New London to enact security plan at City Pier

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New London — The city anticipates more foreign cruise ship visits and is taking steps to accommodate them.

The City Council this week authorized Mayor Michael Passero to sign an agreement with New Haven-based Port Security Services Inc. to handle the drills, training, exercises and other security consulting work needed to welcome foreign vessels at City Pier.

The security firm is the same group that handles day-to-day security for Logistec, the company that manages operations at the nearby Admiral Harold E. Shear State Pier.

Inspiration for a consistent security plan and compliance with federal maritime security laws comes on the heels of a visit in May by the 298-foot British cruise ship Hebridean Sky. Federal laws require things like port security plans, security officers, monitoring and control of access and activities of people and cargo.

New London Port Authority Chairman Kenneth Edwards said the city rushed a bit to get security measures in place for the Hebridean Sky, which he said originally had intended to land in Newport, R.I., but could not find room.

Edwards said the security plan ultimately was completed with coordination with the U.S. Coast Guard, Connecticut Port Authority and volunteer work from New London Harbor Master David Crocker and R.J. Burns, the general manager of the Fishers Island Ferry.

Port Security Services Inc. was contracted during the Hebridean Sky visit to provide security personnel to screen passengers and their luggage. The 109 British tourists were required to go through checkpoints at the pier.

It was the first cruise ship to visit the city since 2014 and Edwards said he sees the opportunity for more in the near future. The city had nine ships visit in 2008.

“We don’t want to have to scramble to put together an up-to-date port security plan to accept a cruise ship. You have to have drills and be able to have staffed security in place when you have a visit. We want to have more port calls in New London and make it easy and affordable for these vessels,” Edwards said.

Edwards said the city plans to be a good host in anticipation of future visits so that New London is not an afterthought when a cruise ship makes its plans.

Under the proposed contract, Port Security Services would act as a consultant with a flat fee of $3,900 for a nine-month period. If a foreign vessel does dock in New London, Port Security Services would offer a “preferred” rate for any services beyond what the vessel pays for.

An annual contract with Port Security Services, if the city approves it, would coincide with the city’s fiscal year and start on July 1.

g.smith@theday.com

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