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Coalition for Secure Ports warns of gridlock if Sail Only If Scanned proposals adopted

WASHINGTON, DC - The Coalition for Secure Ports today called on members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representat...

WASHINGTON, DC – The Coalition for Secure Ports today called on members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives to reject maritime and supply chain security proposals that it claims would damage the U.S. economy and disrupt existing security strategies.

The Sail Only If Scanned (SOS) legislative proposals currently being circulated on Capitol Hill aim to suspend trade with any nation whose ports do not undertake 100% inspection of containers before vessel loading.

Voted down last week by the House Homeland Security Committee during consideration of the bi-partisan SAFE Ports Act (H.R. 4954), the SOSamendment may be offered again, on the House floor this week. In the Senate, the SOS concept appears in Amendment 3724 to the Supplemental Appropriations Bill, introduced by Sen. Charles Schumer (NY), which also may be voted on this week, and it may also be offered in the Senate Homeland Security Committee mark-up of its bill today.

“The Sail Only If Scanned proposals risk severely disrupting U.S. commerce and creating disputes with Americas trading partners while failing to address their far-reaching implications for our maritime security strategy,” said Christopher Koch, President of the World Shipping Council, a member of the Coalition for Secure Ports.

Congress has held no hearings on these proposals, which would have a major impact on trade and security strategy, continued Koch.

“The legislation fails to address fundamental security strategy questions raised by the proposals, such as privatizing the performance of container screening in foreign ports, and also fails to address the fact that present technology does not allow for 100% container inspection without bringing commerce to a halt. This is no way to legislate on an important issue,” he said.

The Sail Only If Scanned legislation has attracted criticism from a wide range of organizations for rejecting existing government risk assessment and screening strategies without a reasoned analysis or record, for ignoring what is realistically possible, and for inviting economic disruptions.

The legislation would also undermine the Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism program and the Container Security Initiative, a cornerstone of the cooperative, layered approach to maritime security that our government has worked to create, continued Koch.

These proposals are simply unworkable, and enacting them would set off a chain reaction that could potentially cripple our international maritime trading system, concluded Koch.

“Maritime and port security is simply too important for Congress to approve proposals that would disrupt the economy and U.S. international relations and overwhelm U.S. Customs without even having hearings on the proposals,” he warned.

The Coalition for Secure Ports consists of private sector stakeholders who, along with the U.S. government, share responsibility for the security of ports, vessels, and cargo, including cargo containers, as well as the efficient flow of commerce.

For more information on the Coalition, visit or contact Courtney Duke at (202) 466-6210 or

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