The constant activity at the Port of Baltimore gives a sense of the importance of ports and waterways to the U.S. economy. According to the American Association of Port Authorities, more than two billion tons of domestic and import/export cargo pass through the nation’s 360 commercial sea and river ports each year.
At the Port of Baltimore, public and private terminals handled 22.3 million tons of cargo valued at $30.2 billion in 2009. Each day, freighters and container ships arrive and depart loaded with everything from vehicles to fresh produce to an array of consumer goods. The safety and security of those commercial operations is a priority.
“Our Facility Security Plan not only focuses on the incoming and outgoing cargo, but also on helping to protect the port facilities, vessels and people who work here,” explains H. G. Bud Frank, director of security for the Maryland Port Administration. “It guides the security regulations we put in place, and our response to potential threats and vulnerabilities.”
The Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002 requires that all American seaports have comprehensive security plans, and mandates identification and screening of all personnel with access to the port. The Security and Accountability for Every Port Act, signed by President Bush in 2006, sets additional standard operating procedures for maritime facilities.
“There is a large group of state, federal, private and civilian partners that works together to ensure the port’s security,” says Capt. Richard Ricko, port detachment commander of the Maryland Transportation Authority Police Department. “Without the core team of the Maryland Port Administration, The Maryland Transportation Authority Police and Securitas USA, keeping the port safe and secure would be a much more daunting task.”
Access control of vehicles, cargo and people is the primary responsibility of the Securitas USA team. At the port’s Personally Owned Vehicle gate and two main truck gates, Securitas USA officers check IDs and drivers’ licenses, and use the port’s Gate Pass System to verify that the person has authorized business at the port. License plate numbers and cargo container numbers are documented as trucks enter and leave the premises.
“One reason why the Port of Baltimore is preferred by many import and export companies is our effective security program and excellent loss prevention record,” Frank commented. “Things don’t tend to disappear here.”
Additionally Securitas USA provides maritime security services including patrolling the port’s perimeter fences and, when requested, escorting visitors to the port or a vessel who don’t hold a Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) card. For unaccompanied access to secure port areas, federal law requires a biometric, tamper-proof TWIC that includes the person’s name, a current photograph and the name of the issuing authority.
“Eighty Securitas USA officers work at the port permanently, but we have additional officers qualified and ready to augment the security team on short notice if the MARSEC level rises,” says Josh Brownstein, Securitas USA branch manager in Baltimore. “The size of the security force also varies according to cargo ship schedules at the various terminals.”
Another variable is the arrival and departure of cruise ships using the Port of Baltimore. Securitas USA officers control access to the terminal where a total of 91 cruises and nearly 200,000 passengers embarked during 2010. All deliveries of provisions to cruise ships are escorted by Securitas USA officers.
“Securitas USA understands the security requirements of a maritime facility and has been a great partner in our security efforts,” says Frank. “We place a high value on their contribution to maintaining a safe environment here.”