In March, a civilian truck driver, Jeffrey Tyrone Savage, 35, passed through security at Naval Station Norfolk using a valid Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) card. He made his way to the USS Mahan, where he disarmed a petty officer and shot and killed Master-at-Arms Second  Class Mark Mayo. Naval security personnel then killed Savage. 

In June, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced that TWIC applicants with a manslaughter conviction on their record would no longer qualify for a TWIC. (It had come to light that Salvage had served time for voluntary manslaughter but was able to obtain a TWIC card because the regulations allowed it.)

Now, let me get this straight: we wanted to keep dangerous people such as terrorists out of our ports but people who had voluntarily killed another person were OK? “We encountered [Savage] in 2013, and based on the standards that we were using at the time, that voluntary manslaughter charge was not a disqualifier,” Stephen Sadler, assistant administrator for intelligence and analysis with TSA, told a Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on port security in late spring.

Some hard working mariners with decades of experience and clean records have struggled in the past to get TWIC cards but an ex-con was able to obtain his and use it to help him gain access to a naval base where he subsequently committed murder. “We’ve changed our policy now … if you come in with a voluntary manslaughter charge that’s going to be an interim disqualifier,” Sadler further testified. The fact that it’s an “interim disqualifier” means it can be appealed.

How about anyone who has served time for an incident whereby he or she is criminally responsible for another’s death is AUTOMATICALLY disqualified? I know I’m coming late to this party, but my rehashing of this event is worthwhile. TSA doesn’t have the backbone to say, “If you’ve served time for manslaughter, step out of the TWIC line.” What this says about TSA is frightening. One person is dead and another will live with the fact that it was his weapon the killer used to commit “voluntary” murder.

And no one at TSA saw the possibility of this happening? Outrageous.


Ken Hocke has been the senior editor of WorkBoat since 1999. He was the associate editor of WorkBoat from 1997 to 1999. Prior to that, he was the editor of the Daily Shipping Guide, a transportation daily in New Orleans. He has written for other publications including The Times-Picayune. He graduated from Louisiana State University with an arts and sciences degree, with a concentration in English, in 1978.