Terminal Operators and Their Role in U.S. Port and Maritime Security [Updated January 19, 2007]   [open pdf - 135KB]

"The failed attempt by Dubai Ports World (DP World) to operate marine terminals at some U.S. ports raises the issue of whether foreign marine terminal operators pose a threat to U.S. homeland security. […] Evaluating the potential security ramifications of foreign-based terminal operators requires first understanding how ports work and who is in charge of their security. […] The Coast Guard is in charge of the security of port facilities and vessels, and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is in charge of the security of cargo. Coast Guard regulations and CBP security guidelines require terminal operators to provide basic security infrastructure, such as fences, gates, and surveillance cameras, and follow certain security practices when handling cargo. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is developing a credentialing process for screening port workers. […] The necessity of pushing the border out to counter the terrorist threat requires the cooperation of shippers, carriers, ports, and border agencies in the country of origin to take security precautions with U.S.-bound cargo. […] Thus, a key issue for policymakers is deciding under what conditions the United States should trust foreign cargo-handling entities and whether they should be treated as partners in securing U.S. supply lines. […] In its oversight role, Congress is assessing the effectiveness of Coast Guard and CBP maritime security initiatives and faces pressing questions about the overall security of ports and maritime commerce."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, RL33383
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