Coast Guard Warns of Blinding Laser Light Strikes on Md. Waterways

BALTIMORE (WJZ)– The Coast Guard is investigating a series of blinding laser light strikes being aimed at big commercial ships passing through the Chesapeake Bay.

Distracting, dangerous and in time it could prove to be deadly.

The use of high powered lasers have already proven to be a problem for commercial air pilots.

Similar incidents have been reported involving planes and even a Maryland State Police chopper.

During a FBI demonstration, the pilot struggled after being hit directly in the eyes by the beam.

The problem has seemingly gone from the sky to Maryland waterways.

“If you can imagine, a cruise ship, 700 feet in length and you don’t see another smaller vessel that could cause a collision in the shipping channel and that would be the worst case scenario,” said Lt. Patricia Elliston of the U.S. Coast Guard.

Coast Guard officials reported at least eight cases of laser strikes on large commercial vessels in the the last week, one of those was a Carnival cruise ship.

They all occurred in the early morning hours, typically for 15 minutes at a time between Drum Point and Cove Point in Calvert County.

During all of the incidents the laser light was described as steady, powerful, and somewhat painful to the eye.

“It could translate into a major environmental catastrophe and loss of life and everything else,” said Art Cox who boats in Anchor Bay Marina.

Earlier this year, a Maryland man was arrested after being accused of shining a laser light at a State Police helicopter.

Coast Guard officials are eager to make an arrest in these latest cases before tragedy strikes.

“It has absolutely become a problem in the area,” Elliston said.

Anyone caught doing this could face up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $2,500.

Anyone with information on these or any cases involving lasers is urged to contact police.

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