October 26, 2004

USCG, TSA study ferry security

The U.S. Coast Guard and the Transportation Security Administration are leading an interagency team studying ways to enhance the security of ferry systems, both during and following what a Coast Guard statement refers to as "the current period of increased risk."

The National Ferry Security Study Team, which began work in July, is focusing on issues involving the screening of people, vehicles and baggage for explosive devices.

The team will assess screening technologies, model the potential consequences of an attack, examine the socio-economic effects of various screening strategies and seek to measure the deterrent effect of random screening.

"This summer's implementation of security standards was a major step in our efforts to ensure the safety and security of the nation's ferries," said Rear Adm. Thomas Gilmour, assistant commandant for marine safety, security and environmental protection. "These studies build on those efforts and will aid decision makers by providing them solid data on which to base security requirements."

In addition to the Coast Guard and TSA, the team also includes the Homeland Security Institute, and the Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology and Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection directorates.

The team was formed in July, following the implementation of the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002 that required the implementation of security measures on vessels and at port facilities in order to protect the nation's ports and waterways from a terrorist attack.

Ferry security has been a high priority of the Department of Homeland Security since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

"The threat to ferries is real and we must reduce their vulnerabilities," said Capt. Frank Sturm, chief of the Coast Guard's office of port, vessel and facility security. "It is vital that we have valid data to ensure that the actions we are taking to protect our ferries will have real impacts and this team will help us accomplish that goal."

We will continue to cover this story in our FERRIES AND FAST CRAFT NEWS. Ferry security will also be in focus at next month's FERRIES 2004 event being held in Delray Beach, Fla., Nov. 8-10

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