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Small Vessel Security

Security Risks for Small Vessels

Security risks for small vessels can be broken down into four general categories:

  • Use of small vessels as a conveyance to smuggle weapons (including, but not limited to, Weapons of Mass Destruction/Effect);
  • Use of small vessels as Water Borne Improvised Explosive Device - small, explosive-laden vessels used as "boat bombs" against another vessel, maritime critical infrastructure, or key resources;
  • Use of small vessels as a conveyance to smuggle terrorists into the U.S.; and
  • Use of small vessels as a platform for standoff weapon (e.g. Man Portable Air Defense Systems, SCUD platform for launch offshore) attacks on the maritime industry or critical infrastructure.

What Constitutes a Small Vessel?

For the purposes of these Summits, a small vessel is characterized as any watercraft, regardless of method of propulsion, which is generally less than 300 gross tons, and used for recreational or commercial purposes. Small vessels include commercial fishing vessels, recreational boats and yachts, towing vessels, uninspected passenger vessels, or any other small commercial vessels involved in foreign or U.S. voyages.

This definition distinguishes small vessels from large commercial vessels and yachts (generally 300 gross tons and over) that are applicable to security measures already put in place under the authority of the Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA) of 2002 and the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code.

Small Vessel Security Summits

Small Vessel Security Summits are being held to discuss the concerns and issues posed by small vessels being used by terrorists in the maritime domain of the United States.

The objectives of these summits include but are not limited to:

  • Educating stakeholders on security risks in the maritime domain,
  • Providing a forum for small vessel stakeholders to discuss and present their ideas on the development of security measures with local federal leadership and coordinators.
  • Communicating with small vessel stakeholders on the actions being taken within the region to coordinate a layered security system at the federal, state, tribal, and local government levels, as well as within the regional maritime industry and public.
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