SECURITY/Coast Guard offers guidelines for port security
The events of Sept. 11 have shifted the focus of seaport security. Whereas port officials once were mainly concerned with curtailing thefts, drug trafficking and illegal immigration, now they also must address ways to prevent the international movement of terrorists, sabotage to maritime facilities and the destruction of transportation infrastructure. That shift has prompted port officials to evaluate existing security measures and vulnerabilities and to revise security plans.
To assist them in identifying where security improvements are needed, port authorities can use the “Security Guidelines for Waterfront Facilities,” available from the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG, see www.marineexchangesea.com/USCG_sec_gdlns_wtrfrt_lev1.html). The guidelines recommend a format for security plans and response procedures. They identify three levels of preparedness relative to degrees of threat:
Level I: The degree of precaution to take when the threat of an unlawful act against a vessel or terminal — though possible — is not likely.
Level II: The degree of precaution to take when the threat of an unlawful act against a vessel or terminal is possible and intelligence indicates that terrorists are likely to be active within a specific area or against a type of vessel or terminal.
Level III: The degree of precaution to take when the threat of an unlawful act against a vessel or terminal is probable or imminent and intelligence indicates that terrorists have chosen specific targets.
The guidelines also prompt port officials to implement specific security measures, including:
- Identification procedures
Officials should document acceptable identification from people doing business at the port and document procedures for conducting background checks.
- Internal security
Officials should outline the procedures for controlling vehicle/rail equipment and the guidelines for issuing personnel identification cards.
- Perimeter security
Officials should identify restricted areas; assess their security (including checking specifications for perimeter fencing); and identify the measures that prevent unauthorized access to the port.
Officials should follow the lighting requirements described in the Occupational Safety Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines.
- Security alarms, video surveillance and communication systems
Officials should identify the use and control of those devices, especially in restricted areas. They should recommend appropriate response times relative to various alarm system indicators.
- Training and security awareness
Officials should document methods for personnel training and performance review.
- A security plan
Officials should document the port’s measure of awareness, prevention capability, magnitude of response and consequence management guidance.
The guidelines are not intended to replace the existing regulations at ports. The primary responsibility for port security rests with the port and/or the facility operator. Each port official should check with the appropriate Captain of the Port to understand all the regulations and degrees of compliance because they can differ by port type.
The Security Guidelines for Waterfront Facilities also includes a facility survey, which port officials can use to assist in a vulnerability assessment. Ports can request an inspection from the USCG, use the checklist to conduct a self-assessment or seek assistance from a consultant.
The USCG is scheduled to release a model for port vulnerability assessments this month. Those assessments should identify areas that need improvement. For example, the site may need stronger access control and fence or gate monitoring; better lighting; greater manpower; stronger information security and control over data access; and/or better physical cargo security, such as the use of security seals.
Port security guidelines have changed as a result of recent acts of terrorism, and further modifications are anticipated as a result of USCG guidance, local regulations and proposed legislation. The challenge for U.S. ports and terminal operators is to implement effective security measures while maintaining efficient and cost-effective port operations.