Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Port Prevention - The Small Boat Threat

Government Computer News reports on new technology that helps improve situational awareness in U.S. ports.

New visualization tools are helping the Coast Guard develop situational awareness at the Port of Miami, but more assistance is needed to track small boats and noncooperative vessels...

The Homeland Security Department’s Directorate of Science and Technology is funding the Visualization Tools for Situational Awareness and Emergency Response program, also known as Viz Tools.
Despite this, the threat is still the same as it was in the USS Cole bombing more than seven years ago: small boats:
Although the program is resulting in improved maritime domain awareness, there are still gaps. For example, the Coast Guard needs better information on the 170,000 registered small craft in Miami, Dade and Broward counties, Schultz said.

"The small boat threat ... continues to present technology and policy challenges and remains a primary maritime security concern," said [Commander Karl Schultz, who heads the Coast Guard’s Miami sector].
What to do? One suggestion: Better coordination between port authorities and local law enforcement:
Stephen Dryden, chief executive officer of the Mariner Group LLC ... recommended additional aids to further improve situational awareness, including the integration of cargo and vessel information into Viz Tools, more coordination with local law enforcement agencies and improved long-range tracking of vessels.
With 170,000 registered small boats in the water, there is a need for information-sharing. You have to be able to recognize potential threats before they manifest themselves. As in the case with the Cole, if you wait until the boat is in the water and moving toward its target, it's too late for prevention.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree with the need for comprehensive information sharing between USCG and local law enforcement. I was the FSO at Port of Miami 2005-2006 and I can say truthfully that the federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies in that environment were very focused on this strategy, which, in no small part, was driven by the Port Administration's Executive Steering Committee for Security, which had reps from all the LE agencies at the port. The bigger issue I think is how do you manage and fund response to the waterborne threat once identified? The expenses associated with a 24/7 waterborne response capability are significant. While the boats and equipment can be funded with federal grants, the staffing, operation, and maintenance of a marine port protection component is a local responsibility (USCG does not provide this service).


Ken Christopher