Operation Safe Commerce enters Phase III

By: | at 08:00 PM | Channel(s): International Trade  Ports & Terminals  

Goal to help set international standardsBy Karen E. Thuermer, AJOTHomeland security is at the forefront of the news on any given day, but with terrorism threats always in the wind, efforts are moving along to standardize security among seaports in the United States and around the globe so that everyone is on the same track, trade moves, and terrorist schemes are blocked.
One of the programs forging ahead to do just that is Operation Safe Commerce (OSC), which is federally funded and within the Department of Homeland Security at the Office of Domestic Preparedness (ODP).
Essentially, OSC is a three-phase test-bed for new security techniques to improve methods currently being used in shipping containers from an overseas point of origin to a US point of distribution. The goal of OSC is to identify supply chain vulnerabilities and improve methods and technologies to ensure the security of cargo entering and leaving the United States.
Prior to the terrorist attacks on 9/11 and the formation of the Department of Homeland Security, the major security concern for ports was theft prevention. But, as in other industries, the focus is changing.
“OSC is a large scale test involving different types of solutions for improving the security of containers within the supply chain from something that is harmful such as weapons of mass destruction illicitly transported through the supply chain in a container,” comments George Cummings, Director of Homeland Security for the Port of Los Angeles.
Three seaports are participating as Load Centers for the project: the Ports of Los Angeles/Long Beach; Tacoma/Seattle and New York/New Jersey.
“The goal of this partnership is to test and share best technological solutions and practices to improve the security of containerized cargo entering the United States,” reports Branda Napper, SLGCP Public Affairs with the US Department of Homeland Security in Washington, DC.
While details surrounding the program are top secret, the program goes beyond the obvious—barbed wire, video surveillance and chain-link fencing—and focuses on strategies, systems and information flow that surrounds goods in motion.
“Our job is to coordinate the program,” comments Cummings. “Our project managers put together trade lanes, which will serve as the venue in which the testing occurs. The project manager selects different types of solutions to be tested, conducts the tests for the ports, then funnels the information through us and back to ODP.”
All tests are coordinated with the federal government to make sure there are no redundancies.
“Almost everything that is being looked at would be replicated across all trade lanes,” Cummings says. “The goal is to come up with national solutions. As a result, there is not much we are looking at that is specific to the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles. The only difference is, our trade lanes are in the Pacific Rim, so we deal primarily with Asia trade, which is different from the Port of New York/New Jersey.”
What to expect
With Phase II (or OSC-II) recently completed, work will soon begin on Phase III (OSC-III).
“The framework for OSC-III was established in OSC-II with the identification of operational supply chain nodes,” points out Napper. “OSC-III projects address the operational trade lane nodes through the extensive testing of a wide range of container security technologies and solutions for three international supply chains.”
OSC-II identified gaps and vulnerabilities in the supply chain as well as technologies being introduced to will those gaps or vulnerabilities. To complete the testing, a total of 450 containers were moved through the supply chain. OSC-III will move significantly more with a target of 1,000 containers.
“Those containers will be put through three container security projects, administered by the Load Centers under OSC-III,” explains Napper. “Each Load Center is to address a single project and look for shortcomings in container security. These projects, while havin

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American Journal of Transportation