Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

April 28, 2008

Small Vessel Security Strategy Announced

Filed under: Port and Maritime Security,Strategy — by Jonah Czerwinski on April 28, 2008

DHS today rolled out its Small Vessel Security Strategy (SVSS). The SVSS is designed to reduce risk without needlessly reducing “the freedom of operation common to the nation’s waterways,” according to the Department’s statement.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff cites the bombing of the USS Cole at a port in Yemen in 2000 as evidence that terrorists view the maritime domain as a target. He is quoted as saying that the security paradigm in today’s domestic waterways and port areas rely on an “honor-based neighborhood watch program.” The SVSS, he said, replaces this environment “with an efficient and successful means to combat terrorism along our waterways.”

Readers may recall the National Small Vessel Security Summit that DHS convened in June 2007. Findings from this event informed the SVSS and identified risks associated with the illicit use of small vessels. The SVSS focuses on the following threats:
• waterborne improvised explosive devices;
• use of conveyances for smuggling weapons into the U.S.;
• use of conveyances for smuggling terrorists into the U.S.; and
• use of “waterborne platforms for conducting a stand-off attacks.”

To mitigate these threats, the Small Vessel Security Strategy seeks:
• Better identification of small vessels operating in U.S. waters;
• Expanded radiological/nuclear detection capabilities;
• Improved situational awareness and information sharing;
• Enhanced data analysis to identify high-risk concerns;
• Leveraged technology to enhance the ability to detect, determine intent and when necessary, interdict small vessels; and
• Deepened “coordination, cooperation, and communications between federal, state, local and tribal partners in addition to the private sector and international partners.”

The document actually includes descriptions of the authorities vested in DHS and the overall federal government in implementing this strategy. It also includes details about the roles served by each agency within and outside of DHS, and also a list of relevant interagency institutions. DHS plans next to develop the small vessel security implementation plan to take place this year.

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Comment by Jason

April 28, 2008 @ 11:55 am

Insanity. Although it may be true that small vessels present a challenging vulnerability, the policy solution ought not be to attempt to create some kind of super-monitoring system. I shouldn’t be surprised, but I am dismayed by the lack of vision and clarity here.

Appreciate your posting on the subject, though, certainly this issue needs to be discussed in the clear light of day. There are too many other HLS challenges for people to obsess about the 1 percent solutions.

Comment by Christopher Tingus

April 29, 2008 @ 7:24 am

SVSS implementation very much welcomed and needed with our esteemed DHS leadership portraying its increasing awareness of those seeking our demise utilizing small vessels to threaten our security.

The collaborative vigilant efforts of DHS and the United States Coast Guard are imperative in thwarting any proposed attempts to attack us during this tiem of war. We have seen the use of small vessels as an integral part of the tools used to intimidate and attack us and we must strive to implement SVSS as soon as possible.

With the transition of the new administration to take form shortly, I would be very interested in knowing now what support all candidates have for this and all DHS/FEMA/TSA/Amtrak and other related comprehesnive initiatives to safeguard the good people and this great nation which offers so much hope for so many who understand our great many Blessings enabling us to respect one another versus those who are suppressed and seek to flee their respective governments of self agenda.

This is our watch and while we certainly entrust those in leadership roles we have chosen to post, whether citizen or other, we must utilize the great resources of our country to address the very real threats of the 21st century in addressing our covenants to understand history and its relevance to global challenges today and in the near-future!

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