Chaplains in 15 ports across the United States
reported that new maritime security regulations effective
as of July 1 show
an overall reduction in instances of shore leave denial by private terminal
operators. In addition, the survey also demonstrated that a lack of a US
visa was still the reason why most foreign seafarers are denied shore leave.
"A seafarer's right and elemental need for shore leave is clear, but
security-based obstacles to shore leave have not gone away. The burden of
getting a U.S. visa is still an issue for many seafarers," said Douglas B.
Stevenson, Esq., Director of SCI's Center for Seafarers' Rights.
The Center for Seafarers' Rights chose the week of 11 - 17 July 2004 for its
third shore leave survey, in order to assess any possible effects of the
International Ship and Port Facility Security Code and the Maritime
Transportation Security Act (mandatory as of 1 July 2004). The Center
conducted previous surveys in February 2003 and in October 2003.
The 11 - 17 July 2004 survey showed one positive effect of the MTSA
in an overall reduction in instances of private terminal operators denying
shore leave. In the previous two surveys, private terminal operators denial
of shore leave to ships' crews served as one of the most common causes for
crew detentions. Lack of crewmember visas provided the other most frequent
reason. Only Boston and Philadelphia reported difficulties with private
terminal operators denying shore leave to ships' crews.
Chaplains did not report any instances denial of access to vessels through
private terminals, although in some ports, chaplains experience difficulties
in being allowed to board cruise vessels. Most private terminals appear to
have implemented the MTSA and ISPS requirement that facility security plans
must contain procedures for facilitating shore leave as well as access to
ships by representatives of seafarers' welfare organizations.
Port Chaplains from the following ports submitted information: Boston, MA;
Brunswick, GA; Galveston, TX; Green Bay
, WI; Lake Charles, LA; Morehead
City, NC; Oakland, CA (Oakland, Richmond, San Francisco); Philadelphia, PA;
Port Arthur, TX; Port Everglades, FL; Port Manatee, FL; Port of New York/New
Jersey; Portland, ME; San Diego, CA; and Wilmington, DE (Wilmington,
Oceanport, DE City).
SCI's Center for Seafarers' Rights will continue to monitor the effects of
security regulations, including shore leave denial, worldwide.