by Dick Mauer
by Dick Mauer
Back in the early 80's the port of Buffalo still saw the occasional visit of "salties" (ocean ships) which were initially inspected by Immigration Inspectors from the Buffalo District. When a crewman on one of these ships was determined to be inadmissible they were "detained on board" (DOB'd), photographed, and the Border Patrol was notified and furnished the Polaroid. Thereafter, for the period of time the ship was in port a Border Patrol Agent would board the ship, once a shift, to physically view the detained crewman. Prior to the ship sailing the crewman would be viewed a final time and a vehicle would remain at the gangplank until the ship left the pier. The next port on the Great Lakes would be notified and Officers there would take up the surveillance. We also had emergency procedures in place to cover transportation facilities in case a crewman jumped ship. Paying visits to local bars was also part of our response to find any adventurers.
I particularly remember one of the last Soviet vessels to put into Buffalo and our first trip on board to visit and view a Soviet miscreant. We were escorted to the Captains quarters to meet the Captain, an outwardly jolly fellow who broke out the vodka to offer toasts. They were politely declined but the mood remained jovial until the inevitable "political officer" made her appearance. There was such an officer on every Soviet ship to keep the communist party eye on everything. The mood definitely soured when she entered the room. The party apparatchik was the double for the woman used to make the old "IS SVIMWEAR" television advertisements and never cracked a smile while we were on board. As I recall we kept a vehicle at the bottom of the gangplank for the entire period the ship was in port. This all happened before the debacle in New Orleans involving Seaman Medvid.