Friday, June 18, 2010


With the ever changing rules and regulations in the maritime industry those seeking to work on a boat are now required to have a TWIC card to receive documentation from the United States Coast guard and to enter a port facility.

What is a TWIC card? A TWIC card is a Transportation Workers Identification Card. You must apply for the TWIC card at one of the many designated locations around the country. The TWIC card is issued by the TSA. I find only about half of the TSA workers in the airports have a clue what the card is.

A TWIC card is the same size as a driver’s license, and will include your picture and name on it. To obtain a TWIC card the TSA charges you 125$ although the prices are always subject to change if you do not already hold a MMD from the Coast Guard. If you already hold a MMD issued by the Coast Guard then the price is reduced to 105$ and is supposed to expire the same time as your MMD.

Mariners have been hijacked into part of the Department Of Homeland Security without being paid for it.

To receive the TWIC card one goes through a FBI background check to determine if he or she is a security threat. It is basically the same checks the Coast Guard does before they issue a MMD. The only difference I have been able to figure out is the Coast Guard concentrates mostly on criminal behavior that doesn’t necessarily affect national security. The TSA is supposed to determine if you a security threat.

In general it is another fleecing of mariners by the government. The Coast Guard could easily add any criteria to the MMD checks and save millions of mariners 105$ on their already burdensome fees to maintain the documents necessary to work in the maritime industry. Alas it is required to enter a port facility or receive any required documents to advance you maritime careers.

The TWIC card is good for 5 years, and then you have to renew it. You go to a TWIC office, apply and then after about 8 weeks you will receive an E-Mail or a phone call that your card is ready. You then have to go back to the TWIC office and pick up your card and choose a personal password for your card. The password will be programmed into the magnetic strip on the back similar to a credit card.

For the most part there is no escape from this process. If you work on a small fishing boat that requires no documentation and that small boat works out of a port facility, even if you are not required to have the TWIC you will have to get it anyway just to get to the boat.

The original plan was that every dock in a port facility and every boat would have to have a card ready onboard to increase National Security. As I understand it the plan is no longer to have the card reader on every boat but ships may still be in the plans. After 3 years to date, not 1 port facility in the US has a card reader. The prototypes did not work. We simply stop at a check point on the way to the boat, present our TWIC cards and sign in. The same could be accomplished with the MMD card which also has a magnetic strip that could be programmed if a card reader is ever produced by the government.

Alas the TWIC card does nothing for the security of our ports and only further burdens mariners but it is required. If you want to work in the maritime industry go get your TWIC card at your earliest convenience.

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