U.S. Port Security: Full Steam Ahead

Friday, April 12, 2002
The U.S. Department of Transportation advanced its port security efforts as U.S. Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta announced that TRW Inc. has been selected to perform Port Vulnerability Assessments (PVA) under contract to the Coast Guard for the nation's most critical commercial and military seaports. This selection follows the successful implementation the Department's new Port Security Grants Program, which provides funding for port security enhancements. "Securing our nation's ports and maritime transportation system is a vital component of our overarching transportation security mission," said Secretary Mineta. "These assessments will improve our understanding of vulnerabilities in port infrastructure and systems, and help reduce our susceptibility to hostile or criminal acts." Under a blanket purchase agreement, TRW will develop model port security guidelines as recommended in the August 2000 Report of the Interagency Commission on Crime and Security in U. S. Seaports; develop methods for and conduct PVAs for at least 55 ports throughout the United States; and develop a port vulnerability self-assessment methodology to help local port stakeholders evaluate security conditions and make improvements within their ports. "This issue is a very high priority for the Bush Administration, and for the Department of Transportation," said Associate Under Secretary of Transportation for Maritime and Land Security, Rear Admiral Richard E. Bennis. "With more than 25,000 miles of navigable waterways and over 350 ports, the nation's maritime system presents one of our greatest security challenges." Groundwork for the PVA program began in 1999 when the U.S. Coast Guard reviewed methods used by federal and state agencies to assess the strengths and weaknesses of U.S. ports. The U.S. Coast Guard used this experience and research to finalize the requirements for a comprehensive analysis of ports and critical infrastructure. "Model Port attributes and Port Vulnerability Assessments are critical tools to ensure industry and government dollars are spent wisely to address risks in our ports," said Admiral James M. Loy, Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard. "These assessments, done in cooperation with port stakeholders, will improve port planning and harden our ports against terrorist attack." In addition, the Department has received an enthusiastic response from public port facilities to the Port Security Grant Program, which is funded by Congress at $93.3 million for FY 2002. These competitive grants will be awarded in June to critical national seaports to finance the cost of enhancing facility and operational security. The program provides grants for Security Assessments and Mitigation Strategies, and Enhanced Facility and Operational Security. President Bush's FY 2003 budget includes key funding for new port security initiatives including port vulnerability assessments, U.S. Coast Guard maritime safety and security teams and port intelligence and investigative teams. The Administration is also working to enact maritime security legislation that will provide long-term tools for security planning and international coordination, including enhanced authority for the Department of Transportation and the U.S. Coast Guard to broaden safety and security operations, and to improve maritime security enforcement.

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