Maritime and Ports

  • SurveillanceSmaller lidars could be mounted on UAVs for underwater scans

    Bathymetric lidars — devices which employ powerful lasers to scan beneath the water’s surface — are used today primarily to map coastal waters. At nearly 600 pounds, the systems are large and heavy, and they require costly, piloted aircraft to carry them. Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) researchers have designed a new approach that could lead to bathymetric lidars that are much smaller and more efficient than the current full-size systems. The new technology would let modest-sized unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) carry bathymetric lidars, lowering costs substantially. These advanced capabilities could support a range of military uses such as anti-mine and anti-submarine intelligence and nautical charting, as well as civilian mapping tasks. In addition, the new lidar could probe forested areas to detect objects under thick canopies.

  • Port securityMobile radio passive radar helps protect ports, coastal communities

    Airports are subject to careful security surveillance, but many coastal towns and ports are not; they often lack radar installations to keep track of small boats, meaning that terrorists could easily use speedboats to approach the coastline and bring explosives on land. Now, researchers have developed a passive surveillance system for littoral regions based on mobile radio illumination called Passive Coherent Location (PCL). It passively employs the continuous radio signals emitted by cell towers to detect suspicious boats, including those speedboats favored by pirates for approaching cargo ships. The fusion with electro-optical or infrared systems allows the classification of the different targets.

  • Port securityBetter regional coordination for port security

    In the days following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, first responders in the Northeast were suddenly responsible for monitoring potential targets, including a military base, nuclear power plants, and a deep water port. Emergency teams soon found out that they were ill-equipped to coordinate with one another. That realization prompted better organization among regional first responders.

  • Container screening100% scanning of U.S.-bound cargo containers delayed until 2016

    DHS has delayed until 2016 the implementation of key sections of the SAFE Port Act of 2006, which requires that 100 percent of U.S.-bound ocean containers be scanned at the foreign port of origin. U.S. importers welcome the news of the delay, but they urge Congress to eliminate the scanning requirement altogether. Some observers note that the mandate, in any event, fails to make clear how DHS defines the word “scanned.”

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  • Port securityIT security at U.S. ports weak: GAO

    The Government Accountability Office (GAO) reports that maritime security policies and plans at three high-risk U.S. ports do not effectively address how to assess, manage, and respond to cybersecurity threats. While all three ports have strategies to deal with physical security, there were few policies that specifically addressed cybersecurity.

  • Container scanningU.K. forwarders “not surprised” by U.S. climb-down on 100 percent container scanning

    One leader of the international freight industry says it was “hardly surprising” to hear the recent news that the United States has delayed new rules requiring all cargo containers entering the United States to be security scanned prior to departure from overseas for two more years, amid questions over whether this is the best way to protect U.S. ports.

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  • Port securityPort security technologies demonstrated in Gothenburg, Sweden

    FOI, the Swedish Defense Research Agency, conducted a demonstration in Gothenburg of technology designed to improve the security of ports around the world. One of the reasons for the research into countering intrusion is that many ports find that they lack good and affordable tools for seaward surveillance, and so find it difficult to guard against terrorist attack and organized crime such as theft, smuggling, and stowaways. FOI has, therefore, created a system that is capable of detecting divers, swimmers, or small craft which might attempt to approach the quayside or a vessel tied up alongside.

  • DisastersConventional theories about Titanic disaster are flawed

    Previously it had been suggested that the seas which sank the famous cruise ship — which set off on its maiden voyage 102 years last week (Thursday 10 April 2014) — had an exceptional number of icebergs caused by lunar or solar effects. A new study finds, however, that the Titanic not unlucky for sailing in a year with an unusually high number of icebergs. In fact, the risk of icebergs higher now than it was in 1912.

  • Port securityBarrier technology strengthens protection at Navy ports

    Advanced technology rules the day in modern warfare — yet one very real threat to the U.S. Navy comes from a simple but deadly enemy strategy: small speed boats laden with explosives ramming into ships in harbor. Now a new maritime security barrier, developed with support from the Office of Naval Research (ONR), could provide a quantum leap in existing sea-port protection.

  • Infrastructure protectionU.S. ports vulnerable to cyberattacks

    New study says that the U.S. largest ports are vulnerable to cyberattacks.The study argues that the level of cyber security awareness and culture in U.S. port facilities is relatively low, and that a cyberattack at a major U.S. port would quickly cause significant damage to the economy.

  • PortsDHS asked to help shield Port of Hueneme from the effects of sequestration

    The Port of Hueneme is the only deep-water port between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Sequestration-related budget cuts mean the port’s six CBP and two Department of Agriculture inspectors can no longer work on Saturdays, or work overtime. This means that ships arriving at the port now have to wait outside until inspectors are available – at a cost to carriers of between $25,000 and $50,000 per day depending on the size of the ship. Port authorities and local businesses are worried that it will not be long before carriers direct their ships to other ports.

  • InfrastructureAmerica’s outdated waterways, ports hurting economy

    Underinvestment in America’s inland waterways cost American businesses approximately $33 billion in 2010. Without a significant increase in investment, that number could increase to $49 billion by 2020. If improvements are not made, 80 percent of American locks will be functionally obsolete by 2020. The extended failure of just one lock can cost agriculture exporters up to $45 million and barge operators as much as $163 million.

  • Nuclear smugglingU.S. cuts budget for nuclear monitoring at foreign ports

    In 2003 the United States decided to install radiation detection equipment in 100 large ports around the world, and train local personnel in using the equipment, so that ship containers could be scanned for nuclear material before the ship left for the United States; so far, equipment has been deployed in forty-two ports; after GAO criticism of the quality of the scanning equipment and of lack of coordination between two similar container scanning programs, the National Nuclear Security Administration’s 2013 budget will be cut by 85 percent, and further installations will be canceled

  • MaritimeAs maritime security rises, pirate attacks are down

    In the past four years Somali pirates have attacked 800 ships and taken 3,400 people hostage. Now shipping companies which regularly go through the Indian Ocean are fighting back by hiring private security, and the scales have tipped

  • Border securityDHS submersible Pluto mimics the real narco-subs

    In the early 1990s, South American drug cartels came up with a new tactic to transport narcotics destined for the United States: small, radar-dodging, self-propelled, semi-submersibles (SPSSs); better to address the submersible problem, DHS Science and Technology Directorate created its own submersible and called it Pluto, after the planet which is difficult to spot