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American Shipper

AGENCY, INDUSTRY COMMUNICATIONS, TECHNOLOGY KEYS TO SEAPORT SECURITY

AGENCY, INDUSTRY COMMUNICATIONS, TECHNOLOGY KEYS TO SEAPORT SECURITY

   Congressional and industry leaders believe the best way to combat terrorism in U.S. seaports will come through increased communications between agencies and industry.

   “Communications is the foundation for coordination amoing the various agencies responsible for port security,” said (Ret.) Adm. Richard M. Larrabee, director of the Port Commerce Department of the Port Authority of New York/New Jersey before the Senate Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere and Fisheries. “This includes sharing intelligence and threat assessment information among federal, state and local agencies, as well as certain limited private interests, such as terminal operators, when in those instances the private companies have an explicit responsibility for securing their operations against a potential threat.”

   “Pilots are frequently referred to as the eyes and ears of the port,” said Michael R. Watson, president of the American Pilots’ Association. “As the only U.S. citizens on the hundreds of foreign ships with foreign crews moving in our waters each day, state pilots know a great deal about what is happening, not only on the ships but in the surrounding waters as well. They are in a unique position to detect suspicious or unusual activities.”

   A main responsibility of the newly created cabinet position, the Homeland Security Office, will be to combine law enforcement agency intelligence in the war against terrorism.

   Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., told the subcommittee about the success that gamma-ray inspection equipment has had in Florida seaports in detecting stolen cars and other contraband hidden in containers. Trucks can be scanned within 15 seconds and the contents can be quickly compared with what’s listed on the manifest, he said.

   Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., said technology companies have lots of opportunities to develop technologies that improve seaport security without impeding the flow of legitimate cargo.

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