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U.S. Ports Want $4 Billion to Enhance Security

Reposted from the Maritime Executive 2019-01-28 17:16:03

In the latest report in its “The State of Freight” infrastructure series, U.S. member ports of the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) identified nearly $4 billion in crucial port and supply chain security needs over the next 10 years.

The AAPA says that money is needed to ensure America's port facilities are properly equipped to address new and evolving security challenges. The report recommends refocusing the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Port Security Grant Program to better meet the security infrastructure needs of publicly-owned commercial seaports and related maritime operations. This includes funding an estimated $2.62 billion in maintenance and upgrades to port security equipment and systems, and another $1.27 billion for investments to tackle cybersecurity, active shooter, drone mitigation, resiliency and other evolving security threats.

Currently, the U.S. government invests $100 million annually in the Port Security Grant Program. Since the grant program was initially authorized after 9/11, America’s population has increased about 15 percent, with a pronounced population shift to metropolitan areas, and in many cases near port authority freight and passenger facilities. By the end of 2017, container volumes through these facilities had increased 71 percent and total foreign trade tonnage had increased 37 percent, while cruise passenger traffic nearly doubled.

In the survey used to prepare the report, 85 percent of AAPA U.S. member ports say they anticipate direct cyber or physical threats to their ports to increase over the next 10 years. Conversely, 10 years ago, cybersecurity, active shooter, drones, increasing energy exports or other soft targets were not highly anticipated threats. The 2017 APM Maersk cyber attack illustrated how an incident can start outside the U.S. and have a cascading impact on ports and terminal operations across the globe.

78 percent of ports anticipate using future port security grant funding on cyber security, and 90 percent report that future funding would be used for upgrading technology, such as cameras and other surveillance tools.

In addition, soft targets such as active shooters “keep port security staff up at night,” said multiple port security directors. 86 percent of ports would use future security funding to enhance physical security, and 65 percent would use it for training to better prepare port and local first responders to respond effectively to soft target threats such as an active shooter.

AAPA President and CEO Kurt Nagle said: “In The State of Freight IV, we took a deep-dive to better understand the future security challenges of U.S. ports, the communities that surround them and the supply chains that serve them. Not only did we find that Port Security Grant Program appropriations need to increase four-fold to $400 million a year, but the ratio of grant funds going to ports needs to at least double to 50 percent to properly mitigate for security threats.

“Protecting our nation’s seaports against terrorism and other security threats helps ensure safe and reliable goods movement, which is critical to our economy. However, in recent years, nearly two-thirds of Port Security Grant Program funding has been spent on training and equipping first responders and on improving response capabilities. What’s needed now is a shift to more investments in maritime domain awareness, including prevention and protection measures.”

The report is available here.

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