US - Vessels from Ports Not Maintaining Effective Anti-Terrorism Measures

April 2008

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The Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002 (MTSA) has mandated that the United States Coast Guard evaluate the effectiveness of anti-terrorism measures in foreign ports and provides for the imposition of conditions of entry on vessels arriving to the United States from countries that do not maintain effective anti-terrorism measures (MTSA, 46 USC § 70108).

The Coast Guard maintains a list of such countries and issues Port Security Advisories each time the list is updated or conditions of entry change. As the list has been updated fairly regularly in recent months the best way for owners and operators to ensure that they have the most current information is to visit the U.S. Coast Guard Homeport website at: http://homeport.uscg.mil/mycg/portal/ep/home.do and follow the Port Security Advisory link.  

Current requirements for vessels arriving in the United States that have visited the listed countries during their last five port calls include taking the following actions while in the listed countries as a condition of entry into U.S. ports:

1. Implement measures per the ship’s security plan equivalent to Security Level 2;
2. Ensure that each access point to the ship is guarded and that the guards have total visibility of the exterior (both landside and waterside) of the vessel. Guards may be:

  • provided by the ship’s crew, however, additional crewmembers should be placed on the ship if necessary to ensure that limits on maximum hours of work are not exceeded and/or minimum hours of rest are met, or
  • provided by outside security forces approved by the ship’s master and Company Security Officer.

3. Attempt to execute a Declaration of Security;
4. Log all security actions in the ship’s log; and
5. Report actions taken to the cognizant U.S. Coast Guard Captain of the Port prior to arrival in the U.S.

Such vessels will be boarded or examined at sea by the Coast Guard to ensure the vessel took the required actions. Failure to implement properly the required actions may result in delay or denial of entry into the United States.

Based on the findings of the Coast Guard boarding or examination at sea, such vessels may be required to ensure that each access point to the ship is guarded by armed security guards and that they have total visibility of the exterior (both landside and waterside) of the vessel while in U.S. ports. The number and location of the guards must be acceptable to the cognizant U.S. Coast Guard Captain of the Port. For those vessels that have demonstrated good security compliance and can document that they took the required measures, the armed security guard requirement will normally be waived.