Cablegate: Maritime Port Security

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A

This cable is Sensitive But Unclassified. Please protect
accordingly. Not for Internet distribution.

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Egyptian officials responded positively to
presentations by U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) International Port
Security Liaison Officer John Bowers in Cairo and Alexandria
March 6 to 8, as he described the USCG plans to monitor
foreign compliance with International Maritime Organization
(IMO) port security standards per the U.S. Maritime
Transportation Security Act (MTSA). In introductory meetings
with the Minister of Transportation and the Head of the
Maritime Transport Section (MTS), Bowers described the
respective roles of USCG Liaison Officers and USCG
International Port Security (Port Visit) Teams and emphasized
U.S. willingness to work closely with the GOE on a bilateral
exchange of information on port security. End summary.

2. (U) On March 6, LCDR John Bowers, USCG International
Security Liaison Officer and EconOff met with Minister of
Transportation Dr. Essam Sharaf and the Egyptian Head of the
Maritime Transport Sector Rear Admiral Sherin to describe new
USCG initiatives in international maritime port security.
Bowers is based at the USCG Activities Europe office in
Rotterdam and has regional responsibilities for several
countries, including Egypt. Bowers described how the MTSA
now requires the U.S. Coast Guard to assess the effectiveness
of anti-terrorism measures in foreign ports with vessels
destined for U.S. ports in accordance with the International
Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPS). The USCG
accomplishes this review through a combination of liaison
officers stationed abroad and International Port Security
(IPS) visit teams stationed in Washington.

3. (U) Bowers emphasized that the ISPS code allows countries
some latitude in identifying specific methods of compliance
with the code. The USCG recognizes that the host government
is best suited to determine the methods and regulations
needed to accomplish compliance. Due to the myriad methods
of compliance with the ISPS, he stressed that any visit to a
port by an IPS visit team should be considered an opportunity
for a "bilateral exchange of information" rather than a port
"assessment." The USCG IPS visit team will not perform port
visits without an invitation from the host government.

4. (SBU) Minister Sharaf reiterated the GOE,s commitment to
the ISPS as part of its transportation security and
anti-terrorism efforts. He gave assurances that the IPS
visit team would be welcomed and made a point to state, with
Admiral Sherin present, that the team would receive full
cooperation. Consistent with the bilateral exchange of
information, the Minister expressed interest in hearing from
the IPS visit team how other countries with similar port
characteristics addressed security issues and also expressed
interest in the possibility of a reciprocal port visit.

5. (SBU) Bowers discussed the program more extensively in
subsequent meetings with Rear Admiral Sherin, members of his
port security staff and representatives of the Regional
Maritime Security Institute and Sokhna Port. During those
discussions Bowers reiterated the USCG,s interest in
receiving an invitation for an IPS visit team in April as had
been specified in a USCG letter to Admiral Sherin dated 11
FEB 2005. Rear Admiral Sherin responded that he planned to
write a response but April would be "unpalatable." The
Egyptian Maritime Transportation Sector (MTS) wanted to have
more time to discuss security processes through its
inter-agency National Maritime Port Security Committee
(NMPSC) and Sherin expressed interest in performing a
reciprocal visit prior to the USCG IPS visit team arriving in
Egypt. Bowers responded that a delay was workable, but that
an open ended delay was also "unpalatable". Access to
foreign ports is important for the USCG to determine whether
a country is compliant or non-compliant with the ISPS code.
Vessels of any flag traveling from ports in non-compliant
countries are considered to be higher security risks. Before
permitting such vessels to enter U.S. ports, the Coast Guard
will require precautionary security measures for these
vessels that will likely delay their entry.

6. (SBU) Admiral Sherin acknowledged that Egypt had not
reported all of its international ports to the IMO, but that
efforts are being made by MTS to accurately identify and list
all of the relevant ports.

7. (SBU) Bowers, visit also opened the door for
re-establishing contact and increasing interaction between
the Egyptian MTS and the Economic section of the Embassy.

8. (SBU) Comment: Bowers, visit was a successful and
necessary first step in preparing the way for ISPS related
port visits in Egypt. Although the GOE welcomed cooperation
and bilateral discussions on port security, port teams should
consider sovereignty sensitivities and the affect of
increased security on trade during visits. End comment.

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