83.9 F
Charlotte Amalie
Saturday, May 28, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesSTEPPED-UP SECURITY APPLIES TO CRUISE SHIPS, TOO

STEPPED-UP SECURITY APPLIES TO CRUISE SHIPS, TOO

Oct. 11, 2001 – While much attention has focused on heightened security for air travelers in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, similar measures have been instituted without much fanfare for those who travel by sea.
Passengers boarding cruise ships in U.S. ports now are subject to security checks comparable to those at airports and may be issued digitally coded photo identity cards. The U.S. Coast Guard has new responsibilities for monitoring the movements of people and cargo in and out of the nation's ports, including those in the Virgin Islands.
The Coast Guard published a Marine Safety Information Bulletin on Oct. 4 announcing a temporary rule changing the notification requirements for vessels bound for or departing from all U.S. ports. The rule is to remain in effect until June 15, 2002.
Coast Guard "Notice of Arrivals" and "Notice of Departures" information formerly had to be provided 24 hours in advance of a ship's arrival in a port. Now it must be received 96 hours — four days — ahead of time. Further, the information required has been expanded to include a general description of the vessel's cargo, the date of departure from each port listed, and a listing of all persons on board. The lists must contain the name, date of birth and nationality of each person — plus, for crew members, position or duties on board ship.
"Previously, we didn't require those lists until the ship's arrival at the dock," Lt. John Reinert, Coast Guard Marine Safety Detachment supervisor on St. Thomas, said.
National Public Radio's Tampa, Fla., affiliate WUSF-FM, reported Thursday morning that Coast Guard escorts are being provided for all vessels moving into and out of harbors and that Coast Guard officers now board every passenger and cargo ship carrying hazardous materials into ports.
"Security around the nation's ports has come into the forefront in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks," WUSF reporter Steve Newborn said, and in Washington, Sen. Bob Graham (D., Fla.) has introduced legislation "that would send millions of dollars to enhance security at the nation's ports."
Before passengers board ships to embark on cruises now, they are subject to search for weapons, Newborn said, and their bags are X-rayed. In the case of Carnival Cruise Lines, once cleared to board, each person is issued a photo identity card which must be presented in order to reboard the ship in ports of call.
Carnival spokeswoman Jennifer de la Cruz told Newborn that the way the photo I.D. works is that "Whenever you go on or off the ship, you're swiping your card. We're able to track you. We know when you're on the ship, we know when you're off the ship. We know how many times you've come on and off the ship — same for employees. And when you come back on the ship, we are able to visually match your face to that which is popping up on a security screen."
According to de la Cruz, the Carnival line is currently operating at about three-quarters capacity. "In the immediate aftermath, of course, we had a lot of cancellations, and reservations went 'way downhill," she said. "Since that first week, things have gradually escalated and improved."
She stressed that the cruise line already had security plans in place to deal with any potential terrorist strike. "Those are updated and audited and reviewed annually by the U.S. Coast Guard, so it's not that we had to whip together a plan at the last minute," she said. "Those plans were already well established. We simply needed to enact them at the highest levels."
Besides greater surveillance of passengers and crew, de la Cruz said, "The people who are entering the port on the vendor and the supplier side is very, very tightly restricted."
The Marine Safety Detachment on St. Thomas is tasked with port security in the busiest cruise ship harbor in America. Petty Officer 2nd Class Scott Howell said the new rule is aimed at vessels over 300 gross tons, which includes all the "cruise and container ships" visiting the territory. Also affected are all vessels carrying bulk hazardous materials, "including barges and gasoline tankers," he said.
"The Coast Guard is particularly interested in each ship's crew list," Howell said.
He made the point that "Everyone in the shipping industry has accepted these additional administrative burdens well." With the terrorist attacks in mind, he said, "Everybody on the ships has been fully cooperative. I haven't had any problems with them at all."
Howell noted that most of the ships that visit the Virgin Islands are foreign flagged. "They understand what we are doing and have been helping me out a lot," he said.
He said the public ferries and daytrip boats routinely operating between the U.S. and British Virgin Islands are not affected by the new rule.
Effective Oct. 15, the arrival and departure notices are to be submitted to a central national clearinghouse, the National Vessel Movement Center in Kearneysville, W.Va. Reinert said all of the required information "is still going to be coming to us, too, but, this will take some of the recently increased local burden off us."
The Tampa Tribune, meanwhile, reported that two men from the Middle East had been arrested after they were observed videotaping facilities at the Tampa seaport, the largest in Florida. On Sept. 16, federal investigators detained two individuals for questioning after security guards at The West Indian Co. dock reported that they had been taking pictures in a restricted area there; according to reports, the two were not U.S. nationals. No further information has been forthcoming.
The only documented terrorist attack on a cruise ship occurred in 1985, in the Mediterranean. Palestinian terrorists took some 400 passengers and crew members hostage aboard the Italian liner Achille Lauro and demanded the release of prisoners being held in Israel. The hostages eventually were released, but not before an elderly American in a wheelchair was killed.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Keeping our community informed is our top priority.
If you have a news tip to share, please call or text us at 340-228-8784.




Support local + independent journalism in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Unlike many news organizations, we haven't put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as accessible as we can. Our independent journalism costs time, money and hard work to keep you informed, but we do it because we believe that it matters. We know that informed communities are empowered ones. If you appreciate our reporting and want to help make our future more secure, please consider donating.

STAY CONNECTED

20,771FansLike
4,727FollowersFollow
Oct. 11, 2001 - While much attention has focused on heightened security for air travelers in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, similar measures have been instituted without much fanfare for those who travel by sea.
Passengers boarding cruise ships in U.S. ports now are subject to security checks comparable to those at airports and may be issued digitally coded photo identity cards. The U.S. Coast Guard has new responsibilities for monitoring the movements of people and cargo in and out of the nation's ports, including those in the Virgin Islands.
The Coast Guard published a Marine Safety Information Bulletin on Oct. 4 announcing a temporary rule changing the notification requirements for vessels bound for or departing from all U.S. ports. The rule is to remain in effect until June 15, 2002.
Coast Guard "Notice of Arrivals" and "Notice of Departures" information formerly had to be provided 24 hours in advance of a ship's arrival in a port. Now it must be received 96 hours -- four days -- ahead of time. Further, the information required has been expanded to include a general description of the vessel's cargo, the date of departure from each port listed, and a listing of all persons on board. The lists must contain the name, date of birth and nationality of each person -- plus, for crew members, position or duties on board ship.
"Previously, we didn't require those lists until the ship's arrival at the dock," Lt. John Reinert, Coast Guard Marine Safety Detachment supervisor on St. Thomas, said.
National Public Radio's Tampa, Fla., affiliate WUSF-FM, reported Thursday morning that Coast Guard escorts are being provided for all vessels moving into and out of harbors and that Coast Guard officers now board every passenger and cargo ship carrying hazardous materials into ports.
"Security around the nation's ports has come into the forefront in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks," WUSF reporter Steve Newborn said, and in Washington, Sen. Bob Graham (D., Fla.) has introduced legislation "that would send millions of dollars to enhance security at the nation's ports."
Before passengers board ships to embark on cruises now, they are subject to search for weapons, Newborn said, and their bags are X-rayed. In the case of Carnival Cruise Lines, once cleared to board, each person is issued a photo identity card which must be presented in order to reboard the ship in ports of call.
Carnival spokeswoman Jennifer de la Cruz told Newborn that the way the photo I.D. works is that "Whenever you go on or off the ship, you're swiping your card. We're able to track you. We know when you're on the ship, we know when you're off the ship. We know how many times you've come on and off the ship -- same for employees. And when you come back on the ship, we are able to visually match your face to that which is popping up on a security screen."
According to de la Cruz, the Carnival line is currently operating at about three-quarters capacity. "In the immediate aftermath, of course, we had a lot of cancellations, and reservations went 'way downhill," she said. "Since that first week, things have gradually escalated and improved."
She stressed that the cruise line already had security plans in place to deal with any potential terrorist strike. "Those are updated and audited and reviewed annually by the U.S. Coast Guard, so it's not that we had to whip together a plan at the last minute," she said. "Those plans were already well established. We simply needed to enact them at the highest levels."
Besides greater surveillance of passengers and crew, de la Cruz said, "The people who are entering the port on the vendor and the supplier side is very, very tightly restricted."
The Marine Safety Detachment on St. Thomas is tasked with port security in the busiest cruise ship harbor in America. Petty Officer 2nd Class Scott Howell said the new rule is aimed at vessels over 300 gross tons, which includes all the "cruise and container ships" visiting the territory. Also affected are all vessels carrying bulk hazardous materials, "including barges and gasoline tankers," he said.
"The Coast Guard is particularly interested in each ship's crew list," Howell said.
He made the point that "Everyone in the shipping industry has accepted these additional administrative burdens well." With the terrorist attacks in mind, he said, "Everybody on the ships has been fully cooperative. I haven't had any problems with them at all."
Howell noted that most of the ships that visit the Virgin Islands are foreign flagged. "They understand what we are doing and have been helping me out a lot," he said.
He said the public ferries and daytrip boats routinely operating between the U.S. and British Virgin Islands are not affected by the new rule.
Effective Oct. 15, the arrival and departure notices are to be submitted to a central national clearinghouse, the National Vessel Movement Center in Kearneysville, W.Va. Reinert said all of the required information "is still going to be coming to us, too, but, this will take some of the recently increased local burden off us."
The Tampa Tribune, meanwhile, reported that two men from the Middle East had been arrested after they were observed videotaping facilities at the Tampa seaport, the largest in Florida. On Sept. 16, federal investigators detained two individuals for questioning after security guards at The West Indian Co. dock reported that they had been taking pictures in a restricted area there; according to reports, the two were not U.S. nationals. No further information has been forthcoming.
The only documented terrorist attack on a cruise ship occurred in 1985, in the Mediterranean. Palestinian terrorists took some 400 passengers and crew members hostage aboard the Italian liner Achille Lauro and demanded the release of prisoners being held in Israel. The hostages eventually were released, but not before an elderly American in a wheelchair was killed.