Ports and harbours have a number of plans to deal with emergencies

2010.09.17_cargo_ship_freight_rates.jpgPorts and harbours have a number of plans to deal with emergencies, but whether or not they come together to be effective is another issue entirely.

There's the port security plan, the coastguard's rescue operations, there's the local police and possibly other agencies to deal with such as the fire crews. "In any one port city you will probably find geographic and functional dividing lines all over the place as to who does what in an emergency," explains Mark Woolley of VSTEP. "If established plans and protocols do not work then it can be very dangerous."

So, according to Mr Woolley, there is a need to practice responses together. Further, there is, according to him, a need to check what is out of the ordinary and needs to trigger a response. He said, "You may do a lot of training on how to intercept and arrest, but how do you recognise what to look for?" His answer is that a multidisciplinary approach works best.

Ideally, he explains, you want an inter-agency tool, one which means port authorities, coastguard, and law enforcement integration.

The old problem is that while even pulling say, a tug away from its routine isn't that easy, simulator training of the off-duty crew is a lot easier to schedule in. There have in the past been lots of criticisms about the effectiveness of this kind of training as it was very basic, using 'generic' ports and terminals - but each port is so varied, "there is a different type of commerce going on, with different types of traffic pattern even across ports that might be relatively close in other ways".

However, with the ongoing push from gaming, tailored set ups are gaining ground. "It is now quite possible for people to train their staff and people from other agencies on a simulation which depicts their own port - even online." These mean you can now replicate a real environment in a way that allows you to try out a security plan - even down to being able to evaluate what the searchlight does and doesn't see. Further, normal and abnormal conditions can be tested: for example, you can change the wave heights or the number of trucks on the road.

Source: Port Strategy