Seaports Magazine - Winter 2013 - (Page 28)

» GUEST VIEWPOINT Maritime Security: 10 Years of Partnerships By Stephen L. Caldwell U.S. Government Accountability Office L   ast year marked the 10th anniversary of the U.S. Maritime Transportation Security Act, which was designed to help protect U.S. seaports from terrorist attacks by requiring a wide range of security improvements. Prior to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, federal attention at ports focused on navigation and safety issues, such as dredging channels and environmental protection. However, the MTSA placed a new emphasis on protecting the billions of dollars in maritime trade going in and out of U.S. seaports. Throughout the 10-year period, GAO has conducted a number of evaluations of maritime security programs and the partnerships that have been the foundation of such programs. A Plethora of Players in Ports Starting at the federal government level, there is a wide variety of agencies involved in protecting U.S. seaports. Just within the Department of Homeland Security - the lead federal agency responsible for implementation of the MTSA - the department has a number of components with key responsibilities. For example, the U.S. Coast Guard has overall responsibility for ensuring the safety and security of seaports. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has responsibility for the screening of incoming commercial cargo for the presence of contraband. And the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has responsibility for administering grant programs, including the Port Security Grant Program for U.S. seaports. Below the federal level, there are a host of domestic seaport stakeholders with security roles. In addition to port authorities, these include state and local transportation departments and police departments, terminal operators, marina owners, cruise lines, ferry systems, other vessel operators, recreational boaters and security contractors. 28 AAPA SEAPORTS MAGAZINE Regional Port Partnerships Port authorities are key players in partnerships at the regional and port level. One of the key partnership mechanisms is the Area Maritime Security Committee. In accordance with the MTSA, the Coast Guard established such committees in 43 major seaports to facilitate information sharing with port partners. These committees are typically composed of members from federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, as well as port authorities, terminal operators, yacht clubs, shipyards, marine exchanges, commercial fishermen, trucking and railroad companies, organized labor and trade associations. An Area Maritime Security Committee is responsible for, among other things, identifying critical infrastructure and operations, identifying risks and providing advice to the Coast Guard. GAO found that these committees provide a structure that improves information sharing and made improvements in the timeliness, completeness and usefulness of such information. The Coast Guard, in partnership with the Area Maritime Security Committees, has also developed Area Maritime Security Plans. These plans serve as the primary means to identify and coordinate Coast Guard procedures related to prevention, protection and security response. The MTSA requires that the Coast Guard and the Area Maritime Security Committee conduct exercises to test the effectiveness of the Area Maritime Security Plans at least once each calendar year. GAO's reviews of such plans showed an evolution beyond preventing terrorism to include natural disasters and detailed information on plans for recovery after an incident. Partnerships with Facilities To enhance the security of port facilities, the Coast Guard has implemented a review and inspection program covering more than 3,000 such facilities. Port authorities and operators of certain maritime facilities are required to conduct assessments of security vulnerabilities, develop security plans and implement measures called for in the plans. The Coast Guard reviews these plans and conducts at least one announced and one unannounced inspection each year. Through this process, the Coast Guard has worked with facility operators to identify and correct port facility deficiencies, which helps mitigate vulnerabilities that could be exploited by terrorists. While regulation of facilities by itself is not a partnership, DHS offered assistance to port facilities through the Port Security Grant Program. In January 2002, this program was established with an initial appropriation of $93 million, which have since grown to almost $2.5 billion in total appropriations over the years. The program was designed to help defray some of the costs of implementing security at port facilities around the United States. The grant program, administered by FEMA in coordination with the Coast Guard, provides funds to states, localities and private port facilities. Challenges Remain DHS has improved how it collaborates with maritime security partners, but challenges remain due to inadequate coordination among stakeholders and problems inherent in working with a wide variety of stakeholders. One example of a partnership challenge occurred when the Coast Guard organized Area Maritime Security Committees in major seaports. GAO found that a lack of security clearances for nonfederal members of committees hindered some information sharing. However, Coast Guard was able to overcome this situation by clarifying guidance to its field commanders, by tracking recipients of security clearances and by outlining the security clearance application process. ● Stephen L. Caldwell is the director for maritime security issues at GAO and provides related studies and testimony to Congressional committees.

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Seaports Magazine - Winter 2013

AAPA Headquarters
From the President’s Desk
Securing Seaport Cyberspace
Ces Operators Work in Partnership With Port Communities
Radar Technology Opens Up for All Ports
Mccs Keep Ports Running in Case of Emergency
Seaport Industry Gathers in Central Florida for Aapa Annual Convention
Forging His Own Path
All States Depend on Maritime Trade Growth
Maritime Security: 10 Years of Partnerships
Cybersecurity a Growing Threat to Maritime Security
Port Metro Vancouver Announces Funding for Security Expansion
Jamaica-U.n. Sign Mou to Improve Port Security
Integrated Management System Addresses Security at Bahia Blanca
Coastal Trident Training Program Tests Hueneme’s Preparedness
Index of Advertisers

Seaports Magazine - Winter 2013