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Press Release | Jan. 6, 2023

Coast Guard seeks public information after laser strike hits Coast Guard cutter crew

ASTORIA, Ore. — The Coast Guard is requesting assistance from the public in locating a suspect or suspects who pointed a green laser light at Coast Guard Cutter Orcas while at anchor in Coos Bay Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2022.

At 7:15 p.m., crewmembers aboard Coast Guard Cutter Orcas, a 110-foot Coast Guard Cutter stationed in Coos Bay, reported an individual or individuals onshore, near the Empire Docks, repeatedly shined a laser into the bridge of the cutter.

The cutter crew reported the incident to the 13th Coast Guard District in Seattle, Coast Guard Sector North Bend, the Coast Guard Investigative Service and the Coos Bay Police Department.

Laser pointers can cause danger to Coast Guard aircrews, boat crews and cutter crews due to glare, afterimage, flash blindness or temporary loss of night vision. If a laser is shined in the eyes of an aircrew member, Coast Guard flight rules dictate that the aircraft must abort its mission.

Aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft or vessel is a felony crime under 18 U.S. Code Section 111, which states whoever forcibly assaults, resists, opposes, impedes, intimidates, or interferes with any person - a U.S. government officer - (in this case, a Coast Guard member) engaged in performance of his/her official duties, is in violation of 18 U.S.C. Section 111.

Aiming a laser pointer at a vessel is also a crime under 46 U.S. Code section 70014, which states “It shall be unlawful to cause the beam of a laser pointer to strike a vessel operating on the navigable waters of the United States.”

Coast Guard Investigative Service agents are working with local law enforcement to investigate the incident. Anyone with information about the case is encouraged to contact investigators at 503-247-4002 and visit: https://www.uscg.mil/Units/Coast-Guard-Investigative-Service/.

For more information about laser safety and the effects of a laser incident, visit the Federal Aviation Administration’s Laser Safety Imitative webpage at: http://www.faa.gov/about/initiatives/lasers/