Marine Corps Base Quantico Makes Water Security Changes

WASHINGTON — Marine Corps Base Quantico has a new security and safety system along the shores of the Potomac River.

Thirty-one buoys mark a perimeter around the Marine Corps Air Facility (MCAF) Quantico as a visual deterrent for boaters. MCAF houses the squadron of helicopters that serves the U.S. president, vice president and Cabinet members.

“The buoys are all marked with ‘Warning — restricted area — do not enter’ signs,” said Jake Smith, director of Installation Protection for MCAF. “Security and safety is the reason for the demarcation.”

The safety aspect of the perimeter is to protect boats from jet blasts and rotor wash that could easily capsize them. Smith said big aircraft such as C-17s and Ospreys operate at the base, in addition to the presidential helicopters.

The new buoy perimeter replaces one created in 2010 that washed away in subsequent years.

A survey of river ice patterns by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration revealed that when shallow areas froze, buoys placed in deeper waters were subject to swift currents that sucked them out into the Chesapeake Bay.

A number of adjustments and improvements have been made to the current buoys compared to those installed in 2010:

  • Anchor ties now are attached to 400-pound instead of 300-pound anchors.
  • Anchor chains that rusted in brackish water have been replaced with stainless steel cables.
  • Installation of buoys 50 meters closer to shore puts them in shallower water, where they’re less likely to be pulled out of place.

“With the combination of these different things, we should have a more sustainable piece of equipment for the years to come,” Smith said.

Commercial fisherman, such as crabbers, are allowed to make special arrangements with MCAF to enter the restricted zone.

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