Wednesday, March 27, 2013

TWIC Reader NPRM – Miscellaneous Changes

This is the third in a continuing series of blog posts about the recently published notice of proposed rulemaking concerning the implementation of the use of TWIC Readers at MTSA regulated facilities. This post looks at some of the minor miscellaneous changes to the Coast Guard’s Maritime Security Regulations (33 CFR Subchapter H) included in this NPRM. The earlier blog posts in the series are listed below:


The NPRM would add a number of definitions to the §101.105. They include the definition of the following terms:

Risk Group; and

One definition would be removed from the list of definitions; recurring unescorted access. This term is no longer needed because of other changes that would be made in the rule, particularly the minimum crew exemption.

Minimum Crew Exemption

The NPRM would add in the new §101.520  a paragraph that would exempt vessels with crews less than 15 people (“14 or fewer TWIC-holding crewmembers”) from the requirement to use a TWIC Reader {§101.520(e)}. This was included as a response to the Safe Port Act (PL 109-347) requirements to establish a minimum crew size that warrants the use of a TWIC Reader {46 USC §70105(m)(1)}. It also reflects the belief that personal recognition on a vessel of that size is better identification than any credential. Crew members would still be required to possess a TWIC and it would need to be visually checked upon boarding.

The same crew-size exemption does not apply to facilities. The Coast Guard reasons that while only 14 people may work at the facility, there is an increased likelihood that non-crew members would also be requesting access to the facility.


I have already noted that increased MARSEC levels will require an increased frequency of checking the Canceled Card List (CCL) going from once a week (“no more than 7 days old”) to daily (“no more than 1 day old”). The actual requirement will be a bit more complicated than that. Any time that there is an increase in MARSEC level the CCL must be updated within 12 hours of the increase {§101.520(c)}.

Just to make it absolutely clear, the new language specifically requires that only “the most recently obtained CCL information shall be used to conduct card validity checks” {§101.520(d)}.

COPT Temporary Exemptions

The crafters of the rule understood that under some conditions, requiring a full biometric identity check, card authentication and validation could impede the flow of personnel into a facility to the extent that the back-up of traffic could be its own safety or security hazard. In these exceptional cases the COPT is authorized to “to temporarily suspend TWIC reader requirements at that facility” {§101.520(f)}. During that suspension the TWIC would still need to be visibly inspected.

Special Circumstances

This proposed rule also provides exceptions for ‘special circumstance’ {§105.535}; those times when things happen to TWICs or their owners that make it impossible to use the TWIC Reader. Those circumstances include:

• Lost, stolen or damaged TWIC {§105.535(a)};
• Fingerprints cannot be read {§105.535(b)}; or
• TWIC Reader malfunctions {§105.535(c)}.

Alternative procedures are spelled out for each of these special circumstances. Common to all of those procedures is the requirement that the individual be known to the owner/operator and has been previously granted unescorted access.

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