RealNews

Coast Guard is still sailing blind

Shippers resist moves to allow agency to identify vessels. Nearly 18 months after the Sept. 11 terror attacks and despite repeated warnings of the threat to American ports, U.S. officials still have no way of identifying the hundreds of cargo ships currently plying U.S. coastal waters. And critics say efforts to fix the problem have been bogged down in resistance from shippers, with even a watered-down solution still a year and a half away. “WHAT BOTHERS me is I still see inaction,” said Capt. Ed Page, former Coast Guard captain of the Port of Los Angeles-Long Beach and now vice president of the Maritime Information Services of North America, a non-profit group of maritime-related companies. The MISNA group wants all large cargo vessels equipped with gear that would use an Inmarsat satellite to automatically tell security officials the ship’s name, course, speed and location. But so far the International Maritime Organization (IMO), which regulates international shipping, is not willing to go along. Instead, in a new directive published in January, the agency is giving ship owners until the end of next year, 2004, to install a short-range system that will identify ships within 20 to 25 miles of the U.S. coast — but not in the open ocean. Full Story

OODA Analyst

OODA Analyst

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