American Shipper

DHS completes maritime recovery contingency plan

DHS completes maritime recovery contingency plan

The Department of Homeland Security on Friday released its Maritime Infrastructure Recovery Plan, one of eight plans that lay out the government’s maritime security strategy.

   DHS delayed issuing the contingency plan for restoring cargo and passenger vessel operations in the event of a terrorist attack in order to factor in lessons learned from the response to Hurricane Katrina last summer.

   The other plans involving maritime commerce, transportation systems, domestic and international outreach, domain awareness, intelligence integration and threat response were completed last year.

   The recovery plan is focused on restarting containerized cargo operations to limit the damage to the U.S. economy in the event of a security incident or natural disaster affecting maritime transportation. DHS is in charge of coordinating a national response to determine when it is safe and in what order to reopen ports, redirect cargo and release it at other ports that were not the target of an attack or disruptive incident.

   The strategy is designed to prevent the need for an automatic, wholesale shut down of maritime activity due to an incident in one port that could have a ripple effect across the economy. Decisions on restarting commerce will be based on risk-management principles and intelligence, the report said. The private sector is encouraged to develop plans for continuity of operations.

   DHS said it plans to develop a system for determining reserve capacity at foreign and domestic ports that would help determine where to reroute containers away from a disaster zone. Another priority is to develop Web-based and other methods to quickly communicate and share information with the maritime industry.

   DHS said it will periodically conduct tabletop and field exercises to assess the plan’s effectiveness and the industry’s ability to plan for, respond to, and recover from an incident.

   To read the entire plan go to http://www.dhs.gov/interweb/assetlibrary/HSPD_MIRPPlan.pdf.