as it was on its way back to the pilot launch. Three other incidents occurred on Monday around 2 a.m., involving the motor vessel Hoegh Osaka, on Sunday at 4 a.m., involving the cruise ship Carnival Pride, and another on April 7 at approximately 1 a.m., involving the motor vessel Maersk Kolkata.
“Laser lights, and other bright lights can be a hazard to navigation,” said Lt. Trish Elliston, Coast Guard Sector Maryland-National Capitol Region. “The most likely scenario is the laser would blind or distract a pilot which would prevent the pilot from seeing a smaller vessel. This could cause a collision or other serious incident in the shipping channel.”
According to USCG, the Laser Safety Act, makes it a misdemeanor to knowingly and willfully cause or attempt to cause bodily injury by shining, pointing, or focusing the beam of a laser pointer on an individual operating a motor vehicle, vessel, or aircraft. The penalty is a maximum 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $2,500.