News: Committee Discusses Marine Safety

Thursday, October 23, 2003

The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation conducted an oversight hearing regarding transportation security. Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Committee Chair, noted that maritime security remains a daunting task. Mr. Jeffrey Shane, Under Secretary of Transportation Policy, discussed the role of the Department of Transportation regarding security and its coordination with the Department of Homeland Security. Admiral Thomas Collins, Commandant, U.S. Coast Guard, discussed the agency's strategy to reduce maritime security risks through: (1) increasing maritime domain awareness, (2) implementing preventative measures, (3) securing borders and protecting infrastructure, and (4) preparing to respond quickly if necessary. The Honorable Robert Bonner, Commissioner, Customs and Border Protection, discussed integration of various agencies into the new bureau and recent initiatives to enhance cargo security. Admiral James Loy, Administrator, Transportation Security Administration, discussed, among other things, the maritime security grant program and Operation Safe Commerce. Mr. Peter Guerrero, Director, Physical Infrastructure Issues, General Accounting Office, recommended that federal agencies involved in transportation security clearly define their roles and responsibilities through formal agreements. Ms. Margaret Wrightson, Director, Homeland Security and Justice Issues, General Accounting Office, noted that significant progress has been made in implementing the Maritime Transportation Security Act, but that five areas of concern remain: (1) only a limited number of ports are covered by the automatic identification system (AIS); (2) questions still exist about the scope and quality of port security assessments; (3)concerns exist related to foreign approval of security plans for foreign ships; (4) potential exists for duplication of maritime intelligence efforts; and (5) continuing inconsistencies with port security grant program requirements.

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