Coast Guard, TSA to Conduct Joint Port Security Exercise

Tuesday, September 26, 2006
The Transportation Security Administration and the Coast Guard will facilitate a port security exercise on Thursday in Baltimore to evaluate preparedness, prevention and the ability to respond to and recover from a terrorist-related incident, and a press briefing will be held before the exercise begins. 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 secure. The exercise will involve the entire port community, including both public and governmental agencies and private industry. The partnership is intended to improve connectivity of various surface transportation modes and enhance current AMS 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." "Protecting this port is a team effort," said Coast Guard Captain Brian Kelley, the Federal Maritime Security Coordinator for the Port of Baltimore. "This exercise will test how well we are prepared to work together and will help us identify areas for improvement." "This exercise advances our ongoing effort of mobilizing public safety agencies and the private sector so we are ready to act," said Maryland Governor's Office of Homeland Security Director Dennis R. Schrader. "Protecting this port demands a team approach, and the best teams are ones that practice together." In addition to TSA and the Coast Guard, the Federal Highway Administration and the Maritime Administration are among participants in the PortSTEP exercise. TSA and the Coast Guard give grateful acknowledgement to the Maryland Port Administration for their logistical support of this exercise.

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