Specific security challenges in the Port Maritime Environment



Specific security challenges in the Port Maritime Environment


Instructions: Your initial post should be at least 350 words.

Respond to the below discussion questions taken from the Lessons (Required Reading). You are expected to give complete answers referring to what you have read. Reference to, or the use of critical thinking, analysis, what you have learned in previous courses, the media, and in your professional lives is also expected. Define the subject; make references to what you have read, what you have learned elsewhere, and then form a response.

Course Objective – Explain the following; specific security challenges in the Port Maritime Environment, Risk Management Activity, Components of Port Security Planning, and Asymmetric Warfare, Megaports Initiative, and the Secure Freight Initiative.

1. What are the components that contribute to port security planning, why are they important, and what aspects of security planning are considered in port facility operations?

2. What is the significance and purpose of the Secure Freight Initiative?

3. What are the following (explain and summarize these acronyms)?


b. FSO

c. FSP

d. FSA

Christopher, K. (2014) Port Security Management, 2nd ed. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press Taylor & Francis Group (ISBN # 13: 978-1-4200-6893-1) e-book.

Support Material

The Port Security Plan 

Management of Tasks and Responsibilities

Our week three lesson will explore the maritime port security environment and the resultant security demands inherently placed on the port security management team. More specifically, the security management team is charged with the responsibility for ensuring all port security elements are successfully planned, developed, and executed in order to execute vital security tasks and responsibilities associated with a safe and secure maritime port.

No doubt the security management team is one of the most important components when trying to protect against terrorists, criminal activities, and other commercials, industrial and natural disasters that can impact a maritime port.  Further, failure to properly assess, plan and execute the fundamental port-security tasks and responsibilities required would be disastrous to port security operations in general. As a result, the focus for lesson three will identify and assess key policies and procedures necessary for successfully executing maritime security management operations. Moreover, the importance of building a solid port-security posture must start right at the top of the organization, including the port security leadership staff and the guard force.

As many already know, it all starts at the top.  Poor leadership will result in poor decisions and substandard performance from the staff, which will ultimately flow down and impact the entire security workforce. An inept and incompetent security staff will thoroughly corrupt the ability of the organization to adequately guard and protect the port as a whole.  Poor leadership will cripple a port, and potentially jeopardize the national security of the U.S.  Also, inexperienced and poorly trained managers will set the stage for major security gaps in the port to emerge rapidly, leading to possible exploitation of these gaps by nefarious individuals…who likely have designs centered on terrorism or criminal acts.  This is further complicated by the fact that all U.S port’s security funding for current and future budget years will be substantially cut.  Understanding this, it is essential that the port security teams have continuous education and skills training to maintain force competencies.

Just as important, the security team must be knowledgeable of the critical organizational components within the port that tie into port security.  Christopher identified these components as the communication systems and information sharing capability; building and maintaining a qualified professional staff; conducting basic and advanced security training; fostering teamwork, camaraderie, and mission planning. Parallel to these operational components, it is also important that the port security team effectively respond to and interface effectively with incident management systems, attention to communications interoperability, public/media relations, written plans, policies, procedures, and last, but not least, mutual aid agreements (Christopher, 2009, p. 96).

Understanding the depth of the required tasks and responsibilities requires that the port security manager and the security team be cognizant of how they can best meet the operational and security needs of the port and its private sector clients. Bottom line, security managers need to use a layered approach to security which means using a variety of tools that provide a strong defense against terrorism, crime, and other identified risks we have already discussed.

Integrating Technology

In regards to the components of security planning, one of the biggest that contributes directly to port security planning is the inclusion of advanced security systems that can be incorporated into the actual design phase of any new port facility. With new and improved technologies being developed and introduced each day, new methods of building an entire security system must be assessed and evaluated to make sure they are constructed in the most cost-effective and efficient manner.  The ability to mitigate security risks and gaps through advanced technology application integration for all new facilities is most important.  It is essential that security infrastructure needs are planned for during the phase known as the design and architecture stage.  This will ensure that security managers won’t need to request for security infrastructure changes at a later time, which will likely result in costly retrofitting of port facilities.  Additionally, budgets cuts will not allow for these post-design phase changes, so it is imperative that security managers get it right the first time.  The days of excessive cost overruns due to poor planning or design efforts are no longer acceptable in today’s constrained resource environment.

The Private Sector

Much has been said of the maritime private sector security connection and the critical role they play in port security planning.  First and foremost, the private sector stakeholder input is vital to proper port security planning.  Knowing what the internal and external customers’ needs are and how to meet them is essential to security planning for port operations.  Additionally, a proven and tangible method of identifying ways to mitigate attacks and other events is having hypothetical exercise scenarios developed for operational testing and validation.  Conducting these operational tests and organizational exercises enhances security systems knowledge and understanding and results in workable solutions for comprehensive port security operations.  Knowing the security components and the various approaches available to management in order to mitigate and remove security gaps with the private sector working within the port environment is extremely important.  Lastly, including the private sector while developing and executing a robust test and exercise program is a best practice for enhanced port security.

In addition, having private sector input during the design and architecture stage is vital. Rebuttals, views, and opinions from differing parties should be encouraged and welcomed in order to ensure one party isn’t “angling” their advice or recommendation to achieve an underlying motive. If one party were the only one engaging with the development team, then effective security components could possibly get overlooked or dumped.  The desired end-state is that everyone must work together to achieve the same goal….a safe and viable port.

Fortress Mentality

No discussion on port security is complete without understanding the issue of “fortress mentality” within the port environment. Simply explained, engineers and architects specialize in how to build things effectively and efficiently. This is why we commission them in the first place.  However, that doesn’t mean they know how precisely the security systems must work or even understand how the port security systems are properly integrated into the larger security system that protects the port. Therefore, the port security manager must ensure there isn’t too much security, where it becomes a detriment to production as opposed to a contribution to the overall port production. The goal is to find the right balance between port production versus a state of excessive security policies and procedures that bottleneck port operations.  The author is not suggesting we spin the dice and sacrifice security for production, but slowing down port production to the point it is no longer viable to conduct business operations due to excessive security procedures, is a fortress mentality. Fortress mentality will stifle operational processes and procedures that pay the bills.  Too much security is counterproductive when it prevents the operational component from reaching max production efficiency.

Finding Balance

One way to find balance is through the “The Secure Freight Initiative” (SFI). The SFI is a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) program and part of the SAFE Port Act of 2006. The SFI uses nuclear detection technology in foreign ports. The equipment used to support the SFI scans containers for threats and automatically notifies the host country authorities and the DHS.

This allows both countries to take action and prevent any major incidents from occurring, such as a WMD placed in a container.     Another important initiative is the implementation of the Container Security Initiative (CSI) managed through the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Agency. With the detection equipment and other cyber-centric systems in place, CBP will have near real-time information such as manifest submissions to help with risk assessments of shipments coming to American ports.  This is supportive and a derivative of the Secure Freight Initiative. According to Homeland Security in the Secure Freight Initiative, 2012, “The Secure Freight Initiative builds upon a risk-based approach to securing the international supply chain by leveraging programs like the Megaports Initiative, Container Security Initiative, and the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TAPT) program.”  Each of the initiatives reduces a massive risk burden on the port security management team, as all high-risk containers are inspected before even arriving in any U.S. Port.

In summary, one of the key goals of the initiatives is to scan as many containers as possible without disruption of business. Is that possible in a business such as shipping when timeframes and schedules must be adhered to? We shall see.

In an article written by Douglas Frantz for the Washington Post, in July 2015; Port Security; U.S. fails to meet the deadline for scanning of cargo containers; he indicates that the U.S. did not meet a legal deadline for scanning all shipping containers for radioactive materials. Frantz is highlighting the Secure Freight Initiative.  Even though the requirement is 100% screening at foreign ports, the cost at that time, according to DHS Director Napolitano, would be $16 Billion to implement (Frantz 2015).  Instead, the screening is being accomplished on “high-risk” containers based on intelligence.  Even though it may be a good idea to screen every container, again it is not cost-effective.

As in any business that moves commerce, either goods, products, or people, as in the airline industry or shipping industry, if you are not moving you are not making money.  And of course, the business mission is to turn a profit.  For example, on-time departures at airports are the driving force of many decisions that are made, including security and the equipment to screen passengers. As already discussed above, if every shipping container or bulk cargo item was screened, the time it would take to accomplish that screening process would be excessive, thereby causing a bottleneck of all cargo movements and severely impacting commerce in general.  Even though it would be possible to do that, in a business sense it would not be practical, or better put in the language of the stakeholders, not cost-effective.  Moreover, the cost is not only the cost in time or shipment delays but the cost in procuring and sustaining the equipment necessary to conduct cargo and container screenings.

To achieve full compliance with government security regulations, the port security manager must combine security planning with all aspects of port operations. The port must be able to interface with national and international port facility security and understand clearly what requirements are mandated by the compliance of government regulations. Port management leaders must have a working knowledge and understanding of the major pieces of legislation such as the Homeland Security Act of 2002, Homeland Security Presidential Directives, MTSA of 2002, SAFE Port Act, and others. We will discuss these policies and regulations in more detail during the week.

Facility and Personnel Security

A key and very important position in planning and managing the security function in the port facility is the Facility Security Officer (FSO). The FSO is basically responsible for the development, implementation, revision, and maintenance of the port facility security plan. One of the most important responsibilities is to instill an awareness of overall port security for all facility employees and visitors. This awareness philosophy will provide employees and customers with an understanding of the importance of security in the port.  It goes without saying that security is everyone’s responsibility.

In this lesson, we discussed the port security management function and briefly highlighted three important tasks and responsibilities required of the maritime port security manager and his team.  Failure in leadership resulting in poor management can severely impact the security sector, and would likely result in disastrous consequences for the port, and to a larger degree, the U.S. economy.  It was also noted that a critical task and responsibility carried out by the security management team is to ensure that any new facility design and architecture is developed and constructed with the necessary security systems infrastructure enhancements that will incorporate and support new and emerging technologies.  And lastly, we reviewed the current legislation and government policies that are currently in place to protect and safeguard U.S. ports against terrorist and criminal threats and activities.


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