The Department of Homeland Security, including the U.S. Coast Guard, use various means to notify the public about security concerns.  The Coast Guard uses MARSEC (maritime security) Levels to signify elevated threat conditions, and to require the increased security measures specified in Facility Security Plans and Vessel Security Plans.

While the Coast Guard’s MARSEC system is specific to the maritime industry, DHS’s National Terrorist Advisory System is intended for everyone, and does not carry specific requirements.  Recently, DHS revised NTAS to include three types of advisories: 

  • An NTAS “Bulletin” describes current developments or general trends regarding threats of terrorism.
  • An “Elevated Alert” warns of a credible threat against the United States that is general in both timing and potential location, and for which it is reasonable to adopt additional protective security measures.
  • An “Imminent Alert” is intended to warn of a credible, specific and impending terrorist threat or on-going attack.

The Coast Guard and the Department of Homeland Security coordinate closely on MARSEC and NTAS activity. 

While the thought process behind NTAS and MARSEC are very similar, an NTAS Alert will not necessarily lead to an increase in MARSEC Levels.  For example, one can imagine a credible threat scenario against a sector of our economy or area of our nation that does not include a significant maritime nexus, and therefore might not lead to a MARSEC increase.

At Seebald and Associates, we encourage our clients to be aware of both systems.  Be sure you understand your own MARSEC responsibilities and are prepared to implement them if and when required.  Also, even if the Coast Guard does not raise MARSEC, you may to decide to implement some or all of your MARSEC actions based on an NTAS alert, or any other information that you think suggests a threat to your activities and people.