MMA, M-P.A.C.T. Joint Program at Port Security Training

Friday, November 17, 2006
Maine Maritime Academy (MMA), in conjunction with its maritime security training partner, M-P.A.C.T., will launch a pilot program aimed at enhancing security at Maine seaports. The program, Maritime Security for Military, First Responder, and Law Enforcement Personnel, seeks to provide a single bridge solution to federal mandates, U.S. Coast Guard limited resources, and unmet public safety needs for maritime domain security awareness training in Maine. Organizers of the program foresee it as serving immediate regional needs while identifying Maine a model for other states to follow.

Maritime Security for Military, First Responder, and Law Enforcement Personnel is set to debut at the Maine Maritime Academy campus in Castine, Maine, Nov. 29-30, with subsequent sessions at the Port of Portland, Portland, Maine, Dec. 5-6 and Dec. 8-9. Organizers expect to welcome 100 participants from throughout Maine to the innovative course. Selected by their respective county Emergency Management Agency directors, participants were chosen from a pool of predictable responders to potential maritime security incidents in the deep water ports of Bar Harbor, Eastport, Searsport, and Portland. First responders to Bar Harbor, Eastport, and Searsport will attend the session at Maine Maritime, with Portland’s Port Authority hosting two sessions for its own extended response community. Offered initially to first responders and law enforcement personnel associated with Maine’s major seaports, the two day course is designed to provide participants with an understanding of the unique circumstances, operational conditions, and potential enhancements to security in the maritime arena. The course is currently being reviewed for the potential endorsement of the Federal Office of Grants and Training (OGT), formerly known as the Office of Domestic Preparedness (ODP). Should approval be granted, the course would take the domestic lead in offering federally subsidized training options for response team training initiated by state, municipal, and port emergency managers. The pilot program for first responders and law enforcement personnel falls on the heels of well-received programs offered jointly by MMA and M-P.A.C.T. to National Guard Civil Support Teams at 2 separate off-campus locations. While not part of the upcoming pilot program session, the courses utilized the same core curriculum for the provision of comprehensive awareness training for issues uniquely pertaining to the maritime sector. According to Daniel Walsh, president of the Ft. Lauderdale-based M-P.A.C.T., the joint program with Maine Maritime Academy addresses U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) prescribed security measures for ports and port personnel developed in response to the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002 (MTSA). The pilot course meets the criteria detailed in Section 33 of the Code of Federal Regulations and the associated USCG directive originally entitled, Maritime Security for Military Security and Law Enforcement Personnel (MSLEP). Accordingly, the joint MMA-M-P.A.C.T. course includes the additional coordinated operations of local first responders and expands to include municipal law enforcement, all vital members of a major incident response team. In this way, the course addresses contemporary mindset which emphasizes the importance of well-orchestrated Marine Incident Response Team (MIRT). Organization of the program began in January, 2006, when leaders from Maine Maritime Academy's Department of Continuing Education and M-P.A.C.T presented a proposal to Governor John Baldacci’s Task Force on Homeland Security. The proposal was made in response to direct requests generated at several Area Maritime Security Committee meetings for harbormaster maritime security training.

As Maine’s only public maritime education and training institution, Maine Maritime Academy was uniquely qualified to meet this task. In 2004 and 2005, the college successfully met training mandates brought about by international (International Maritime Organization - IMO) and domestic federal (MTSA) maritime security related regulations. The college implemented a series of Ship, Company, and Port Facility Security Officer courses for maritime, military, and state organizations through its outreach division of Continuing Education. Following a grant submission and review process, MMA was approved to receive more than $58,000.00 from the Maine Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) to conduct a 100-person pilot program of a U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) model course entitled, Maritime Security for Military, First Responder, and Law Enforcement Personnel. The program has been divided into 3 separate sessions to better serve the geographic locations of response teams and their home ports. Those who successfully complete the pilot course are expected to be able to undertake their duties and responsibilities in the port, maritime, and intermodal context. Students who successfully complete the course will receive the relevant USCG approved course certificate and will be awarded 1.5 continuing education units from Maine Maritime Academy.

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