September 11 2004

USCG lists flags, port states with security problems

The Coast Guard yesterday issued a list of countries whose vessels will be targeted for increased boardings because of two months of below average compliance with international security standards. The agency also alerted the maritime community that it has concerns about the security of ports in 17 countries because those countries have failed to report compliance with new international port security requirements.

More information on the Coast Guard's port state control program, including the list of targeted countries can be found at: http://www.uscg.mil/hq/g-m/pscweb.

The port security advisory issued to the maritime community and list of countries can be viewed at: http://www.uscg.mil/hq/g-m/mp/mapipsp.html

"Approximately 200 vessels call on U.S. ports every day," said Adm. Thomas H. Collins, commandant of the Coast Guard. "We must focus our resources on those ships that present the greatest risk."

The Coast Guard examined the results of its July and August security compliance boardings to determine which countries' vessels had a higher than average rate of compliance problems that resulted in a detention, denial of entry or other major control action.

Targeting vessels from these countries for increased boardings 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. Other elements include the past performance of the individual vessel, its ship management company, recognized security organization and the security in its last five ports of call. Vessels are also targeted for boardings based on intelligence information, or on a random basis.

The list will be updated on a monthly basis until the first annual report is issued, expected to be in April 2005, at which point countries will be targeted for an entire year.

The new international security standards, the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code, came into full effect on July 1, and required vessels that travel internationally to implement basic security procedures, such as identification checks and securing of restricted areas. Starting on July 1, the Coast Guard has boarded every foreign vessel on its first port call to the United States.

PORT SECURITY

The Coast Guard will be targeting vessels for increased boardings when arriving in U.S. ports if, during their last five port calls, they have visited one of the 17 countries listed yesterday.

Countries were required to provide the International Maritime Organization information about their ports' compliance with new international security requirements by July 1. The Coast Guard has a range of concerns about the information reported from these 17 countries, including reports that they are not in full compliance, incomplete reports, or no reports at all.

"Right now, we are relying on countries to report the actions they have taken to increase security in their ports," Collins said. "Over the next three years, we plan to visit 135 countries around the world to share and align our security practices. We will use that information to help us make decisions about security for vessels arriving here. In the meantime, it is vital that countries report this information so that all countries can take proper steps to protect their ports."

The Coast Guard recommends that vessels calling on ports in these 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 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; logging their actions and reporting those actions to the Coast Guard Captain of the Port prior to arrival in the United States.

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