New security measures are being implemented across the United States providing for safer ports in America, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge announced today. With the implementation of these international standards, in advance of the July 1st deadline, the U.S. is better able to harden the port’s physical infrastructure, verify the security of individual vessels before they approach a U.S. port, and better restrict access to the port area. Speaking from the Ports of Los Angeles/Long Beach, the nation’s busiest container ports, Secretary Ridge underscored the importance of implementing these new security measures around the world. “Over 80 percent of world trade travels by sea,” said Secretary Ridge. “By taking a layered, cooperative and balanced approach to strengthening the international maritime system, we are not only further securing our country, we are also protecting U.S. economic interests and the global economy.” In addition to the international requirements of the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code, the United States has required vessels, maritime facilities and ports around the country to implement security measures by July 1, as part of the domestic Maritime Transportation Security Act that establishes a new, robust baseline of security for our nation’s ports. Vessels and port facilities around the country are now on target to meet the July 1 deadline for these increased security measures, as well. An estimated 9500 vessels, 3200 facilities, and 40 off-shore oil or natural gas rigs are directly affected. After a helicopter tour of the port and meeting with members of the Central California Area Maritime Security Committee, Secretary Ridge praised local efforts to coordinate security enhancements. “Members of local government have been working with the Department of Homeland Security since January to create a coordinated security plan for the entire area,” said Ridge. “The Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are an example of the kind of cooperation between industry, local, state and federal government necessary to protect this vital piece of our nation’s economy.” Secretary Ridge also called on every citizen to do their part. “Be alert to things that seem suspicious. Securing our ports and waterways is a team effort – everyone, from local governments and private citizens to the international community play an important role in ensuring that our waterways remain open for business.” The Department of Homeland Security, state and local governments, and the private sector have invested billions to strengthen port security since September 11, 2001. A comprehensive layered system of port security measures takes effect even before cargo is loaded onto a ship in a foreign country. The new measures announced today will continue to build upon this “layered systems” approach to port security.