LA Authorities Issue Helicopter Security Alert

The Louisiana State Analytical and Fusion Exchange (LA-SAFE) today issued a notice titled Suspicious Activity: Helicopter Leasing Facilities for aviation interests in Louisiana. We received it at work via our membership in the Offshore Operators Committee.

Oil and gas operators use helicopters routinely to access platforms and rigs. There are several large shore bases across the Gulf that serve this activity.

Walk-up inquiries about helicopter leasing qualify as highly unusual. So do men hanging around observing operations at the fence.

Heck, at this point, I’m suspicious of anyone who drives a late-model black Impala.

Over the past week, LA-SAFE has received several suspicious activity reports regarding helicopter facilities.

01/21/2010: Suspicious flyover at Jonesville Lock & Dam in Jonesville, LA. Report indicates that the operator on duty heard a noise and observed a helicopter hovering … approximately 25 to 30 feet over the lock and dam for approximately 15 to 20 minutes.

01/22/2010: Suspicious individual inquiring about a helicopter rental at the British Petroleum (BP)/Petroleum Helicopters Inc (PHI) Heliport in Houma, LA. Security personnel advised that the individual was inquiring about helicopter rentals. Security personnel asked for identification and the individual refused and departed in a new model black Chevrolet Impala.

01/23 – 01/24/2010:
Surveillance of helicopter leasing facility at Mouton Cove South near Abbeville, LA. Incident is similar to surveillance at Watercraft Leasing in Broussard, LA.

Surveillance of helicopter leasing facility at Watercraft Leasing in Broussard, LA. According to information that was received, security personnel discovered two male subjects observing the helicopters from outside the fence. When security approached, the subjects evaded by driving through a grassy area and back onto the road.

LA-SAFE has also received a suspicious activity report regarding a helicopter flying over a port facility in Orange, TX on 01/22/2010. Report indicates that the helicopter flew over the facility twice.

There’s no telling if these incidents are related in any way. It’s troubling, though, to think of the ways that an enemy of the state could wreak havoc without hijacking a Boeing 767.