By Nick Parham, Eighth District Security Specialist, Outer Continental Shelf Division
The Gulf of Mexico Area Maritime Security Committee (AMSC) conducted its annual security exercise from New Orleans, Louisiana, on November 17, 2020. Due to the restrictions on in-person gatherings due to COVID-19, the exercise was held via virtual online conference. The virtual tabletop exercise gave participants the opportunity to discuss the capabilities, resources, and procedures required to respond to a combined insider threat and cybersecurity attack scenario that could occur during operations in the Gulf of Mexico Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). The planning and execution of the exercise was done by members of the Gulf of Mexico AMSC with support from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Intermodal Security Training and Exercise Program (I-STEP). Mr. Darrin McGreevy, Coordinator for I-STEP, facilitated the exercise with a team of subject matter experts in physical and cybersecurity. (Learn more about TSA I-STEP: https://www.tsa.gov/for-industry/intermodal-security-training-and-exercise-program )
Rear Admiral John Nadeau, Coast Guard Eighth District Commander, greeted the more than one hundred and twenty participants from across the region who attended the exercise. One of Rear Admiral Nadeau’s duties as the Eighth District Commander is to serve as the Federal Maritime Security Coordinator for the Gulf of Mexico OCS, spanning from the Texas-Mexico border to offshore of the Florida panhandle. During his remarks, Rear Admiral Nadeau thanked the port partners in attendance and welcomed newly appointed members of the AMSC leadership. Admiral Nadeau emphasized the importance of continued partnerships like the AMSC, especially during a year like 2020 with COVID-19 and a record breaking hurricane season that greatly impacted operations in the Gulf of Mexico. “Thank you for your commitment and continued vigilance. We need your help to make our security plans even better, and we look forward to continued collaboration to maintain resilience across the Gulf of Mexico.” Admiral Nadeau said. Mr. Melvin Carraway, Regional Security Director- Region 4 of TSA, also addressed the participants virtually. In addition to affirming the Admiral’s remarks, Mr. Carraway emphasized the TSA’s commitment to aiding partner agencies within the Department of Homeland Security and beyond to improve security across transportation sectors.
While testing the Area Maritime Security Plan was the main objective of the exercise, port partners who participated in the exercise were also able to test their own security plans to fulfill the annual requirements of the Maritime Transportation Security Act and its implementing regulations. Exercise participants included federal law enforcement agencies, the maritime industry, oil and gas exploration and production companies, and related service industries, as well as port authorities from South Louisiana, and Mobile. Three students from Tulane University attended as observers in order to gain an understanding of what is involved in some of the career opportunities related to maritime security. Lessons learned from the exercise will serve to improve security for all stakeholders operating in the Gulf of Mexico OCS by improving their own plans as well as the Area Maritime Security Plan maintained by the Gulf of Mexico AMSC. These committees and the plans they develop and exercise in partnership with their stakeholders are essential elements of the layered security of our Nation’s ports. Building strong working relationships through these exercises is essential to preventing, detecting, responding to, and recovering from terrorist threats to the Marine Transportation System.
For more information about the Eighth District Outer Continental Shelf Division, please visit their website at: https://www.atlanticarea.uscg.mil/D8/OCS/
For more information about the Gulf of Mexico Area Maritime Security Committee, please see their Homeport community (Gulf of Mexico AMSC https://homeport.uscg.mil/) or contact Mr. Nick Parham, Executive Secretary via email at Charles.N.Parham@uscg.mil
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 publications, such as the Federal Register, Homeport and the Code of Federal Regulations. These publications remain the official source for regulatory information published by the Coast Guard.