“Al-Qa’ida and other groups with malevolent intent continue to target energy tankers and offshore energy infrastructure because of their importance to the nation’s economy and national security,” said Stephen L. Caldwell, Director, Homeland Security and Justice Issues, General Accounting Office, during a recent hearing of the House Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations, and Management, Committee on Homeland Security.
While transiting the Strait of Hormuz last year, a Japanese oil tanker, M. Star, was damaged by explosives in a small boat. A group affiliated with al-Qa’ida claimed responsibility for the attack. Additionally, piracy incidents off of the coast of Somali continue unabated.
In May 2011, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), testified Caldwell, issued a press statement that intelligence information showed that throughout 2010 there was continuing interest by members of al-Qa’ida in targeting oil tankers and commercial oil infrastructure at sea.
A full understanding and awareness of what goes on in the maritime environment that could impact, security, safety and the economy--Maritime Domain Awareness, in short--is critical in reducing the threat of terrorism.
Caldwell was one of several notable attendees at a recent event aboard the Presidential yacht S.S. Sequoia marking the launch of a unique security and training alliance that aims to provide important educational tools in the battle against terrorism. The alliance brings together the National Association of State Boating Administrators (NASBLA), Lexington, KY, and the Moran Office of Maritime and Port Security (MOMPS), Woodbridge, NJ, with the National Maritime Law Enforcement Academy (NMLEA), Washington, DC. The result of the partnership means that NASBLA and MOMPS will be able to offer online maritime security training program PortStar through NMLEA.
In October 2005, the Department of Homeland Security awarded a $6.2 million grant to The Florida State University (FSU) Learning Systems Institute to design an online and instructor-led port security training program that would effectively enable federal, state and local law enforcement, and port facilities to comply with the statutory and regulatory requirements.
“As agents and as a maritime security organization, we strive on a daily basis to enhance and protect the ports and vessels we serve 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Our organization exists and operates solely within the maritime domain,” said Jeffrey Millstein, Director of Field Operations, Special Agent in Charge of Maritime, MOMPS (photo, at right).
MOMPS provides a wide range of security services such as exercises, security plan management, inspections, analytical work, fisheries enforcement, anti-piracy, and force protection.
NMLEA provides education and training for law enforcement personnel, as well as for the critical infrastructure industries located on or near the maritime environment. Besides improved tactical operations within an agency, this education also covers coordination among applicable agencies at times of catastrophic events exercising the National Incident Management System (NIMS).
Millstein called the partnership “the stepping stone to curing some of the existing and merging threat vectors that threaten our ports, our nation and people.”
You can see more photos from the event on our Facebook page www.facebook.com/MarineLog.
September 2, 2011