My Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) expires this year. So, I contacted a nearby TSA Enrollment Center to schedule an appointment to renew my TWIC. I did this even though TWIC has little or no use to me, my company, or the passenger vessel industry.

The TWIC program was established after the 9/11 attacks to identify individuals in the transportation industry who may be terrorists or have serious criminal records. All individuals must have a TWIC to gain access to secure maritime facilities. To my knowledge, mariners and truckers are the only ones required to have a TWIC. In the maritime industry, the Coast Guard has confided that there have been few individuals with offenses that disqualified them from getting a TWIC.

While the implementation of TWIC might have seemed logical to federal regulators immediately following the 9/11 attacks, the need for expensive and ineffective TWIC cards in the passenger vessel industry has passed. Today, passenger vessel operators are required to have vessel security plans — also a byproduct of the 9/11 attacks.

These operators, whether they use the PVA Alternate Security Program or other plans approved by the Coast Guard, employ strict security measures which regulate and restrict access to sensitive areas such as the wheelhouse or engine room. These security measures also cover facilities and dock space. I believe that such security measures eliminate the need to also have TWIC cards.

Requiring mariners and other employees to get TWIC cards has been costly for my company and others in the maritime industry. Many potential employees have chosen to work elsewhere rather than endure the hassle of getting a TWIC card in order to work on my company’s vessels.

TWIC has been costly for mariners and is an added barrier to hiring in an already tough job market.

Mariners must speak out about the negative effects of the TWIC program on our industry and request that their legislators eliminate this ineffective and costly program once and for all.

Alan Bernstein, owner of BB Riverboats in Cincinnati, is a licensed master and a former president of the Passenger Vessel Association. He can be reached at 859-292-2449 or [email protected].