Thursday, December 17, 2015

MTSA Secure and Restricted Areas

More Thoughts on the Secure Area Concept

<>  From October 2015 Waves on the Waterfront.

 This was a good short general discussion of the definitions of restricted and secure areas. However, one of the sources of confusion about secure areas is repeated in this discussion. It appears because it exists in the regulation, i.e., secure area as that area over which the owner has implemented security measures for access control.[1] Because many facilities have areas over which the owner has implemented security measures for access control where a TWIC is not required, this definition is puzzling. For example, the facility has a main office immediately inside the single fence that encircles the entire facility. TWIC cards are not required to access the office, according to the approved FSP, yet the office is within that area over which the owner has implemented security measures for access control. This seems to be in contradiction to the definition of secure area.

Even at this late date, years after TWIC implementation, there is still widespread misunderstanding about these two terms, secure and restricted areas. The idea of “secure area” has several concepts embedded within it. 
  • ·         Designating areas as restricted, secure, or both adds additional layers of security. 
  • ·         The secure area must have a maritime nexus, because the secure area is the area where persons need a TWIC for unescorted access and the purpose of the card itself is to ensure that only persons who have undergone the TWIC background checks have unescorted access to these high-risk, TSI-prone areas in facilities and vessels.
  • ·         Secure areas are a security measure described out in the FSP so to a certain extent they can be fluid across the system, and are subject to the judgement of the individual Coast Guard unit that approves the FSP.  The only secure area that will be guaranteed to be designated as such across the system, from the largest facility in the country to Laurie’s Sand & Gravel Dock, is the area immediately adjacent the vessel (that triggers the FSP) when the vessel is at the dock.[2]

For purposes of clarification, it might be useful if 33 CFR 101.105 be amended to read “Secure area means the area on board a vessel or at a facility or outer continental shelf facility over which the owner/operator has implemented security measures for access control where a TWIC card is required for unescorted access, in accordance with a Coast Guard approved security plan.” In all secure areas, TWIC cards are required for unescorted access. It seems odd therefore to exclude this important concept from the definition.

To keep the two concepts clear in the mind, it is less helpful to contrast them than to simply remember the following:
  • ·         Restricted areas require limited access and a higher degree of security protection[3]; a  list of areas that must be designated as restricted, as appropriate for the facility, is  given in 33 CFR 105.260(b).
  • ·         Secure areas are those areas where persons need a TWIC for unescorted access. There can be no secure area that is not connected with TWIC card use.

[1] 33 CFR 101.105, definition of secure area.
[2]  Navigation and Inspection Circular 03-07, enc. 3.
[3] 33 CFR 101.105, definition of restricted area.

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