Bipartisan legislation that establishes a comprehensive national system to increase anti-terrorism security at U.S. ports and waterways was approved by the U.S. House of Representatives on June 4.
“The Maritime Transportation Antiterrorism Act of 2002” (H.R. 3983) was approved by a voice vote. The legislation was introduced by the bipartisan leadership of the Transportation Committee, including:
- Rep. Don Young
(R-Alaska), Chairman, Transportation & Infrastructure Committee
- Rep. James Oberstar (D-MN), Ranking Democrat, Transportation Committee
- Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), Chairman, Coast Guard & Maritime Transportation Subcommittee
- Rep. Corrine Brown (D-FL), Ranking Democrat, Coast Guard Subcommittee
The legislation approved by the House today also included the provisions from “The Coast Guard Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2002” (H.R. 3507) which authorizes $5.9 billion for Coast Guard programs and operations during fiscal year 2002. H.R. 3507 was approved by the House in December 2001, but the Senate has continually refused to consider the bill.
“Port security is an essential piece of an effective Homeland Security program,” said Transportation Committee Chairman
Don Young. “This bill establishes a comprehensive national anti-terrorism system to reduce the vulnerability of our ports and waterways to a terrorist attack.
“This is one of the most important pieces of legislation the House consider this year.”
“Passage of this bill by the House sends a clear message to everyone that we are taking strong steps to protect America’s ports and waterways from terrorism and that Congress is committed to this mission,” said Coast Guard Subcommittee Chairman LoBiondo. “I hope that we can see the provisions of this bill become law very soon because of the tremendous importance of the maritime transportation system to our economy and our nation.”
“The Maritime Transportation Antiterrorism Act of 2002”
Section 2 of the bill creates a new subtitle VI of title 46, United States Code, to establish a comprehensive national system of antiterrorism security enhancements. Chapter 701 of this subtitle contains provisions related to port security.
New section 70102 of title 46 requires the Coast Guard to conduct port vulnerability assessments for U.S. ports, including an assessment of the vulnerability of each facility in a port, at which there is a high risk of a catastrophic emergency. The results of the vulnerability assessments will be used to implement a national maritime transportation antiterrorism planning system, consisting of a national plan, area plans, as well as vessel, facility, and port terminal plans, to deter a catastrophic emergency to the maximum extent practicable.
Section 70103 requires that vessel and facility antiterrorism plans be submitted for approval to the Coast Guard, by vessels and facilities involved in a catastrophic emergency. The Coast Guard may also require each operator of a vessel or facility to implement interim security measures until their antiterrorism plan is approved. The Coast Guard will integrate the local vessel and facility antiterrorism plans into area and national plans, with the advice of local harbor safety committees.
Section 70104 requires the Coast Guard to cooperate with the Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate maritime terrorism response actions. This section also requires the Coast Guard to develop a system of terrorism response for vessels.
Section 70106 establishes Coast Guard maritime antiterrorism teams to protect vessels, ports, facilities, and cargo on United States’ waters.
Section 70107 allows the Under Secretary of Transportation for Security to provide financial assistance for enhanced facility security to implement a maritime antiterrorism plan approved by the Coast Guard or an interim measure required by the Coast Guard. For each of fiscal years 2003, 2004, and 2005, $83 million is authorized for the grants.
Section 70108-70110 requires that the Coast Guard assess the effectiveness of the antiterrorism measures maintained at foreign ports from which vessels depart on a voyage to the United States or which pose a high risk of terrorism to the United States. If a foreign port does not maintain effective antiterrorism measures, the Coast Guard may prescribe conditions of entry or deny entry into the United States for any vessel arriving from that port, or any vessel carrying cargo originating from or transshipped through that port.
By no later than June 30, 2003, new section 70111 requires the Under Secretary of Security, in consultation with the Transportation Security Oversight Board, to develop and maintain an antiterrorism cargo identification and screening system for containerized cargo shipped to and from the United States either directly or via a foreign port. The Under Secretary must also develop performance standards to enhance the physical security of shipping containers, including standards for seals and locks.
Section 70112 requires the operators of commercial vessels arriving in the United States from a foreign port to provide the Under Secretary with a passenger and crew manifest. This manifest must contain each passenger’s and crewmember’s date of birth, citizenship, passport and visa number, and country of origin.
Coast Guard Authority To Control Vessels In U.S. Territorial Waters
Section 3 of the bill amends the Port and Waterways Safety Act to require all vessels entering the 12-mile territorial sea of the United States to provide notice to the Coast Guard 96 hours before entering those waters. This section also clarifies that the Coast Guard has the authority to direct the safe operations of all vessels in the 12-mile territorial sea and other navigable waters of the United States during
hazardous circumstances such as when a pilot is not on board the vessel.
Extension Of Coast Guard Jurisdiction
This section would extend the jurisdiction of the Coast Guard from three miles from shore to 12 miles from shore for certain security activities when the President determines that national security is endangered. Section 4 also creates civil penalties not to exceed $25,000 for each violation of a Coast Guard order based upon this authority.
Assignment Of Sea Marshals
Section 7 of this bill amends the Ports and Waterways Safety Act to allow the dispatch of properly trained and qualified armed Coast Guard personnel, commonly called “sea marshals,” on facilities and vessels to deter or respond to acts of terrorism.
Automatic Identification System
This section requires that all vessels built after December 31, 2002, be equipped with a position indicating transponder and an appropriate situation display for accessing the information made available by the transponder system. After December 31, 2004, all vessels built before December 31, 2002, must carry this equipment.