Friday, June 24, 2011

Ports Best Practices: Safety and Security

Almost ten years after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, West Coast ports have made enormous strides in securing their land and waterside facilities against harm. In our continuing Ports Best Practices series, four West Coast ports describe some of the work they’ve done to ensure the continuing safety and security of both personnel and cargo from natural as well as man-made threats.

Prince Rupert Port Authority: Teamwork and Technology

The Prince Rupert Port Authority (PRPA) ensures safety and security through a collaborative, high-tech approach that capitalizes on the Port’s location.

Through the establishment of its Port Security and Emergency Preparedness Committee, the Port and its security partners have developed a “layered” approach to safety, security and emergency preparedness.

Layered security is achieved through collaboration with Transport Canada, Canadian Coast Guard Marine Communication Traffic Services, terminal operators, Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and other key Port stakeholders.

Through required reporting regimens to federal agencies, the Port starts to assemble domain intelligence while commercial shipping is still 48 to 72 hours away from calling on the Port. Through monitoring and regular sharing of information, the Port and its partners acquire an accurate picture of what’s happening in and around its jurisdictional waters.

Given the Port’s geographic location and Prince Rupert’s small population, it has adopted a “trust but verify” layered security approach. They trust – but verify – that the ship has a sound security plan before calling on the port, that the terminal operators have an up-to-date and effective security plan and that the Port’s perimeter security responsibilities and its leadership role in coordinating Port security postures and responses are exercised on a regular basis.

A clear advantage of operating in a small city is the possibility of extensive collaboration. The Port, as directed by the Marine Act, takes a leadership role in chairing the Port Security Committee meetings. All security stakeholders and first responders are active participants at these meetings.

Whether through established relationships or because of its location, substantive collaboration and cooperation are a daily occurrence – not just when the committee meets. Through established relationships and effective command, control and communication the Port’s coordinated response to safety and security concerns or incidents is immediate.

In March 2010, the Port’s Security Operations Center (PSOC) became fully operational. The Port shares access to the PSOC with all its security partners including the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). Through smart collaboration and state-of-the-art technology, the Port has established a 24/7 PSOC that monitors all Port operations and coordinates required responses in the event of safety, security or emergency response incidents.

In the event of any emergency, the Port takes a leadership role by establishing a command center at the PSOC offices where all stakeholders can “plug in.” From the command center, infrastructure and human resources possess adequate support within their respective jurisdictions to deal effectively with emergencies.

Recently, the Port Security and Emergency Preparedness Committee have begun an emergency management audit of existing plans. This involves a critical infrastructure audit of the Prince Rupert area as well as working with Transport Canada and the Provincial Emergency Program on resumption plans and procedures to ensure the Prince Rupert Gateway can quickly resume its operations if an emergency were to occur.

Port of Portland Stays SHARP on Safety

Starting in 2007, Port of Portland employees and management at the marine terminals, marine facility maintenance, and landscaping/properties worked collaboratively to develop and implement a comprehensive safety and health management system. The work has paid off with acceptance into the Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP) in 2009, and third-year certification in 2011.

Sponsored by the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OR-OSHA), the program was developed to provide Oregon employers with coaching and direction so that they learn to more effectively manage workplace safety and health, and in turn, be recognized for their achievement. Acceptance into the program is a public acknowledgement by Oregon OSHA that a model safety and health program exists at the Port’s work sites and that safety is a company value.

Employers approved for the second and subsequent years can be deferred from scheduled OR-OSHA inspections. Participation in SHARP does not eliminate regulatory enforcement, and employees retain all workplace safety and health rights contained in the Oregon Safe Employment Act. After five years, employers are eligible to “graduate” from the program. The Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program emphasizes continual improvement, and the Port will be expected to continue its strong commitment to making its facilities safe places to work and do business.

In April 2010, the Port’s marine and industrial development division received notification of achieving second-year certification for its safety and health program. Announcement of the certification was made by OR-OSHA officials at a Port Commission meeting in August.

With successful completion of third-year SHARP participation in 2011, the Port received increased scores in several assessment categories. Results for five of the 58 assessment questions improved from a rating of 2 to 3, which is the highest possible rating. These improvements included: controls to minimize the risk of muscle strains; new supervisor safety training; new employee orientation integrating a Safety First eLearning program; completion of written procedures for the safety action plan; and SHARP self assessment conducted with input from employees and senior managers.

Port of Los Angeles Integrated Threat Management System

The Port of Los Angeles integrated threat management system has been awarded the 2010 Gold Medal Winner by Security Technology Executive (STE) Magazine. The award recognized the Port for developing an integrated security technology platform that provides situational awareness to all stakeholders in the event of an emergency.

“We have spent years designing and deploying this innovative security platform,” says Los Angeles Port Police Chief Ronald J. Boyd. “The leadership team at the Port of Los Angeles has encouraged and supported efforts that allow us to be at the forefront of deploying technology to make the Port as safe and secure as possible.”

The Port of Los Angeles sought a solution that would unify stakeholders and effectively monitor vast miles of waterfront, which resulted in the deployment of its Waterside Surveillance System. Over the years, the Port has made continuous investments in technology and today is making use of next-generation video management software, integrated analytics, encoders/decoders and wireless devices along the Port’s waterfront and land-based facilities. The video solution integrates with more than 350 third-party cameras to monitor highly critical areas. Captured data is then transmitted to the state-of-the-art Los Angeles Port Police Operations Center for central monitoring.

To supplement the port’s technology-based program, the Port of Los Angeles introduced the country’s first maritime curriculum for state and local law enforcement officers, the Maritime Law Enforcement Training Center (MLETC), which was introduced in April by Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

The new MLETC will teach the country’s first maritime curriculum, which was designed to train officers with basic, intermediate and advanced instruction for crewmembers aboard law enforcement and public safety vessels operated by local authorities. Course curriculum includes boat handling, chart reading and navigation rules. Additionally, students will receive comprehensive training on maritime boardings, arrest procedures, vessel identification, searches and counter-terrorism practices and procedures. The curriculum was approved by both the Department of Homeland Security and the California Emergency Management Agency. It is California Police Officer Standards and Training (POST) certified, consistent with current federal doctrine, and will be made available to municipal, county, state or federal law enforcement personnel who require maritime skill sets to perform their duties.

Located in the Wilmington area of the harbor, the new training center has classrooms and 5,000 square feet of dock space for training maneuvers. Police patrol boats will be used as training vessels.

‘It Takes a Village’ to Protect Our Ports

Nearly half of all goods imported into the US come through the Port of Long Beach and the neighboring Port of Los Angeles in Southern California’s San Pedro Bay. A shutdown of this port complex, the largest in the nation, would cost the US economy more than $1 billion a day.

The job of protecting the Port of Long Beach is complicated and does not fall on any single agency; rather it is a multi-layered approach that requires the right tools and constant communication among the stakeholders.

Before Sept. 11, 2001, port security around the country focused largely on deterring cargo theft. In the post-9/11 world, the threats are much more serious and the stakes a lot higher. Over the last decade, the Port of Long Beach has invested hundreds of millions of dollars on upgrading its security infrastructure.

“Security and business continuity are top priorities at the Port of Long Beach,” says Sean Strawbridge, Long Beach’s Managing Director of Port Operations. “This is not just about securing our own facilities; it’s about protecting a major commercial gateway into the United States.”

Today, the Port boasts some of the most advanced security technology in the world with a system that includes more than 130 surveillance cameras, radar, underwater sonar, remotely operated submersible vehicles (ROVs) and other technology deployed throughout the port complex.

Having the right tools is important, but communication and coordination among the various local, state and federal entities is equally vital to Port security and safety. In early 2009, the Port of Long Beach opened its Security Command and Control Center (SCCC), a centralized location where multiple agencies can coordinate intelligence and respond to threats, either man-made or natural.

The facilities and its resources, including radar, sonar and security camera feeds, are at the disposal of the Port’s security partners such as the US Coast Guard, US Customs and Border Protection, the Long Beach Police Department and the Port of Los Angeles. The Federal Office of Counter Terrorism has an officer stationed full-time at the Center. The Port of Long Beach has more than 30 formalized agreements in place with regional security partners and other Port stakeholders to share information, conduct joint training and coordinate threat intelligence.

Through the Los Angeles Regional Common Operations Picture (LARCOP) system, the Port’s Security Division can share incident reports instantaneously with other security agencies in the region. The Port is currently working with the Port of Los Angeles to install a fiber optic network that will link security systems in both ports. The SCCC also has a direct wireless link to the city of Long Beach’s Emergency Command Operations Center to better coordinate responses in case of an attack or natural disaster. A helipad on the roof provides helicopter access in case roads are impassable.

The SCCC also serves as the official headquarters of the Port of Long Beach’s Security Division and its Harbor Patrol, a specialized security force of more than 40 officers, including a dive team, who patrol the Port facilities 24/7. The Port of Long Beach is the only port in the country with its own deep water salvage-and-recovery diving team, a group of highly skilled “hardhat” divers who inspect and clear port wharves and waterways of security hazards.

The Port of Long Beach continues to invest heavily on its security to protect this important national asset as well as the lives of those who work here or live nearby, spending close to $25 million on security and public safety operations annually.

“We cannot let our guard down,” Strawbridge says. “This year, we will be commemorating the ten year anniversary of 9/11. It is a different world we live in from a decade ago. High security is just a way of life here at the Port of Long Beach.”