The Passenger Vessel Association (PVA) announced in its newsletter that for the first time, funds awarded under the Port Security Grant Program will be available for certain “maintenance and sustainment” costs, including warranties, costs of repairing or replacing equipment, and user fees. In the past, grants were generally restricted to capital costs only. This limitation had come under increasing criticism, as vessel operators completed capital improvements to increase security but increasingly contended with recurring operational costs of security measures. PVA successfully urged Homeland Security officials, including Secretary Janet Napolitano, to loosen past restrictions.
PVA members who operate vessels with required security plans are eligible to apply for these security grants from the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Federal funding will pay for 100 percent of an approved project; there is no cost-share requirement. A total of $288,000,000 will be made available (this is a reduction of about $100m from the prior funding round). The application deadline is February 12, 2010.
Also, for the first time, there will be no “set aside” of funds reserved only for ferry operators. Instead, all eligible vessel operators (including ferry systems) will be categorized depending on the port in which they operate and will compete for funds within that port category.
FEMA has established four priorities against which grant applications will be judged:
• Enhancement of Maritime Domain Awareness (acquisition of AIS units would fit within this priority)
• Threats posed by Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs or bombs) and chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive weapons (FEMA notes that ferry vessels may be especially vulnerable)
• Security training and exercises
• Implementation of the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC)
In the previous funding round, several PVA members applied for and received grants for the purchase of Automatic Identification Systems (AIS) for their vessels. Now that precedent has been established that security grant funds can be used to acquire AIS units, other PVA members may wish to consider applications for this purpose. PVA’s staff is updating a template for such an AIS application; it will be available for members’ use after January 5, 2009.
Certain operators of larger ferry vessels may apply for grants for canines trained to detect explosives, but there are considerable restrictions to such grants. More detailed information for the fiscal 2010 Port Security Grant Program, including a Guidance and Application Kit, is available at: http://www.fema.gov/government/grant/psgp/index.shtm