Port of Charleston is one of the busiest container ports along the United States' Southeast and Gulf coasts. Moving more than 600,000 pier containers per year and ranked 8th largest U.S. port in cargo value, with $50 billion in annual shipments, Charleston is recognized as North America's most efficient and productive port. As a vital hub for global freight transfer, implementing a site protection solution that would safeguard facility infrastructure without adverse affect to flow of cargo was a critical goal.
Wando Welch Terminal is Port of Charleston's largest terminal, both in cargo volume and physical size. Jeff Brown, HNTB consultant and contractor to South Carolina State Port Authority, has managed the SCSPA security program since 2005. Overseeing perimeter protection and access control for the Port's terminals, he was tasked with enhancing Waldo Welch's perimeter security system. As the Coast Guard representative responsible for reviewing South Carolina State Port Authority's facility security plan, Jeff Brown evolved into directing Port of Charleston's security operations when a consultant with his credentials was needed to customize a plan complying with new legislation.
Identifying the Challenges
In evaluating program options, Brown considered the Port's unique security challenges. Prior to 9/11, ensuring secure transfer of cargo was a key focus at Wando Welch Terminal, and roving patrols by Port Police managed loss prevention. With the prospect of terrorist breach, a system that could reliably detect and monitor disturbances at the perimeter became the new paradigm.
A must for Brown was finding a solution that successfully addressed a marine environment; one that remained in near constant motion between ship, vehicle and foot traffic. This scenario would trigger nuisance alarms in most security systems, so the new system needed the intelligence to recognize and ignore traditional environmental disturbances to avoid desensitizing monitoring personnel with false positives.
Another challenge was balancing the divergent priorities of airtight terminal security and efficient cargo transfer. By definition, complex counter-terror measures had the potential to slow the pace of a facility consistently recognized for high productivity.
It was imperative to narrow the solutions to those that delivered superior intrusion detection without being cumbersome to administrate.
"At the very core, Port Operations and Port Security are 180 degrees out of phase because Operations wants to move cargo as quickly as possible. It's all based on turn times," Brown explained. "But you've got shipping lines that rely on the Port Authority to securely transfer their cargo and 105 Regulations in place, so Port Police needs the security of the terminal ensured."
Brown describes working through these conflicting issues as one of the most difficult functions he performs, and cites strong communication as the key to effectively bridging the gap between Operations and Security. He coordinates closely with port operations, engineering, IT and maintenance teams. He also regularly consults port police, customs and border protection, the U.S. Coast Guard, and Project Seahawk - an innovative pilot program at Port of Charleston created by Congress under the guidance of the Department of Justice to enhance port security operations, capabilities and coordination. By understanding and addressing the needs of each of these constituents, Brown has managed to deliver a security program that satisfies all parties.
Mapping out security program expansion guidelines for each of the facility's five non-continuous terminals was Port of Charleston's greatest challenge. "105 Regulations say that you have to monitor your perimeter and access points, but it's up to the individual entities to figure out how to comply," Brown explained.
To address this responsibly, Brown and his team formulated a comprehensive Security Improvement Plan - an industry best-practice concept incorporating solutions that delivered the protection required by Port Authorities, and addressed the risks identified by the Port during vulnerability assessments. "To put together a plan of this magnitude, we had to take a holistic approach," outlined Brown. "There was extensive coordination between Operations and Security. Each of the Port's various internal and external constituents were consulted."
Traffic flow at each terminal was evaluated toward restricted area boundary redefinition, and detailed site diagrams and project cost estimates were developed. The plan eventually included equipment design and performance specifications for the initial upgrade at Wando Welch Terminal. "This master plan has been critical to the success of Port of Charleston's security program," Brown emphasized. "All affected parties agreed on it. Everybody understands what is expected, how it will be delivered and what the price tag will be." In fact, Brown reports that the plan's elaborate detail has been an important factor in the Port's ongoing success in securing grant monies for bringing the security upgrades to fruition.
Related Articles :
1950 W Rose Garden Lane
Phoenix, AZ 85027-2748
Tel: + 1 602 4249842
Fax: + 1 206 3383793