New Port & Maritime Security Regulations Outlined For Congressional Panel

Washington, D.C. - The Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard appeared before a Congressional panel to outline how several new regulations will help improve U.S. and international port and maritime security.

Admiral Thomas Collins outlined the new regulations during an oversight hearing by the U.S. House Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation.

LoBiondo Pledges To Ensure Adequate Funding For Coast Guard Programs:

?The Coast Guard developed the interim port security regulations mandated by the Maritime Transportation Security Act in a timely manner, while thoughtfully considering input from the maritime community via public meetings, written comments, and partnership efforts,? said U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), the Chairman of the Subcommittee. ?I commend the Coast Guard for their collaborative approach, which has resulted in a wide consensus on most aspects of the regulations. However, I understand some industry and maritime stakeholders still disagree with the Coast Guard on the mechanics of the Service?s implementation. I hope this hearing will begin to address these concerns.

?The Committee will continue our efforts to ensure that current money available for Port Security Assessments and port security grants will remain intact and that additional funding will become available. The Committee also realizes the large administrative burden this will have on the Operating budget of the Coast Guard. For this reason, we need to be assured that the Coast Guard has the necessary personnel and funding to administer these regulations without further eroding the budget for traditional missions. Finally, we must be assured that the Coast Guard implements a robust Port State enforcement effort to ensure international vessel and facility compliance with the Safety of Life at Sea amendments and the new International Ship and Port Facility Security code,? LoBiondo said.

Domestic & International Efforts Underway To Improve Security:

Admiral Thomas H. Collins, Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, outlined how the proposed regulations implementing the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002 (MTSA) and international efforts were being adopted to improve port and maritime security.

?The six separate, but complementary, rules will implement the core security elements of the MTSA as well as newly adopted international security standards. And while the foundation of our effort is based on the MTSA, it is critically important to recognize the value of having these rules integrated with the international maritime security regime established through the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

?Specifically, I speak of the adoption at IMO of maritime security-related amendments to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) and an International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code. This approach helps minimize the potential for a proliferation of national, unilateral security requirements that could impair global maritime commerce, while at the same time ensuring that meaningful security measures are implemented, not just in the U.S., but also on a global scale.

?The result of this dedicated, multi-lateral effort is a team of over 100 international partners committed to worldwide maritime security,? Collins told the Subcommittee.

The six regulations highlighted at the hearing were:
? General Provision of National Maritime Security
? Area Maritime Security
? Vessel Security
? Facility Security
? Outer Continental Shelf Facility Security
? Vessel Carriage Requirements for the Automatic Identification System

?Among other requirements, the regulations compel regulated vessels and facilities to conduct security assessments to develop detailed security plans to address vulnerabilities revealed by those assessments, and to establish security measures commensurate with the level and degree of risk within the marine transportation system,? Collins said. ?The regulations contain requirements for the designation and competency of security personnel, including standards for training, drills, and exercises.

?The regulations further designate Coast Guard Captains of the Port as local Federal Maritime Security Coordinators. In this role, they are delegated authority to conduct area security assessments and develop area security plans for their respective areas of responsibility. This ?family of plans? approach establishes a layered system of protection that involves all maritime stakeholders, and will be consistent with the National Transportation System Security Plan being developed by the Transportation Security Administration in coordination with the Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection Directorate.

?The Coast Guard, as the lead maritime homeland security agency, has also begun developing a national maritime security strategy to be incorporated within the National Transportation Security Plan,? Collins said.

Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002:

On November 25, 2002, President Bush signed into law the Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA) of 2002, Public Law 107-295, which contains several provisions intended to protect America?s maritime community against the threat of terrorism without adversely affecting the flow of U.S. commerce through our ports. Section 102 of the MTSA creates a new subtitle VI of Title 46, United States Code, to establish a comprehensive national system of transportation security enhancements. Chapter 701 of this subtitle contains provisions related to port security.

The Coast Guard is the lead Federal agency for maritime homeland security. The Coast Guard?s homeland security mission is to protect the U.S. maritime domain and the U.S. Marine Transportation System and deny their use and exploitation by terrorists as a means for attacks on U.S. territory, population, and critical infrastructure. The MTSA contains several provisions relating to the Coast Guard?s role in maritime homeland security.

The Act creates a U.S. maritime security system and requires Federal agencies, ports, and vessel owners to take numerous steps to upgrade security. The Act requires the Coast Guard to conduct vulnerability assessments of U.S. ports. The MTSA requires the Coast Guard to develop national and regional area maritime transportation security plans and requires that seaports, waterfront terminals, and certain types of vessels develop and submit security and incident response plans to the Coast Guard for approval. The MTSA also requires the Coast Guard to conduct an anti-terrorism assessment of certain foreign ports. Finally, the Act requires certain vessels operating in U.S. navigable waters to be equipped with and operate an Automatic Identification System (AIS).