Coast Guard, maritime officials discuss new security rules
 
Coast Guard, maritime officials discuss new security rules

Online Exclusive, Aug 1 2003

Representatives from the maritime industry attended a Coast Guard hearing Wednesday that offered the parties involved a chance to discuss new security rules for thousands of U.S. ports and ships.

Based on interim rules released by the Department of Homeland Security on July 1, the Coast Guard says that ports, ships, coastal facilities and offshore oil drilling units will have to spend $7.3 billion over the next 10 years.

Many speakers at the hearing praised the Coast Guard for being flexible to various security concerns and economic needs of maritime businesses. Some, however, had concerns over the costs of the security and the potential disruption it could cause in service.

The new rules state that people boarding large passenger ships would be subjected to personal and baggage searches much like those that are performed at airports. Such searches would only be performed on ships deemed vulnerable and during times when the nation's terror alert has been raised to orange, or "high."

One aspect of the rules that worries the industry is the requirement that 4,121 domestic ships must buy and install an "automatic identification system" -- which at $9,300 per ship could potentially wipe out many seasonal operators' profit margins for the whole year.

Public comments on the interim rules are being accepted by the Coast Guard until July 31, with final rules and any revisions being released in October and taking effect 30 days later.

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