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Running a Tighter Ship--Security-Wise

September 22, 1996|TIMES STAFF AND WIRE REPORTS

While airline security has grabbed headlines following the July 17 explosion of TWA Flight 800, cruise lines have been quietly working to formalize their own security procedures.

By Oct. 16, about 25 U.S. ports and the 200 passenger ships that visit them must submit security plans to the U.S. Coast Guard, according to Cmdr. Dennis Haise, a Coast Guard project director in Washington, D.C. The plans require each ship to state how it would respond to various threat levels. Previously, such plans were voluntary.

"It's too early to determine what impact it might have on the price of a cruise ticket," Mercedes McDonnell, spokeswoman for the Washington, D.C.-based International Council of Cruise Lines, said of the new requirement. She said some cruise lines are considering whether they should issue identification cards, with photos and magnetized strips, to all passengers.

Neither the Coast Guard nor cruise lines would specify their current security procedures except to say they are similar to those used by major airlines.

By Nov. 16, Haise said, any port or ship that has failed to get its plan approved or is not in the process of getting approval will be denied the right to operate.

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