During a recent speech in Washington, D.C., Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Thomas H. Collins described maritime security vulnerabilities that he felt were not sufficiently protected under current Coast Guard regulations.
As these security gaps are brought to light, passenger vessel operators may have to deal with tighter security regimes for some of their Subchapter H, K, T, or C vessels and vessel mooring facilities.
Collins pointed out that there are about 725 ferries that move millions of passengers and thousands of vehicles each year, all part of our mass transit system. He wants to beef up the screening of people, cargo, and vehicles that use these ferries by quickly implementing new technology, policies, and methods. Passenger vessel operators should pay attention since this may translate into higher operating costs.
Operators of T and C small passenger vessels are now mostly exempt from Coast Guard security regulations that were implemented under the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002.
However, operators of Subchapter T and C vessels should note that Adm. Collins said he was concerned that recreational boats are not a part of any comprehensive system that identifies and tracks the vessels, and then manages that information. Future steps to include pleasure boats in this system will probably also affect Subchapter T and C vessels.
On the plus side, Collins said the Coast Guard would continue to develop partnerships with vessel and facility owners and operators to increase maritime domain awareness.
This important component of the security risk management process involves a comprehensive awareness of our vulnerabilities, threats, and targets of interest on the water, including adjacent waterfront facilities and infrastructure.
Collins estimated that the cost of implementing MTSA in the first year is $1.5 billion and $7.3 billion over 10 years. It’s not known how much of these costs will be paid by passenger vessel operators and whether they can recover security costs by raising ticket prices.