U.S. Expects New Global Standards to Boost Maritime Security

Posted in United States | 24-Jun-04 | Source: US Department of State

Domestic plans include new security measures, Ridge says

Implementation of new international maritime security standards will boost the United States' and other countries' ability to prevent terrorists from attacking their ports or using ships as weapons, the head of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) says.

In June 21 remarks at the California ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said that the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code, which establishes world standards for ship and port security, will harmonize maritime security procedures around the world and mandate specific improvements.

"We will now be able to rely on our international partners," Ridge said.

The appropriate authorities in each country will be better able to secure the physical infrastructure at their ports and to verify the identity of and the potential risk posed by a particular foreign vessel before it calls in a country's port, he said.

The ISPS Code, a set of new maritime regulations negotiated under the auspices of the International Maritime Organization, is designed to help detect and deter threats to international security. It contains requirements for governments, port authorities and shipping companies that take effect July 1. Ships or shipments arriving from ports that do not fulfill the ISPS requirements by that deadline could face sanctions including denial of entry to other international ports.

Ridge said that the United States is already in full compliance with the requirements of the ISPS Code.

The secretary indicated March 23 that the Bush administration has offered to help ports in other countries meet the new security standards.

In an April 15 news release, the U.S. Coast Guard, which is responsible for enforcing maritime safety and security in the United States, said it would send teams to countries around the world to help them evaluate their compliance with the ISPS Code, share information about best practices and provide technical assistance if necessary.

Ridge also updated port authorities on implementation of the Maritime Transportation Act of 2002, a domestic law designed to protect U.S. ports and waterways from a terrorist attack. He said that the Coast Guard has received "nearly" all port and ship security assessments and plans required by the law. These plans include new security measures -- some of which will be known only to the professionals charged with safety and security, he added.

Ridge also commented on efforts to secure the entire supply chain, particularly cargo containers, and public-private security partnership programs.

Following is the text of his remarks as prepared for delivery:

(begin text)

U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Press Release

June 21, 2004



(Los Angeles, CA) June 21, 2004 -- Thank you for that introduction; it is a pleasure to be with you, here at America's busiest seaport. The traffic through this port is an indication of how important the entire maritime industry is to the health of our nation's economy -- contributing more than one trillion dollars to the annual GDP [gross domestic programs].

And ports like this one are the gateway into the vastly interconnected global economy. Ninety-five percent of all international overseas trade moves through our Nation's ports. Much of it -- $1 billion a day of economic activity -- happens right here at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. In addition, more that eight thousand foreign flag vessels make 60,000 port calls annually. And nearly 200 million passengers on cruise ships and ferries travel in and out every year.

But it's not difficult to recognize the critical importance of our seaports not only to a thriving economy, but also to a safe and secure homeland. Behind each ship is a long journey -- and a long story -- one that can rarely be understood by just observing from the dock.

For instance, shortly after I began serving as the President's Homeland Security Advisor, I boarded a ship in New Orleans Harbor. The vessel was registered in Singapore; the crew was from India; the cargo was American grain, on its way to Japan! And that is just the beginning. Nine million containers arrive on those ships into our Nation's 361 seaports every year -- more than 30 percent of them here in Los Angeles and Long Beach.

Once they reach shore, they are stacked and stored in shipyards...then carried on trains and trucks across the country...and their contents are delivered to warehouses and waiting customers...from Los Angeles to Lawrence, Kansas.

The story doesn't end with the ships themselves. To this picture add the critical infrastructure at and around our ports -- plants, refineries, hangars, stockyards and, of course, nearby port communities.

There are many opportunities for terrorists ... many places for them to move and hide...many ways to harm our citizens, our economy, our way of life -- and those of our friends and neighbors around the world. Securing our ports and maritime industry is an enormous task.

However, I am pleased to report that today our ports are more secure than they have ever been...thanks to a comprehensive, coordinated system of common standards, layered security, and advanced technologies. Shipping is a global industry; terrorism is a global problem; and our collective security requires a global solution.

In the past, efforts to secure this vast global industry -- both here in America and throughout the world -- were isolated, scattered and uncoordinated.

A port of origin might inspect cargo manifests, but ignore physical securities around their port. While a port of arrival might employ security personnel, but fail to double-check container contents or crew credentials. Like other areas of critical vulnerability, we recognized this problem, coordinated with stakeholders and partners, identified best practices, and took specific actions to secure our homeland -- and the global economy.

I am pleased to announce that as of today, the United States is in full compliance with the requirements of the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code -- just in time to meet the July 1st deadline. For the first time ever, this international effort will establish one world standard for ship and port security. It will help create a culture of security at ports around the world and mandate specific improvements.

With the implementation of these new international standards, the U.S. will be better able to harden physical infrastructure, verify the security of individual vessels before they approach a U.S. port, and better restrict access to our port areas. Adherence to this code will increase our ability -- and that of our neighbors -- to prevent terrorists from attacking our ports or using ships as weapons.

In the past, we have been forced to rely on a patchwork of security procedures. With the implementation of these comprehensive new standards, we will now be able to rely on our international partners. We are now able to verify the security of individual vessels before they call on a U.S. port...before they can pose a threat...and those not in compliance may not be allowed to enter our ports. Our efforts to enhance maritime security here at home continue to be led by the Coast Guard.

Before September 11th, the Coast Guard committed less than 2 percent of its assets to active port security.

Today, we have refocused the Coast Guard mission to make homeland security its top priority. The President's request to Congress for next year has a 51 percent increase for the Coast Guard's operating expenses. We added more than 2000 people to their ranks, and created 13 rapid response Maritime Safety and Security Teams, deployed at ports on both coasts and the Gulf of Mexico.

The result: as they protect more than 360 ports and 95,000 miles of coastline in the United States, last year the Coast Guard conducted more than 36,000 port security patrols, 8,000 security related boardings, and escorted more than 7,000 vessels.

In addition, the Coast Guard has been vital to the development -- and implementation -- of the Maritime Transportation Security Act [MTSA].

On top of the international standards of the ISPS Code, the United States has required vessels and port facilities to conduct vulnerability assessments, submit action plans, and increase security by the same July 1st deadline.

The Coast Guard has received nearly one hundred percent of the security assessments and plans required under this law. When the deadline arrives, ports and vessels will have already begun implementing these new security measures around the country. The Coast Guard has reviewed thousands of security plans from ship owners and terminal operators. These plans include several new security measures that you will begin to see on July 1st - and others that will remain invisible. Some will be obvious to the public, others will remain known only to the professionals charged with safety and security.

You might notice increased identification checks, additional screenings, more canine teams, and higher fences. Behind the scenes, facilities might install surveillance cameras, establish restricted areas, provide additional training, and increase or improve security personnel and patrols.

It is important to note, however, that these security plans are not "prescriptive" or "one-size-fits-all." As it was intended, the MTSA provides uniform and objective standards of security, but gives ports maximum flexibility to choose the protective measures that meet their specific needs.

For example, facilities are required to screen passengers and baggage, but individual locations could choose whether they use x-ray machines, metal detectors, or some other means as technology improves.

Going forward, the U.S. Coast Guard will conduct assessments with teams of experts who simulate terrorist attacks on port facilities -- to determine which vulnerabilities still exist and where. Then, they can work with individual ports on additional training and security measures to further solidify our efforts in and around America's ports.

Thanks to these new standards -- and the work of so many of you here today -- we now have a robust baseline of security in place for all of our nation's ports...and a certification program to ensure that foreign flagged vessels docking in U.S. ports have met U.S. generated security requirements.

Of course, these new security standards -- and the plans that are putting them into effect -- are just one tool in our worldwide layers of defense.

Those layers begin thousands of miles away...even before a container is loaded or a ship pushes off for the United States...and they continue until we can be sure that our ports, and the people they serve, are safe and secure.

In the time that I have been speaking, more than 100 containers will have entered this port. I'd like to take you along on the voyage of just one of these containers, and explain some of the layered defenses that have been put in place along the way. The cargo supply chain is a complex system of movements; and security must start long before the container is loaded on to a ship for transport and must be present throughout the supply chain.

From the cutting floor in Thailand to final delivery in the "Heartland," we are ensuring that security is infused at every step of the process. 24 hours before a container is even loaded onto a cargo vessel, the Department of Homeland Security's Customs and Border protection unit receives electronic transmission of advance cargo manifests from all U.S. bound containers.

Early reports from industry show that this 24-hour rule is aiding not just security, but productivity. This advance information is then analyzed by our National Targeting Center [NTC], to compare against law enforcement data, the latest threat intelligence and the ships' history, in order to identify potentially high-risk cargo.

Accurate information at every stage of this process is critical to our overall security. Therefore, we must continue to ensure that information and intelligence gets to the people that can act on it. In this case, the risk analysis performed by the NTC is passed on to officers at the first port of arrival. Next, Homeland Security officials use advanced technologies and risk analysis to begin our first layers of security far from American shores.

Under the Container Security Initiative [CSI], we have placed CBP [Customs and Border Protection] inspectors at 19 foreign seaports from Vancouver to Rotterdam to Singapore. These officers work alongside our allies to target and screen containers aboard cargo ships headed for the United States.

During a trip across the high seas, information about a container or its contents can be monitored and mapped against possible threats.

The Coast Guard uses this real time information to track high risk vessels, and when necessary, further screen or board potentially threatening ships. These intelligence based actions help prevent problems long before a ship enters our waters.

Once in transit, the next layer is the container itself. The Department is working closely with industry partners to create a more secure container. For example, several major importers are testing tamper resistant seals and technology that can track containers during their journey.

Also, through Operation Safe Commerce, we are testing additional container technology devices and business processes that will help create a smarter, more secure container.

Once a container arrives at our shores, CBP officers thoroughly scan 100 percent of the high-risk containers using advanced x-ray and radiation screening equipment. Containers that need further screening are taken to a secure location.

There, the higher-risk shipments are physically inspected for terrorist weapons and contraband prior to being released from the port of entry.

Sometimes, however, regular common sense can be our greatest security tool. A great example of the effectiveness of our people and programs occurred at a port like this one last summer.

Customs and Border Patrol Agents -- using the electronic information they were provided about a ship transiting from China to El Salvador -- seized a cache of weapons worth more than $421,000.

The ship was traveling without a permit and was mismarked as...frozen trout! Problem was, that frozen trout was making the long trip across the Pacific in an un-refrigerated cargo container.

In this case -- and many others like it -- alert officers using information, ingenuity, and initiatives like CSI helped us achieve what we call "Maritime Domain Awareness".

That means knowledge of the area, of conditions and of our capabilities. We must strive to apply this principle to every ship and container entering our ports.

The more we know, the more terrorists we stop in their tracks -- and the more we deter from attempting to penetrate our ports.

We are increasing security to ensure that our ports remain open, but we must do so while continuing to facilitate the flow of commerce. We must find the appropriate balance between our security and our economy -- between inspecting every container and keeping trade moving.

Of course, we cannot do this alone. In addition to working with foreign governments, The Department of Homeland Security's Customs and Border Protection unit is partnering with business to help secure the supply chain.

For instance, our Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism [C-TPAT]enlists the private sector to help secure the entire supply chain. To date, more than 6,000 manufacturers, forwarders, brokers, carriers and other key supply chain actors are participating in C-TPAT.

Programs like C-TPAT are helping our industry partners reach a higher degree of security across their entire supply chain.

Those that succeed qualify for time- and money-saving incentives such as "FAST" lane access and reduced inspections. Traffic World magazine reports that C-TPAT has "drawn some of the strongest praise business has ever heaped on a government program."

Businesses are also proud of their participation in Operation Safe Commerce. This pilot program analyzes security in the commercial supply chain and tests solutions to close any gaps. The technologies tested through the program will enhance maritime cargo security, protect the global supply chain, and facilitate the flow of commerce.

Not surprisingly, the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are not only the Nation's largest, but our best examples of layered security.

You are helping to lead the Nation's port security effort -- in part because of the healthy competition between Los Angeles and Long Beach, but also on account of your unprecedented cooperation when it comes to security.

This port has been involved with the development, implementation, and success of nearly every initiative from point of origin to destination -- all the while protecting the vital commerce that passes through these docks and slips every day.

Los Angeles/Long Beach was home to one of the first Maritime Safety and Security Teams; has participated in the pilots for several security initiatives such as the Transportation Worker's Identity Card; deployed officers overseas, and hosted foreign officials as part of CSI; and have set the standard for partnership with the local community, including 100 C-TPAT accounts with area businesses.

And, as I've mentioned, you've also served as an important test bed for Operation Safe Commerce. We are looking forward to the arrival of the first containers under this program in just a few days.

The Department has been proud to partner with you on so many occasions as we layer our port security measures across the nation and around the globe. But we have been even more proud to watch as these two competing facilities partner with each other to ensure the security of this entire complex.

This port and our other public-private port initiatives are great examples of what we can accomplish in partnership. Yet, securing our ports cannot rest solely on the efforts of government.

We will do our part -- as we have by allocating more than $500 million in port security grants for the very last layer of defense.

But, as owners and operators, the private sector must play a large role in the development and funding of advanced security procedures and technologies.

Securing our ports and waterways is a team effort -- everyone, from local government and private citizens to the international community, plays an important role in ensuring that our waterways remain open for business.

We must coordinate our efforts with our trading partners. We must enlist the expertise of the maritime industry and local government agencies. We must use the eyes and ears of our citizens, who are the true regional experts, to notice when something is amiss.

All of these efforts -- each and every layer of security -- are geared toward finding that critical balance between security, freedom, and prosperity. We must find a way to keep our ports open to legitimate trade and travelers but closed to terrorists. I believe we have made significant progress toward that goal.

We've become more confident and more aware. As you know, homeland security is a national strategy, not a federal one; a worldwide effort, not just an American one.

It's about the integration of a nation and a world -- driven by a philosophy of shared responsibility, shared leadership, and shared accountability -- in essence, a renewed commitment to the federalism upon which our nation was founded.

I'm quite grateful for the resolve and responsibility shown by all Americans -- especially those of you here today who work hard to protect this country and its citizens. And I ask that we continue to work together as we have time and again to achieve our dreams and goals -- and preserve America as the world's greatest home for freedom.

Thank you.

(end text)