- Cargo & Facilities

8/27/2014: 2014 AMSC Conference awards presentation and energy revolution, mariner situational awareness and cyber security

The Transportation Research Board hosted the 15th Biennial Harbor Safety Committee and Area Maritime Security Committee Conference, in Philadelphia, Pa. August 26-27th, 2014. The conference explored best practices, innovations and technology that address critical harbor and maritime safety and security issues.

Rear Adm. Charles Michel, deputy commandant for operations for the Coast Guard, was the keynote speaker at the conference and presented awards for two separate award recipients.

Awards were presented to the Port of Boston Area Maritime Security Committee for the AMSC of the Year award and to San Francisco Bay Area Harbor Safety Committee for the HSC of the Year award.

“The port environment, in my opinion, is really the most complex security and safety environment there is out there. It is a mix of private, public, federal, state, local, commercial activities, recreational activities and a whole range of different users…and all this stuff has to be managed as a system,” said Michel, “It requires that public and private partnerships and the AMSC and the HSCs do the job of integrating those individual facilities or individual vessels into a whole so it can act as an entire mechanism that can provide that basic level of safety and security.”

During his remarks, Michel on three new and emerging topics, energy revolution, improving mariner situational awareness and cyber security. Maritime Commons will provide the key take-aways from Michel’s remarks.

Energy revolution

Michel cited four leading factors in regard to the energy revolution currently facing the United States:

• Importation of oil is drastically reduced

• Making preparations to export liquefied natural gas

• Exportation gas-condensate is allowed

• Vessels being designed to operate on liquefied natural gas

“In the past, we’ve had a heavy reliance on imports. If this changes, this is going to be a major deal,” said Michel, “For all folks who work in the maritime transportation system, you are going to be the leading tip of the spear on this effort as it drives forward because this will not happen without the use of the maritime transportation system. Every molecule of exported product is going by water.”

The first major LNG export facility, in Lake Charles, La., is scheduled to be operational next year. Michel pointed out that this is not only a capacity challenge but also a competency challenge. These new developments need to be addressed in partnership with port partners, the AMSCs, HSCs, and other stakeholders.

Improving mariner situational awareness

Michel stated that his goal was to improve situational awareness and not to eliminate any piece of infrastructure, electronic or physical, but to take advantage of emerging technologies that allow the maritime community to create a shared synchronized operating picture that involves all potential users and stakeholders.

Michel wants stakeholders to be looking at how we can use and take advantage of technology to improve situational awareness.

“Technology is changing things in some amazing ways and you are being provided with unparalleled situational awareness at your fingertips,” said Michel, “… this emerging technology piece is something we’re going to have to get our arms around and it’s going to have to be done in conjunction with all stakeholders.”

Cyber security

“So you’ve got all these really cool technologies,” said Michel, “Well guess what…every time you use that technology…it creates vulnerability.”

Michel spoke about tackling these vulnerabilities through resilience planning.

“If you don’t have your stuff in order, you’re not going to be able to go back and take care of business after the fact. We’ve already had some incidents. The good part about it, from the AMSC perspective, is that there is already a framework in place,” said Michel.

Michel discussed how the AMSC came to be through the Maritime Transportation Act of 2002.

“The Act doesn’t only talk about physical security incidents but it says, from wherever they may emanate, which would include cyber. This whole world of cyber is daunting because it’s new, unknown, and doesn’t exist in a physical domain but it has the potential for creating a transportation security incident,” said Michel.

Michel spoke about the voluntary cyber security standards within the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Cyber Security Framework.

“When you take a look at that NIST framework, it’s got basic things in there that a responsible IT system user would put into place like password protection, basic configuration management, anti-virus software protection…you know those basic things. It’s not going to get you to the level where you’ll be able to hold off a nation-state if they’re very serious about getting into your networks but for most security related things, if you follow that Cyber Security Framework…it’s going to take out a lot of risk,” said Michel.

Michel spoke on how his goal is to create mandatory cyber security regulations while working in conjunction with AMSCs, industry and other stakeholders on the creation of those regulations. The intent would be to provide a reasonable standard of care the same as is done on the physical security side port security.

This blog is not a replacement or substitute for the formal posting of regulations and updates or existing processes for receiving formal feedback of the same. Links provided on this blog will direct the reader to official source documents, such as the Federal Register, Homeport and the Code of Federal Regulations. These documents remain the official source for regulatory information published by the Coast Guard.

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