U.S. Port Security: A work in progress

Port authorities contend that without a method of enforcement, supply chain security has little chance of truly enhancing safety. Here’s a closer look at the different paths U.S. ports are taking in route to establishing standards and adhering to new regulation mandates.

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America’s seaports are taking several different paths toward providing shippers with safe and secure commerce. And while some are more heavily reliant on sophisticated container screening systems, others are concentrating on vetting supply chain partners and intermediaries.

At the same time, all ports are mandated to comply with new U.S. regulatory rules while remaining poised to anticipate new changes in international law. Any way you slice it, security will continue to be a market differentiator and competitive tool for our ocean cargo gateways well into the future.

However, since there are an estimated 360 seaports in the U.S., no single security solution fits every gateway, says American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) spokesman Aaron Ellis.

“Some ports are dealing solely with bulk and break bulk cargo, so container scanning is not going to work,” he says.

“And others may chiefly have roll-on/roll off and project cargo,” he adds. “But for the major container ports, the standards are fairly uniform.”

Joe Lawless, the Massachusetts Port Authority’s (Massport) director of maritime security, agrees with Ellis, adding that 100 percent container screening will have to be customized to be effective. “Some ports will concentrate on screening for radiation, while others will place a higher emphasis concentration on routine inspection,” he says. “In any case, it’s one of the critical pieces that’s only being worked out right now.”



About the Author

Patrick Burnson, Executive Editor
Patrick Burnson is executive editor for Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management Review magazines and web sites. Patrick is a widely-published writer and editor who has spent most of his career covering international trade, global logistics, and supply chain management. He lives and works in San Francisco, providing readers with a Pacific Rim perspective on industry trends and forecasts. You can reach him directly at [email protected]

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