Cruise Ship Terror Security

The security implementations regarding cruise ships are relatively worthless in that they submit travel itineraries and fingerprints to Homeland Security but do nothing in the way of preventing state-sponsored terrorism. These draconian measures instituted in the post-9/11 era only further decrease the amount of people who want to cruise and terrorize the public in the process. 

Title: Divers To Patrol Port For Terrorism
Date: June 12, 2002
Source: Orlando Sentinel 

Abstract: Anticipating new U.S. Coast Guard rules designed to thwart underwater terrorism at seaports throughout the nation, port officials here are preparing to hire a team of divers that would inspect cruise ship piers and pilings.

It's unclear whether the Coast Guard will require the underwater security sweeps to be random or routine, only that they likely will be required to begin no later than Aug. 1, said Malcolm McLouth, Port Canaveral's executive director.

"We're doing this in response to a Coast Guard dictate," McLouth said Tuesday.

Mike Rosecrans, the Coast Guard's captain of the port, confirmed that the agency is increasing security standards at ports with overnight passengers but would not comment on specific security measures.

"The passengers are the most precious cargo carried on the sea, so we would give them the first attention," said Rosecrans, who is based at Mayport in Jacksonville and is responsible for ports along Florida's coast from Kings Bay to Melbourne. "I don't think it's appropriate, and I think people expect us not to give everything away."

Port Canaveral commissioners are expected to approve advertising for bids from diving firms during today's Canaveral Port Authority meeting, said Dixie Sansom, spokeswoman for the port.

"We're trying to stay ahead of the curve," she said. "By advertising now, the staff will be able to recommend a diving services contractor at the July commission meeting and be able to meet the Aug. 1 deadline."

The Brevard County port, one of the busiest cruise ports in the nation, has used private firms and the Brevard County sheriff's dive team on occasion, McLouth said. But the firm ultimately hired by the commission will be responsible for providing security diving services on command, seven days a week, 24 hours a day, regardless of weather conditions, officials said.

"They will have to be able to respond to emergency situations in the port area and be in the water within one hour of the emergency call," Sansom said.

The firm will be responsible for inspecting more than a mile of pier and must have enough scuba cylinders, lighting and equipment to work underwater for six to eight hours. It also should have a submersible video with a topside monitor and recording devices in case an explosive device is found, port officials said. The divers will have to be U.S. citizens and undergo background checks, she said.

The new measures could cost the port, which already has spent $1.5 million on security since Sept. 11, as much as $200,000 or as little as $25,000, McLouth said. The amount will depend on what's required by the Coast Guard under its new regulations.

"I don't know how often we'll be doing it," he said. "But if there's a specific threat, we'd be doing it quite religiously."

McLouth said the underwater-security measures were being considered before a May 23 FBI memo highlighted possible threats by swimmers and scuba divers. FBI agents across the country fanned out to dive shops, seeking records on people who had been trained to dive (Orlando Sentinel, 2002)

Title: National Environmental Assessment: U.S. Visit Implementation At Passenger Cruise Ship Ports Of Entry 
Date: November 2003
Source: U.S. Department of Homeland Security 


(U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 2003)

Title: Ports Ratchet Up Security To Block Terrorist Attacks
Date: July 1, 2004
Orlando Sentinel 

Abstract: While officials at seaports across the world scrambled to meet today's deadline on new security measures, Port Canaveral's executive director Mac McClouth did something different.

He took a vacation.

"We're absolutely on course," Port Canaveral spokeswoman Dixie Sansom said earlier this week. "I assure you, if we were scrambling, Mac would not be gone."

Port Canaveral, the second-busiest cruise port in the world, announced Wednesday that it has met the standards outlined in the Maritime Transportation Security Act and imposed by the U.N.'s International Maritime Organization to thwart terrorism in ports and at sea.

Starting today, the Coast Guard will board every foreign-flagged vessel sailing into the nation's 361 seaports, including Port Canaveral, to ensure they are complying with the new rules.

Every port must have a Coast Guard-approved security plan in place to continue operations.

Some of the new measures include increased identification checks on crew members and visitors to the ports, perimeter fencing equipped with surveillance cameras, X-ray machines on all large cruise ships and increased patrols.

Most U.S. ports and ships are expected to comply by today, but many ports in smaller, poorer nations won't meet the deadline. That could cause problems, especially in trade, experts said.

Any cruise or cargo ship docking in the United States will have to produce documents showing the last 10 ports visited comply with the new rules.

Ships not in compliance could be delayed by lengthy at-sea inspections by the Coast Guard, or even turned away.

According to the maritime organization's most recent figures, 71 percent of tankers, 89 percent of cruise ships and 56 percent of cargo ships had certificates of compliance. Only 32 percent of foreign ports had approved security plans.

Meanwhile, officials at Florida's 14 ports were predicting few, if any, problems.

"I honestly think all our ports in Florida will do well," said Nancy Leikauf, executive vice president of the Florida Ports Council, a nonprofit state organization.

At the Port of Miami, spokeswoman Andria Muniz said officials there "have been working very diligently to meet the requirements.

The port received its letter of authorization from the Coast Guard this week.

The new security measures also call for expanded baggage and passenger screening, restricted access to sensitive areas, more bomb-sniffing dogs and additional employee training.

Inspectors will be looking under vehicles with mirrors and opening up trunks, said Jerry Simon, director of security at Port Canaveral.

All visitors to restricted areas will be escorted, and all trucks making deliveries or pickups at companies in restricted areas must be on a list to gain access. Ports could face fines starting at $25,000 per violation, per day if security plans aren't being followed, Simon said.

Despite the new rules, Port Canaveral officials predicted Wednesday that cruise-ship passengers won't notice a difference since many of the measures have been in place there for years.

In fact, the Brevard County port has been at the forefront when it comes to protecting passengers and property, spokeswoman Sansom said.

Three years ago, it was the first Florida port to come into compliance with state regulations imposed after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, D.C. Since then, the Canaveral Port Authority has spent $5.2 million beefing up security.

Before Sept. 11, the port spent $700,000 annually on security manpower, since then the yearly cost has skyrocketed to $4 million, officials said. Statewide, ports have spent $155.6 million over the past three years on security.

The International Council of Cruise Lines, whose members include major lines such as Disney, Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Princess and Norwegian, also announced this week that all of its 118 vessels are compliant with the new regulations.

While there was concern worldwide about the possible impact on foreign trade, Coast Guard spokesman Dana Warr said the agency is "trying to find a balance between security and the free flow of commerce."

"The Coast Guard is very serious about these regulations, but I'm sure they'll also provide some interim solutions," said Leikauf.

"The Coast Guard is not going to throw up a solid wall around this country."

At Port Canaveral, cruise ships make up 70 percent of the traffic, Cargo vessels represent the remaining 30 percent. Nine cruise ships sail in and out of Port Canaveral six days a week on three-, four-, and seven-day itineraries.

During 2003, a record 2 million cruise passengers passed through the Canaveral's terminal.

"Our vessel schedule is so spaced out that we never have 10 or 20 vessels trying to get into port on the same day," Sansom said. "I would not anticipate a waiting line at the buoys."

Coast Guard and Port Canaveral officials acknowledged that more work needs to be done and that security is an ongoing process, but they said the port is the safest it has ever been.

"We're looking hard," Coast Guard Lt. Patrick Eiland said Wednesday. "And, we know who is coming in our port." (Orlando Sentinel, 2004)

Title: U.S. Department Of Homeland Security: Cruise Ship Passengers Will Be Fingerprinted
Date: April 24, 2008
Source: Cruise Bruise 

AbstractThe United States Department Of Homeland Security (DHS)  has announced plans to begin a policy of fingerprinting cruise ship passengers at U.S. cruise ship terminals before they board.

The loophole in the new policy excludes American citizens from the policy, making it easy for criminals on the run, known sex offenders and others posing a threat to the cruise ship passenger population to board the ships and continue to elude law enforcement.

With only a fraction of passengers embarking from U.S. ports required to submit to fingerprinting, the delays and cost to passengers is still thought to be extensive.

The proposal calls for cruise lines and airlines, not the U.S. government to pay for the cost of fingerprinting and processing is due to the fact that the U.S. government will be outsourcing the process.

DHS says the new regulations are a "quantum leap" in homeland security. I agree. It is a quantum leap back to the past, not to the future.

Currently, U.S. government agents collect visitors' fingerprints as they enter the U.S., and it was anticipated that government agents, not private sector employees, would collect the fingerprints when the program expands to include people leaving the country. This puts fingerprints in the hands of common citizens working in the travel industry.

The new requirement is suppose to go into effect in June of 2009. There is a sixty day period for the airlines and cruise company's to protest the new policy and the protests are flooding in.

Given the biggest threat to passengers and ship safety, for cruises embarking at U.S. ports, has been U.S. citizens, this half-baked policy will do very little to protect passengers from those who pose the largest risk.

A browse of Cruise Bruise confirms, that nearly all the cases of crimes aboard ships embarking from U.S. ports, where the crimes were committed by passengers, were all Americans or legal American residents. 

The crimes committed by non-Americans were almost always by crew who had already been fingerprinted and given C1D1 work visas. They from a minority of the cases compared to passenger crimes.

Other crimes committed by passengers who were not American, were mostly from ships embarking from foreign ports, to non-American destinations. DHS has no control over those passengers. 

While I'd love to see the cruise lines pay for crime prevention, this new DHS policy does nothing to really protect Americans aboard ships embarking from our cities. It is a toothless policy aimed at given a false sense of security (Cruise Bruise, 2008)

Title: Police Dogs Join Port Canaveral Security Amid New 9/11 Terror Threat
Date: September 9, 2011
Bay News 9

Abstract: It's a first not only for Central Florida's port, but also for the nation.

On the same day U.S. announced a new "credible, but unconfirmed" terror threat related to the upcoming 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks on America, the Transportation Security Administration announced a new police dog explosives detection team at Port Canaveral, with the goal of protecting the country's fastest growing cruise port.

More than 1 million passengers pass through Port Canaveral, and officials said they hope the new, TSA-certified dog team will keep the port and the people safe from potential explosives.

Three dogs and their handlers will work as the first team dedicated to a cruise ship facility. One of those dogs served in the war in Afghanistan.

TSA touted the team as a mobile asset to thwart potential threats to the port, much like teams have been doing at national airports since 9/11 -- and also to protect the seven ships based at Port Canaveral, each carrying thousands of passengers on any given day.

John Daley/TSA Orlando

"Port Canaveral is an important economic driver in the local community," said John Daley, a TSA official based in Orlando. "Having a safe environment for people who stop to cruise is critical to that vibrant economy."

The new team has a partnership with a new one at Sanford International Airport. That, too, is a first.

They will have the ability to pool their resources if a threat is seen.

The seaport's new police department has also recently taken over security duties from the Brevard County Sheriff's Office (Bay News 9, 2011).

Title: Cruise Ships May Be Required To Hand Over Passenger Reservation Data 
Date: May 13, 2010
Source: Homeland Security Newswire 

 : Security experts worry about a waterside attack using a waterborne improvised explosive device; such an attack could conceivably come while the ship was in transit or docked at port; to address this worry, DHS will require cruise ships departing and entering the United States to provide Customs and Border Protection (CBP) with passenger reservation data

Cruise ships departing and entering the United States may be required in the future to provide Customs and Border Protection (CBP) with passenger reservation data because of terrorism concerns, according to a recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report.

Matthew Harwood writes that in a recent report on cruise ship security, the GAO recommended that CBP study the cost and security benefits of requiring the cruise ship industry to provide automated Passenger Name Record (PNR) data to the agency for passenger screening purposes. DHS, the CBP’s parent organization, agreed and responded that the agency would conduct the study and determine whether the program should be implemented.

Harwood notes that the idea is to bring the same attention to detail to screening cruise-ship passengers that already exists for airline passengers. International airlines are already required to submit PNR information to the CBP as part of its mission to prevent terrorists and their weapons from entering the United States.

Currently, cruise ships departing or entering the United States only submit passenger manifests for CBP to check against terrorist watch-lists and the National Crime Information Center database.

CBP officials told GAO investigators that PNR data provides a fuller picture for better targeting of high-risk passengers, including those with suspected terrorist ties. “[PNR] data may include, among other things, a passenger’s full itinerary, reservation booking date, phone number, and billing information, which is not usually available in the manifest data,” reports the GAO.

A representative from the Cruise Lines International Association told GAO investigators that the industry would comply with the program if CBP required them to do so, although the representative did not know if such a rule would hurt reservation rates. In 2008, 9.3 million passengers departed the United States on board cruise ships, according to the Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration.

Officials across DHS believe cruise ships could be a terrorist target, but a recent intelligence report from the U.S. military’s National Maritime Intelligence Center (NMIC) in January found no credible terrorist threat to cruise ships existed in 2009.

Nevertheless, the NMIC pointed to the 1985 terrorist hijacking of the Achille Lauro cruise ship by four terrorists from the Palestinian Liberation Front as evidence that terrorists could target these vessels. After the four terrorists took control of the cruise ship off of Egypt, they executed Leon Klinghoffer — a 69-year-old, wheelchair-bound American Jew — and dumped his body and wheelchair into the sea.

Harwood writes that the big fear for homeland security officials has nothing to with terrorists finding their way on board a cruise ship though. What they dread most is a waterside attack using a waterborne improvised explosive device. Such an attack could conceivably come while the ship was in transit or docked at port. In 2000, two al Qaeda members rammed the U.S.S. Cole in the port of Aden with a explosive-packed 35-foot-long boat, killing themselves and seventeen sailors.

Cruise ships, however, are considered strong, resilient vessels, reports the GAO. “Coast Guard officials stated that cruise ships are built to sustain various types of attack scenarios and keep passengers safe until they are able to be rescued, and that a very large hole in the hull would have to occur to cause any significant damage to the ship” (Homeland Security Newswire, 2010)

Title: DHS Cruise Ship Protection Efforts Given High Marks 
Date: July 2010
Source: National Defense

Abstract: Cruise ships have been the targets of terrorist actions in the past, most notably the 1985 attack on the Achille Lauro, which resulted in the death of American passenger Leon Klinghoffer.

Since then, there have been few incidents, and in a 12 month period from April 2009 to April 2010, the Government Accountability Office reported that there have been no known cruise-ship plots detected. That doesn’t mean that they don’t remain attractive, “high-prestige” targets, GAO said in a report, “Varied Actions Taken to Enhance Cruise Ship Security, but Some Concerns Remain.”

There are some 9.3 million passengers departing from 30 U.S. ports every year on about 3,900 cruises. The largest ship holds about 8,500 customers and crew members. Israel foiled a plot against one of its cruise ships in 2005 and pirates off the coast of Somalia have made three unsuccessful attempts to take control of cruises, GAO noted. The economic impact of an attack in or around U.S. waters could severely damage the cruise ship industry, which was worth $19.1 billion to the U.S. economy in 2008, the report said.

GAO, in a departure from most of its Department of Homeland Security reports, had little criticism for DHS. Customs and Border Protection and the Transportation Security Administration have responsibilities in ensuring the security of cruise ships, with the Coast Guard serving as the lead agency.

The Coast Guard provides ship escorts and oversees companies’ compliance with security plans. CBP reviews documents of passengers arriving from foreign ports and inspects baggage. TSA provides screening equipment.

“Despite the lack of evidence identifying recent threats, maritime intelligence officials identified the presence of terrorist groups that have the capability to attack a cruise ship,” the report said.

Waterborne improvised explosive devices remain a concern among security experts, particularly small boats laden with bombs similar to the one that blew a hole in the side of the USS Cole in Yemen in October 2000. Cruise ships often operate in areas where there are numerous small boats that are not scrutinized as often as larger vessels, the report noted. An armed takeover patterned on the Achille Lauro case is another possibility ships must be on guard against, as well as a biological attack where food or water is poisoned, the report noted.

GAO only had one recommendation. It suggested that CBP conduct a study on whether it would be feasible for cruise ship companies to share passenger data with the DHS prior to a ship’s departure. Information collected at the time of a reservation is now routinely shared by the airline industry, but not for cruise ship passengers, it noted (National Defense, 2010)

Title: Law Enforcement Agencies Prepare During Mock Terrorist Threat
Date: October 26, 2012
Bay News 9

Abstract: Terrorists attacking Port Canaveral is a concern and law enforcement from around the region are working to make sure they are ready to spring into action if the situation were to happen.

This week, they are simulating a terrorist threat at the port, called Operation Focused Lens East.

Officers are going through bags, cars, using police dogs to search boats and have added extra patrols on the water.

The Coast Guard, Port Canaveral Police and Fire, the Sheriff's Office, the FBI and other law enforcement agencies are working to improve communication and effectiveness.

They were located at various locations around the Port Tuesday, pretending they were dealing with a terrorist threat.

Coast Guard Petty Officer Christopher Evanson said it is vital the different agencies work together.

"All relationships, all the exercise will have become such a fine tune machine that when a real emergency strikes, we would have worked together and implemented a safe and secure response for any type of terror attack at the port, Evanson said. "It will ultimately protect the people in the community."

He also encouraged members of the public to be vigilant and to report any suspicious.

They said Port Canaveral has a lot of business that come and go from this area and a terrorist could see the area as an ideal place to attack.

Members of the public might notice an increased presence of law enforcement throughout the port and participants will be evaluated.

"We are exercising our outstanding interagency partnerships in Port Canaveral in order to increase preparedness for all types of security challenges," said Capt. Andy Blomme, a commander from Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville. "The Port Canaveral maritime stakeholder community can rest assured that all levels of government are working together in this endeavor" (Bay News 9, 2012)