screeners are at work at the ferry docks
By CONNIE LEINBACH
folks at the ferry docks asking for your identification are doing the
job the Coast Guard requires them to do—security screening of a certain
percentage of cars using the ferry.
it seems like they just appeared last summer, maybe it’s because they
became more visible.
But Lucy Wallace, spokeswoman for the North Carolina Department of
Transportation Ferry Division, said they are ferry personnel and
they’ve been there all along, according to requirements by the U.S.
Coast Guard, which controls the nation’s waterways.
It’s just that last summer, the Ferry Division put the screening folks
in yellow shirts and they also increased the number of cars they
By screening, they may ask motorists for their license, ask a few
questions, and take down license plate numbers.
A minimum of five percent of all traffic onto the ferry has to be
screened, Wallace said. That number increases according to the threat
level designated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
Commander Steve McGee, chief of the Prevention Department for the U.S.
Coast Guard, explained that screening regulations are contained in the
Maritime Transportation Security Act enacted by the federal government
under the Department of Homeland Security after the terrorist attacks
on September 11, 2001.
Ferries are grouped in with oil transfer facilities and chemical
Each facility has to come up with a security plan, he said, that has to
be approved by the Coast Guard.
“There are many options as to how they can comply,” McGee said. “The
goal is to facilitate commerce but keep us safe.”
In addition, any facility subject to these regulations has to do
periodic readiness drills, such as the one conducted at the Hatteras
Ferry Dock Wednesday, July 20, by personnel from the Dare County
Sheriff’s Office, the Ferry Division, and the Raleigh-Durham Airport
Office of DHS.
These kinds of drills also keep ferry personnel ready to respond to
bomb threats, such as the one that occurred on Thursday, July 28, at
the Cedar Island Ferry Dock around 11 a.m.
McGee said the threat turned out to be a hoax, and the dock was deemed
safe after a couple of hours.
A loaded ferry from Ocracoke was delayed in landing while the personnel
reacted to the threat, McGee said.
“The ferry system did what they were supposed to do as to their plan,”
he noted. “They did a good job.”