Sunday, May 25, 2008

Maritime Security

Brazilian Pirates
There have been reports that vessels anchored off the Brazilian port of Santos have suffered three pirate attacks during the first weeks of March.

While details about the vessels and crews have not been released, two of the vessels are Brazilian flagged and the other is a Danish flagged vessel.

Each of the attacks followed the same pattern while the vessels were anchored in the bay. Each attack took place at dawn involved between six and eight pirates in small launches. The pirates were armed and on one occasion held one of the crew hostage to enforce compliance from the rest.

Santos could be heading for one of the worst years for pirate activity with five attacks already this year as compared to 9 in 2007 and 13 in 2006.

100% Scanning
Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has implemented part of their overseas scanning program and con­tinues to plan for 100% scanning of all inbound containers by the year 2012.

Under the Secure Freight Initiative, CBP personnel work along side local authorities to screen containers for nuclear and radiological materials at the foreign port, prior to loading on vessels bound for the US.

Full scan­ning is now working at the ports of Port Qasim, Pakistan, Puerto Cortes, Honduras and Southampton in the United Kingdom.

In addition to the above ports, Singapore's Brani Terminal, Busan, Korea's Gamman Terminal, Hong Kong's Modern Terminal and Salalah, Oman's terminal are all scheduled to become operational soon under phase one of the Secure Fright Initiative.

Full scanning of all inbound contain­ers has been a frequent call of legislators dating back to the days just after 9/11. Congress last mandated 100% scanning in the 2006 Safe Ports Act.

In addition to screening at foreign ports, radiation portals have been established in more than 1000 locations in the US and 91 % of all Canadian containers are being scanned.

Over 195 million conveyances (trucks, cars, containers) have been scanned for radiation at ports and border crossings. Over 1.1 million alarms have been resolved since the program began.

TWIC Dashboard
The Department of Homeland Se­curity has established a TWIC "dash­board" to provide current information and statistics on TWIC enrollments, card issuance, and the adjudication

As TSA build toward the pro­grammed 149 enrollment centers and 1.5 million cards, the March 12th data shows 84 enrolment centers open, 226,314 pre-enrollments, 154,043 enrollments, 64,867 cards printed and 33,334 cards activated.

While enrollment shows a positive growth, activating the remaining enroll­ment centers, issuing and activating the projected 1.5 million cards will be a challenge to complete.

On a percentage basis, the latest data show only 56% of the projected enrollment centers open and only 15% of port works have even started the ap­plication process. On a positive note, average enrollment time is 9.6 minutes and has been decreasing since the first centers opened.

Initial disqualification letters have been sent to 2,481 (1 % of applicants) and of those, 10 have received final disqualification letters. 1095 appeals have been filed and 22 waivers have been granted.

Federal officials report a growing compliance with TWIC, retail­ers and shippers in worry that a national shortage of workers will occur if workers either delay or refuse to apply.

The Long Beach Press Telegraph reports that there have been esti­mates predicting as many as 20% of the truckers in the San Pedro Bay area may be forced out of business because of their inability or unwillingness to get a TWIC before years end. The truck driving force, more than 50 percent of whom are immigrants from Mexico, Central and South America, includes a sizable population of undocumented workers according to published reports."

TSA and Coast Guard officials continue to emphasize, "Don't wait, no one will be allowed unescorted entry on a facility or vessel without a TWIC."
The dashboard can be viewed by going to the Coast Guard Homeport website, Click on "Port Directory", then select "Corpus Christy", then "TWIC Dashboard" under "Homeland Security".