SOURCE: TSA

November 27, 2007 11:30 ET

Charleston Port Workers Begin Enrollment for Federal Port Security Credential

CHARLESTON, SC--(Marketwire - November 27, 2007) - Tomorrow, port workers, longshoremen, truckers and others at the Port of Charleston will begin to enroll in the Department of Homeland Security's Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) program. The program's goal is to ensure that any individual who has unescorted access to secure areas of port facilities and vessels has received a thorough background check and is not a security threat.

More than 9,000 workers from the port region are expected to enroll. Nationwide, more than 1 million workers with unescorted access to secure areas will apply for TWIC during the rest of 2007 and 2008.

"The start of enrollment is one more step in our effort to prevent persons who are a threat from gaining access to secure areas of port facilities," said Maurine Fanguy, TWIC program director for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). "We appreciate the support of our partners at the Port of Charleston for helping to make one of the world's most advanced interoperable biometric systems a reality."

Charleston is among the first 17 ports to begin enrollment in the nationwide program. Ultimately, fixed enrollment centers will be in place at 147 ports along with mobile enrollment centers at dozens of other locations as needed.

"The TWIC enrollment phase is the culmination of extensive planning and coordination by TSA, the Coast Guard, port owners/operators, employee groups and other stakeholders," said Coast Guard Captain Michael McAllister, the Charleston Sector Commander. "We will continue to work closely with TSA and our local industry partners during the enrollment and compliance phases of the TWIC program to assure a successful transition with minimal disruption to the operations of our port."

Workers at the Port of Charleston are able to pre-enroll for TWIC online at www.tsa.gov/twic or the Coast Guard's Homeport site, http://homeport.uscg.mil. Pre-enrolling speeds up the process by allowing workers to provide biographic information and schedule a time to complete the application process in person. This eliminates waiting at enrollment centers and reduces the time it takes to enroll each individual.

The Port of Charleston is one of the busiest container ports along the Southeast and Gulf coasts. Top commodities across Charleston docks include agricultural products, consumer goods, machinery, metals, vehicles, chemicals and clay products. The Charleston Customs district ranks as the nation's sixth largest in dollar value of international shipments, with cargo valued at more than $55 billion annually.