The Transportation Security
Administration (TSA) and the U.S. Coast Guard began a series of transportation
system port security exercises today
in San Francisco. The Port Security
Training Exercises Program (PortSTEP) is focused on building links within the
Area Maritime Security (AMS) Committee. The committee assists the captain of
the port in writing, reviewing and updating an AMS Plan in addition to
supporting other transportation entities that depend upon the port being
The exercise will involve the entire port community, including both public
governmental agencies and private industry. The partnership is intended to
improve connectivity of various surface transportation modes and enhance
current Area Maritime Security Plans
. Scenarios range from how officials
react to discovering a suspect cargo container to an explosion at a seaport
rail yard. Communication and coordination abilities of the government and
maritime industry will be tested at each of the 40 seaports scheduled to
participate over the next three years.
"PortSTEP is designed to benefit maritime and surface transportation
security communities throughout the U.S. via a suite of training exercises,
evaluations and accompanying information technology products," said Noreen
Brown, TSA's PortSTEP Project Officer. "This information will prove
invaluable as we work to balance freedom of commerce and protection of our
nation's transportation system."
"Our nation's seaports are vital to the economic health of this country,"
said Capt. Frank Sturm, Chief of the Coast Guard's Office of Port, Vessel, and
Facility Security. "Through these exercises and other programs, we will be
continually testing and evaluating how ready we are to deal with an actual
threat to our ports."
PortSTEP will foster and support institutional relationships within the
port environment including the surface transportation and maritime industry,
transportation and port security managers, emergency managers, law
enforcement, medical professionals, private security personnel, and all others
involved in preparing for and responding to a Transportation Security Incident
(TSI). In addition, PortSTEP will be carried out with the participation of
various federal, state and local government agencies.
TSA has awarded contracts
to four companies to initiate the program:
Community Research Associates of Alexandria, Va.; Booz Allen Hamilton, Inc. of
McLean, Va.; UNITECH of Centreville, Va.; and Applied Science Associates of
Narragansett, R.I. The contractors developed TSI-related scenarios including
simulation software and databases to monitor and evaluate the exercises.
In addition to TSA and the U.S. Coast Guard, the Federal Highway
Administration and the Maritime Administration are among participants in the