Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Maritime Administration’s U.S.-Flag Great Lakes Fleet Revitalization Study.

From the 12/29 Federal Register:

There will be three public listening session meetings that are being held to gather data and comments to inform the Maritime Administration’s U.S.-Flag Great Lakes Fleet Revitalization Study. The U.S.-Flag Great Lakes Fleet Revitalization Study will examine the current and potential future role of Great Lakes shipping in supporting the region’s economy and as an important component of the greater U.S. Marine Highway system serving the Nation at large. It will also be used to assess the impact of new environmental regulations on the U.S.-Flag Great Lakes Fleet. Of particular interest is the likely impact of the EPA’s final emission standards for new marine diesel ‘‘Category 3’’ engines that goes into effect in January 2012. This study calls for the identification and evaluation of options to recapitalize U.S. vessels and port infrastructure on the Great Lakes, using private and public sector investments, to generate the greatest net benefits for the region and the Nation.

This Maritime Administration study will be a two-phase effort to estimate the costs and options for complying with the new environmental regulations. The first phase will be a data gathering effort. An inventory of current vessel and port assets will be developed. That inventory will be used to determine if the Maritime Administration can assist the U.S. Flag Great Lakes vessel operators in complying with the new regulations.

During the second phase of the study, the Maritime Administration will examine a mix of private and public sector financing options that could be used for vessel or port alterations necessitated by the new environmental regulations. This analysis will be used in developing strategies for how the Maritime Administration might assist the U.S.-Flag Great Lakes Fleet and ports in making those changes. The Maritime Administration will use the study’s findings to develop strategies to promote the U.S.-Flag Great Lakes Fleet and Ports. Stakeholder input is an essential part of the strategy development process, so the study plan includes three stakeholder listening sessions where the important issues raised by the study will be discussed. Topics of discussion include the new EPA environmental regulations such as the Control of Emissions from Category 3 Marine Engines and their impact on Great Lakes vessel operators, the state of the Great Lakes shipping markets, and issues facing vessel operators and port operators.

The three sessions will be held in Duluth, Cleveland, and Chicago. The Cleveland, Ohio, meeting will take place on February 15, 2011, from 8a.m. to 5 p.m., Eastern Daylight Saving Time. The meeting will be held at Hyatt Regency Cleveland at The Arcade, 420 East Superior Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio, 44114.Persons interested in attending the meeting should register by February 4, 2011. Registration: The meetings are open to the public. Advanced registration is recommended. To register, interested parties should send their name, group affiliation, and which of the three meetings they will attend to
The meeting agenda will be sent to registered participants.

The Cleveland session is to be held the day before the annual Great Lakes Waterways Conference/Marine Community Days, at the same location. The website for the Waterways Conference is

NMSAC meeting

My colleague Patrick Coyle has published an excellent report of the notice of the next National Maritime Security Advisory Committee meeting, January 19 and 20, 2011, in his blog Chemical Facility Security News at

The notice came out in today's (12/29) Federal Register.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

DHS Semiannual Regulatory Agenda - Update to Subchapter H

On December 20, 2010, DHS published its semiannual regulatory agenda. An item of particular interest to the MTSA community is found on pages 79538 and 79554 of that day’s Federal Register. These pages address the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that contains the updates to Subchapter H, 33 CFR 101 to 106.

The NPRM will incorporate clarifications to MTSA, SAFE Port, and the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2006. It will also incorporate feedback received from industry stakeholders, USCG field personnel, and the general public. It will consolidate into regulations policy guidance transmitted through Policy Advisory Council (PAC) decisions, NVIC’s, and MTSA Help Desk responses.

The NPRM will also:

· address screening standards for port facilities and vessels;

· establish security training standards that will be modeled after the courses developed by MARAD and the training standards (mandatory and non-mandatory) and courses developed by the International Maritime Organization (IMO)

· update existing regulations regarding the areas of maritime security plans, facility and vessel security plans, and facility exercise requirements found in SAFE Port.

The NPRM will incorporate recommendations from MERPAC. Homeport contains an excellent MERPAC reference site at Missions > Ports and Waterways > Safety Advisory Committees > MERPAC

The priority of this NPRM is described as “economically significant.” “Based on preliminary analysis, the Coast Guard determined that 55 percent of operators affected by this rulemaking are small entities. This rulemaking would require operators to incur additional costs for training and exercise provisions.” (Note that screening provisions are not mentioned as a factor that will drive up costs.) In a discussion of anticipated costs and benefits, DHS states, “The Coast Guard is currently estimating the costs associated with this rulemaking. Industry would incur additional costs as a result of provisions for standardized training requirements, updates to security plans and other documentation, and full-scale exercises requirements for high-risk facilities.”

The NPRM will incorporate “various U.S. Maritime Administration and International Maritime Organization voluntary consensus standards related to maritime security training,” a change from “voluntary” to “mandatory” that MARAD has been warning industry about for years.

The action date for the issuance for the NPRM is March 2011.

What all this may mean for the MTSA community:

Screening standards: In speaking of the NPRM, USCG senior personnel described the new standards as “airport-type.” Standards of this type will have a problem surviving the comment process. The USCG admits that 55% of regulated operators are small entities.

Security training standards: There are several training protocols to consider: the MARAD voluntary standards; SAFE Port Act Section 113, and the training standards in Public Law 111–281, the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2010 (which repealed SAFE Port Section 113.) In the very bare information given in the 12/20 notice, it appears that the detailed training requirements in SAFE Port and Pub. L. 111-281 may be sidelined in favor of the codification of MARAD’s voluntary course approval process.

Maritime Security Plans: Plans are addressed in Sec. 102 of the SAFE Port Act. Specifically, plans must be resubmitted for approval if there is a change of ownership in a facility that may substantially affect the security of the facility. FSO’s (or “the qualified individual having full authority to implement security actions for a facility”) shall be a citizen of the United States. This requirement can be waived if the individual undergoes a complete background check and a check of all terrorist watch lists. The effectiveness of these plans is supposed to be verified by not one but two annual inspections, one of which is to be unannounced. The USCG is presently substituting spot-checks for the second (unannounced) annual inspection.

Exercises – Exercises are addressed in Sec. 115 of SAFE Port. Each “high risk” facility (MSRAM score, presumably) must conduct a live or full-scale exercise every second year.

The docket number for comment on this rulemaking is USCG-2007-0009. Members of the MTSA community who have an opinion about the NPRM - “for” as well as “against” - should submit comments when it comes out, hopefully in March 2011.

Friday, December 10, 2010

GAO 11-207 Ferry Security Measures

This Dec. 3, 2010 Government Accountability Office Report concerns ferry security. Specifically, the GAO looked at how the USCG assesses risk to ferries and what particular threats were identified. The report also looks at the actions that port security stakeholders such as federal agencies, law enforcement, and ferry operators have taken to protect ferry systems. In putting together the report, the GAO reviewed three years’ of security operations data (2006-2009) and went into the field at five domestic and one international ferry systems of varying sizes. This report is the open-source version of a sensitive document.

Ferry systems are huge contributors to the nation’s transportations system and to the economy. According to respondents to the 2008 National Census of Ferry Operators, ferry systems carried more than 82 million passengers and over 25 million vehicles. As such, they are considered prime targets for terrorism. The report states that although “in April 2010, Coast Guard intelligence officials stated that there have been no credible terrorist threats identified against ferries and their facilities in at least the last 12 months, maritime intelligence officials have identified the presence of terrorist groups with the capability of attacking a ferry. Many of the Coast Guard, ferry system and law enforcement officials GAO spoke with generally believe ferries are vulnerable to passenger- or vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices, although not all ferry systems transport vehicles. “ The report also states, “Ferries are also potential targets for terrorism in the United States and have been terrorist targets overseas.”

The issues in the report that most concern the wider MTSA community are found in the discussion of security concerns. The report states, “Maritime security stakeholders reported various ferry-related security concerns with the greatest concerns being improvised explosive device attacks delivered via vehicles, passengers or small boats… According to the Coast Guard’s Strategy for Maritime Safety, Security, and Stewardship, one of the greatest risks associated with maritime scenarios is a direct attack using a waterborne improvised explosive device, and a recurring attack mode has been the use of small boats to carry out an attack.” There is a good discussion of the ripple effect of an attack on a ferry, using the SUPERFERRY 14 as a case study. The method of attack and death toll of that incident are widely known. What is less recognized are the long-term economic consequences of that attack: the decision to deploy sea marshals, which are composite teams of the Armed Forces, National Police and Philippine Coast Guard personnel together with guards from the shipping companies, on board major passengers vessels to provide security while the ships are underway, as well as the cost of “heightened surveillance, investigation, arrest, and detention powers for the police and intelligence services.”

In the risk mitigation section, the GAO looks at Coast Guard actions. The USCG conducts quarterly inspections and “conducts operational activities to secure ferries, including conducting boat escorts of ferries, implementing positive control measures—that is, stationing armed Coast Guard personnel in key locations aboard a vessel to ensure that the operator maintains control—and providing a security presence through various actions.” TSA also supports ferry security by demonstrating a security presence through the VIPRE teams, providing training such as the excellent products produced from its Port and Intermodal Division, and implementing pilot programs involving security technologies. CBP also has a role in securing vessels on international voyages, through deployment of radiation detection technology and through inspection of passengers, bags, vehicles, and crew disembarking at international ferry crossings. Of course owner/operators are responsible for implementation of security assessments and plans and required security measures through MTSA. Discussing observation of screening, GAO observers stated that they encountered a ferry system that did not appear to be screening according to its standards, although the report goes on to state “but we did not determine any failure to meet minimum screening requirements.”

The report notes that ferries are very MTSA-compliant in comparison to other types of vessels (notably excursion tour vessels) and “Coast Guard officials stated that ferry security deficiencies were commonly found in the following areas: security plan audits and amendments; drills and exercises; records and documentation; and access control procedures, including monitoring of secure and restricted areas. “ Access control procedures also include screening, as per 33 CFR 104.265.

For those of us who have attempted without success to speak to the USCG (at the local as well as the HQ level) about the issue of screening, there is interesting information under the headings “The Coast Guard May Be Missing Opportunities to Enhance Ferry Security “ and “The Coast Guard Has Not Evaluated and, if Determined Warranted, Acted on Report Findings and Recommendations .” The report states that the USCG spent $1.5 million on studies of ferry security in 2005 and 2006, and “these studies were aimed at establishing a new benchmark for ferry screening and enhancing the agency’s ability to focus on improving security practices, screening technology, and identification of explosive hazards.” The USCG, however, has “not evaluated and, if determined warranted, taken actions on the ferry security reports.” Results of the studies were communicated to the Commandant, some AMSC’s, and the ports of the 6 systems observed, but there was no general distribution throughout the Sectors. “In May 2010, Coast Guard program officials stated that there were no current actions being taken to address the findings and recommendations from the National Ferry Security Study. Coast Guard officials explained that the ferry security reports were released when the agency was undergoing an internal reorganization and as a result the reports were not sent to the appropriate unit after the reorganization—which they also believe is the likely reason for why no further actions were taken to evaluate or address the reports’ findings and recommendations. “

They also stated that security training, including that if screening personnel, was being addressed in the re-write of Subchapter H, which was begun in late 2006 but delayed by the TWIC program. “In addition, Coast Guard officials stated that they have been developing a Navigation and Vessel Inspection Circular for about 2 years to provide updated guidance for ferry screening… Although the officials reported these efforts initially began in about 2005 or 2006, they did not expect the Navigation and Vessel Inspection Circular to be published until fall 2010.” The GAO observes, “Although these ongoing efforts may address some of the findings and recommendations from the 2005 and 2006 reports, it is not evident that the Coast Guard utilized the reports or their recommendations to inform the agency’s decision making, as officials could not confirm whether the 2005 and 2006 reports were the catalyst for the agency’s actions. In addition, Coast Guard officials confirmed that the ongoing actions will not address all of the findings and recommendations from the reports. As a result of our work on ferry security, in August 2010, Coast Guard officials stated that they believe the ferry security reports can still provide valuable information and they plan to begin evaluating the reports in fall 2010. “ The report also states that the USCG informed the GAO that the results of the 2005 and 2006 studies will not be taken into account in the re-write of Subchapter H.

The report has a similar negative conclusion when it addresses vehicle screening requirements for ferry operators. The USCG has not updated these requirements since 2004, a situation familiar to the maritime security training community. “Despite Coast Guard documents from 2004 stating that a reassessment of the screening requirements should be conducted when the ferry security studies were completed or if the threat were to change—both of which have occurred—as of May 2010, Coast Guard officials stated that they had not taken action to reassess and update the requirements since the 2004 security directive. “

GAO’s recommendations were to #1, review these 2005 and 2006 studies and take appropriate actions to address the findings and recommendations identified in these reports; and #2, “upon review of the reports, ensure that vehicle screening requirements are set at an appropriate level that considers both the risks to and operating requirements of ferry systems, and when warranted, reassess screening requirements for ferries and make changes as appropriate.”

For persons new to MTSA, on pages 8 – 10 there is an excellent set of tables that lays out roles and responsibilities of the many stakeholders involved in maritime security, and the legal and regulatory framework that direct the security actions of vessel and facility operators.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Small Vessel Security Content of GAO-11-140R

A Review of the Small Vessel Security Content of GAO-11-140R Questions for the Record October 22, 2010

In this series on questions posed to the Government Accountability Office, the questions concerning small vessel security addressed the following issues:

• Are transponders a viable solution to the SVS threat?
• How do transponders compare to the “block watch” solution?
• Is it cost-effective to try to track small vessels?

The discussion began with a review of actions in place to mitigate the SV threat, which includes: the development of the Small Vessel Security Strategy, community outreach efforts through the America’s Waterway Watch (AWW) program and Operation Focused Lens, individual port-level vessel tracking efforts with radars and cameras, individual port-scale nuclear detection pilot projects, establishment of security zones in U.S. ports and waterways, escorts of possible targets of waterborne improvised explosive devices, and use of aircraft and other technology by USCG and CBP in international waters.

Concerning the use of transponders, the document states that “ the expansion of vessel tracking to all small vessels—through transponders or other methods—may be of limited utility because of the large number of small vessels, the difficulty identifying threatening actions, the challenges associated with getting resources on scene in time to prevent an attack once it has been identified, and the limitations of certain equipment.” Even if all small vessels are identified and tracked, the problem is determining intent and then initiating response in a timely fashion. The document states that risk-based decision-making is a more feasible approach to mitigating the threat.

The GAO supports a “blended” approach, advocating a risk-based decision-making mitigation approach supported by intelligence-gathering efforts at the port level, such as AWW and Operation Focused Lens. Risk-based decision-making will allow limited resources to be focused an areas of greatest risk.

The document also addresses the seriousness of the SV threat, stating, “The primary consequence of a terrorist incident (as well as other transportation security incidents) arising from the use of a small vessel could be devastating for the U.S. economy if it damaged critical infrastructure or resulted in closure of a port.“

One additional source for intelligence gathering and threat mitigation that is not addressed in the document (because it is not raised in the questions posed by the Senators) is the Area Maritime Security Committee.

§ 103.310 Responsibilities of the Area Maritime Security (AMS) Committee.
(a) The AMS Committee shall:
(1) Identify critical port infrastructure and operations;
(2) Identify risks (threats, vulnerabilities, and consequences);
(3) Determine mitigation strategies and implementation methods;
(4) Develop and describe the process to continually evaluate overall port security by considering consequences and vulnerabilities, how they may change over time, and what additional mitigation strategies can be applied; and
(5) Provide advice to, and assist the COTP in, developing the AMS Plan.
(b) The AMS Committee shall also serve as a link for communicating threats and changes in MARSEC Levels, and disseminating appropriate security information to port stakeholders.

The plan that is the result of the collaboration between the USCG and the AMSC is founded on a risk-based assessment that includes a threat assessment that identifies and evaluates each potential threat on the basis of various factors, including capability and intention, and a consequence and vulnerability assessment for each target/scenario combination. Small vessel security threat mitigation becomes an AMSP responsibility because the plan should include measures to prevent the introduction of dangerous substances and devices into designated restricted areas within the port as well as measures to prevent unauthorized access to designated restricted areas within the port. Many ports have considered exercise scenarios in which small vessels have posed big problems that resulted in the introduction of dangerous substances and devices and an alarming time at MARSEC 3.