NORFOLK, Va. – Today, port workers, longshore workers, truckers and others at The Port of Virginia will begin to enroll in the Department of Homeland Security's Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) program. The program's goal is to ensure that any individual who has unescorted access to secure areas of port facilities and vessels has received a thorough background check and is not a security threat.
The start of enrollment in Virginia marks the halfway point for the deployment of TWIC enrollment centers since the program began on Oct. 16, 2007. Currently, approximately 120,000 people have enrolled for a TWIC. Nationwide, more than 1 million workers with unescorted access to secure areas will apply for TWIC by the end of 2008.
"The start of enrollment is one more step in our effort to prevent persons who are a threat from gaining access to secure areas of port facilities," said Maurine Fanguy, TWIC Program Director for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). "We appreciate the support of our partners with the Virginia Port Authority for helping to make one of the world's most advanced interoperable biometric systems a reality."
The Port of Virginia is the 78th port to begin enrollment. In coming weeks TWIC enrollment stations will open at other locations in Newport News and mobile enrollment station deployments around the region. Ultimately, fixed enrollment centers will be in place at 147 ports along with mobile enrollment centers at dozens of other locations as needed.
"We are extremely fortunate in Virginia that the maritime industry, to include the Virginia Port Authority, Virginia Maritime Association, port facilities, local waterman and the other maritime stakeholders already realize the importance of maritime domain awareness," said Captain Patrick Trapp, commander, Coast Guard Sector Hampton Roads. "TWIC is an important step, and a critical initiative to ensure we have a balance between effective access security measures while maintaining the flow of commerce."
Workers at The Port of Virginia are able to pre-enroll for TWIC online at the Coast Guard's Homeport site, http://homeport.uscg.mil. Pre-enrolling speeds up the process by allowing workers to provide biographic information and schedule a time to complete the application process in person. This eliminates waiting at enrollment centers and reduces the time it takes to enroll each individual.
"The Port of Virginia is one of the fastest growing ports in the U.S. Inherent in our task is to ensure that the people coming on and off of our terminals have the proper credentials and security screening to access our facilities," said Jerry A. Bridges, executive director, Virginia Port Authority. "We welcome TWIC and the added layer of security it brings to our terminals and the industry overall."
About The Port of Virginia: The Virginia Port Authority (VPA) is an agency of the Commonwealth of Virginia, reporting to the state secretary of Transportation. The VPA owns and operates four general cargo facilities on behalf of the state: Norfolk International Terminals, Portsmouth Marine Terminal, Newport News Marine Terminal and the Virginia Inland Port in Warren County. Combined, these four facilities make up The Port of Virginia. The VPA and correlating maritime industry is responsible for 343,000 jobs and $41 billion in total revenue.