Written by Dr. Robyn A. Kapperman, Office of Port and Facility Compliance, Domestic Ports Division
Area Maritime Security Committees (AMSCs) provide a valuable forum to discuss and address maritime security issues at the port level. The committees are comprised of subject matter experts from Federal, Territorial, Tribal, State, and Local agencies as well as public and private port stakeholders to ensure the safety, security, and resilience of our nation’s critical Marine Transportation System (MTS). The 43 AMSCs submit an annual report to the Office of Port and Facility Compliance (CG-FAC) detailing their activities and common issues relating to challenges, suggestions, accomplishments, and best practices. The consolidated report assists CG-FAC and other program offices to devise national strategies to address common problems, emerging threats, and measure AMSCs alignment with national preparedness goals.
Some of the highlights in the newly released report included:
• In 2020, AMSCs and their respective subcommittees collectively facilitated 1,843 events (many events made possible using virtual platforms). This total included 793 administrative AMSC meetings (e.g., Executive Steering Committees and General AMSC meetings) and 1,050 training specific events (includes 137 joint agency training meetings, 800 maritime security training operations, 82 training exercises, 28 Incident Command System training sessions, and 3 MTS Recovery Unit training sessions). These coordinated opportunities resulted in effective, real world security prevention, response, and recovery efforts.
• Cybersecurity. The majority of the AMSCs have established cyber subcommittees to address cybersecurity risks. Many of these subcommittees reported increased participation from port partners in 2020. AMSCs are exploring opportunities and developing strategies to enhance cybersecurity across information sharing platforms within their local and state networks, and developing cyber-related exercises within their port-wide areas.
• Information Sharing. AMSCs used alternative means to communicate information to their port partners during the COVID-19 pandemic. Conference calls, monthly newsletters and virtual platforms (e.g., Microsoft Teams, DHS Homeland Security Information Network [HSIN]) were utilized to update members on subcommittee activities, virtual training opportunities, and situational awareness of local concerns.
AMSCs are an essential part of the maritime security regime and must continue to evolve and adapt accordingly to combat emerging threats while ensuring the unimpeded flow of commerce. Security challenges, whether physical or cyber related, remain a constant fixture and continue to pose potential adverse impacts to our critical waterways. Continued collaboration, information sharing, and coordination via AMSCs are vital to mitigating risks to the Maritime Domain.
For additional information on the AMSCs, contact Dr. Robyn Kapperman at Robyn.A.Kapperman@uscg.mil.