Ridge Takes Steps to Enhance U.S. Waterway, Port Security
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 23, 2003 -- New maritime security rules are approved
and published, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge announced
today at a meeting of industry leaders in Wilmington, Del.
The Maritime Transportation Security Act, signed by President
Bush in November 2002, seeks to strengthen security at the nation's
seaports by requiring comprehensive security plans for U.S. ports
and mandating improved identification and screening of seaport
personnel. Homeland Security worked with the maritime industry
to develop the "final" rules.
Ridge said that with 95 percent of the nation's overseas cargo
carried by ship, maritime security is critical.
"These final rules, which were developed with the cooperation
and input of the maritime industry, strengthen and bring consistency
to both our nationwide maritime security program and our ability
to deter homeland security threats," Ridge said.
Homeland Security officials highlighted some of the new rules'
-- Conducting security assessments and identifying potential
vulnerabilities to help determine what security measures need to
-- Developing security plans that will allow flexibility to deal
with unique security aspects as identified in the assessment.
-- Creating a network of security personnel in the maritime industry
that will focus on security issues and provide an additional set
of informed "eyes and ears."
-- Allowing for more moderate measures under normal circumstances,
while ensuring maritime industry is prepared to tighten security
-- Installing Automatic Identification Systems aboard large ships
to increase the ability to separate "law-abiding" from "suspect" vessels
by allowing for comprehensive, virtually instantaneous vessel tracking
Ridge said the rules put "innovative protective measures" into
"We are using technology such as the new Automatic Identification
System, teamwork in designing and implementing security measures
with the private sector, and a flexible response system that government,
responders, and industry will all use to immediately increase security
to meet emerging threats," the secretary said.
The Homeland Security Department developed the final rules with
a team from the Coast Guard, the Transportation Security Administration,
Customs and Border Protection and the Department of Transportation's
Maritime Administration. The team held public meetings around the
country over the past year to ensure broad input from the maritime
industry, receiving and evaluating more than 2,000 comments and
Homeland Security officials said the final rules will mean significant
changes in security practices within all segments of the maritime
industry, including cruise ships, container ships and offshore
The Coast Guard published the new security requirements Oct.
22, replacing temporary rules issued in July.
(Information for this article was obtained from a Department
of Homeland Security news release.)