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Homeland Security

26 August 2004

Coast Guard Seeks Layered Protection of Marine Transport

Essential information gathering improving, agency says

The U.S. Coast Guard, working with other agencies and international partners, is building a layered maritime defense system designed to counter terrorist risks long before ships reach a U.S. port, agency officials say.

Emphasizing the benefits of this approach, James Sloan, assistant commandant, and Rear Admiral Larry Hereth, director of port security, said August 25 that when a foreign ship carrying high-risk cargo reaches a U.S. port it becomes more difficult to take countermeasures.

A protection system of many layers would ensure that if one layer breaks down, another can provide protection, they said.

In testimony before a House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee, the officials said that accurate information and intelligence as well as knowledge of vessels, cargo, crews and passengers are essential parts of the strategy, and that the Coast Guard, an agency in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), has "dramatically" improved its intelligence capabilities and sharing of intelligence information.

Sloan and Hereth said that the Coast Guard is leading an effort to develop a national maritime domain awareness plan, which will identify and evaluate critical transportation assets, set risk-based priorities for protecting those assets, and select the most practical and cost-effective ways of doing so. Such an approach has been recommended by the bipartisan National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States, known as the 9/11 Commission.

The officials cited Coast Guard's efforts to upgrade and expand a vessel automatic identification system, develop -- in cooperation with the International Maritime Organization -- requirements for a long-range vessel tracking system, and identify foreign ports posing a potential security risk to international marine transport as part of that approach.

Sloan and Hereth said that prevention goals related to maritime security include expanding the Container Security Initiative (CSI) from the 25 foreign ports to 33; fully implementing an advance, electronic cargo information requirement; and, ultimately, securing the entire global supply chain.

Under CSI, U.S. customs agents in foreign ports target U.S.-destined high-risk cargo containers and identify those that pose a potential terrorist risk for inspections by their local counterparts.

Following is an excerpt from the testimony as submitted to the subcommittee record:

(begin excerpt)

Maritime Strategy for Homeland Security

The establishment of DHS put our Federal Government's awareness, prevention, protection, response, and recovery capabilities under one umbrella, improving communication and increasing cooperation among agencies. The 9/11 Commission recommended a layered security system, a concept DHS continues to advocate strongly along with risk prioritization. This model was used by CBP [Customs and Border Protection], TSA [Transportation Security Administration], MARAD [Maritime Administration], the maritime industry, and the Coast Guard as we worked together to support efforts to implement the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002 (MTSA) and the corresponding International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code.

Furthermore, the Coast Guard has been given the lead in development and implementation of a comprehensive Maritime Strategy for Homeland Security that supports both the President's National Security Strategy of the United States of America and the National Strategy for Homeland Security and is responsive to current needs while maintaining a strategic outlook on the threats and opportunities of the future. The foundation for the maritime strategy is a layered defense -- a proven means to enhance security in U.S. ports and waterways while concurrently facilitating commerce. The collective results of our efforts are aimed at managing and reducing maritime security risks.

Secretary Ridge is also implementing the strategic goals of Awareness, Prevention, Protection, Response, and Recovery.

Awareness -- Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA)

The Coast Guard is using an interagency approach for establishing MDA. By leveraging information technology and using multiple information sources, our ability to achieve better MDA will allow us to focus our protection and response efforts more effectively on those trade transactions, individuals, and activities of interest. The core of our MDA efforts revolve around the development and use of accurate information, intelligence, and knowledge of vessels, cargo, crews, and passengers -- and extending this well beyond our traditional maritime boundaries. All DHS components are working hard to provide a layered defense through collaborative efforts with our international partners to counter and manage security risks long before they reach a U.S. port -- when effectively deploying countermeasures becomes more difficult. In the past two years, the Coast Guard has dramatically improved its organic intelligence capabilities as well as its collection, analysis, and timely sharing of intelligence information on vessels, people, and dangerous cargoes before their arrival at United States ports.

The following provides a brief overview of our collective efforts following 9/11:

-- The Coast Guard is leading an interagency and joint Service effort to develop a comprehensive national MDA plan and system architecture. The 9/11 Commission's Report suggested that the government identify and evaluate transportation assets needing protection, set risk-based priorities for defending them, select the most practical and cost-effective ways of doing so, and then develop a plan, budget, and funding to implement the efforts. A comprehensive MDA plan will address this need.

-- The Coast Guard Intelligence Coordination Center (ICC), co-located with the Office of Naval Intelligence at the National Maritime Intelligence Center in Suitland, Maryland, established COASTWATCH. Through this process, notice of arrival reports (containing crew, passenger, cargo, and shipping line information) from the National Vessel Movement Center (NVMC) are analyzed using law enforcement and intelligence information and vessels of interest are identified so the Coast Guard and other agencies can appropriately respond and, if necessary, board those vessels before they reach port. The Coast Guard and CBP have exchanged personnel, enhancing data sharing between the Coast Guard Intelligence Coordination Center's COASTWATCH and CBP's National Targeting Center (NTC) which tracks inbound cargo and people data).

-- The Coast Guard is establishing a network for receiving and distributing Automatic Identification System (AIS) reports (position, speed, course, cargo, etc.) from ships using existing Vessel Traffic Services in ten of our Nation's ports, waterways; and coastal areas. This initiative will progress to other strategically significant U.S. seaports and ultimately extend to nationwide coverage.

-- The Coast Guard is researching technologies and systems that track vessels entering, departing or transiting U.S. waters and can track vessels bound for the United States from overseas locations. We are currently working with the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to develop functional and technical requirements for long range tracking out to 2,000 nautical miles (which is approximately the distance from shore a vessel is when they must provide their 96-hour notice of arrival). The United States is working with the IM0 on an amendment for this initiative.

-- There are 361 total domestic ports of which 55 are deemed militarily or economically critical (15 percent). Of these 55 ports, 14 Port Threat Assessments (PTAs) have been completed (27 percent), with 5 more scheduled for completion by the end of fiscal year 2004. The remaining 36 PTAs are planned for completion by early fiscal year 2006. Funding for PTAs is included in the fiscal year 2005 budget and will enable the Coast Guard to complete PTA's on the 55 military and economically critical ports by early fiscal year 2006.

-- In partnership with the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), the Coast Guard is working to establish interagency prototype joint harbor operations centers in select Navy homeports, improving both port security and force protection capabilities. Such prototypes have already been completed in San Diego, California and Hampton Roads, Virginia.

-- The Coast Guard, along with TSA, the Department of Energy, and other members of the Intelligence Community, work with CBP's NTC, a 24-hour, 7 day a week operation supporting enforcement and regulatory missions of the various agencies through this network of liaisons.

-- As directed by MTSA, the Coast Guard established an International Port Security Program (IPSP). The program combines the knowledge and experience of CBP, TSA, and other Federal agencies in identifying foreign ports posing a potential security risk to international maritime transportation. TSA and CBP provided extensive assistance in developing this program, sharing lessons learned and best practices from TSA's Civil Aviation Security Liaison Officer program and CBP's Container Security Initiative. IPSP began visiting foreign ports in July to measure the extent of these countries' compliance with the ISPS Code.

-- The Coast Guard uses a risk management system to identify high interest vessels. Those vessels are targeted for follow-up security boardings and, if determined necessary due to risk, executes vessel escorts and positive control boardings to ensure the safety of the vessel and port during their transit through U.S. waters.

-- The Coast Guard established Maritime Intelligence Fusion Centers on the east and west coasts to provide tactical, actionable intelligence to Coast Guard District commanders and units. In addition, the Coast Guard established subordinate Field Intelligence Support Teams (FISTs) in key ports. These teams are actively engaged in intelligence gathering and initial analysis in coordination with Federal, State, and local law enforcement and intelligence agencies. They are "joint" in the broadest sense, providing critical top-down, bottom-up, and horizontal information sharing.

Apart from the initiatives described above, there is consistent and steady improvement in our ability to integrate and correlate information in the field such that we can effectively respond. For example, in July a boarding team from Marine Safety Office (MSO) Philadelphia boarded the M/V CENT KAPTANOGLU to conduct an ISPS Code verification exam. During the boarding, the vessel master stated there was a bomb on the vessel that would explode when they entered Philadelphia. Within a few short hours, agents from the Coast Guard Investigative Service (CGIS), Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), CBP, and local law enforcement responded to determine the veracity of the statement and search the vessel. It was quickly determined to be a hoax and the vessel's master was taken into custody. Though we have more work to do, our partnerships with other government agencies continue to improve on all fronts.

Prevention -- Create and Oversee Maritime Security Regime

This element of our strategy focuses on both domestic and international efforts and includes initiatives related to MTSA implementation, IMO regulations such as the ISPS Code, as well as improving supply chain security and identity security processes. Recent accomplishments and future plans include:

-- CBP is expanding the Container Security Initiative (CSI). This is an effort by CBP to secure ocean-borne container traffic by placing CBP officials alongside host government Customs officers to ensure that potentially high-risk shipments are identified and inspected at foreign ports before they are placed on vessels destined for the United States. This program will be expanded to 14 additional foreign ports based on trade volume, location and strategic concerns, bringing the total number of operational CSI ports to 33, with ports in Thailand and Malaysia being the most recent additions to the program. Once implemented, nearly 80 percent of all cargo containers headed for the United States will be prescreened before they depart from abroad.

-- In December 2003, DHS promulgated final regulations implementing the Trade Act of 2002, requiring advance, electronic cargo manifest information for all modes of transportation. This information will augment that received and analyzed already at the NTC. The Trade Act also requires all modes of transportation, inbound and outbound, to provide information electronically and in advance of arrival. On May 13, 2004, programming changes were completed for the Air Automated Manifest Systems (AMS) application and a schedule for training and implementation was published in the Federal Register on March 1, 2004.

-- As part of the National Infrastructure Protection Plan (NIPP), DHS is developing a Transportation Sector-Specific Plan (SSP), designed to provide overall operational planning guidance on transportation security. The Transportation Security Administration, working with the Department of Transportation (DOT) and other Federal agencies, is coordinating DHS's efforts on this initiative. The goals of the Transportation SSP are to reduce the risk of terrorism to the Nation's critical transportation infrastructure, operations, and the people who use them. It will ensure modal security plans are integrated into an effective concept of operations for management of the transportation sector's security and minimize the catastrophic consequences of any successful terrorist act. As the lead agency for maritime security, the Coast Guard is responsible for developing the National Maritime Transportation Security Plan (NMTSP), which will harmonize with the Transportation SSP and critical infrastructure protection plans and support our maritime strategy.

-- TSA will soon begin the prototype phase in developing the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC), aimed at mitigating the threat of attacks to the national transportation infrastructure. The TWIC prototype and supporting measures will test the feasibility of bringing uniformity and consistency to the process of granting access to transportation workers entrusted to work in the most sensitive and secure areas of our national transportation system. The President's Fiscal year 2005 request includes spending authority to begin implementing the TWIC concept within parameters that will be defined by the Administration after completion of the prototype assessment.

-- Complementing the TWIC, the Coast Guard formed a Merchant Mariner Documentation (MMD) Task Force to ensure positive identity of merchant mariners sailing on U.S. flag vessels via appropriate security/background screening. Throughout 2004, the Coast Guard will provide for additional personnel support at Regional Examination Centers to conduct centralized security screening and electronic fingerprinting.

-- Just last week, the International Labor Office (ILO) announced that it had received sufficient ratification for an international labor standard designed to create a new biometric identity verification system for the world's 1.2 maritime workers. The standard will go into force in February 2005.

-- DHS, DOT, and the Departments of State, Justice, and Commerce are working with business interests, the largest U.S. container load centers, and the maritime industry to implement Operation Safe Commerce (OSC), an effort to develop and share best practices for the safe and expeditious movement of containerized cargo. The goal of OSC is to serve as a test bed to examine methods to increase end-to-end supply chain security, protect the global supply chain, and facilitate the flow of commerce.

-- Under a BTS-led effort, TSA along with CBP and the Coast Guard are developing a strategic plan for cargo. This initiative, known as the "Secure Systems of Transportation (SST)," will take a systems approach to cargo transportation (i.e. point of origin to point of destination), whereby existing security regimes will be enhanced through regulatory standards and new performance-based options for shippers. SST will ensure security requirements for international and domestic cargo are aligned, and will apply to bulk, break-bulk, and containerized cargo and all modes of transportation. DHS expects that the results of Operation Safe Commerce will help shape the formation of this initiative.

-- The Coast Guard has completed port security assessments at 28 ports from the list of 55 top economically and militarily strategic U.S. seaports. PSA field work has been completed at 11 additional ports and reports for these will be completed by in September. All but one of the remaining 16 ports from the list of 55 will be completed in CY [calendar year] 04. The one remaining PSA (San Francisco) will commence in CY04 and be completed during the first quarter of 2005.

Additionally, the Coast Guard has met with nearly 60 countries representing the vast majority of all shippers to the United States, reinforcing a commitment to the ISPS code. For vessels subject to MTSA, the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) amendments and the ISPS Code, the Coast Guard implemented strong Port State Control measures to aggressively ensure foreign vessels have approved plans and implement adequate security standards. The measures include tracking performance of all owners, operators, flag administrations, recognized security organizations, charterers, and port facilities. Noncompliance subjects vessels to a range of control measures, including denial of entry into port or significant delay. This aggressive Port State Control regime has been coupled with the Coast Guard's inter-agency IPSP, comprised of representatives from the Department of State, Department of Defense, CBP, TSA, and MARAD, that assess both the effectiveness of anti-terrorism measures in foreign ports and the foreign flag administration's implementation of the SOLAS amendments and the ISPS Code.

(end excerpt)

(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

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