Last week I wrote about the Ministerial Conference on International Transportation Security held in Tokyo on Jan. 12-13; today this article was released, authored by the US Coast Guard and published on military.com, which reports on the key items discussed at the conference. The article highlights a key “new” item on the maritime security agenda – developing security measures for small watercraft:
Maritime security was high on the agenda of the first Ministerial Conference on International Transport Security and of particular focus were small cargo ships, fishing vessels, harbor tugs, and boats like the one used to launch the October 20, 2000 attack on the USS Cole in Yemen….
Officials from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Department of Transportation said the international cooperation to focus on the smaller vessels is in the interest of U.S. national security because while the U.S. Coast Guard has enhanced security regulations and surveillance of smaller vessels in the United States, it does not have such authority outside U.S. territorial waters.
Given the growing threats of international piracy and its linkages with terrorism, smuggling, and weapons proliferation, it makes sense to raise the profile of this smaller vessel threat. And it’s worth opening up for discussion the current operational authorities of the Coast Guard outside U.S. territorial waters, and whether new powers are needed to enhance their contributions to combat these threats, in coordination with the US Navy.