The State of Maritime Security

Thursday, March 25, 2004
The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation conducted an oversight hearing on The State of Maritime Security. The Chairman, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) generally complimented efforts of the various agencies in enhancing maritime security, but expressed concern over the lack of a comprehensive national maritime security plan and the seeming lack of coordination between the agencies. The Administration witnesses, Admiral Thomas Collins, USCG; Robert Bonner, Commissioner, U.S. Customs and Border Protection; and Rear Admiral David Stone, USN (ret), Acting Administrator, Transportation Security Administration, summarized the maritime strategy for homeland security, including maritime domain awareness, efforts to prevent a terrorist incident in the maritime regime, and plans for responding to and recovering from such an incident if it occurs. Christopher Koch, President & CEO, World Shipping Council, expressed concern about how ships arriving from noncompliant port facilities or carrying cargo that transited through noncompliant ports will be treated when they arrive in the United States on and after July 1, when the enhanced maritime security regime comes into effect. He also noted that information regarding vendors, suppliers, and manufacturers of imported cargo should be obtained from the importer, not from the carrier, who often does not have access to that data. Gary P. LaGrange, Executive Director/CEO, Port of New Orleans, commented on the burdens imposed on ports by the various maritime security requirements and the inadequacy of port security grant funding. Dr. James Carafano, Senior Research Fellow, Defense and Homeland Security, Heritage Foundation, testified concerning challenges facing maritime security, such as significant gaps in PAWSS-VTS coverage, and the lack of an integrated strategy and predictable funding. Mike Mitre, Director of Coastal Port Security, Longshore Division of the ILWU, discussed problems perceived by the labor union with regard to cargo handling at port facilities. (HK Law)

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