US to Step Up Cargo Vessel Security
Cyprus, Malta, Hong Kong, the Netherlands, and Russia among targeted countries
WASHINGTON, DC - 09/16/09 - The US Coast Guard will intensify its scrutiny of ships calling at US ports that are registered in countries with sub-standard maritime security as well as vessels coming from ports in countries in which implementation of the new international security regime is "uncertain," effective immediately.
According to the Department of Homeland Security, the Coast Guard will be "increasingly" boarding vessels flying the flags of countries "that have not implemented basic antiterrorist security measures."
Those countries include Antigua and Barbuda, Bolivia, Cayman Islands, Cook Islands, Cyprus, Honduras, Hong Kong, Malta, the Netherlands, Panama, Russia, Singapore, and Thailand.
Targeting vessels from those countries for enhanced scrutiny "helps the Coast Guard focus its attention on vessels that present a higher risk, and is one element of a larger matrix that helps Coast Guard field commanders consistently target vessels for boardings," said Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Thomas Collins.
The agency will be looking for a number of indicators to determine if a ship should be targeted for increased scrutiny including the individual vessel's record of ownership and registry, the ship's agency or management company, and the security standards in place at its last five ports of call.
Vessels will also be targeted for boardings based on intelligence information, or on a random basis.
The ship list will be updated on a monthly basis until the first annual report is issued next April at which point countries will be targeted for an entire year, Collins said.
"Approximately 200 vessels call on US ports every day," said Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Thomas Collins.
"We must focus our resources on those ships that present the greatest risk," he said.?"The past compliance of vessels from these countries shows us that they haven't implemented basic security measures, increasing the security risk posed to our ports when they arrive here."
From July 1 - when the new international security standards came into force - through July 31, the Coast Guard detained, denied entry to or took other actions against 59 vessels, the Department of Homeland Security - the USCG's parent agency - said in a July compliance report.
The International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code requires ships and ports to implement basic security procedures such as identification checks and restricted access to cargo terminals? and other secure areas.
The Coast Guard also said it will be increasingly boarding vessels coming from ports in the 17 countries that have failed to report compliance with the ISPS to the International Maritime Organization or to it - Albania, Benin, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kiribati, Lebanon, Liberia, Madagascar, Mozambique, Nauru, Nigeria, Serbia and Montenegro, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, and Suriname.
The USCG says that vessels calling on ports in those countries take several steps to protect themselves, "which the Coast Guard will take into consideration when making decisions about boardings and other port state control actions."
Those steps, the agency said, include setting a higher security condition "in keeping with their vessel security plans;" executing a declaration of security that details specific security arrangements between the vessel and the port facility; and logging their actions and reporting those actions to the Coast Guard Captain of the Port (COTP) prior to arrival in the US.
The same bulletin also recommended that US-bound ships take security precautions before calling on ports in these countries to avoid extra Coast Guard scrutiny.
Details of the new targeting guidelines are published on the Coast Guard's website - (http://www.uscg.mil/hq/g-m/pscweb/FlagSecurity.htm).
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