|Alaska Maritime Newsletter|
The Marine Exchange of Alaska is a non-profit, maritime organization established to serve the Alaska Maritime Community by providing information, communications and services to ensure safe, secure, efficient and environmentally responsible maritime operations.
Beginning January 23, 2007 all US citizens and nonimmigrant aliens who are citizens of Canada, Mexico, or Bermuda will be required to present a valid passport when entering or departing the United States via air, with a limited exception for Merchant Mariners:
A US citizen who presents a valid Merchant Mariners' Document (MMD), in conjunction with maritime business, will be exempt from the passport requirement above when entering the US via air ports- of-entry. It should be noted that the USCG intends to phase-out the existing MMDs over the next five years, which will apparently void this exemption.
The good news: US citizen Merchant Mariners, serving on US-flagged vessels are eligble for no-fee passports upon presentation of a letter from their employer, an MMD, and the standard evidence of citizenship and identity.
The US Coast Guard recently issued guidance
for "Writing a Ship Security Alert System (SSAS)
Annex for a Vessel Security Plan."
The Coast Guard issued a Notice in the Federal Register December 12, 2006, reminding first class pilots that they are required to submit the results of their annual chemical tests for dangerous drugs no later than Aprill 11, 2007, and that the requirement to submit their most recent annual physical examination for review by the Coast Guard had been extended until April 11, 2007 as well.
The University of Alaska Southeast recently published
a schedule of mariners' courses for February and
March. These courses include:
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has released an "advance copy" of the Final Rule for the TWIC Program. Approximately 300 of the 469 pages of this document are responses to the numerous comments received during the rulemaking process. We have attempted to summarize the remainder of the Rule, particularly as it applies to Alaska's Maritime Community, below:
The "official" Final Rule is expected to be published in a Federal Register in the near future. The rule will come into effect 60 days after its release, and will be fully implemented within 20 months of its release. Implementation will be phased in nationwide. The Rule does not identify the timeline for the Alaska phase, nor does it identify where the enrollment centers will be located in Alaska. We anticipate that both Anchorage and Juneau will have enrollment centers. It is unknown if either of these centers will have "mobile" capability.
In addition to all mariners holding a USCG license, Merchant Mariner Document (MMD), Certificate of Registry (COR), or STCW endorsement; all personnel requiring unescorted access to "secure areas" of USCG regulated vessels and facilities will eventually be required to have TWIC. The term "secure area" differs from the term "restricted area" as used in the Maritime Transportation Security Act. The Final Rule will give facilities the option of defining their "secure areas" in order to ensure that only personnel requiring unescorted access to areas "directly related to maritime transportation" are required to obtain TWIC. The Rule will also allow all passenger vessels to exclude "passenger access areas" from their secure areas, and will allow ferries and other passenger vessels (excluding cruise ships) to exclude certain "employee access areas" from their secure areas. On vessels, no "restricted area" identified in their Vessel Security Plan can be designated as the above "employee access area."
Vessel and Facility Security Plans must be amended to incorporate the provisions of the Final Rule. These plan amendments are not required to be submitted to the USCG until they reach their existing 5-yr approval anniversary date. The exception to this will be those facilties which intend to redefine their access control areas to limit "secure areas" to those areas strictly related to maritime transportation activities. In this case, the facility must submit plan amendments within six months of the date of the Final Rule.
The above is intended only to be a brief summary of the provisions of the TWIC Final Rule. The rule contains many provisions that are not summarized here. We highly recommend that members of Alaska's Maritime Community take the time to read and understand this rule. The Marine Exchange will continue to stay tuned as this program is implemented and we're here to help with your compliance in any way we can.
The following maritime-related events are scheduled in the upcoming months. Please contact the person listed for additional information regarding these events. If you know of a relevant event that should be highlighted in future newsletters, please contact the Marine Exchange of Alaska and we will be happy to post it.
January 22-23, 2007