Expand Coast Guard's mission Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta recently stated that there is a need for an agency within the Department of Transportation to handle security for all modes of transportation.

This appears to be a knee-jerk reaction to recent problems in national security. Creating another agency with oversight on national security will add to the already cumbersome government bureaucracy, making it more difficult to make prompt decisions. Such an agency would add to the difficulty of determining who is in charge.The Transportation Department already has a competent, qualified, well-trained and security-screened organization to handle all aspects of national maritime security. It's called the Coast Guard. Its resources and personnel should be expanded.

The Coast Guard is internationally respected. It has a more-than-acceptable reputation in drug interdiction, maritime personnel, background checks, mechanical and structural vessel inspection, and checking for hazardous and dangerous cargoes. When a Coast Guard boarding party comes aboard a vessel, it receives cooperation from both American and foreign crews.

Because the Coast Guard commands international respect, the Navy uses the Coast Guard to board and inspect vessels for contraband cargoes from embargoed nations. Using a Navy boarding party where no state of war exists is not politically acceptable, but a Coast Guard boarding is more than acceptable.

Coast Guard personnel, enlisted men and officers are subjected to a rigid background check before being inducted into the service. These background checks ensure that the applicants have the acceptable education, language skills, moral character and sense of dedication to the service. The background checks are followed by rigorous training that results in a high degree of professionalism.

Having worked with the Coast Guard throughout my more than 50-year maritime career, I am convinced that the Coast Guard needs to be recognized as the primary agency to implement and control maritime security, vessels and ports.

The Congress needs to recognize its responsibility to support the Coast Guard as the primary maritime security agency. Another federal agency is not the solution. We have the solution before us. Expand the Coast Guard and its mission.

Capt. Warren Leback

Princeton, N.J.

ILWU supports union

for drivers

You can use many words to describe columnist Joseph Bonney -- arrogant, self-righteous and hypocritical are a few that immediately come to mind. What else do you call someone who makes accusations in the press without calling the accused to check his facts? Libelous?

Bonney says in the Nov. 26-Dec. 2 issue of JoC Week that the International Longshore and Warehouse Union is indifferent about the hardships of low-paid container haulers in Southern California. But if he had asked, he would have found out that the ILWU had already planned to sign an agreement with the Teamsters and the East Coast International Longshoremen's Association at the AFL-CIO convention Dec. 4 to help in the unionization drive of those very workers Bonney is shedding crocodile tears over.

I and ILWU Vice President Bob McEllrath and Coast officers Ray Ortiz Jr. and Joe Wenzl were present at the kickoff of that drive Dec. 8 in Long Beach.

We at the ILWU look forward to Bonney's future columns supporting the truck drivers' organizing efforts to improve their lot.

He can send his donation to the organizing campaign to Teamsters Local 692, 3888 Cherry Ave., Long Beach, Calif.

James Spinosa


International Longshore and

Warehouse Union

San Francisco

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