Within one year of President Bush’s signing of the Maritime Transportation Security Act on November 25, 2002 U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge today announced approval and publication of the final maritime industry security rules which are designed to significantly improve protection of America’s ports, waterways, and ships from a terrorist attack.
“With 95 percent of our nation’s overseas cargo carried by ship, maritime security is critical to ensuring our Nation’s homeland and economic security,” Secretary Ridge said. “These final rules, which were developed with the cooperation and input of the maritime industry, strengthen and bring consistency to both our nationwide maritime security program and our ability to deter homeland security threats.”
The Department of Homeland Security developed
the final rules with a team from the Coast Guard, Transportation Security Administration, Customs and Border Protection and the Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration. These DHS and DOT teams held public meetings around the nation over the past year in New Orleans, Cleveland, Seattle, San Pedro, Calif., Jacksonville, Fla., New York City, St. Louis, and Washington, D.C., to ensure broad input from the maritime industry on port issues. During these sessions DHS solicited and considered acceptable alternatives from the private sector to meet specific security measures, which included the receipt and evaluation of over 2,000 comments and recommendations.
“These final rules put in practice innovative protective measures on a nationwide basis,” Ridge said. “We are using technology, such as the new Automatic Identification System, teamwork in designing and implementing security measures with the private sector, and a flexible response system that government, responders, and industry will all use to immediately increase security to meet emerging threats.”
The maritime security requirements published by the Coast Guard in a final rule on Oct. 22, 2003 replace temporary rules originally issued in July 2003. The final rules effect significant changes in security practices within all segments of the maritime industry, including cruise ships, container ships, and offshore oil platforms.