atchstanders at U.S. Coast Guard Sector Los Angeles/Long Beach operations center, received a report Thursday night from the 45-foot motor lifeboat crew at Coast Guard Station Channel Islands that four of the members were struck twice with a laser while transiting near the Channel Islands Harbor entrance. Crewmembers reported that the laser came from shore and once they energized their blue law-enforcement light, the laser desisted.
After a medical evaluation, there were no reported injuries associated with the incident.
The Coast Guard said that pointing handheld lasers at Coast Guard vessels and aircrews is dangerous and illegal. Pointing a laser at an aircraft is a federal crime and a felony offense under Title 18, United States Code, Section 39A. If found guilty, offenders could be fined up to $250,000 and sentenced to five years in prison.
"Lasers are extremely dangerous and not only jeopardize our crewmembers physically, but their ability to conduct search and rescue and law-enforcement missions,” said Capt. Jennifer F. Williams, commander, Coast Guard Sector Los Angeles/Long Beach.
Crewmembers affected by laser strikes can have temporary effects in vision, including: afterimage, flash blindness and temporary loss of night vision. In some cases, a laser strike can result in permanent damage to a person’s eye sight. If a crew member is lased it severely compromises his ability to effectively respond and safely operate the vessel or aircraft, ultimately endangering the safety and lives of crewmembers aboard and the general public.