February 26, 2002
Madam Chair, members of the committee. Thank you for this opportunity to address you on the important matter of Port security. Enhancing security is the top priority for America's ports today.
Safety and protection have been of paramount concern to the Port of Long Beach. Prior to the events of September 11, our focus was primarily crime prevention with an emphasis on cargo theft. Following the tragic terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the focus of our efforts to protect the Port and facilitate commerce and the free flow of goods has been broadened to include prevention and response to acts of terrorism.
Besides being one of the world's busiest seaports, the Port of Long Beach (as well as the Ports of Oakland and San Diego in California) is part of the National Port Readiness Network. This designation by the Maritime Administration requires the Port to be prepared and ready 24/7 to respond to national emergencies whether they are military or civil in nature. Our deepwater entryway is a federal navigational channel that must remain clear and operational at all times so that ships carrying strategic cargo can enter or exit the Port unimpeded.
The roadways and railways leading to these load-out centers must be adequately secured to provide for movement of goods and people. While the Port of Long Beach's role in responding to national emergencies is a major one strategically, each and every port in the United States has the potential for playing a significant part in the security of this country by serving as a conduit for a sound national economy.
Long before the events of September 11, the Port of Long Beach realized a need for maintaining the highest levels of security possible. To that end, the Port of Long Beach has proactively developed a port security plan to create and maintain a level of security that might serve as a model for the maritime industry.
Over the last decade, the Port of Long Beach created a Port Crime and Security Committee. Made up of industry stakeholders; terminal operators; federal, state, and local law enforcement agency representatives; and terminal security officials; we meet on an ongoing basis to discuss issues related to crime, safety and security. These meetings shaped the infrastructure and opened lines of communications among industry and law enforcement responsible for the safety of the people who work in the ports and the security of the cargo that move through it. Since September 11, we have been operating at a heightened security level. We have increased the number of committees and task forces to address the expanded needs and new charge for greater protection of our port.
Greater security is not limited simply to the movement of cargo through the Port. Every capital project that we undertake now has a new element built into it. Our plans for a new bridge or pier, widening of a channel, or erecting a crane all now must include considerations for security enhancements. We have recently completed a detailed security assessment of our waterfront facilities, including Port Harbor Patrol, Long Beach Police Department, and the U.S. Coast Guard, and expect that this assessment will suggest improvements or upgrades. Those refinements will require funding not heretofore anticipated.
Basically, what I am saying is that the new demands for security will require new sources of funds. Funding considerations should be given to supplement the manpower needs of the participating federal and local law enforcement agencies. We especially would like to emphasize our support for increased funding for the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Customs Service. Approximately 35% of all waterborne cargo that comes into the United States comes through the Los Angeles/Long Beach Port Complex, so the workload of these two agencies is many times above the level expected of them in other ports throughout the country.
The Port of Long Beach believes there needs to be increased funding for the U.S. ports and federal agencies, as well as a proper balance of dollars and personnel to the ports with the greatest cargo volumes and vulnerabilities.
It is my honor to serve as Chairman of the American Association of Port Authorities. AAPA strongly supports federal programs aimed at protecting America's seaports from acts of terrorism and other federal crimes. Following September 11, ports took immediate action and have invested millions of dollars to heighten security at their facilities. AAPA believes increased funding is required for the federal agencies that take the lead on maritime security, such as the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Customs as I noted previously.
In addition, America's public ports need federal financial help to implement security enhancements in a timely and effective manner. The $93.3 million provided by Congress is a good first step, but significantly more money is needed. Because each port has unique characteristics, a one-size-fits-all approach does not work. Seaport security should be coordinated at the local level, working with the U.S. Coast Guard Captain of the Port to establish local security committees and develop appropriate security measures based on threat and vulnerability assessments.
There are a number of other initiatives that could be examined in a review of seaport security issues as they relate to international maritime traffic into and out of the ports. Automatic Identification Systems (AIS) that provide a ship's identity, position, course and speed, seafarer identification and background check, port of origin container examinations, are all items that need further investigation.
I would be remiss if I did not make special note of the exemplary job done by the Coast Guard following the tragic events of September 11. They deserve recognition for taking the lead in exerting positive control over the Port at a time when confidence and assurance were needed. The Coast Guard continues to play an instrumental role in our efforts to keep our people and the Port of Long Beach safe.
In closing, I thank you Madam Chair and all the members of The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Technology, Terrorism and Government Information for your interest and concern in seaport security issues.