American Shipper

FLYNN TESTIFIES BEFORE SENATE COMMITTEE ON PORT SECURITY

FLYNN TESTIFIES BEFORE SENATE COMMITTEE ON PORT SECURITY

   A former Coast Guard commander appealed to senators for full funding of a supply chain security initiative that would emphasize tighter point-of-origin controls and transshipment checks on international transport of ocean containers.

   'Stephen Flynn, a senior fellow at the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations, on Thursday appealed to the Senate Appropriations Committee for $2.5 million to fund a government-industry partnership that promises more stringent international supply chain security.

   “Operation Safe Commerce” is intended to increase supply chain security without hindering the flow of commerce. It calls for accurate reporting of shipment contents before departure, the use of theft-resistant electronic seals, and intergovernmental communications through information systems.

   Already, the project has received a $200,000 grant for research, said Gov. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H. Her state has been chosen as a test site for the project this May. Eventually, Flynn said, the initiative could include other ports for test runs.

   Advance information, Flynn said, is the best form of security to prevent terrorist from smuggling weapons of mass destruction in the supply chain. Operation Safe Commerce would tighten security by giving authorities advance information before a shipment arrives, while offering transparency throughout its transport.

   Flynn said that mandating in-transit accountability” would help authorities detect and intercept threats once they receive an intelligence alert from others in the supply chain. “Intelligence is practically useless if it helps only to perform a post-attack autopsy,” Flynn said.

   Flynn proposed that, after a positive test run, Operation Safe Commerce could be tested in other regions. It has already received support by the Port of New York and New Jersey.

   “There is equal enthusiasm among public and private maritime leaders in southern California,” he said. Flynn said the interest from other ports adds to the project’s attractiveness to draw funding. But he expects the private sector will have to augment government funding.