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.