In 2009 the Port of Guam was designated a strategic port. The new designation brings additional benefits to the port, which will expand its capabilities as well as the Coast Guard’s involvement with naval vessel protection and maritime security.
The designation of strategic port brings with it many challenges not only for the Coast Guard, but also for all those with a stake in port operations. For this reason each strategic port is mandated to form a Port Readiness Committee which brings together representatives of the 10 federal agencies and local port stakeholders. The PRC was established formally this past January when stakeholders met for the first time to begin dialogue on strategic concerns associated with facilitate both defense and commercial supplies through the same port. The committee is chaired by the captain of the port and includes more than 40 local, federal, and Department of Defense agencies.
Due to the designation, the Port of Guam will have access to additional funding for federal security and port infrastructure projects. Cargo volumes will also increase during periods of military deployment. Perhaps most valuable will be the interaction between the Coast Guard, the Port of Guam, DOD and other partners. The first meeting of the port readiness committee took place Jan. 25, 2012 in Guam with representatives from the Coast Guard, DOD, Government of Guam, and multiple federal agencies and port stakeholders. During the daylong meeting, committee members discussed the effects of the new designation to include renovations to the port, types of outload activities, maritime security response capabilities, tactics, and other government agency support.
The protection of U.S. strategic seaports is nothing new for the Coast Guard. The service was given authority to regulate the anchorage and movement of ships in 1917 following the devastating explosion of munitions at Black Tom Island in New Jersey, which all but destroyed the port. Since then the Coast Guard has been given authority under multiple acts of Congress, most recently the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002, to protect the safety and security of ports and waterways. Most notable are the 16 seaports that have been designated strategic, meaning they are of critical value to the nation. Most recently the Port of Guam joined that list. To meet the requirement of the new designation Coast Guard Sector Guam is taking necessary steps with federal, state and local partners to usher in a new era of safety and security for the Port of Guam.
“Our goal is to work with our port partners to help prepare the Port of Guam to absorb increased cargo flow during a military outload operation,” explained Lt. Charlie Epperson, Sector Guam military outload liaison. “It is in everyone’s best interest to address these concerns well in advance of actual outload operations.”
Source: United States Coast Guard - http://www.d14.uscgnews.com/