Port Security Initiatives

Since 9/11, the U.S. has undertaken the following initiatives to protect ports from terrorist attacks:

The Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA) establishes for the first time a mandatory security regime for ports, facilities and vessels. Key provisions went into effect on July 1. 

Area Maritime Security Plans have been developed covering 361 ports, the Great Lakes, inland rivers, and the Gulf outer continental shelf. 

Port Security Assessmentshave been done on 19 of the 55 most important military and economicports in the country. Reviews of the remaining 36 will be done by the end of the year.

Facility Security Plans must be prepared for about 3,200 marine facilities that have been identified as vulnerable. Nearly all have done a self-assessment and submitted plans to the Coast Guard before the July 1 deadline. Vessels engaged in international trade are also required to have Coast Guard-approved security plans in place by July 1.

A National Maritime Transportation Security Plan is being drafted. The final plan should be in place by 2005.

Automatic Identification Systems will be required on certain commercial vessels by the end of the year. 

The International Ship and Port Security Code is being put in place at the behest of the U.S. It requires foreign vessels and port facilities that do business with the U.S. to implement security plans by July 1.

Mariner credentialingis part of the U.S-negotiated international agreement that requires scrutiny of merchant mariner documents, licenses and port workers’ credentials.  New identity documents will contain a biometric indicator based on a uniform, international standard in order to prevent tampering. It will also be linked to national databases to verify legitimacy of documents.

Port facility employeeswill undergo special security training that is now being developed by the Maritime Administration.

Grants: MTSA established a grant program to help selected ports implement new security measures.

Advance notice: U.S.-bound vessels over 300 tons must provide 96-hour notice of arrival in U.S. ports. 

Container Security Initiative: Along with their foreign counterparts, U.S. Customs and Border Protection inspectors are working in the world’s 20 busiest seaports to screen and label cargo as “higher-risk” or “low-risk” long before it reaches the U.S.            — Pamela Glass

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