June 22, 2004

U.S. in full compliance with ISPS

"I am pleased to announce that as of today, the United States is in full compliance with the requirements of the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code--just in time to meet the July 1st deadline," U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security declared yesterday. He made the declaration in a major speech delivered at the Port of Los Angeles, extracts from which follow (you can access the complete speech at http://www.dhs.gov)

"For the first time ever," continued Ridge, "this international effort will establish one world standard for ship and port security. It will help create a culture of security at ports around the world and mandate specific improvements."

"We are now able to verify the security of individual vessels before they call on a U.S. port--before they can pose a threat--and those not in compliance may not be allowed to enter our ports," said Ridge.

"Our efforts to enhance maritime security here at home continue to be led by the Coast Guard," Ridge noted.

"Before September 11th, the Coast Guard committed less than 2% of its assets to active port security.

"Today, we have refocused the Coast Guard mission to make homeland security its top priority. The President═s request to Congress for next year has a 51 percent increase for the Coast Guard's operating expenses. We added more than 2,000 people to their ranks, and created 13 rapid response Maritime Safety and Security Teams, deployed at ports on both coasts and the Gulf of Mexico.

"The result: as they protect more than 360 ports and 95,000 miles of coastline in the United States, last year the Coast Guard conducted more than 36,000 port security patrols, 8,000 security related boardings, and escorted more than 7,000 vessels.

"In addition, the Coast Guard has been vital to the development--and implementation --of the Maritime Transportation Security Act.

"On top of the international standards of the ISPS Code, the United States has required vessels and port facilities to conduct vulnerability assessments, submit action plans, and increase security by the same July 1st deadline.

"The Coast Guard has received nearly one hundred percent of the security assessments and plans required under this law. When the deadline arrives, ports and vessels will have already begun implementing these new security measures around the country.

"The Coast Guard has reviewed thousands of security plans from ship owners and terminal operators. These plans include several new security measures that you will begin to see on July 1st--and others that will remain invisible. Some will be obvious to the public, others will remain known only to the professionals charged with safety and security.

"You might notice increased identification checks, additional screenings, more canine teams, and higher fences. Behind the scenes, facilities might install surveillance cameras, establish restricted areas, provide additional training, and increase or improve security personnel and patrols.

"It is important to note, however, that these security plans are not 'prescriptive' or 'one-size-fits-all.'" As it was intended, the MTSA provides uniform and objective standards of security, but gives ports maximum flexibility to choose the protective measures that meet their specific needs.

"For example, facilities are required to screen passengers and baggage, but individual locations could choose whether they use x-ray machines, metal detectors, or some other means as technology improves.

"Going forward, The U.S Coast Guard will conduct assessments with teams of experts who simulate terrorist attacks on port facilities ▄ to determine which vulnerabilities still exist and where. Then, they can work with individual ports on additional training and security measures to further solidify our efforts in and around America═s ports.

"Thanks to these new standards▄and the work of so many of you here today ▄ we now have a robust baseline of security in place for all of our nation's ports and a certification program to ensure that foreign flagged vessels docking in U.S. ports have met U.S. generated security requirements.

"Of course, these new security standards--and the plans that are putting them into effect--are just one tool in our worldwide layers of defense."

Ridge noted that "the cargo supply chain is a complex system of movements; and security must start long before the container is loaded on to a ship for transport and must be present throughout the supply chain."

"Twenty-four hours before a container is even loaded onto a cargo vessel," noted Ridge, "the Department of Homeland Security's Customs and Border protection unit receives electronic transmission of advance cargo manifests from all U.S. bound containers.

"Early reports from industry show that this 24-hour rule is aiding not just security, but productivity.

"This advance information is then analyzed by our National Targeting Center, to compare against law enforcement data, the latest threat intelligence and the ships═ history, in order to identify potentially high-risk cargo.

"Accurate information at every stage of this process is critical to our overall security. Therefore, we must continue to ensure that information and intelligence gets to the people that can act on it. In this case, the risk analysis performed by the NTC is passed on to officers at the first port of arrival.

"Next, Homeland Security officials use advanced technologies and risk analysis to begin our first layers of security far from American shores.

"Under the Container Security Initiative, we have placed CBP inspectors at 19 foreign seaports from Vancouver to Rotterdam to Singapore. These officers work alongside our allies to target and screen containers aboard cargo ships headed for the United States.

"During a trip across the high seas, information about a container or its contents can be monitored and mapped against possible threats.

"The Coast Guard uses this real time information to track high risk vessels, and when necessary, further screen or board potentially threatening ships. These intelligence based actions help prevent problems long before a ship enters our waters.

Once in transit, said Ridge, the next layer is the container itself. DHS is working closely with industry partnerso create a more secure container. This technology will allow us to secure the container with a tamper resistant seals and technology can then track it during its journey.

Additional container technology devices and business processes that will help create a smarter, more secure container are being developed through Operation safe Commerce.

"Once a container arrives at our shores," said Ridge, "CBP officers thoroughly scan 100% of the high-risk containers using advanced x-ray and radiation screening equipment. Containers that need further screening are taken to a secure location."

"There, the higher-risk shipments are physically inspected for terrorist weapons and contraband prior to being released from the port of entry."

"Sometimes, however, regular common sense can be our greatest security tool. A great example of the effectiveness of our people and programs occurred at a port like this one last summer.

"Customs and Border Patrol Agents--using the electronic information they were provided about a ship transiting from China to El Salvador--seized a cache of weapons worth more than $421,000.

"The shipment was traveling without a permit and was mismarked as frozen trout! Problem was, that frozen trout was making the long trip across the Pacific in an unrefrigerated cargo container. "

Ridge noted that there are currently more than 6,400 companies participating in the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism, C-TPAT. Those that succeed qualify for time--and money--saving incentives such as "FAST" lane access and reduced inspections.

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