LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Port and longshore workers, truckers and others at the Port of Little Rock today 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 here 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 at the Port of Little Rock for helping to make one of the world's most advanced interoperable biometric systems a reality."
The Port of Little Rock TWIC enrollment center joins the ports of Memphis, Catoosa, Greenville and Vicksburg, bringing the number of TWIC enrollment centers in the Lower Mississippi River Captain of the Port Zone to five and nationwide to more than 120 sites. Ultimately, the program will be rolled out to 147 enrollment centers and will vet more than 1.2 million maritime transportation system workers through April 2009.
"Access control is the cornerstone of security. TWIC enhances maritime security in the Port of Little Rock, at facilities, and on board vessels that are required to have a Coast Guard-approved security plan," said Coast Guard Port Security Specialist Phil Boruszewski. "TWIC helps prevent unauthorized individuals, weapons and dangerous substances from entering secure areas."
The TWIC Enrollment Center is located at 2005 East 17th Street, Little Rock, AR 72202. Hours of operation are Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Workers at the Port of Little Rock and other ports in the vicinity 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.
The Port of Little Rock is an important intermodal transportation hub of the South, which includes barge, rail and truck traffic. The development of the Arkansas River into a year-round barge navigation route has meant that a city as far west as Tulsa, Okla., has access to the Mississippi River, which in turn provides access to global markets through the international port at New Orleans, La. Consequently, a variety of products pass through the port, including forest products, bagged goods, steel coils and pipes, aluminum products, and such bulk products as rice, clay, bauxite, rock, fertilizer and cement.