DHS convened a major National Small Vessel Security Summit late last year, and the after action report is now available. While I first considered small boat security to be about asÂ niche a topic as is possible (with more public affairs appeal than public policy), this report shows a heck of a lot of work went into the effort of making the event productive and relevant on a national scale.Â The report was prepared by the Homeland Security Institute and, at 122 pages, is a daunting read. Especially with so few pictures. HLSWatch readers get the cliffs notes.Â Main recommendations of the effort are as follows:
1.Â AIS tracking technologies should not be required for vessels under 65 feet in length until the technology is perfected (read: likely never), the cost of such technology significantly reduced (read: paid by the Feds), and until law enforcement has the ability to track and respond to all vessels in the maritime domain (read: moveable goalpost). RFID technology or other OnStar-like monitoring features can be used in the meantime.
2.Â The National Homeland Security Strategy needs a component that represents a National Small Vessel Security Strategy based on a layered defense. (Echoes of the WME Task Force.) This strategy should not, the report explains, focus on deterring a specific type of terrorist attack but should enhance the overall safety and security of the maritime domain. Rightly, the forum recommends that the strategy provide for guidance in coordination with international partners.
3.Â Licensing, registration, or tracking of small boats used by private individuals should be accomplished by DHS with the lightest of touch. Failing to do so will be costly, ineffective, and rood (it will â€œalienate the small vessel operatorâ€).
4.Â State, local, tribal, and territorial maritime law enforcement entities need additional funding because, in addition to â€œother public safety and security missions,â€ this is too much.
5.Â Establish a universal hotline telephone number, similar to the National Response Center 1-800 number, for the boating community to use in reporting suspicious activities and emergency situations.
6.Â States could add a boat operator credential — like those required for tractor trailer or school bus drivers — to their state driver licenses. This could lead to a national boat registry for use by law enforcement agencies.
7.Â The U.S. should enhance international cooperation and intelligence sharing with â€œour foreign counterparts,â€ especially Mexico, Canada, and countries of the Caribbean because these nations are the most likely departure points for a small vessel terrorist attack from overseas.
8.Â More fusion centers! The report explains that conference participants felt that additional fusion centers would enable stakeholders to better share, analyze, and disseminate intelligence to with the USCG, CPB, U.S. Navy, the Harbor Master and state and local law enforcement agencies.
9.Â Permanent Employment of the DNDO Act: Conference participants believe that federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial law enforcement agencies should be â€œprovided with nuclear detection devices so they can detect radioactive signatures on small vessel and in cargo.â€ The rest of this language is worth reprinting:
The cost of such equipment requires federal guidance and oversight. In addition, the federal government should develop RAD/NUC detection devices with a stand-off capability in order to provide detection without directly impacting small vessel operators. The federal government should also consider placing nuclear detection devices on commercial vessels in a partnership to increase the chance of detecting a nuclear device or nuclear material before it reaches a major U.S. port or population center. Lastly, the federal government needs to strengthen counter-proliferation initiatives with our foreign counterparts to prevent shipments of WMD, their delivery systems, or related materials from reaching the U.S. maritime domain.