The Training Factor

Article excerpt


Few dimensions of the response to the terror attacks of September 11, 2001 are of greater potential impact than the appropriate security training of transportation professionals. This activity is of particular importance in the maritime and intermodal sectors, in which the vast majority of international trade is moved. This fact is underscored by the rapid development of international conventions, codes of practice, domestic legislation and voluntary initiatives focused on maritime and intermodal security training. This paper surveys key initiatives in security training post-9/11, discusses the response of the U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD), the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) and the United States Coast Guard (USCG), summarizes areas of training focus and content, considers future directions in this area, and investigates some of the ramifications for business associated with these issues.



Ships, ports and the intermodal transportation systems to which they are connected are highly vulnerable to terrorist attacks and other depredatory acts. (Note: "Intermodal" refers to transporting goods in large sealed containers, which can be transferred from one "mode" of transportation to another, e.g., from ship to train, without being unpacked and then re-crated.) Recently these risks and their corresponding vulnerabilities have come under scrutiny by various private and public figures and agencies. Some are greatly concerned by what this examination has uncovered, while others are truly alarmed.

For example, the potential insertion of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) into vessels, vehicles and containers has emerged as a particularly acute risk in this regard. A CIA analysis has concluded that the delivery of WMDs to the United States via these mechanisms is more likely than via ICBMs. (i) In addition to immediate casualties and long-term health risks, it has been calculated that an incident involving the detonation of a radiological dispersion device (RDD, or "dirty bomb") in Washington, D.C. or New York City could produce $40 billion in negative economic impact. (ii)

In addition to their vulnerability as targets, ocean carriers and connecting conveyances such as trucks and trains may also serve as a means of access to terrorist targets and as a means of transportation for terrorists themselves. The interception in October 2001 by Italian authorities of an AI Qaeda operative in a container destined for Canada, complete with bed, bathroom, portable electronics, airport maps, and airline mechanic's certificates is probably suggestive of the "tip of the iceberg."

Terrorist groups have discovered the overall relative ease with which attacks on merchant ships can be successfully undertaken. The attack on the tanker Limburg off Yemen on September 6, 2002 vividly illustrates this vulnerability. Small craft, laden with explosives, can be difficult to detect and intercept in a timely manner and, as was demonstrated in this incident and in the USS Cole bombing, can have great destructive potential.

The taking by terrorists of a vessel underway with the objective of using it as a "floating bomb" or to transport personnel and weapons is a real danger. The susceptibility of cruise ships to terrorist acts was only hinted at years ago by the Achille Lauro incident. Several recent incidents have demonstrated that terrorists are using, or attempting to use, the marine transportation system as a means of access to prospective target nations.

Cargo theft and pilferage as well as the smuggling of drugs, counterfeit merchandise, and other forms of contraband are issues that are not necessarily separate from the problem of maritime terrorism. It is known that terrorist organizations frequently finance their activities through such criminal use and abuse of the transportation system.

Thus, the challenges facing today's maritime security systems are of greater significance and complexity than ever before. …