Bill Would Toughen Port Security

Bill Would Toughen Port Security

The Coast Guard would be authorized to provide technical assistance and lend or lease equipment to ports to help them comply with the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code under terms of a broad-ranging port and waterway security bill filed last week.

The bill, sponsored Rep. Bennie G. Thompson, D-Miss., chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, also calls for changes in credentialing procedures for port workers and seafarers aboard vessels calling at a port.

Under terms of the bill, the Coast Guard would become the sponsor of “America’s Waterway Watch Program,” which would recruit citizens to be extra eyes to protect harbors and waterways from terrorist activity.

The bill to enhance homeland security in ports and waterways, H.R. 5346, also would increase security protocols for dangerous cargo in ports, increase the number of Coast Guard canine inspection teams, and authorize the agency to use digital fingerprinting, face or iris identification equipment to identify individuals who could be threats to a port.

The bill was referred to the Homeland Security Committee.

-- Contact R.G. Edmonson at bedmonson@joc.com.