As usual, a well written advisory to our group about port security issues. However, as one who has followed the TWIC fiasco from the very initiation shortly after 9/11 through current status, as a member of the Maritime Law Association Committee on Regulation of Vessel Ops, Safety, Security etc, I can tell you that the TWIC card program as is currently utilized is no more effective than a drivers license. Basic reason is, that the TWIC card which had been designed, redesigned, and redesigned, and redesigned each fiscal year since 2002, is still not effective because the card readers which were supposed to read the biometric data on the card, have not yet been designed, tested, nor selected.
If you ask anyone who has a TWIC card, whether they are port personnel, drayage employees, even USCG people, if the TSA inspectors (from the parent agency which initially implemented the TWIC concept) even recognize the cards, (at airports many of the TSA inspectors do not), you will get vary responses from" show me your drivers llicense instead" "what is this?". Even Captain Gugg's exec ws asked to show his driver's license at San Diego airport to the TSA guy when he initially showed his TWIC card instead.
At the last meeting in San Francisco of the Northern California Area Maritime Security Committee under Chairman Captain Paul Gugg- USCG-COTP, on 13 April, we learned that the TSA is still developing new specs for the card readers.. Unbelievable. At present the only field testing being done is by USCG enlisted men with some hand held readers spot checking TWIC crds at a few of the ports since there are only 2 hundred such hand held readers thorughout the US.. It is expectd that maybe by Feb 2013, card readers will be available for installation at selected ports.
This is probably one of the biggest make work projects by the contractor Lockheed Martin (my former employer ) and their myriad of subcontractors including L-1 Associates, Inc. Latest screwup is that L-1, the subcontractor which issues the cards and had been responsable for such tasks at Port of Stockton has moved their issuance office to Lodi .. (not exctly a bustling seaport is it ??) This will require personnel needing original and renewal cards to go to Lodi.
I would hope that Admiral Hergberger could allow some discussion on this issue of TWIC at our Merchant Marine Committee meeting at NLUS next week, and possibly ask the new USCG Commandant for a reality check on what this program is really doing to enhance port security.
I have been following for many of the law firms' cruise line clients which have paid out for TWIC cards and still have no idea as to what their usefulness is at this point eight years after initiation of the program.
Look forwrd to seeing you at NLUS meeting next week.