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Published: Friday, 1/9/2004

Lake ship operators begin security training

American-flagged Great Lakes vessel operators have begun training employees about security procedures to comply with the Maritime Transportation Security Act, well in advance of a July 1 deadline, the Lake Carriers Association announced yesterday.

Specific details of the training are not being disclosed, but the areas of concern include inspection of ship holds prior to and during loading and unloading of cargo and screening of persons other than crew members who board vessels.

“The Lake Carriers Association and its members take homeland security very seriously,” James H.I. Weakley, the association s president, said in a statement. “Within days of the Sept. 11, [2001], attacks on the United States, LCA issued security guidelines that its members voluntarily implemented to heighten security aboard ship. This new program will further enhance the security of domestic Lakes shipping.”

U.S.-flag lakers primarily haul coal, iron ore, salt, stone, and other dry-bulk materials, so the potential for terrorism involving hazardous ship cargoes is minimal, Mr. Weakley said. The security measures are targeted primarily toward potential acts against a ship intended to disrupt shipping and thus cause economic harm.

The Lake Carriers Association represents 14 vessel operators that own a total of 53 U.S.-flag lakers with an annual carrying capacity of about 115 million tons.

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