Transportation/Maritime: Ferries a Vulnerable Target

An NJOHSP review of the Transportation Sector found that ferries remain susceptible to terrorist attacks because they transport large volumes of people, have limited security, and offer minimal escape options during incidents. Although there has not been a recent plot or attack against ferries in the United States, authorities across the country, including in New Jersey, have increased security in this area. French authorities likewise hardened port security following a bomb scare at the Port of Marseille in July.

  • The interstate ferry system between New Jersey and New York is one of the busiest in the United States, transporting approximately 8.5 million people in 2014, according to the latest data. In 2015, the Cape May-Lewes Ferry, the only ferry system in New Jersey that carries vehicles, transported 266,149 vehicles and 782,241 passengers.
  • Unlike airports, ferry terminals do not have identification requirements, and those permitted onboard with baggage—and in some cases vehicles—do not undergo similar physical screening procedures.
  • In August, the US Coast Guard, in coordination with local agencies, rescued 512 passengers aboard a US ferry off the coast of Puerto Rico after it caught fire. The rescue took approximately five hours, and 256 people were treated for injuries, such as smoke inhalation and broken bones.

NJOHSP encourages our partners to review resources and products at, which provides New Jersey-specific threat information and mitigation strategies for the Maritime Sector. We continue to encourage partners to report suspicious activity to local law enforcement and to NJOHSP by calling 1-866-4-SAFE-NJ or e-mailing

For more information, please contact NJOHSP's Analysis Bureau at or 609-584-4000.