Uncle Sam has rolled out a new interagency approach for informing mariners about maritime security threats.
The Maritime Administration recently announced implementation of a more streamlined and consolidated Maritime Advisory System for issuing U.S. Maritime Alerts and Advisories. It is the first significant update since 1939.
The new system replaces a patchwork of warnings from different agencies: Special Warnings to Mariners posted by the State Department, Marad Advisories issued through the Department of Transportation, and global marine security-focused Marine Safety Information Bulletins generated by the Coast Guard.
Consolidating these alert instruments will allow the government to "more effectively and efficiently communicate with maritime industry stakeholders and mariners regarding identified threats in the maritime domain," according to a statement from Marad.
The new system will involve cooperation between federal maritime security partners including the Departments of State, Transportation, Defense, Justice, Homeland Security, the intelligence community and the Global Maritime Operational Threat Response Coordination Center, an arm of Homeland Security.
Maritime Alerts will quickly provide basic information such as location, incident type and date and time of reported maritime security threats. Alerts may sometimes be issued to refute unsubstantiated claims.
Maritime Advisories may follow an alert and are intended to provide more detailed information about the federal response to the threat.
Alerts and advisories will be emailed to maritime stakeholders and mariners who register for the email distribution list. The information will also be posted on the system's website.
Marad says vessel masters, company security officers, ship operators, mariners, maritime industry associations, maritime unions and professional associations, and maritime-related non-governmental organizations are the intended recipients of these messages.
The system, however, is not intended as a vehicle for mariners to communicate possible security threats to authorities, Rodney McNany of Marad's Office of Congressional and Public Affairs said in an email.
Mariners wanting to report a security incident should contact the U.S. Coast Guard National Response Center at 1-800-424-8802 or 202-267-2675.