Coast Guard announces final ports, compliance dates for TWIC Program

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Coast Guard and the Transportation Security Administration announced Wednesday that April 14, 2009, is the Transportation Worker Identification Credential compliance date for owners and operators of facilities located within the U.S. Coast Guard Captain of the Port Zones of Houston-Galveston, Texas, Los Angeles-Long Beach, Calif., San Juan, Puerto Rico and Guam.

The TWIC compliance date for owners and operators of facilities located within U.S. Coast Guard Captain of the Port Zone Port Arthur, Texas, has been extended until April 14, 2009, from the original compliance date of Nov. 28, 2008. This extension was granted due to disruption of enrollment and port activities in the wake of Hurricane Ike.

Ports affected by the April 14, 2009, compliance date include, among others, San Juan, Arecibo, Mayaguez, Guanica and Ponce, Puerto Rico;St. Thomas and Christiansted, St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands; Port Arthur, Sabine Pass, Beaumont, Orange, Houston, Galveston, Freeport, Texas City and La Porte, Texas; Lake Charles, La.; Santa Barbara, Ventura, Port Hueneme, Los Angeles, Santa Monica and Newport Bay Harbor, Calif.; and Guam.

“Now that all the compliance dates for owners and operators of MTSA regulated facilities have been announced, the Coast Guard will focus more attention on our enforcement responsibilities,” said Cmdr. David W. Murk, chief of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Cargo and Facilities Division here. “Enforcement has already commenced in Captain of the Port Zones Northern New England, Southeastern New England and Boston. To date I am pleased to note minimal, if any, disruptions to commerce due in large part to the planning and readiness of the facilities located within those zones. As this critical program progresses, the threat of a transportation security incident within the maritime transportation system is reduced and the Department of Homeland Security’s multi-layered approach to securing America’s maritime transportation systems is furthered.”

Mariners may use their valid Coast Guard-issued merchant mariner’s document, license or certificate of registry, along with a valid photo ID, to be eligible for unescorted access in secure areas of any facility regulated under the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002 that has a TWIC compliance date earlier than April 15, 2009. The date by which owners and operators of vessels and outer continental shelf facilities must implement access control procedures using TWIC is also April 15, 2009.

Owners and operators of facilities regulated under MTSA are responsible for notifying employees of their personal responsibility to apply for and maintain a TWIC. The TWIC final rule, published Jan. 25, 2007, also requires owners and operators of MTSA regulated facilities to inform employees of the deadlines and methods for TWIC application.

Compliance will continue to be phased in by Coast Guard Captain of the Port zones through April 15, 2009, after which all ports must be in compliance and all credentialed mariners must be in a possession of a TWIC.

Workers are encouraged to enroll as soon as possible for their transportation worker identification credential and can pre-enroll online at www.tsa.gov/twic. Pre-enrollment speeds up the process to fully enroll in the TWIC program by allowing workers to provide biographic information and to schedule a time to complete the application process in person, which eliminates waiting at the enrollment centers.

TWIC was established in the Maritime Transportation Security Act and the Security and Accountability for Every Port Act to serve as an identification program for all Coast Guard credential mariners and personnel requiring unescorted access to secure areas within a port. The program is progressing steadily; all fixed enrollment centers are open and dozens of mobile sites have been deployed nationwide. More than 567,000 workers have enrolled to date and thousands more are processed each week.

Additional information and a framework showing expected compliance dates by Captain of the Port zone is available on the U.S. Coast Guard’s Homeport Web site at http://homeport.uscg.mil/twic. Captain of the Port zone maps with ports annotated are available on that Web site under General Information, COTP Zone Maps. You may also call 1-866-DHS-TWIC (1-866-347-8942) or 1-877-MTSA-AID (1-877-687-2243) for more information. For assistance via e-mail, please send queries to credentialing@dhs.gov.

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