They sound like tools used in a superhero movie: a $3 million high tech boat, a radiation-detecting helicopter, and a chemical weapons-sniffing dog named Johnny Ringo. But this real-life crime fighting combination is part of Long Beach port's newest arsenal in the war against terrorists.
The 55-foot screening vessel is "the first of its kind in the world," according to a Sheriff's department statement, while the dog is the only one of its kind in the nation.
The $3 million screening vessel acquired by the Sheriff's Department using Homeland Security funds carries "the most advanced technology currently available to protect the region," said Jack Ewell, who is in charge of the project for the Sheriff's Department.
The dog, an 18-month-old black Golden Retriever named Johnny Ringo, has one of most highly trained noses ever, he said, adding that he can sniff out chemical agents at lower concentrations than any instrument. He's also the only pooch in the Sheriff's Department with his own badge.
Whitmore said the boat is designed to scan the contents of a ship through its hull as it is being escorted into the port and transmit the data to shore-based authorities. It is equipped with a submersible rover that can search hulls for explosives in zero-visibility conditions, he said.
"It is equipped with highly advanced radiation and chemical/biological detection equipment, which allows deputies to remotely screen entire ships for weapons of mass destruction materials while they are under way to the port complex," he said.
The vessel is also equipped with an advanced sonar system, along with a rover capable of depths of up to 3,000 feet.