Coast Guard Investigates After Laser Strike Hits Boat Crew

Image via U.S. Coast Guard.

The U.S. Coast Guard opened an investigation and sought information from the public regarding a suspect or suspects who pointed a green laser light into the eyes of a Coast Guard Station Tillamook Bay boat crew member west of the Tillamook Bay entrance near Garibaldi, Ore.

Around 10:45 p.m. July 19, the 47-foot motor lifeboat crew reported that a laser was shined into the eyes of one of crew members while the vessel was conducting training operations about a mile offshore, northwest of the Tillamook Bay North Jetty.

The boat crew reported the laser originated near Nedonna Beach or Manhattan Beach off the Oregon coast.

Laser pointers can cause danger to Coast Guard air crews, boat crews and cutter crews due to glare, after-image, flash blindness or temporary loss of night vision. If a laser is shined in the eyes of an aircrew member, Coast Guard flight rules dictate that the aircraft must abort its mission.

The individual who was struck by the laser suffered from distorted vision following the incident.

Aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft or vessel is a felony crime under 18 U.S. Code Section 111, which states whoever forcibly assaults, resists, opposes, impedes, intimidates or interferes with any person—a U.S. government officer—(in this case, a Coast Guard member) engaged in performance of their official duties, is in violation of 18 U.S.C. Section 111.

Aiming a laser pointer at a vessel is also a crime under 46 U.S. Code section 70014, which states: ‘It shall be unlawful to cause the beam of a laser pointer to strike a vessel operating on the navigable waters of the United States.’

As of early August, Coast Guard Investigative Service agents were investigating the incident.

Anyone with information about this case or similar incidents is asked to contact investigators at (503) 247-4002 or anonymously at CGIS tips (

More information about laser safety and the effects of a laser incident, see the Federal Aviation Administration’s Laser Safety Initiative webpage: