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May 3, 2002

AWO develops vessel security plan
Nearly 100 hazardous cargoes commonly carried on America's waterways could potentially be used as weapons of mass destruction. Hopefully, the possibility of this actually happening will be substantially reduced with the release of new guidelines on vessel security.

In an effort to lessen vessel vulnerabilities to terrorist attack, the American Waterways Operators, the national trade association for the tugboat, towboat and barge industry, has developed a model vessel security plan.

The goal of the plan is to protect people and property and prevent vessels from being used as weapons of mass destruction. The plan was developed after 9/11 by a special AWO Security Working Group, in close consultation with the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

It was recently approved by the AWO Board of Directors at the association's Spring Convention in Washington, D.C.

The Plan addresses terrorism prevention considerations under the categories of

  • Awareness,
  • Training,
  • Personnel Practices,
  • Planning, and Emergency Response.

In addition, the Model Vessel Security Plan Matrix lists both required and suggested actions to be taken on physical security (vessels and fleeting areas), en route/in transit security, communications, and cargo. These actions correlate with the Coast Guard's Maritime Security (MARSEC) Conditions, and vary based upon the type of cargo carried.

An appendix of the Plan categorizes the nearly 100 commonly carried hazardous cargoes that could potentially be used as a weapon of mass
destruction. The appendix will be updated as AWO and Coast Guard technical experts continue to analyze other hazardous cargoes to determine how they should be classified.

AWO President Tom Allegretti noted, "In developing this Model Vessel Security Plan, AWO continues its effort to be a constructive leader in the safety and security of the American tugboat,towboat and barge industry. We hope this plan provides AWO members with a template that they can use to develop and augment their own vessel security plans. In this way, our industry continues its role as 'the eyes and ears' on the waterways of this nation."

The AWO Model Security Plan is available on the AWO Web site at under "Model Vessel Security Plan."

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