September 11, 2001 : Attack on America
Statement By The Honorable Norman Y. Mineta Secretary Of Transportation Before The Subcommittee On Coast Guard And Maritime Transportation United States House Of Representatives; December 6, 2001

Statement By
The Honorable Norman Y. Mineta
Secretary Of Transportation
Before The
Subcommittee On Coast Guard And Maritime Transportation
United States House Of Representatives
December 6, 2001

Good morning, Mr. Chairman and members of the Subcommittee. I appreciate the opportunity to be here today to discuss our nation's maritime security strategy and ways to strengthen maritime and port security in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

As many have observed, our Nation has entered a new era of security awareness and nowhere is that felt more strongly than in the field of transportation. This is a challenge that confronts us in all transportation modes -- from aviation to railways, highways, pipelines and waterways.

At the Department of Transportation [DOT], we are working aggressively to build the security foundation we will need in this new era. We are working with our partners in state and local law enforcement, other government agencies, industry and labor and with the leadership and Members of the Congress. Thanks to your help, we are making great strides in addressing our most critical transportation security challenges.

However, much work remains to be done -- particularly in the security of our coastal waters, our inland waterways, our port facilities and their intermodal connectors. While the most pressing security challenges have been met with existing authorities, we now must work to build a new network of protections -- one that transforms what has been a rapid response into a sustained effort that recognizes heightened security as a part of normal operations. In addition, marine security depends on the users of the system, shippers and operators, and affects the trade corridors they use.

This work is of critical importance. Approximately 95 percent of our Nation's international trade moves by water. During a major military deployment, 90 percent of our military materials move through our nation's seaports. Preserving those assets and protecting the safety of the men and women who use them and the communities near them has been, and continues to be, one of the Administration's top priorities. To accomplish this priority, a new partnership must be formed. A partnership between the commercial maritime industry and government must take advantage of existing commercial security systems, information systems and technological innovations. The Department and the Coast Guard have been well-equipped with existing statutory authority to develop the immediate maritime security response our Nation has required. A number of critical steps have been taken since September 11:

  • The Coast Guard has refocused resources to protect high consequence targets in the marine environment, including critical bridges, port facilities and other infrastructure.

  • The Department has issued emergency regulations requiring 96-hour advance notices of arrival for ships arriving in U.S. ports, and we expect to make that regulation permanent by the summer of 2003.

  • The Coast Guard Intelligence Coordination Center, working with the Office of Naval Intelligence, has been tracking inbound high-interest vessels and providing intelligence to operational commanders and interested agencies.

  • The Coast Guard has deployed personnel as Sea Marshals to ensure positive control of vessels containing critical cargos and in sensitive areas.

  • The Maritime Administration has been meeting with members of the maritime industry to examine and address security issues and make recommendations regarding legislation and policy changes.

  • The Maritime Administration has heightened security at its Ready Reserve Force fleet sites and outport locations as well as activated one ship to assist in Operation Enduring Freedom.

  • The Maritime Administration and the General Services Administration have been working with other maritime agencies on ways to utilize "smart card" technology throughout the maritime and related industries in order to accurately identify employees working in security-sensitive areas. The cards that they have developed will use bio-metric identification such as: facial, fingerprint or iris.

  • The St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation has been working closely with its Canadian counterpart to heighten security on the St. Lawrence River and ensure the protection of ocean access to our Great Lakes ports.

  • These steps have formed the core of our near-term response to the new maritime and port security environment, and have been based on current authority and existing resources.

    However, I am glad to have the opportunity today to discuss the longer-term steps we hope to take as we build a new operational baseline for maritime and port security in America. I know that Admiral Loy will be able to expand on the efforts I will be describing today, and all of us at DOT are looking forward to working with the leadership and members of the House and the Senate in successfully building the new standard the nation requires.

    As you know, Mr. Chairman, shortly after September 11, I established two Rapid Response Teams to examine issues specifically relating to aviation security. Many of their recommendations have become part of the recently passed Aviation and Transportation Security Act of 2001. In addition, I directed the creation of a National Infrastructure Security Committee (or NISC) as an internal working group at the Department of Transportation. The NISC's charge is to focus on intermodal security issues, to ensure coordination of the Department's security work across all the modes, and to develop responses to meet the challenges of the new security environment.

    Within the NISC, Direct Action Groups have been created to look at each of the modes of transportation, to meet with experts from business, labor and other stakeholders, and to make recommendations for action on legislative, regulatory and diplomatic initiatives. The Maritime Direct Action Group was formed in anticipation of your September 24 letter to me and, over the last two months, the M-DAG has been meeting with maritime industry stakeholders and examining pending legislative proposals.

    Much of that work is reflected in the Departmental views on S. 1214, "the Port, Maritime and Rail Security Act of 2001," introduced by Senator Hollings of South Carolina. We believe that many of the elements laid out in S. 1214 can be critically important tools in crafting a new paradigm in maritime and port security, and look forward to continuing to work with the leadership and Members of both bodies on this vital issue.

    There are some key principles, which we believe should underlie our national efforts to build a new baseline of operations for maritime security:

  • Our approach must be comprehensive, reaching both security at port facilities and in the marine environment. It must reach the security of physical assets and the security of maritime and port personnel and passengers.

  • Due to the widely diverse nature of the maritime system across the country, and the widely divergent nature of operations among ports, local planning and coordination with local and state authorities will be crucial.

  • Like any transportation network, the maritime transportation system is in a constant state of growth and change. The system we create must therefore be one that is capable of evolving over time, and where the expectation of that evolution is clearly established.

  • And, finally, the system must fully recognize the intermodal nature of marine transportation. Cargo that is unloaded from a ship today in a seaport will move quickly to other modes of transportation. There is no better example than the cargo container -- a phenomenon that has been successful precisely because it is fundamentally intermodal -- a cargo container arriving at a U.S. seaport today can be virtually anywhere in the heartland of America via truck and/or rail tomorrow. Accordingly, maritime security measures must be fully integrated with security measures being implemented in other modes of transportation.

  • The pieces of this puzzle that could be quickly implemented have been implemented under the Department's existing authority. However, some longer-term tools for security planning and coordination will require new authorities. And, with the maritime transportation system playing such a critical role in our Nation's international trade, some responses to our new security challenges cannot be adopted unilaterally, but will only work if implemented in an international effort with our trading partners and the International Maritime Organization.

    Integrated Planning

    Although it may not be readily apparent to those outside the maritime community, a focus exclusively on security at ports alone will not be enough. Security enhancements and improved security coordination at port facilities will be crucial, but the comprehensive approach we need must look beyond ports and port facilities and embrace the entire marine transportation system.

    Most Americans, when asked about port security, will no doubt immediately think of large seaports through which more than 6 million containers enter the country each year. However, our security planning cannot afford to ignore smaller ports, ports of all sizes handling bulk cargoes, or the security of our coastal waters and inland waterways.

    Security measures at these locations must be integrated and coordinated in order to close identified gaps and prevent new gaps from opening, and the Department must have enforcement authority to ensure compliance with the security plans that result from this process.

    The first step in this security planning process must be an inventory of existing security systems and current plans for security enhancements at the nation's waterfront facilities and onboard passenger and cargo vessels.

    We propose to coordinate the collection of that information through the Coast Guard's Captains of the Port. The jurisdictions of the Captains of the Port reach across the Nation. The men and women who serve in that role have well-established relationships with the maritime stakeholders within their jurisdictions and a deep familiarity with the operations and activities in their geographic areas of responsibility.

    Simultaneously, a National Maritime Security Advisory Committee would be established at the Department of Transportation to advise me, the new Under Secretary for Transportation Security, and the Commandant of the Coast Guard on guidelines to be used by regional Coast Guard commanders and local Coast Guard Captains of the Port in building maritime security plans within their jurisdictions.

    Finally, based on reviews of local security plans and risk assessments conducted at ports of national and strategic significance, I will identify maritime facilities for which full-scale vulnerability assessments are required. Local Planning and Coordination Based on the proposed statutory requirements, the Department will issue regulatory guidance for the development of local port security plans. However, how those guidelines play out from port to port will depend on the nature of the local facilities and the cargos that are handled through a given port. Given the diversity of port design and operations across the country, a strong component for local planning and coordination will be required. To facilitate that process, Local Port Security Committees chaired by the Captain of the Port should be established. These local committees would include representation from local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, port authorities where those authorities exist, terminal owners and operators, organized labor, and others stakeholders.

    The local committees would apply the national guidelines to their own local conditions, identifying areas of port operations which must be considered secure and access to which will be limited to individuals who pass background checks. Local committees would also be responsible for ensuring that security plans for multiple facilities at a port interface properly with one another, coordinating landside, security planning with waterside security operations.

    Local Port Security Committee members will, of necessity, have access to sensitive information during the course of their work and security clearances will be required for members.

    In addition, we are proposing local committees play a role in any program for federal grant assistance for security upgrades at port facilities. We believe that eligibility for any such grants should be contingent on the local committee's certification that the project to be funded is necessary for compliance with the local port security plan.

    Finally, it is the role of the local committees to designate specific secure areas in ports as part of the local port security plan.

    Evolving Plans to Match Evolving Conditions

    Each of the planning elements I have described -- security inventories and the development of local security plans under guidance from the Department, the work of the National Maritime Security Committee, and the support provided by Local Port Security Committees -- have the goal of building a system that continually reviews and refines its security protocols.

    Security inventories will take a first look at existing systems, and local plans will be developed from that starting point. Input from the field will be reviewed by the National Maritime Security Committee and further national refinements made.

    We strongly agree that local plans must be reviewed at least annually, and that security exercises should take place in the jurisdictions of all local committees at least once every three years. The results of these reviews and exercises will likewise be reviewed nationally as inputs for the next round of refinements to the national maritime security plan.

    Recognizing Maritime Transportation's Intermodal Foundation

    As I mentioned, maritime transportation is an inherently intermodal process. Passengers travel via air to embark on cruise ships. Ferry passengers access surface transportation modes in traveling to and from water transit facilities. And cargo moves from ships and barges to trucks, rail and pipeline and vice versa throughout the transportation system. It is especially in this area of container cargo that much attention has been rightfully focused. Containerization has been a boon to international trade since its development in the 1950's. The ease of movement afforded by the ability of a container to be unloaded from a ship and quickly attached to a truck or rail car has made the container one of the most useful elements in the cargo transportation system.

    It has been estimated that more than 6 million containers enter the country via U.S. ports each year, representing more than 11 million twenty-foot container equivalent units (TEUs) of cargo. The overwhelming majority of container cargo is arriving in the U.S. as imported goods.

    The U.S. Customs Service has the lead in setting standards for the information that is to be provided by shippers in order to receive customs clearance and for conducting inspections of incoming cargo. We are requesting that Customs be given enhanced authority to specify the nature of cargo information they may require for clearing shipments or allowing their in-bond transportation beyond the port of arrival.

    DOT will continue to support Customs and our colleagues at the Department of the Treasury in carrying out that work, and we will continue to explore opportunities to make the cargo transportation system both more secure and more efficient.

    To aid that goal, we are proposing that Secretary O'Neill, Secretary Evans and I establish a joint task force to work with the transportation industry to develop performance standards for the tracking of shipments, containers and contents. Such systems could serve the dual purposes of aiding the work of Customs in clearing and processing cargo shipments and of aiding shippers and carriers in efforts to more closely monitor their own cargo movements and to limit cargo theft and tampering. In addition, we are proposing that Treasury and DOT work with the National Institutes of Standards and Technology at the Department of Commerce, and with the transportation industry, to develop enhanced performance standards for seals on cargo traveling in-bond and for locks to better secure containers during transport.

    New Statutory Authorities

    The Department and the Coast Guard have broad authority within the area of maritime transportation to, set security and safety standards and to enforce them. However, we are seeking new and enhanced authority to broaden safety and security operations, and to improve maritime security enforcement:

    We are proposing that the Secretary of Transportation be given expanded authority to conduct security assessments of foreign ports where necessary. The Department will also work with international organizations for the adoption of international standards for port security, similar to international airport standards promulgated by the International Civil Aviation Organization.

    In order to facilitate the Coast Guard's ability to monitor and manage arriving vessel traffic, we are proposing to extend the jurisdiction of the Magnusson Act from 3 miles to twelve.

    We are proposing that new Maritime Safety and Security Teams be established for rapid deployment to enhance port security operations in areas of heightened threat.

    We are proposing new criminal penalties, similar to those in place for aviation, for acts against vessels and maritime facilities. We also propose a new penalty for use of a dangerous weapon on all passenger vessels, similar to the penalty recently enacted in the USA Patriot Act for offenses involving a ferry or mass transit system.

    We propose to extend our authority to license and regulate deepwater oil ports to include natural gas facilities.

    We also propose criminal penalties for acts of maritime terrorism, such as placing destructive devices or harmful substances into our waters.

    Mr. Chairman, as I indicated earlier, our response to the new maritime and port security threat environment can never reach the point of being "finished." The transportation networks that make up the marine transportation system are constantly evolving. The security threats and safety challenges we face in marine transportation are constantly evolving. Our response to those challenges must be constantly evolving, as well. The proposals I have described will establish the foundation we need to build on the progress already made, and to build a process for that kind of continual refinement.

    Our partnership with the leadership and Members of the Congress has always been a critical part of our work; it will be an even more vital part of our efforts to build the kind of secure, efficient and safe marine transportation system the American people deserve.

    I look forward to working with all of you to reach that goal.

    Thank you very much.

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