Federal News Radio reported that DHS Secretary Napolitano’s State of America’s Homeland Security Address yesterday included a statement to the effect that “DHS will expand the Transportation Worker Identity Credential (TWIC) program to more ports of entry and maritime workers.” Does this mean that truckers will need TWICs for US Customs and Border Protection’s Ports of Entry on the Canadian and Mexican borders? What additional maritime workers will soon fall under the TWIC Program?
As far as current maritime workers are concerned, all who need unescorted access to the “secure areas” of vessels, facilities, and Outer Continental Shelf facilities regulated under the Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA) already have TWICs. In addition, all merchant mariners with US-Coast-Guard-issued credentials have them too. If anything, thanks to section 809 of the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2010, the number of mariners requiring TWICs will drop (once the Coast Guard figures out how to implement this provision). So where in the maritime sector can the TWIC Program be expanded?
Fortunately, the text of the Secretary’s speech is available on the DHS website. The one sentence on the TWIC Program, in an over 4,300-word tour d’horizon of US homeland security, that Ms. Napolitano actually said, or meant to say, was: “And we will expand the Transportation Worker Identification Credential, or TWIC, program to ensure that only authorized maritime workers can access secure areas of regulated vessels.” If taken literally, this would present a serious problem for the way business is conducted. Only maritime workers with TWICs could board most vessels, other than passenger vessels. No occasional office equipment repairmen, or the like, and no local persons providing services of any kind in foreign ports. And her statement doesn’t address the secure areas of maritime facilities. Assuming that she’s really talking about unescorted access, wherein lies the expansion? Presumably, in the ensuring that only authorized personnel are allowed unescorted access. How? By getting the TWIC Reader Requirements Rule up and running.
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