Travel Still Feeling Effects of September 11th - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

09/12/04

Travel Still Feeling Effects of September 11th

Across the country this weekend people took time to reflect on September 11th 2001, a day that forever changed the way Americans travel.

Members of the passenger ship industry say they're no exception.

The tragic attacks have prompted some major increases in security.

A federal grant is helping one of South Mississippi's most popular tourist attractions comply with stricter regulation.

At the height of summer, thousands of people sail on Ship Island Excursions.

Keeping track of passengers once they step on board will soon be easier thanks to a new camera system.

"The captains can now monitor the engine rooms from the wheelhouse at all times," said Captain. Louis Skrmetta.

"It adds a margin of safety to the operation. We can watch for fires. We can also watch for if someone goes into the engine room if they're not supposed to be there we know about it," he adds.

Cameras are already being used at the docking site in Gulfport.

Signs alert passengers of possible searches and identification checks.

Captain Skrmetta says September 11th set the passenger ship industry on a permanent course toward stricter regulations.

"It's not going get any easier for us," he said.

"In fact, eventually we're going have to have to have metal detectors and other equipment. If we have one passenger ferry involved in a terrorist incident anywhere in the country, anywhere in the world for that matter, we're probably going to see even greater security measures," Skrmetta adds.

Some passengers say tighter travel security is a fact of life they've come to accept.

"We see it in the airports. We see it driving down the highway. I think we're living in a different world now but hopefully a safer one," says passenger Chuck Kowalewski.

The owners of Ship Island Excursions say their ships are considered soft targets for terrorists.

A few months ago the ferry service was required to present the Coast Guard with a security plan and have it approved.

By: Danielle Thomas

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