Safe and Secure?

Almost a decade has passed since 9/11 and over eight years since the resulting Maritime Transportation Security Act became law. So what does the workboat industry have to show for it besides a big security tab? Not much.

Our position since 2002 has been consistent: The MTSA was a bad piece of legislation, hastily passed in the security-crazed post-9/11 mania with little or no input from the maritime industry. It is a burdensome administrative hassle with hidden costs, repetitive procedures and overlapping requirements that have, at best, resulted in dubious improvements in security.

The MTSA imposed many costly changes on the workboat industry, but the biggest waste of time and money has been the Transportation Worker Identification Credential — TWIC. To say TWIC has been fraught with problems and is nothing but an expensive work permit for mariners is an understatement. It is simply a big, costly headache.

The TWIC program has been cumbersome, poorly executed, and, as many mariners and operators contend, the cards are totally useless. There is nothing smart about these “smartcards.” Many rightly contend that TWIC was “overkill” and has cost the industry millions while falling well short of what Congress thought the cards would do. Many have called for a repeal of the law requiring the cards.

As Alan Bernstein wrote in his June Captain’s Table column (“Get rid of the TWIC card”), “For my employees and me, the TWIC card has absolutely no value and is a big waste of money.” The industry had hoped that TWIC would allow mariners to consolidate all of their documents, licenses and credentials into one identification card, which would allow the Coast Guard to quickly verify mariners’ credentials. Sadly, this hasn’t happened.

We receive a lot of feedback from readers and visitors. The hottest topic by far is TWIC. 

A deckhand on a research vessel wrote me recently saying, “I have yet to use it or be asked to show my TWIC card. Nobody I know has been required to produce it either. I work closely with the Coast Guard and the Navy, and none of them knew how or when to ask for a TWIC card. In my job, they are quite worthless and need to be abolished.” Enough said.


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