It could be months before the Coast Guard decides whether 19,000 workers at Northrop Grumman Newport News will have to submit their fingerprints and undergo national criminal-background checks as part of a new federal security system, a Coast Guard spokeswoman said.
But as time moves on, a lack of a decision on the issue could run up against the Department of Homeland Security
's deadline for incorporating the new checks, part of a new identification system designed to shore up security at the nation's ports.
Officials in the local port security community - including the security director at the Virginia Port Authority
- have said Hampton Roads was likely to be on the list of the nation's top strategic ports that must enact the new system by July. It's dubbed the Transportation Worker Identification Credential, or TWIC.
About 58 port sites in Hampton Roads are required to adopt the new system, which includes workers having to submit a complete set of fingerprints and could entail workers losing their jobs for certain past convictions.
But the largest of those 58 sites - the Newport News shipyard - has opposed having to abide by the measures.
The shipyard says the regulations are costly, which could translate into higher price tags on Navy vessels.
The yard also argues that the system is designed for port cargo workers - not shipyards - and that it's redundant to a current yard ID system that's been approved by the Navy.
Source: Daily News