In late December, the United States Senate approved a 95-page bill to enhance security at our nation's ports. Action on counterpart legislation in the House may take place in a few weeks. S. 1214 is entitled the "Port and Maritime Security Act
of 2001." Its primary sponsor is Senator Hollings of South Carolina.
Provisions of interest include: (1) a private sector advisory committee
to help the U.S. Secretary of Transportation address port and maritime security issues
; (2) security vulnerability assessments at all ports and waterfront facilities; (3) local port security committees
, with private sector participation; (4) Coast Guard "sea marshals" who may board and ride certain arriving vessels of high risk; and (5) loan guarantees
and grants to help finance port security improvements. The January-February issue of Foghorn will have extensive information about this legislation.