No. 606

S/P–NSC files, lot 61D167, NSC 78 Series

Memorandum Prepared by the White House Staff1

top secret

Subject: Decision on Port Security—NSC 78/12

NSC 78/1 contains a study of measures which might be taken to enhance port security. In carrying out an expanded program for port security, the following shall govern:

  • (a) Soviet and Soviet satellite flag vessels are to be denied entry to the major ports listed on page 3 of NSC 78/13 but are to be permitted [Page 1209] to enter any other United States port, unless it has been determined that such entry would violate national security. In the case of these latter ports this involves planning for a lower degree of security in terms of a calculated risk.
  • (b) For the present, a single port, such as Hampton Roads (including Norfolk, Newport News, and Baltimore), should be selected as a pilot installation for a comprehensive port security program. This program should include those parts of the harbor defense systems under the cognizance of the Navy Department, such as nets, control vessels, etc. With regard to this port, it should not be necessary at this time to enter into as complete a program as contemplated in NSC 78/1. However, the pilot study should be designed to permit the accumulation of sufficient experience and the development of procedural background to serve as a guide for the extension of the program, if and when it becomes necessary.
  • (c) With regard to the enforcement of safety regulations, such as fire codes, the Secretary of the Treasury, through the Coast Guard or such other agent as he may deem appropriate, should call on local authorities to increase their potential for the protection of harbor facilities and vessels in harbor in order to hold to a minimum federal commitment in this field. Such action should be consistent with other protective measures which municipalities will be called upon to exercise in connection with the Federal civil defense program.
  • (d) Since the Coast Guard may ultimately operate as a service in the Navy (14 USC 3), advantage should be taken of Navy guidance in establishing and meeting mobilization requirements.
  • (e) The Coast Guard and the Navy should establish a joint committee or adopt other appropriate means for coordinating and integrating their programs. A continuing review of the port security program should be maintained and periodic reports made to me as to its adequacy and appropriateness in terms of current and emerging requirements. In connection with the construction of vessels, the acquisition of equipment, and with regard to other related matters in which these services have mutual concern, such priorities as are necessary should be determined. There should also be a continuing review of other defense-related proposals for the expansion of Coast Guard activities. Included in this category are such items as state of readiness, search and rescue operations, loran and other navigational aids, and ocean weather stations.4
  • (f) The Secretary of State should be consulted in regard to any measures proposed in connection with the port security program which may affect our foreign relations.

  1. Circulated to the National Security Council under cover of a brief explanatory memorandum of January 31 by NSC Acting Executive Secretary Gleason.
  2. Same as the draft NSC report prepared in the Department of Defense, Document 601.
  3. The major ports listed on page 3 of NSC 78/1 were: Boston, New York (including New Jersey ports), Philadelphia (including Wilmington), Hampton Roads (including Norfolk, Newport News, and Baltimore), Puget Sound (including Seattle and Tacoma), Portland, Oregon, San Francisco and Bay ports, Los Angeles Harbor, New Orleans, Galveston (Houston), Duluth, and Chicago.
  4. A joint Department of the Navy–Department of the Treasury Committee was subsequently established in accordance with this article. Recommendations by the committee for additional measures for port security were set forth in a 33-page draft report circulated to the National Security Council as NSC 78/2, September 4. The committee’s recommendations were submitted to President Truman by Rear Adm. Robert L. Dennison, Naval Aide to the President, on November 6. On November 7 Admiral Dennison informed NSC Executive Secretary Lay that the President had approved the recommendations which were forwarded to the Bureau of the Budget for implementary action. The recommendations included a proposal for an Executive Order prohibiting Soviet and Eastern European vessels from entering certain U.S. ports, and certain administrative support activities designed to enhance port security. (S/PNSC files, lot 62D1, NSC 78)