Bowsprite: A New York Harbor Sketchbook

do you like your TWIC card?

Posted in Fleet Week, hydrosurveying, twic, vhf by bowsprite on 2010/06/03

Evaluation time! How are you liking it?

good things about having a TWIC:

• you feel like VIP breezing past long lines to get into Fleet Week at PST pier 90. You get to keep your metal water canteen and knife.
(if you do not have a TWIC, please do not bring nice water bottles or knives to see warships. The trash cans outside were full of caught contraband and it was a sad sight.)

• finally have something to hang on the Fleet Week swag ribbon.

• theoretically can attend barbecue on girlfriend’s tanker at Atlantic Basin (sorry I missed it, Carolina.)

bad things about the TWIC:

• though issued by Lockheed Martin, no airport security personnel will recognize what it is. (It has been pointed out that because of errant airplane activity, all working mariners are required to have TWICs, but not airport personnel nor pilots.)

• actually, no one who has requested ID from me knows what it is. Or worse, they got the nerve not to card me anymore.

• it does not grant you access to public restrooms or the concession stands on Liberty Island, even though you are on a survey boat that had a full security sweep with two policemen and a police dog before you began the job, and you were surveying their piers all morning for 4 hours, expertly dodging (boss did) the ferries laden with tourists going to the Statue of Liberty. The officer saw us making our long, slow runs all morning. When we docked to let me off (no head on the boat), he barred my way, saying I could not disembark because I did not pass through a metal detector.

• it does not grant you permission to go where commercial vessels with non-TWIC’d folks get to go. During the Fleet Week 2010 parade of ships, ferries and taxis were permitted to cross the line. One hard working harbor tug requested permission of the USCG patrol boat to transit alongside the parade on the east side to watch. Permission was denied, and the tug had to take the stern of the last coast guard boat in the procession, thereby missing the whole show.

Aren’t you glad you have a TWIC?

Before I sound like a total ingrate, many thanks, Hydrographic Surveys, for paying the $132.50 fee for my TWIC.

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30 Responses

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  1. Baydog said, on 2010/06/03 at 01:11

    Everything is more difficult after 9/11. Worldwide. Things will NEVER be the same, ever. That’s what so many changes in our lives boil down to.

  2. Marc said, on 2010/06/03 at 01:33

    Me -as a European- read this story wth bewilderement.

    You cannot get off a boat to have a p** for a moment ?

    I know you don’t exactly look like the nextsuicide bomber,
    nor like a fresh recruit of theTaliban…

    What happened to the U.S. ?

    • bowsprite said, on 2010/06/03 at 01:43

      well, I guess the terrorists won: we have terror!

      do you know about our MARSEC levels? …

  3. tugster said, on 2010/06/03 at 05:30

    i paid $140 for mine, and i think your employers . . . with all due respect . . . got the economy version: for an additional $7 you should have upgraded to the +TWIC, which entitles you to Toilets, Waterbottles, Incidentals, and Conveniences. With that, you like me could get VIP treatment wherever: potapotties, access to discarded “planet-saving” bottles confiscated from others, and virtual red carpet treatment. talk to the personnel folks at yr job.

    • bowsprite said, on 2010/06/03 at 06:03

      wade a minnit: is this the version that almost entitled you to your own private cell and toilet in the staten isle county jail for photographing too close near restricted property on the Kill the other day?

    • alice Oh! said, on 2010/06/03 at 17:36

      bowsprite dearie . . . that tugster mixes details all the time. i told him i could LEAN on my people to get you the special TWIC: Toilets and Waterbottles Inclusionary Card. shall I lean for you then?

    • What happens if avocado stains the lil gold thingy on the card?…..cuz the card really is good for scooping avocado’s tho if it were to be re-designed, I suggest it might be incorporated into my Leatherman, authorizing us to carry same, that all mariners should have…then maybe I could take that on airplanes and navy vessels! Is my marlinspike permitted on planes?….i’ve not tried but i guess it could be seen as a weapon…tho I’ve decorated it with such a nice bit o’ braided handiwork for its lanyard….(does anyone know what a marlinspike is anymore…anyway…)…

      • bowsprite said, on 2010/06/07 at 08:49

        if they accept marlinspikes on planes, i’m sure many knitters would rejoice, and sweaters with big holes would be en vogue by default.

      • bowsprite said, on 2010/06/07 at 08:52

        on carrying your leatherman: not if you work in the Gulf

  4. tugster said, on 2010/06/03 at 06:22

    as i said: VIP status. my ubergrrlfriend alice helped me get it. i can set you up with hrrr…

  5. jeff anzevino said, on 2010/06/03 at 07:48

    but..but…but… my knife wants to visit that warship!

    silly wabbit. twics are for kids.

  6. Buck said, on 2010/06/03 at 08:20

    What foolishness won’t be foisted upon us in the name of ‘security’?

  7. JBennett said, on 2010/06/03 at 12:33

    It’s not true that all airport ID checkers will not honor the TWIC. The TWIC is on TSA’s list of authorized IDs to get you on a plane and some TSA checkers have recognized it as such. Others have told me it’s no longer being issued, but let me through any way. It is very curious, however, that the card doesn’t says that it’s government issued–the closest it comes is on the back where it tells you to mail it back to TSA if you find it on the street (or elsewhere). Coming back to the mainland from the US Virgin Islands one time, the Customs & Border Protection’s immigration man wouldn’t accept it, although it means that TSA (a sister agency in the Department of Homeland Security) doesn’t think I’m a terrorist. Instead, he demanded my Florida driver’s license–an ID that a majority of the 9-11 hijackers used to board their planes.

  8. [...] Do you like your TWIC card? – Pointed humor about the TWIC. [...]

  9. O Docker said, on 2010/06/03 at 18:55

    Not having one has taught me new life skills.

    I can now tie my shoes standing up, balanced on one leg.

    I can now put a laptop in its sleeve one-handed, while putting my belt on with the other hand.

    And I’m now a lot more comfortable getting undressed in public.

  10. Baydog said, on 2010/06/03 at 20:22

    Bingo! O Docker, you are always so right on. I rarely travel on airlines, but when I do, I always feel so awkward with the belt, shoes and pocket emptying thing. I feel like a teenager again…oops, I , well…..it’s always kinda weird.

  11. Carolina Salguero said, on 2010/06/04 at 07:20

    I’d like to propose that we link two posts here, TWIC and the brilliant Nautical Bestiary at

    http://bowsprite.wordpress.com/2009/12/07/a-nautical-bestiary/ by taking a look at this story http://www.cnn.com/2009/US/02/25/mule.skinner.blues/index.html

    as they said ‘”We have one boat. It’s pulled by two mules. On a good day they might go 2 miles per hour.”

    so, TWIC makes an ass out of you and me.

  12. Mage Bailey said, on 2010/06/04 at 20:36

    Nope, no TWIC here, but I will be volunteering on the Embarcadero with the tall ships later. The Sagres came in today, and I should run down there with a camera now. Shame on me, I’m not. I’ll try tomorrow. :) Thank you so much for all this…drawings, photos, and you. :)

  13. tugster said, on 2010/06/04 at 20:43

    i look forward to seeing your pics!!

  14. Deepwater Sailor said, on 2010/06/06 at 01:11

    So I was in the port of Baltimore the other day and needed to run some errands. Both Captains were on board the ship. The on-signing Captain had brought the other Captain’s truck down from New England so he could drive it home instead of fly. I asked if I could borrow the truck to drive into town for a few hours, no problem.

    I got to the gate and was asked for the vehicle pass. Even though I had my TWIC security wouldn’t let me proceed out the gate since the truck wasn’t registered with the port in my name. The relieving Captain had his name on the vehicle pass because he was the one who brought it down for the other Captain. This also meant that not even the owner of the truck, the current Captain, would be able to leave the port to drive home without a name change on the pass first.

    I am continually irked that even though I have a TWIC it does nothing to grant me privileges such as borrowing a co-workers vehicle in a port that we used to enjoy. Here I am at security on my free time trying to run errands before a three month voyage overseas handing over my government issued photo ID to a security guard and they still assume there is malicious intent. Would I really give you an ID if I was going to steal the old man’s truck in the Port of Baltimore, cause a security incident and get fired? Ludicrous! If that was the case I’d just wave and drive on by in my stolen vehicle.

    For all the trouble and all the money TWIC holders are under just as much scrutiny as anyone else. My Coast Guard license, STCW, Merchant Mariner’s Credential, Z-Card and now TWIC do nothing to convince port security that I’m hitting for the home team and really just want to go to Walmart. It’s tiring always feeling like a suspect when you’re trying to get into or out of a port.

    On a positive note I consider myself a leader in enhancing TWIC awareness showing it anytime I’m asked for a photo ID and I’m happy to report that I haven’t once been denied at the airport by TSA.

    • bowsprite said, on 2010/06/06 at 08:05

      One goes through, supposedly, a thorough checking by the government so that you can get this card. The gov’t says you are ok to bear this card.
      Yet, that is the frustration: if you present it, you are suspect. And security folks seem to enjoy denying and rejecting those who carry one.

      At airports, I have never once made it through on the TWIC. I am always asked, “Do you have anything else?”
      And of course, I do, for what the federal government issues simply has less worth that what the state Dept of Vehicles issues.

  15. bowsprite said, on 2010/06/06 at 13:34

    from Jonathan Atkin http://www.shipshooter.com:
    “I’ve used my TWIC card as my sole form of ID thru Miami, Chicago, New Orleans, LGA, airports in the past year and never had a problem. Generally whisked into military/crew screening line, saving lottsa time.
    …you shouldnt diss the TWIC card…it has enough issues…it truly has no readers anywhere…a real govt boon doggle…and it is and always has been viewed as a document to be accepted at the discretion of the agency or stake holder. It is not carte blanche. It is merely an entry level requirement for being permitted on the waterfront. ”

  16. Carolina Salguero said, on 2010/06/06 at 13:44

    I’m ready to diss da TWIC. it’s ineffective at stopping terrorism. it’s an outsourced defense contractor cash cow. but no one will dare consider revoking the bugger for fear of being called soft on terrorism.

  17. Maritime Monday 217 said, on 2010/06/06 at 21:46

    [...] more » [...]

  18. eastriver said, on 2010/06/07 at 19:42

    Hang in there, mariners. TSA is thought to be looking at expanding TWIC to airport employees and aircrews. So just imagine blasting through THAT line, in the wake of pilots and fight attendants…

  19. bonnie said, on 2010/06/08 at 11:47

    Anybody going to Carolina’s barbecue on the 3rd of July?

    Saw “Red Hook Lobster Pound” & commenced drooling. Now if she’s having Steve’s Key Lime Pie for dessert I’m finding a time machine to get there faster.

  20. tugster said, on 2010/06/08 at 22:27

    i’ll bet i’m going!

  21. John Bennett said, on 2010/08/25 at 19:02

    The new TSA Administrator promised last Friday that TSA people would receive the necessary training to recognize and honor TWICs at airports. See http://www.mpsblog.org entry for August 25th.

  22. [...] Six degrees of the drunken sailor, How to simulate the tugboat feeling,  and Do you like your TWIC card? [...]


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