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Official website of the Department of Homeland Security


Office of Security Policy and Industry Engagement

New! Click here to read about the intermodal I-STEP program.

Click here to read how "TSA Takes Multi-Prong Approach to Maritime Security".

More than 80 percent of the world's trade by volume is conducted by ship and 99 percent of overseas trade by volume enters or leaves the United States by ship. A transportation system this vast can only be secured through the combined efforts of federal, state and local governments and private industry. The U.S. Coast Guard is the lead federal agency in securing the maritime transportation mode and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) plays a significant role as well. TSA's OSPIE Surface Division is engaged in this unified national effort primarily by providing expertise in credentialing as well as passenger and vehicle screening techniques and procedures. Some of the major initiatives TSA's OSPIE Surface Division has participated in include:

Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC)

» Click here to read the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) Implementation in the Maritime Sector final rule. (1Mb, pdf)

In accordance with the requirements of the Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA) and the Aviation and Transportation Security Act, TWIC will serve as a common credential for all personnel requiring unescorted access to secure areas of MTSA-regulated facilities and vessels. To obtain a TWIC, an individual must first pass a security threat assessment to ensure they are not a security risk. For more information on the TWIC program click here.


TSA's OSPIE Surface Division produces and distributes security-training CDs for passenger vessel crews and terminal employees.  Each CD contains a self-paced training product that takes about an hour or so to complete in one sitting.  However, a learner does not need to complete it in one sitting because it will save the location of where the student left off and pick back up there upon return.  The descriptions below provide additional details about each CD currently available.  For more information on any of these courses, or to order copies, please send an e-mail to

Security Awareness for Passenger Vessel Employees: A 101-level introduction to security awareness concepts.  The CD introduces security concepts, such as indications of suspicious persons and packages, communication and reporting of threats and incidents, and how to minimize exposure and injuries.  A pre-test feature allows learners to test out of the course if they have already mastered the material.  The course has great utility for just about anyone needing basic security awareness, from the ticket taker to those whose duties include providing security.

VBIED/IED Recognition/Response for Passenger Vessels and Terminals: A 201-level coverage of recognition and response to suspicious packages and vehicles.  The CD reviews the suspicious indicators that the first CD in the series covers.  Additional information includes emphasize the importance of not touching a suspicious object, immediate responses to take, and reporting considerations.  The most interactive of the courses, it features checks on learning that require identification of suspicious objects based on their placement alone (suspicious versus a lost or misplaced item), printable job aides, and interviews with experts in the field.  A must-have for anyone who regularly conducts security patrols or interacts with members of the public! 

Crowd Control for Passengers Vessels and Terminals: A 201-level coverage of crowd control concepts.  The course presents theories for crowd movement and uses case studies to progress to how vessel and terminal operators can apply those concepts to their advantage to safely move large groups of people with special considerations for the maritime environment.  The course also focuses on characteristics of effective leaders and how to employ these desirable traits during an emergency.  The course targets those who work on a daily basis with members of the public.

Maritime Terrorism and Hijacking Situations: A 201-level coverage of hijacking and piracy situations and how to prevent them.  Very maritime-centric, this course has broad appeal for vessel security officers and those likely to send ships into hostile waters.  The course emphasizes proper planning as a method to avoid terrorism situations, as well as defensive measures to take in the event of a terrorist incident or hostage situation, to include active shooters.

Screening Procedures: The course covers basic screening concepts and procedures at the 101-level for those not familiar with this role.  The course focuses on screening techniques that involve minimal (human senses) or common technologies (x-ray machines, metal detectors, K-9s, etc.).  The course reviews some material from “Security Awareness for Passenger Vessel Employees” but with added coverage on how to set up and run a screening operation, that enables quick, efficient throughput.  A follow-on lesson describes more elaborate screening technologies that may be obtainable through grant funding.

Terminal and Vessel Evacuation Procedures: Building on concepts from “Crowd Control for Passenger Vessels and Terminals,” this course explains how to evacuate in emergencies.  For maritime, this includes a section on lifeboat deployment.  The overall intent is to have a multi-modal focus too, featuring evacuation of other transportation terminals.


The Port Security Exercise Training Program (PortSTEP) brings together federal, state and local governments and private institutions to test responses to specific security events. The program fosters strong communication between public and private organizations and enhances their ability of these groups to recognize and respond to major security incidents.

These programs, along with other initiatives led by the Coast Guard and CBP, achieve a safer, more secure, efficient and resilient maritime transportation system.

For more details on PortSTEP, click here.

Latest revision: 05 September 2014