NEW YORK (CBS 2) — There is a large part of the war on terror that is being fought in the city every day, but many New Yorkers do not see it.
The battle is waged under water by a special NYPD SCUBA team that is specially trained to protect bridges and landmarks. Members of the elite team go beneath the city’s dark waters, day and night, to keep New Yorkers safe from attacks by terrorists.
“There are very sensitive locations around the city that I am not at liberty to talk about, but we dive religiously,” Det. Frank Pellegrino told CBS 2′s Chris Wragge.
The dives are physically grueling and divers are required to wear 90 pounds of equipment, and sea conditions are frequently rough.
“It’s mostly one foot to zero visibility. You’re dealing with the currents. You’re dealing with the weather, the swells, the waves, the wakes from other ferries,” Sgt. Terry Sullivan said.
CBS 2 joined the team for a dive at the Wall Street Heliport in the East River. The dive team approached its target in a small boat known as a “Zodiac.”
During the painstaking search the team inspects every inch of the heliport’s structure below the surface of the water, looking for evidence of explosives or any other type of tampering.
“We’re gonna be searching for anything out of the ordinary. Any protrusions off the sea wall or off the barge at the heliport and we’re looking for explosive devices or anything that clearly doesn’t belong there,” Sgt. Sullivan explained.
The divers use cutting edge technology to find their way in the dark water. The team is led by a diver with a sonar device which transmits images through a view find attached to his mask.
Detective Pellegrino has dived at the heliport a number of times.
“I dove it well over 100 times. I’m very intimate with that dive site. I know what it looks like almost with my eyes closed, so if there’s something I haven’t seen before we are going to investigate,” he said.
The divers told CBS 2 that they are proud to be a part of the fight against terror and understand the high stakes involved with their job. The team was recently on high alert during the meeting of the U.N. General Assembly and during President Barack Obama’s visit to the city.
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