Agencies Launch Aerial Initiative On Boating Safety

OCEAN CITY — The thousands of vessels of all shapes and sizes taking to the water during the dog days of summer will likely have eyes in the sky watching them after state officials this week announced a new boating safety initiative for the Ocean City area for the remainder of the season.

In an effort to increase boating safety and enforcement in and around the resort area, the Maryland State Police Aviation Command and the Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP) are partnering on a new initiative that started last weekend that will put as many as 14 specially trained NRP officers in MSP helicopters and other airplanes flying over the waters in and around Ocean City. The enforcement initiative, which got underway last Saturday, will place an emphasis on the safe operation of boats and personal watercraft and will focus on speed limit violations, reckless operation, alcohol use and the presence of required safety equipment.

Specially-trained NRP officers will fly in MSP helicopters or airplanes to conduct boating enforcement efforts from the air to complement the resources on the ground or in vessels out on the water. As many as 14 NRP officers have been trained by MSP Aviation Command to work alongside flight crews.

The training, which began earlier this summer, focused on safety, crew resource management, water egress and emergency procedures. NRP officials said this week the initiative is in response to a spike in boating fatalities across the state this summer.

“Last year, 24 people needlessly died in boating accidents in Maryland, doubling the average of previous years,” said NRP Sgt. Brian Albert. “By working together, we will educate the public, help reduce boating accidents and work to keep everyone safe.”

Specially trained NRP officers will fly in Maryland State Police helicopters or airplanes to conduct boating enforcement efforts from the air. The MSP Aviation Command has trained the 14 NRP officers to work alongside flight crews. In addition, members of the Ocean City Beach Patrol have also been trained to rescue swimmers via helicopter in an emergency if needed.

The NRP is the lead agency in enforcing boating laws and regulations designed to keep Marylanders safe on the water and the MSP Aviation Command is committed to assisting in that mission. The resort area was chosen as the test case of sorts for the initiative because of the sheer volume of activity on the water.

“The popularity of boating and swimming in Ocean City makes it an obvious choice for implementing this initiative,” said Albert.