No. 601

S/PNSC files, lot 62D1, NSC 78

Draft Report by the National Security Council, Prepared in the Department of Defense1

top secret
[NSC 78/1]

Port Security

1. the problem

To study port security measures and appraise their effectiveness in relation to probable cost.

2. facts bearing on the problem

The ports, harbors, vessels, piers, docks and other United States waterfront facilities vital to military and commercial seaborne shipping are vulnerable to covert destruction by unconventional weapons, sabotage, accidents and negligence.

The President on 18 October 1950 issued Executive Order 101732 invoking the general provision of the Magnuson Act3 and prescribing certain new and detailed regulations relating to the safeguarding of United States territorial waters, harbors, and facilities and directed their enforcement by the U.S. Coast Guard.

In general, this Executive Order empowered the Coast Guard to carry out the following measures in all U.S. ports:

Supervise and control the movement of any vessel within the territorial waters of the United States which endangers the security of ports and vessels therein. This will permit the boarding of Soviet and satellite flag vessels by Coast Guard and customs personnel off the mouths of the 10 principal harbors of the United States to: [Page 1201]
Establish the identity of the vessel;
Determine whether the vessel should be permitted to proceed to its berth within the harbor by means of an examination of the ship’s papers and such search as can be made under the circumstances.
The maintenance of close liaison with all intelligence agencies so as to be able to alert whatever force might be necessary to halt and divert ships indicated by intelligence as being potentially dangerous to the National security.
The close supervision of the loading of explosives and other dangerous cargo to lessen the chance of major destruction of vessels and port facilities resulting from explosion of such cargo.
The establishment and patrol of both the shore and water side of restricted areas around waterfront facilities where defense or dangerous cargoes are being loaded so as to minimize sabotage.
The screening through the FBI investigating files of officers and crews of United States merchant ships and of dock workers required for work in restricted areas so as to eliminate subversives.

The present status of implementation of each of the foregoing measures provided for in the Coast Guard’s Supplemental Budget Request, 1951 is set forth in Tab A, Column 2.4

Additional laws concerning port security are contained in the following commonly known acts and regulations:

Espionage Act: Act of 15 June 1917 (USC Title 50, Sec 191, 193 and 194)

Dangerous Cargo Act (USC Title 46 Sec 170)

Customs Regulations

[Here follows section 3, comprising more than one-half of the report consisting of a detailed review of the modalities of a port security system.]

4. conclusion

Hazards to port security resulting from seaborne or waterfront activity can be greatly reduced by:

The establishment of a specific port of entry on the Atlantic and Pacific seaboard for use by Soviet and Soviet satellite shipping.
The restriction of Soviet bloc shipping from the vital ports of Boston, New York, Norfolk, Galveston, San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego in the event (a) above is considered politically unadvisable.
The establishment of a seaman and dock workers security identification program.
The supervision and control of the movements of any vessels within the territorial waters of the United States which endangers the security of ports and vessels therein.
The supervision and control of handling of explosives and other dangerous cargoes.
The establishment of seaboard beach patrols.

5. recommendations

Designate the following ports as U.S. ports of entry for Soviet and Soviet satellite shipping:

Portland, Maine

Bellingham, Wash.

or restrict Soviet and Soviet satellite shipping from the ports of Boston, New York, Norfolk, Galveston, San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego.
Augment U.S. Coast Guard facilities and funds to permit implementation of the measures outlined in Tab A Col. 5. Estimated Requirement: 1,935 officers, 18,120 enlisted men, $200,000,000 during FY 1951 and $129,000,000 per annum thereafter.
Authorize and direct the U.S. Coast Guard to develop an extended port security program substantially as indicated in Tab A Col. 5.
  1. NSC Executive Secretary Lay circulated this draft report to the NSC as NSC 78/1, January 11, “A Report to the National Security Council by the Secretary of Defense on Port Security”. For an earlier report on the same problem prepared in the White House and subsequently circulated as NSC 78, August 7, 1950, see Foreign Relations, 1950, vol. iv, p. 41.
  2. On October 18, 1950, President Truman issued Executive Order 10173, “Regulations Relating to the Safeguarding of Vessels, Harbors, and Waterfront Facilities of the United States” (15 Federal Register 7005), which instituted a program of port security, closely following the recommendations of NSC 78.
  3. The reference here is to a bill, introduced by Senator Warren G. Magnuson of Washington, subsequently enacted into law as Public Law 679, approved August 9, 1950, entitled “An Act to Authorize the President to control the anchorage and movement of foreign-flag vessels in waters of the United States when the national security of the United States is endangered, and for other purposes”. (64 Stat. 427)
  4. Tab A is not printed.