Coast Guard: Pointing a laser at a ship is a federal crime

A green laser shines on a Great Lakes shipping vessel
A green laser shines on a Great Lakes shipping vessel(U.S. Coast Guard)
Published: May. 15, 2023 at 8:09 AM CDT
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DULUTH, Minn. (WBAY) - You’re likely familiar with laws against shining a laser at an aircraft, including passenger jets or helicopters. The U.S. Coast Guard is spreading the message that it’s illegal with ships, too, after an incident at the Port of Duluth.

The Coast Guard recently learned about the incident, which happened on April 21, 2023. A citizen recorded video of the Laker arriving in port and later, when editing the video, noticed the bright green flash of a laser pointed at the pilot house window.

“Laser pointers have the potential to blind someone temporarily or permanently if pointed in their eyes. When a laser is pointed at a vessel underway, this can create a hazard to the navigable waterway,” a statement from the Coast Guard reads. Under a law passed in 2021, offenders can face fines of up to $25,000.

Anyone who witnesses someone shining a laser on a vessel on navigable waters can contact the Coast Guard at (503) 247-4002, submit a tip to Coast Guard Investigative Services (CGIS) online, or use the CGIS tips app.