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Office of Maritime Security

The Office of Maritime Security (MAR-420) supports the U.S. maritime transportation system, the U.S. Merchant Marine, and other elements of the U.S. maritime industry. We facilitate the development and implementation of effective maritime security policies, procedures, practices, statutes, and training to protect U.S. citizens and maritime interests from maritime security threats such as piracy, terrorism, criminal activity, and cyber-attack. We also provide information for U.S.-flag vessels, serve as the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) principal coordinator for maritime domain awareness matters, function as the DOT lead within the interagency Maritime Operational Threat Response process, serve as a key facilitator between maritime industry and government agencies, and provide expert maritime security advice and assistance on issues involving the global maritime transportation system. Contact info for the Office of Maritime Security staff appears at the bottom of this site.

Maritime Security Communications with Industry (MSCI)


Through the two year activities of the Alerts, Warnings and Notifications (AWN) Sub-working Group, Maritime Security Communications with Industry (MSCI) has evolved to better capture the efforts of the federal government, and MARAD’s leading role in that effort, to engage U.S. maritime industry on a number of current and relevant global maritime security issues. MARAD’s Office of Maritime Security is working at the international and interagency level to address these issues.

December 29, 2016, introduced the U.S. government’s (USG) two new instruments to streamline and communicate with the U.S. maritime industry and U.S. mariners on identified threats in the maritime domain. U.S. Maritime Alerts and U.S. Maritime Advisories have been established through a USG – U.S. maritime industry partnership. The new USG Maritime Security Communications with Industry (MSCI) agencies, comprised of representatives from the Departments of State, Defense, Transportation, Justice, Homeland Security, and the Intelligence Community, will cooperatively utilize U.S. Maritime Alerts and U.S. Maritime Advisories on the MSCI Portal to more effectively and efficiently communicate with commercial U.S. maritime interests.

The new U.S. Maritime Alert has been developed to expeditiously provide the time, location and confirmation of a global maritime threat event of interest to the U.S. maritime industry. A U.S. Maritime Alert self-cancels seven days after issuance. The new U.S. Maritime Advisory has consolidated State Department “Special Warnings”, Department of Transportation “MARAD Advisories”, and certain Department of Homeland Security international-focused Marine Safety Information Bulletins into one interagency coordinated advisory. A U.S. Maritime Advisory may, but won’t always, follow or precede the issuance of a U.S. Maritime Alert and is intended to provide more detailed information through a “whole-of-government” response to an identified maritime threat. A U.S. Maritime Advisory will normally be in effect for six months. Alerts and Advisories are sent by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency to U.S. maritime industry stakeholders concerning maritime threats and other time sensitive issues. Vessel Masters, Company Security Officers, ship operators and other U.S. maritime interests are the intended recipients of these messages.

Piracy and Armed Robbery Against Ships

The International Maritime Organization (IMO), through the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), Part XI, Article 101, determined that piracy consists of the following acts:

(a)  any illegal acts of violence or detention, or any act of depredation, committed for private ends by the crew or the passengers of a private ship or a private aircraft, and directed:

(i)  on the high seas, against another ship or aircraft, or against persons or property on board such ship or aircraft;

(ii)  against a ship, aircraft, persons or property in a place outside the jurisdiction of any State;

(b)  any act of voluntary participation in the operation of a ship or of an aircraft with knowledge of facts making it a pirate ship or aircraft;

(c)  any act of inciting or of intentionally facilitating an act described in subparagraph (a) or (b)

Resolution A.1025(26)(Annex, paragraph 2.2) on IMO’s Code of Practice for the Investigation of the Crimes of Piracy and Armed Robbery Against Ships, determines that armed robbery against ships consists of any of the following acts:

  • any illegal act of violence or detention or any act of depredation, or threat thereof, other than an act of piracy, committed for private ends and directed against a ship or against persons or property on board such a ship, within a State’s internal waters, archipelagic waters and territorial sea;
  • any act of inciting or of intentionally facilitating an act described above

Since the problem of piracy in the Horn of Africa (HOA) region began to escalate in the late summer of 2008, the Maritime Administration (MARAD) has been involved in working with other Federal agencies (particularly the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Coast Guard and the Department of State’s Economic Bureau/Office of Transportation Policy) to mitigate the risks and develop strategies to protect commercial shipping. These efforts have included frequent interaction with the U.S. maritime industry, labor organizations, and international shipping associations. MARAD staff members continue to serve on the U.S. Delegation to the International Maritime Organization’s Maritime Safety Committee and the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia.

~~~Regional Threat Information~~~

U.S. Department of State (DOS)

All U.S. citizens are entitled to representation by the U.S. Department of State when residing, traveling, or employed abroad. Please consult the U.S. Department of State Embassy website for country specific information:

Additionally, all U.S. citizens of the professional maritime community (including military; federal and state maritime academy midshipman) are strongly encouraged to register with the U.S. Department of State’s Safe Traveler Enrollment Program (S.T.E.P.) when traveling for overseas crew changes or port visits:

Southeast Asia/Strait of Malacca, Java Sea, South China Sea, Sulu Sea, and Celebes Sea 

Official U.S. government information on events in the region can be found at the Department of State’s Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs:

  • PIRACY:  Piracy and armed robbery in the Strait of Malacca and Southeast Asia is once again taking the maritime center stage. The most recent guidance for Southeast Asia can be found in legacy MARAD Advisory 2016-4 on the National Geospatial-Intelligency Agency (NGA) Maritime Safety Information (MSI) website under Broadcast Warnings. Additional piracy and armed robbery information for Southeast Asia can be found on the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP) Information Sharing Center (ISC) website at:  The International Maritime Bureau at website:, provides up-to-date piracy reporting information.

West Africa/Gulf of Guinea 

Official U.S. government information on events in the region can be found at the Department of State’s Bureau of African Affairs:

  • PIRACY:  Piracy and armed robbery against ships continues in the Gulf of Guinea. The most recent guidance for West Africa can be found in legacy MARAD Advisory 2013-5 on the National Geospatial-Intelligency Agency (NGA) Maritime Safety Information website under Broadcast Warnings. The new joint Maritime Domain Awareness for Trade-Gulf of Guinea (MDAT-GoG) which replaced the Maritime Trade Information Sharing Center-Gulf of Guinea (MITSC-GoG) can be contacted via email at:, or in emergency by phone at +33 (0) 2 98 22 88 88. The International Maritime Bureau at website:, provides up-to-date piracy reporting information.

East Africa/Red Sea, Bab Al Mandab, Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea, and Indian Ocean 

Official U.S. government information on events in the region can be found at the Department of State’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs:

  • PIRACY:  Piracy off the coast of Somalia continues to be a threat to the global Marine Transportation System (MTS). The most recent legacy MARAD Advisory 2011-5 provides guidance on East Africa/Red Sea/Gulf of Aden transits. Vessel operators are advised to follow recommended best practices for registering with the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) and Maritime Security Center Horn of Africa (MSCHOA)/European Union Naval Force (EUNAVFOR) when operating in this area. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Shipping Center is also an additional resource for relevant maritime information:  As of December 15, 2016, NATO has terminated Operation Ocean Shield, NATO’s counter-piracy operations in the Indian Ocean while MSCHOA/EUNAVFOR continues Operation ATALANTA in support of the region’s World Food Program. Additional EU/NAVFOR information can be found at:  The International Maritime Bureau at website:, provides up-to-date piracy reporting information.
  • TERRORISM:  Threats of violent extremism persist in the Arabian Peninsula, specifically the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden areas bordering on the country of Yemen.  After a recent suspected WBIED on a Saudi Arabian frigate in the vicinity of Huydaydah (also spelled Hodeidah) Port, U.S. Maritime Alert 2017-001A was released on 31 January 2017. Legacy MARAD Advisory 2013-3 and SPECIAL WARNING 134 provide additional guidance for precautions during transits of this area.

Additional Terrorism related information may be found at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence National Counter-Terrorism Center:

(Click here for Maritime Resource and Information Sharing links)

For more information on MSCI matters, please email or call (202) 366-0223.

Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA)

The Office of Maritime Security serves as the support staff for the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) Executive Agent (EA). MDA is the effective understanding of anything associated with the maritime domain (e.g., navigable waterway, maritime-related activities, infrastructure, people, cargo, and vessels) that could impact the security, safety, economy, or environment of the United States. As such, the Office of Maritime Security supports and promotes creative initiatives to enhance MDA to facilitate the safe and secure flow of commerce in accordance with the National Maritime Domain Awareness Plan of the National Strategy for Maritime Security.

From a transportation perspective, the Office of Maritime Security actively seeks ways and means to ensure a resilient, integrated U.S. maritime transportation system. We work collaboratively with industry as well as local, State, tribal, territorial, and other federal agencies to develop and encourage best practices and innovative methods to protect our ports, vessels, and mariners so they can reliably and resiliently meet the economic needs of our Nation. We also strive to serve as a catalyst among maritime interests to develop an environment in which partners can embrace and achieve a common objective of obtaining and sharing appropriate information to enhance commerce in support of a secure and reliable maritime transportation system.

Office of Maritime Security MDA coordination activities include participation in the National Maritime Intelligence Integration Office (NMIO) Interagency Advisory Group (NIAG), the Canada-U.S. (CANUS) MDA Roundtable, and several other interagency and international MDA bodies involved in enhancing understanding and cooperation on MDA issues.  

(Click here for additional MDA information and resources)

For more information on MDA, please email or call (202) 366-9363.

Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act (CVSSA) Training Provider Certification Program

Under the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act (CVSSA) of 2010 (Public Law 111-207), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), and the Maritime Administration (MARAD) cooperatively established model training standards covering crime prevention, detection, evidence preservation, and reporting of criminal activities in the international maritime environment. The Act allows MARAD to certify security and safety training providers who provide training consistent with the model standards. Under this MARAD certification program, organizations wishing to have their cruise vessel security and safety training programs certified by MARAD as consistent with the model standards may voluntarily submit their programs to MARAD for review. This voluntary certification program assists organizations in ensuring the safety and security of cruise ship passengers traveling to and from American ports.

Please review the following information on how to become a MARAD Certified CVSSA Training Provider:

  • CVSSA Application and Submission Requirements – Click Here
  • CVSSA Frequently Asked Questions – Click Here
  • Certified CVSSA Training Provider Agreement  – Click Here

View the List of Certified CVSSA Training Providers.

Contact Information
Questions or comments regarding this training certification program may be forwarded to You may also contact MARAD’s CVSSA Program Manager at (202) 366-5906.

Port Security Grant Program

The Maritime Administration (MARAD) supports the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in the allocation of federal grants to State, local, and private sector maritime industry partners as a means to enhance port security throughout the United States. This program involves a Federal and private shared-cost arrangement administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). For additional information on the Port Security Grant Program, click here.

Maritime Cyber Security

Maritime Cyber Security represents another area of focus for the Maritime Administration (MARAD). The Office of Maritime Security works with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and others to share cyber security resources and best practices with the U.S. maritime industry and shares maritime industry’s cyber security concerns with appropriate government agencies.

See the links below for more information on maritime cyber security.

For more information on Maritime Cyber Security matters, please call (202) 366-1883.


Cameron T. Naron
Director, Office of Maritime Security
(202) 366-1883

Kimberly Brown
Office of Maritime Security
(202) 366-9363

Quintin Ellis
Office of Maritime Security
(202) 366-5906

Christopher Owsianiecki
Office of Maritime Security
(202) 366-0223