Securing America's Ports: The Heritage Foundation's Research

Report Homeland Security

Securing America's Ports: The Heritage Foundation's Research

March 1, 2006 7 min read
The Heritage Foundation

The sale of facilities at six U.S ports by a British-based company to Dubai World Ports, a government-owned company in the United Arab Emirates, has raised concerns among many in the homeland security community. These concerns reflect the importance of the maritime domain, which cannot be overestimated. Almost one-third of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product is derived from trade, and ninety-five percent of American overseas trade traffics the maritime domain. According to the American Association of Port Authorities, $1.3 billion worth of U.S. goods move in and out of U.S. ports every day. In addition, many major urban centers (comprising upwards of half the U.S. population) and significant critical infrastructure are in proximity to U.S. ports or accessible by waterways. Heritage research has long focused on developing security solutions that make Americans safer, make the best use of our tax dollars, and ensure that the United States will remain economically competitive in the 21st century. Nowhere are these goals more important to pursue simultaneously than in port security.


Security and the Sale of Port Facilities: Facts and Recommendations

by James Jay Carafano, Ph.D., and Alane Kochems

February 22, 2006

Because Congress has not taken the opportunity to review the CFIUS procedure since its implementation in 1988, it should take 45 days to review the Dubai World Ports deal. The country needs confidence in the procedures meant to ensure that foreign investment does not harm national security, and this reasonable delay for review is the way to provide it.


GreenLane Maritime Cargo Security Act: A Good First Attempt

by Alane Kochems

January 26, 2006

The GreenLane Maritime Cargo Security Act (S. 2008), recently introduced by Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Patty Murray (D-WA), has numerous laudable objectives. These include increasing security for cargo and seaports, minimizing closures of U.S. seaports in case of an accident or attack, providing layered secu­rity in the supply chain, "pushing out" U.S. borders, and focusing resources on suspect cargo. How­ever, the legislation as written also contains provisions that should be removed or modified.


Countdown to 9/11: Five Fixes for Homeland Security by the Fifth Anniversary of the Attacks

by James Jay Carafano, Ph.D.

January 23, 2006

If deadly cargo such as a nuclear bomb or a biological agent reaches American shores, it will be too late. Maritime security means preventing dangerous cargo from ever entering a U.S. port, and this is the domain of the U.S. Coast Guard. Yet the Coast Guard's modernization program is seriously underfunded.


Taking a Global Approach to Maritime Security

by Alane Kochems

September 22, 2005

As a matter of common sense, the United States should not attempt to make every cargo container and port into a miniature Fort Knox. Securing trade requires a more comprehen­sive and effective approach than just putting up fences and gates, posting guards at ports, and inspecting all cargo containers as they enter the country.


The Future of the Coast Guard: A View From the Top

by Jack Spencer

August 11, 2005

In the past, as in World War II, the Coast Guard dedicated a large portion of its operational assets to the protection of America's ports, with a port security component larger than today's entire Guard. However, as the end of the 20th century approached, assets dedicated to port and coastal security fell to two percent of the Coast Guard's operational force.


The Specter of Pork Barrel Homeland Security

by Keith Miller and James Jay Carafano, Ph.D.

April 8, 2005

An in-house review of the port security grant program questioned the merits of several hundred port security projects. In general, rural, less-populated areas continue to receive a disproportionate amount of funding.


Making the Sea Safer: A National Agenda for Maritime Security and Counterterrorism by James Jay Carafano, Ph.D., and Alane Kochems

February 17, 2005

(Special Report #03)

The United States must develop a "system of systems" maritime architecture with strong domestic and foreign components, as well as public-private sector partnerships.


Homeland Security Dollars and Sense #2: Misplaced Maritime Priorities

by James Jay Carafano, Ph.D.

February 2, 2005

Maritime commerce is essential to America's economic vitality. Most goods that enter and leave our shores travel by sea. But this economic lifeline also offers terrorists vast opportunities to exploit or attack ships, ports, and waterways. Nowhere should the need for strategic spending be more apparent. Yet, nowhere is it more apparent that Congress has failed to target spending where it could provide the most security.


Homeland Security and Emerging Economies

by James Jay Carafano, Ph.D., and Ha Nguyen

September 14, 2004

Good security costs money. The International Shipping and Port Security (ISPS) code offer a case in point. Established by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in the wake of 9/11, the ISPS code mandates new, unprecedented measures for securing commercial shipping. The ISPS code requires commercial ships to carry an automatic identification system so that their location can be plotted at any moment in the event of an onboard emergency.


Protectionism Compromises America's Homeland Security by James Jay Carafano, Ph.D., Tim Kane, Ph.D., Dan Mitchell, Ph.D., and Ha Nguyen

July 9, 2004

Applying protectionist policies to homeland security would stifle innovation and increase costs


Before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation

by James Jay Carafano, Ph.D.

March 24, 2004

"Another issue that might be addressed is the requirement for Deepwater systems to provide security on the waterside of the ports. Most security plans acknowledge that security on the landside of port facilities is the responsibility of the port. There is often, however, an assumption that security of the water around the port should be the responsibility of the U.S. Coast Guard."


U.S. Foreign Assistance After September 11: Major Changes, Competing Purposes, and Different Standards-But Is There an Overall Strategy?

by Marc A. Miles, Ph.D.

February 26, 2004

The International Maritime Organization's International Shipping and Port Security (ISPS) code requires that ports implement specific security measures by July 2004. The consequence of not meeting this deadline is alienation from trade until the country fulfills security demands. While these new security regulations attempt to address serious vulnerabilities of maritime commerce, emerging countries find themselves scrambling for financial resources to support security rules, for the consequence of not meeting the deadline could be devastating to a small economy. 


The APEC Forum: Time to Make a Difference

by Dana R. Dillon, Balbina Y. Hwang, John J. Tkacik, Jr., James Jay Carafano, Ph.D., and Sara J. Fitzgerald

October 10, 2003

Inspecting the millions of containers that transit the Pacific Ocean every day would be a virtually impossible task. The United States has developed a strategy that focuses inspections on "high-risk" cargo from less reputable shippers or persons with suspected terrorist links. The objective of the U.S. approach is to investigate containers at the port of origin, interdicting threats long before they reach their intended destination and removing dangers not only to the intended target, but also to intervening ports of call.


The Role of the Coast Guard in Homeland Security

by Admiral James M. Loy

December 21, 2001

Maritime industries contribute over $1 trillion annually to the gross domestic product. Over 95 percent of our commerce is carried on through the seaports. We have about 95,000 miles of coastline in this country, and 3.5 million square miles of EEZ (exclusive economic zone). More than 7,500 ships and 200,000 sailors make 51,000 port calls every year in the United States. And those ships carry 6.5 million passengers, 1 billion tons of petroleum, and 6 million containers a year--that's 16,000 a day.


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