October 23, 2003DHS highlights major changes in maritime security rules
On Oct. 22, 2003, the Coast Guard published maritime security final rules. The final rules revised temporary interim rules (TIR) published on July 1, 2003, and take into account over 400 letters and 1600 public comments the Coast Guard received, including the comments of over 500 people who attended a public meeting on July 23.
The maritime security requirements published by the Coast Guard in a final rule on Oct. 22, 2003 replace temporary rules originally issued in July 2003. The final rules effect significant changes in security practices within all segments of the maritime industry, including cruise ships, containerships, and offshore oil platforms. The following chart summarizes significant measures and security enhancements that will now be required of the maritime industry resulting from the new final rules:
Security Measure - Security Enhancement
[The DHS release appears to oversimplify easements the Coast Guard has made on carriage requirements. A fuller explanation is available from the Coast Guard Navigation Center].
In the final rule, the Coast Guard clarified the requirements, reiterating that ferries and other passenger vessels will not be required to implement "airport-like" passenger screening and that other procedures will be permitted, including increased security patrols and monitoring as well as random screenings of persons, baggage, and vehicles.
Foreign Vessel Security Plans
The final rule clarifies that foreign flag SOLAS vessel owners do not have to submit security plans to the Coast Guard for approval. Non-SOLAS foreign vessels will be required to have either Coast Guard-approved security plans, comply with an alternative security plan, or comply with measures specified in a bilateral or multilateral agreement. With a stringent and thorough boarding program, the Coast Guard will examine and enforce the vessel's compliance with international security regulations. Vessels not in compliance may be denied entry into U.S. ports.
Cargo Screening Requirements
The final rules amend cargo-screening requirements, mandating the checking of cargo for evidence of tampering, but no longer require the screening of cargo for dangerous substances. The Department of Homeland Security will explore enhanced solutions, including the development of comprehensive cargo screening guidelines.
Alternative Security Program (ASP)
The final rules allow more flexibility for non-SOLAS vessels and all facilities to participate in an ASP, if they wish. This program was strongly endorsed by several organizations because it allows security measures to be tailored to the unique needs of each industry segment.
Vessel Security Plans
Security plans are required for all vessels, exemptions are as follows:
* Passenger vessels that do not carry more than 150 passengers, regardless of how many are overnight passengers
Facility Security Plans
* Facilities that only service passenger vessels when those vessels are not carrying passengers
Security Assessment Tools
The final rule provides industry with the flexibility to use their own security assessment tools, but also includes a list of tools that may be used. This list includes the Transportation Security Administration Maritime Self Assessment Risk Model (TMSARM) a no-cost, user-friendly, web-based, vulnerability-self-assessment tool designed by TSA specifically to meet the requirements of MTSA. The TSA tool can be found on the web at: http://www.tsa.gov/public/interapp/editorial/editorial_0826.xml.