Cruise Ship Security Enhanced, But Some Concerns Remain


By: Jim Kouri, CPP

Pirates have trolled the coast of Somalia for several years now, leading to warships from 16 nations patrolling the area in an attempt to deter hijacks. Unfortunately, according to a government terrorism report obtained by the National Association of Chiefs of Police, the sea gangs are now searching for victim ships farther from the African coast.

The pirate gangs and their backers within war-torn Somalia have made tens of millions of dollars in ransoms so far. Last year, Somali pirates hijacked a US flag ship. These Somali priates also attacked a cruise ship off the coast of Somalia.

Over 9 million passengers departed from U.S. ports on cruise ships in 2008 and, according to Homeland Security officials, cruise ships are attractive terrorist targets.

The U.S. Congress requested a study by the Government Accountability Office to review cruise ship security. The GAO analysts addressed the extent to which the Coast Guard, the lead federal agency on maritime security, assessed risk in accordance with the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) guidance and identified risks; and that federal agencies, cruise ship and facility operators, and law enforcement entities have taken actions to protect cruise ships and their facilities.

The GAO reviewed relevant requirements and agency documents on maritime security, analyzed 2006 through 2008 security operations data, interviewed federal and industry officials, and made observations at seven ports. GAO selected these locations based on factors such as the number of sailings from each port.

The Coast Guard has assessed the risks to cruise ships in accordance with DHS guidance — which requires that the agency analyze threats, vulnerabilities, and consequences — and, with other maritime personnel, identified some concerns.

Specifically, agency officials reported in January 2010 that there had been no credible threats against cruise ships in the prior 12 months, but also noted the presence of terrorist groups that have the capability to attack a cruise ship. The Coast Guard, cruise ship and facility operators, and law enforcement officials generally believe waterside attacks are a concern for cruise ships.

Agency officials and terrorism researchers also identified terrorists boarding a cruise ship as a concern. The Coast Guard has also identified the potential consequences of an attack, which would include potential loss of life and economic effects. Federal agencies, cruise ship and facility operators, and law enforcement entities have taken various actions to enhance the security of cruise ships and their facilities and implement related laws, regulations, and guidance, and additional actions are under way.

The Department of Homeland Security and its component agencies have taken security measures such as the Coast Guard providing escorts of cruise ships during transit, and Customs and Border Protection’s review of passenger and crew data to help target passenger inspections. Cruise ship and cruise ship facility operators’ security actions have included developing and implementing security plans, among other things. The Coast Guard is also in the process of expanding a program to deter and prevent small vessel attacks, and is developing additional security measures for cruise ships.

In addition, CBP’s 2005-2010 Strategic Plan states that Customs and Border Protection should seek to improve identification and targeting of potential terrorists through automated advanced information. CBP, however, has not assessed the cost and benefit of requiring cruise lines to provide passenger reservation data, which in the aviation mode, CBP reports to be useful for the targeting of passengers for inspection. GAO’s previous work identified evaluations as a way for agencies to explore the benefits of a program.

If CBP conducted a study to determine whether collecting additional passenger data is cost effective and addressed privacy implications, CBP would be in a better position to determine whether additional actions should be taken to augment security.

Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police and he’s a columnist for The Examiner (examiner.com) and New Media Alliance (thenma.org). In addition, he’s a blogger for the Cheyenne, Wyoming Fox News Radio affiliate KGAB (www.kgab.com). Kouri also serves as political advisor for Emmy and Golden Globe winning actor Michael Moriarty.

He’s former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed “Crack City” by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for several major organizations. He’s also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. Kouri writes for many police and security magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer and others. He’s a news writer and columnist for AmericanDaily.Com, MensNewsDaily.Com, MichNews.Com, and he’s syndicated by AXcessNews.Com. Kouri appears regularly as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Fox News Channel, Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, etc.

To subscribe to Kouri’s newsletter write to COPmagazine@aol.com and write “Subscription” on the subject line.

About The Author Jim Kouri, CPP:
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police and he's a columnist for The Examiner (examiner.com) and New Media Alliance (thenma.org). In addition, he's a blogger for the Cheyenne, Wyoming Fox News Radio affiliate KGAB (www.kgab.com). Kouri also serves as political advisor for Emmy and Golden Globe winning actor Michael Moriarty. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for several major organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. Kouri writes for many police and security magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer and others. He's a news writer and columnist for AmericanDaily.Com, MensNewsDaily.Com, MichNews.Com, and he's syndicated by AXcessNews.Com. Kouri appears regularly as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Fox News Channel, Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, etc. To subscribe to Kouri's newsletter write to COPmagazine@aol.com and write "Subscription" on the subject line.
Website:http://jimkouri.us

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