Update 1: The Unified Command has determined that there is no existing threat to the port of Charleston after scanning four containers where the “potential threat” was posed. The terminal was expected to reopen and safety zone lifted.
The Coast Guard added that the original reporting source of the threat in the port has been detained for questioning.
The threat is believed to have started by a known conspiracy theorist and spread online, prompting the response from authories.
Wednesday (June 14): Officials are investigating a ‘potential threat’ aboard a U.S.-flagged Maersk Line containership at the Port of Charleston in South Carolina.
The Coast Guard said at approximately 8 p.m. Wednesday that authorities were made aware of a potential threat in a container aboard the vessel Maersk Memphis in the Port of Charleston.
The Maersk Memphis is moored at Charleston’s Wando terminal, which has been evacuated while law enforcement units from federal, state and local law enforcement agencies investigate the threat.
A 1 nautical mile safety zone has been established around the vessel while law enforcement authorities investigate the threat.
“Federal, state and local law enforcement agencies are currently investigating the type of the potential threat,” the Coast Guard said on Twitter.
Coast Guard officials described the threat as a possible “dirty bomb”, according to Reuters and other media outlets. A dirty bomb is a combination of radioactive and conventional explosives.
An unified command has been established to oversee the coordinated response, which the Coast Guard described as ‘active and ongoing’ as of 2 a.m. ET.
According to Maersk Lines website, the Maersk Memphis last called at the Port of Newark on June 12 after sailing from the Middle East via the Suez Canal and Algecira.
Maersk Memphis was built in 2007 and has a capacity of 6,188 TEU.