Ferries are a vital component of the U.S. transportation system and 2008 data show that U.S. ferries carried more than 82 million passengers and over 25 million vehicles. Ferries are also potential targets for terrorism in the United States and have been terrorist targets overseas. GAO was asked to review ferry security, and this report addresses the extent to which (1) the Coast Guard, the lead federal agency for maritime security, assessed risk in accordance with the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) guidance and what risks it identified; and (2) federal agencies, ferry and facility operators, and law enforcement entities have taken actions to protect ferries and their facilities. GAO reviewed relevant requirements, analyzed 2006 through 2009 security operations data, interviewed federal and industry officials, and made observations at five domestic and one international locations with varying passenger volumes and relative risk profiles. Site visits provided information on security, but were not projectable to all ports. This is the public version of a sensitive report that GAO issued in October 2010. Information that DHS deemed sensitive has been redacted.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|United States Coast Guard||To ensure that the Coast Guard considers all known options for securing the ferry transportation system and is not missing opportunities to enhance ferry security, the Commandant of the Coast Guard, after fully evaluating the findings and recommendations from the Coast Guard's 2005 and 2006 ferry security reports, should take appropriate actions to address the findings and recommendations identified in these reports.|
|United States Coast Guard||To ensure that the Coast Guard considers all known options for securing the ferry transportation system and is not missing opportunities to enhance ferry security, the Commandant of the Coast Guard, upon review of the reports, should ensure that vehicle screening requirements are set at an appropriate level that considers both the risks to and operating requirements of ferry systems, and when warranted, reassess screening requirements for ferries and make changes as appropriate.|