All 43 U.S. port areas requiring a Coast Guard area maritime security plan have one, the Government Accountability Office says.
In a report dated April 6, the GAO says it examined in detail AMS plans in seven high risk port areas, and that the Coast Guard provided documentation that the other 36 port areas also covered by a plan requirement have indeed put together one that includes elements for recovery and salvage response after an incident.
American ports, waterways and vessels handle more than $700 billion in goods annually, according to DHS; any disruption to the marine transportation system could have widespread impact on the global economy, the GAO notes. (A port area can include multiple ports; the Delaware Bay port area, for example, includes Philadelphia, Pa., Trenton, N.J., Wilmington, Del., and other local ports.)
The Coast Guard is the lead federal agency in charge of facilitating recovery should a natural or made-made disaster affect the system. The Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002 requires the Coast Guard to develop AMS plans and updated them every 5 years. The SAFE Port Act of 2006 ) stipulates that the plans should also include protocols for resumption of trade following an incident, and incorporate salvage response into them.
The seven plans that auditors looked closely at contain some variation, the report notes, but says all of them have identified “key recovery components and applicable operational processes.”
An example of the variation is the role that a Marine Transportation System Recovery Unit–typically a committee of Coast Guard plus other federal, state and local personnel and private industry officials–would play in recovery. The Houston-Galveston, Texas, port area plan calls for establishing a recovery unit as more of a coordinating body of Coast Guard personnel who would gather and disseminate information and work with a port coordination team made up of industry stakeholders that, in turn, would perform many of the functions normally associated with a recovery unit at other ports. The New Orleans port area has adopted a similar approach, the report adds.
Source: Fierce Homeland Security