Coordination key to port security

Port of Charleston The Maersk Memphis was moored at the Port of Charleston when a threat onboard was reported. Image courtesy of South Carolina Ports Authority

Following an alleged vessel bomb threat at the Port of Charleston in South Carolina, American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) has said that resource coordination is key to security.

John Young, director of Freight and Surface Transportation Policy at AAPA, said: “What our members are interested in is making sure our resources are coordinated. That means that US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) works not only in securing maritime borders but also in helping process freight as it moves through ports, making sure that port security grants are used to help fill in the gaps and are available for coordinated security, for individual ports and collectively for the entire nation and that ports continue to work within the national security apparatus.

“The supply chain is seasonal, there's different things that are being shipped along different supply chains, which creates different challenges, and certainly there's different volumes. If there's certain ports that see a high volume of volatility resources are available to them. That could take the form of being engaged in FBI briefings for example and ports are very good at working with local law enforcement, but (ports are) making sure that there is a redundancy, an overlap with intelligence and resources. What's important is making sure that everyone is working collaboratively.”

The Maersk Memphis, operated by Maersk Line, was moored at the Port of Charleston last week when authorities were made aware of a potential threat onboard the vessel.

The Maersk Memphis alert, believed to have been a bomb threat, sparked an evacuation of workers from the port's Wando Welch terminal, used for container cargo, and a one nautical mile exclusion zone as federal, state and local law enforcement agencies investigated the threat.

The US Coast Guard later tweeted: "Unified Command determines no existing threat to the port. Terminal will reopen & safety zone has been lifted.

"There were four containers where threat was posed at terminal in Charleston, SC. These have been scanned and cleared by authorities.”

SMI Group’s Port Security Technology conference in London this month concluded that ports should be investing in tracking cameras such as body and vehicle worn devices for incident reporting, biometric scanning technology, vehicle access control, pedestrian access control, bullet proofing and cyber security technology.

On the subject of balancing resources with dealing with new and emerging technology, Mr Young added: “In some areas, there are some more concerns about cyber security whereas in other areas not so much. The emphasis is that they're (ports) always thinking ahead. Another thing to think about which we're going to be talking about at our seminar at the end of next month is drones. What kind of challenge and also opportunity is that for security?”

SMI Group stated that its research found that ports with advanced security measures include DP World London Gateway Port, Port of Rotterdam, Port of Long Beach, Port of Tarragona and Port of Milford Haven.

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