U.S. ready for port security deadline, says CG

U.S. ready for port security deadline, says CG

ARLINGTON, Va. -- The director of the U.S. Coast Guard port security office said that U.S. ports and vessels are ready to meet a July 1 deadline for implementing security plans required by the Maritime Transportation Security Act.

"We believe they're in good shape," said Rear. Adm. Larry Hereth Thursday at a homeland security conference sponsored by the National Defense Industry Association.

Hereth said that the agency and an outside contractor have approved about half of the security plans submitted by U.S. port facilities and vessels. The Coast Guard is providing an itemized to-do list for plans that were not approved.

The Coast Guard plans to "trust but verify" security plans and certificates issued by other flag states under the International Ship and Port Security Code for some 8,000 foreign-flag vessels that call at U.S. ports.

The agency warned that ships without security certificates would be turned away. Hereth said that most of the onboard inspections will take place in port on the ship's first arrival after July 1. He said that a ship's certificate number and related information will become a regular part of the data a vessel is required to transmit in advance of its arrival in the U.S.

A recent International Maritime Organization report warned that fewer than 10 percent of ports worldwide would be ISPS-compliant by the July 1 deadline. Hereth said that the Coast Guard soon will issue instructions for crews of ships with security certificates explaining how to protect themselves in a non-compliant port.