Insights: Captain Bruce Clark, California Maritime
Captain Bruce Clark, who serves as Director of Maritime Security Projects at the California Maritime Academy (CMA) in Vallejo, Calif., shares with MN some thoughts on current and future maritime safety initiatives.
How is Cal Maritime developing the next generation in an industry with evolving maritime security measures.
BC The California Maritime Academy (CMA), a member of the 23 campuses of the California State University System, has been educating and training U.S. Merchant Mariners since 1929. Following the September 11th terrorist attacks and the international effort lead by the United States that resulted in the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code - and later in the codification of the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002, CMA was at the forefront of developing maritime security courses to meet the regulatory requirements of MTSA 2002 for Company, Vessel, and Facility Security Officers following model courses designed for the International Maritime Organization (IMO). These courses provide BASIC necessary information focused largely on national and international requirements - the "Why" and the "Who" of the maritime security process - but stop short of addressing the "What" and the "How" components necessary for effective and sustainable security at the day to day Operational Level in the commercial maritime environment.
The key element for maritime security success at the commercial level is to first understand the limitations of response and mitigation capacity attainable within the maritime industry - more than 90% of which resides within the private sector. The training and education focus must address active preparedness and prevention measures - and to ensure that port, facility and vessel operators fully understand where to go and who to call in the event that a negative event occurs within their area of operational responsibility and control.
To accomplish this, CMA has developed a Transportation Security Course for our upper division, undergraduate cadets that includes the realities of what is possible and what is not possible within the operational span of control of the commercial sector. This process clearly identifies the "gaps" and the areas where coalitions, collaborations and partnerships are required and prepares them to enter the maritime workforce ready to play an important part as a component of the national Maritime Security Team.
On the Professional Development side, CMA is moving beyond the limitations of the basic CSO/VSO/FSO courses and developing the next level of practical, operational maritime security courses that add the "nuts and bolts" to address the "What and the How" aspects of effective security. Some of these courses include the newly DHS FEMA certified and approved "First Response Operations for Maritime Security (FROMS)", an 8 hour training program tailored specifically for law enforcement, fire service, emergency medical personnel and emergency planners whose day to day work focus does not include experience in the maritime operational environment.
Ultimately, any maritime security training and education program must remain flexible and responsive to emergent needs. CMA's program managers are constantly reviewing and updating our training and academic curriculums to ensure we are responsive to the ever changing threat environment.
Earlier this year, a few MIT grad students were said to be security threats and were denied TWIC cards. What are your thoughts on the introduction and implementation process of TWIC?
BC The Transportation Worker Identification Credential program (TWIC) is a fundamentally valuable concept that has suffered from the necessity of meeting disparate goals and objectives across a wide spectrum of the multi-modal transportation sector. In the maritime transportation mode, TWIC follows on previous requirements for Port Security ID Cards last used on the U.S. waterfront during WWII and the Korean War. These ID cards of course were "low tech" and were applicable only for access and work in the port environment and aboard ships handling cargo.
The TWIC program expands well beyond the basics of that early concept into other modes of transportation that support the maritime industry and it is here that many of the problems with TWIC implementation have arisen.
We clearly need a process that evaluates and validates the risk factors associated with access to port facilities, ships and other critical transportation infrastructure. Problems have arisen however in determining the baseline requirements and applying them in the "real world", for example in the short haul drayage of containers into and out of our port facilities where many of the truck operators are "owner/operators" who may not be able to meet the background check requirements to obtain a TWIC.
The issues involving the MIT graduate students are similar - the need to demonstrate 1) a legitimate requirement for access into sensitive areas, and 2) the ability to ascertain the accumulated risk posed by issuing a credential to a student and/or foreign national without being able to confirm within a reasonable doubt that the risk is "acceptable". The current arbiters of that process reside within the DHS, and if they are not satisfied that the TWIC applicant is an acceptable risk, they must - by law - deny issuance of a TWIC.
Unfortunately, much of this assessment process remains subjective and largely beyond the application of truly scientific parameters - and - in any case - it should be noted that issuance of a TWIC does not automatically guarantee access to a controlled site - that responsibility - and the liability of making a mistake - still remains with the individual port, facility or vessel security officer.
Other impediments have arisen with regard to the effective application of the technology required to electronically read TWIC cards, including the lack of equipment standardization, problems with enrollment and delays of TWIC authorization and the overall fees accessed for the credential. DHS has already extended the TWIC implementation deadline for most of the country and it is possible that it will be extended again if the primary technological problems can not be satisfactorily resolved.
What are the most significant changes to the maritime industry in the last five years?
BC The re-emergence of sailing opportunities for U.S. licensed merchant mariners in littoral, coastal and river transportation tied to short sea shipping initiatives; the development of future LNG transportation and processing - particularly on the west coast of the United States; opportunities for the lower license classifications in tow boat and similar operations on lakes and river systems; a dramatic expansion of career opportunities in maritime security and emergency preparedness planning; and opportunities in other transportation related occupations related to terminal management, freight forwarding and similar activities. At CMA this has resulted in a significant increase of older students who are seeking to change careers or re-enter the work force from other occupations, in addition to a dramatic increase of young people seeking admission to the university.
What do you consider to be the biggest challenges in maritime security?
BC The realization that the commercial maritime sector is fundamentally limited to effective engagement in the planning, preparedness, prevention and deterrence process as the only practical contribution to operational maritime security. Response and Mitigation remain largely the exclusive purview of the law enforcement and first response communities across federal, state and local jurisdictions and the effective coordination of these disparate organizations remains a challenge in many areas. A particular area of concern remains threats associated with surface and subsurface activity on the waterside. The required level of available assets - even adding the combined capability of the USCG, state agencies, and the local constabulary - remains insufficient to address the totality of the waterside threat and mitigation of that threat — in most locations. Increasing apathy within the maritime community concerning terrorism threats is also a considerable challenge. The longer the span of time since 9/11 without a terrorist attack on U.S. soil, the easier it becomes for the maritime community to become complacent about security in general.
(Reprinted from the August 2008 edition of MarineNews)