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Port Maritime Legislation

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Port Maritime Legislation

The SMART Port Security Act enhances security programs within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). It was passed following the recognition that the security of US waterways is crucial for national security. A simple disruption of any port of the US could have dire consequences on the nation’s supply chain hence damaging the economy (Richardson, 2012). At the core of the legislation are risk-based security measures that emphasize collaboration between the Coast Guard and the Customs and Border Protection. To achieve this objective, the Act:

a) Allows the DHS to recognize Trusted Shipper Programs of other countries

b) Allows the Coast Guard to recognize the security threat assessments of other governments or organizations

c) Requires the DHS to enhance interagency cooperation through constant updates of the US Maritime Operations Coordination Plan

d) Overhauls the Transportation Worker Identification Credentials program to curb unauthorized use and improve enrollee efficiency

e) Requires the CPB to adopt risk-based standard practices during the deployment of assets

The Security and Accountability For Every Port (SAFE) Act, 2006 is an Act of Congress. The main objective of the legislation is to tighten the security at ports in the US. A gambling provision was added to the legislation at the final moments before enactment. The provisions in this Act spring from some 20 bills that were introduced to the Congress following the controversy of the Dubai Ports World that aimed at blocking the acquisition of P&O Ports by Dubai World Ports and barring the US from exploitation by foreign owners (US Government Accountability Office, 2014). With the act, a range of programs were codified into law that have seen an improvement of security at the US ports namely

Container security initiative

Port security grant program

Foreign port assessments

Transportation worker identity credentials

Requirements for maritime facilities

Partnership against terrorism

Interagency operations centers

The Small Vessel Security Strategy was devised to alleviate any risks of using small vessels to smuggle weapons of mass destruction or terrorists into the US. The strategy was also meant to alleviate threats of such vessels being used as standoff weapon platforms or a simple route to attacking the US directly with the waterborne improvised explosive device. This strategy also gives a clear definition of small vessel communities and the locates the areas where they prevail. The strategy outlines the best way forward in controlling and managing maritime risks, ensuring that the potential consequences of the attack through small vessels is eliminated in time (US Government Accountability Office, 2014). This approach requires the integration of various sectors and agencies. The salient goals of this vital security strategy include:

a) To tighten the safety and security of maritime zones through a simple and clear approach that lays down the framework for action in the event of the threat

b) To establish stronger working relationships with the vessel communities and various private and public sectors dealing with vessels for purposes of promoting the awareness of US maritime domains

c) To acquire state-of-the-art technology that facilitates for detecting suspect vessels that pose security threats and getting rid of them through security measures and penalties

d) To foster cooperation among all sectors, including local, tribal, state, federal, international, public and private sectors to adopt one approach towards maritime safety and security. In doing so, the Department of State alongside other federal agencies will be involved.


Richardson, W. (2012). House Passes SMART Port Security Act, among others. Retrieved 18

November 2014 from Government Accountability Office (2014). Maritime Security: The SAFE Port Act and

Efforts to Secure our Nation’s Seaports. Retrieved 18 November 2014 from

U.S. Government Accountability Office. (2014). Maritime Security: DHS could Benefit 18

November 2014 from Tracking Progress in Implementing the Small Vessel Security Strategy. Retrieved from

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