At its annual convention this month, the Passenger Vessel Association (PVA) has an item on the agenda that’s sure to draw a crowd. – a “live active shooter exercise” onboard a boat.

The drill, involving the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the Intermodal Security Training and Exercise Program (I-STEP) and the Coast Guard, is a first for PVA.

“This is a logical topic, given the state of the world,” said John Groundwater, executive director of PVA. “In light of what’s been going on, our operators have a heightened sense of awareness. They’ve been doing more screening of passengers, but that’s part and parcel of the security plans.”

Many beefed up security measures date back to 9/11 and the subsequent Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA) of 2002, which mandated new security programs for vessels, U.S. ports and facilities.

Working with the Coast Guard, PVA came up with an Alternate Security Program (ASP) for members to use to comply with the MTSA. “Members must demonstrate they are a ‘member in good standing’ of the sponsoring organization and must complete a vulnerability assessment,” according to the Coast Guard.

Other ASPs approved by the agency include the American Waterways Operations, Greater New Orleans Barge Fleeting Association, the Lake Carriers Association, Offshore Marine Service Association, and Washington State Ferries.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) also has an active shooter preparedness program

Because of the MTSA and PVA’s program, “Our industry is way ahead of the security curve,” Groundwater said.

The convention exercise might help keep it there.

Dale DuPont has been a correspondent for WorkBoat since 1998. She has worked at daily and weekly newspapers in Texas, Maryland, and most recently as a business writer and editor at The Miami Herald, covering the cruise, marine and other industries. She and her husband once owned a weekly newspaper in Cooperstown, N.Y., across the alley from the Baseball Hall of Fame. A South Florida resident, she enjoys sailing on Biscayne Bay, except in hurricane season.