Preventing economic shock wave: Securing the port of Houston from a terrorist attack

oil tanker on fire











[ An attack on (LNG) ships, oil tankers, or the Houston port facilities Houston would cause an oil shock, since a third of oil refining takes place there, and it’s also the second largest petrochemical center in the world.  An oil shock could lead to a financial shock since corrupt banking and Wall Street firms have prevented meaningful reforms. Plus we’re at the end of growth. How can a financial system designed for endless growth to pay back debt continue?  When peak oil is generally acknowledged, credit will dry up since no one will be able to grow in order to pay the debt back. Plus there’s over $200 trillion in unfunded liabilities.  All of this and more makes the global financial system very shaky.  Perhaps we’re only a terrorist attack, oil shock, hurricane, or earthquake away from another financial crash.

Alice Friedemann  author of “When Trucks Stop Running: Energy and the Future of Transportation”, 2015, Springer and “Crunch! Whole Grain Artisan Chips and Crackers”. Podcasts: Practical Prepping, KunstlerCast 253, KunstlerCast278, Peak Prosperity , XX2 report ]

House 112-41. August 24, 2011. Preventing economic shock wave: Securing the port of Houston from a terrorist attack. House of Representatives. 62 pages.


Mr. MCCAUL. Osama bin Laden’s ‘‘war of a thousand cuts’’ on the U.S. economy has always been a key facet of his strategy. His personal files found in his lair at Abbottabad, Pakistan, revealed a brazen idea to blow up oil tankers. By doing so, he hoped to damage not only the United States, but the world’s economy. The picture of an oil tanker ablaze, like this one off the coast of Yemen, would indeed add fuel to our financial crisis. Al-Qaeda and its affiliates have a history of attacking ships. In January 2000, there was an attack on the USS Sullivan. In October of 2000, a small boat with explosives blew a hole in the side of the USS Cole, killing 17 of our sailors. In October 2002, a French oil tanker was set ablaze, killing and injuring several crew members in the Straits of Hormuz. In 2005, there was an attack (1) against the USS Ashland. In July of 2010, there was a terrorist attack on a Japanese oil tanker.

The Government Accountability Office in its report on terrorist attacks targeting energy tankers states the supply chain faces three types of threats: Suicide attacks with explosive-laden boats similar to the one used against the USS Cole in the Gulf of Aden; standoff attacks with weapons launched from a distance, such as rocket- propelled grenades and; third, an armed assault used by pirates off the coast of Africa.

Not only would a successful attack result in the loss of life and have a detrimental effect on the economy, it would also be a psychological blow and would have environmental consequences.

The Port of Houston is the energy capital of the United States, and it is a target-rich environment. The port stretches from Galveston Bay, past Texas City, across the Gulf Intercoastal Waterway, past Bayport and the San Jacinto Monument, and deep into the City of Houston. The port includes a ship channel, a 52-mile highway for shipping. It has a wide range of businesses and is not just one of the physically largest ports in America, but also a leader in the movement of cargo.

Most importantly, roughly 25% of the oil imports for America flow through the Port of Houston. Each day, 25 to 30 oil and chemical tankers move along the Houston Ship Channel, and 31% of America’s crude oil refining capacity takes place right here in this harbor. If catastrophe struck the port, there is little spare capacity to import and refine crude oil elsewhere in the country. In short, an attack on the Houston port would be crippling.

A 2007 study by the Houston Port Authority estimated that the port directly leads to $285 billion in National economic activity, 1.5 million jobs, and $16.2 million in Nation-wide tax revenues. The U.S. Coast Guard estimates that if the Houston Ship Channel were closed, it would have a direct negative impact on the economy of approximately $406 million per day.

Americans are now paying nearly $4 for a gallon of gas. Even an attack causing little damage could raise prices at the pump by a dollar or more. The Port of Houston is integral to America’s economy. We must ensure there are no gaps in our security at this port and ensure that terrorists do not wound our economy or harm our citizens by successfully carrying out an attack in Houston.

The U.S. Coast Guard, Texas State and county officials, and industry stakeholders associated with the Port of Houston, have done a great deal to protect this port and its shipping from a terrorist attack. The U.S. Coast Guard, who is present here today, and local police, as the Sheriff is here today, have access to a real-time satellite tracking system that pinpoints the exact size and location of every ship in and around Houston. The Coast Guard has heavily armed vessels patrolling the channel along with the Harris County Sheriff boats. Equally important, Texas established the Houston Ship Channel Security District, a unique industry-Government partnership, to assist protecting the facilities surrounding the ship channel.

The GAO has made several recommendations to mitigate terrorist attacks at ports. It recommends that all participants should plan for meeting the growing security workload as liquefied natural gas shipments increase; that ports should plan for dealing with the economic consequences of an attack; that terrorism and oil spill response plans at the National and local level should be integrated; and that performance metrics should be developed for an emergency response.

I do want to point out another issue, and that is that once the Panama Canal project is complete in 2004 to deepen the Canal, they will be able to accommodate vessels with drafts up to 50 feet. Unfortunately, the Houston Ship Channel cannot accommodate such large ships because it only is dredged to 45 feet. Larger ships will not be able to enter the Houston Ship Channel. Additionally, it is notable that if a ship were sunk in the middle of the Channel, it would effectively cut off commercial traffic in the port until the ship could be refloated and moved. The cost of a shutdown would damage this economy extremely.

Mr. KEATING.  We are going to examine the Port of Houston which links the city of Houston with over 1,053 ports in 203 countries and is, therefore, an excellent location to determine exactly what the best practices are in maritime security. The Port of Houston is one of the largest ports in the world, and it is home to the world’s largest concentration of petroleum facilities and $15 billion in petrochemical complex, which is ranked second in the entire world. Although much attention is given to aviation security since 9/11, and rightly so, we cannot ignore the very real potential of threats that exist in the maritime sector and the steps that must be taken to protect our ports and waterways from the threat of terrorist activity.

My district is also near the Port of Boston, which is the oldest running port in the Western hemisphere. So I am no stranger to the maritime environment, and I look forward to examining the similarities and differences between security measures here in Houston and those in the Port of Boston which supplies 90 percent of the Massachusetts heating and fossil fuels.

Both the Port of Houston and Boston house tankers carrying liquefied natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas, and oil. If a terrorist attack occurred at a port like that and resulted in the explosion of any of these volatile materials, the result would truly be catastrophic. Unfortunately, terrorists overseas have demonstrated that they have the ability to carry out these type of attacks, and the fact that they haven’t occurred here in our country should mean nothing to us. We should be vigilant and ready.

The Chairman mentioned the very real possibility in terms of the suicide boat attacks of the tanker Limburg off the coast of Yemen that killed one person, injured 17, and spilled 90,000 barrels of oil. In 2010, the Coast Guard approved shipments of liquefied natural gas from Yemen to our home area within 50 feet of residential neighborhoods, despite concerns that the cargo was coming from a country that has been identified as a terrorist safe haven and has previously experienced terrorist attack of their own.

The economic impact of the Limburg attack included a short- term collapse in international shipping in the Gulf of Aden and, ultimately, cost Yemen $3.8 million a month. If that type of attack ever occurred here and caused a massive oil spill, even larger than the one that occurred in Yemen, we may, once again, experience the type of economic damage that occurred in the aftermath of Deepwater Horizon and its oil spill.

According to Dun and Bradstreet, Deepwater Horizon’s oil spill negatively impacted 7.3 million active businesses in 5 Gulf States, 85% of which were small businesses with less than 10 employees. So this just isn’t a big corporation or big business concern, economically it affects even our small businesspeople. It also affected 34 million jobs, $5.2 trillion in sales, and the price of oil went up.

Mr. GREEN. I represent most of the Port of Houston. I also share the Port of Houston with Congressman Ted Poe and Pete Olson to the east, but where you are standing or sitting today is in our district. As you know, it is the No. 1 foreign tonnage port in the country. It is the lifeblood of the economy in southeast Texas, but I think in the whole country, because of what we produce in refined products and other products in our community. We have five refineries and more chemical plants than I can count. I think if you compare our port security to every other port that I know of in the country, we have done so much more because, again, of the volatility of the products we produce.

Mr. Stephen L. Caldwell, Director of Maritime and Coast Guard Issues, Homeland Security and Justice Issues, Government Accountability Office.  The infrastructure utilized through these transportation resources includes the Colonial Pipeline system, which is the largest petroleum product pipeline system in the Nation and is vital to the demands of energy throughout the Southern part of our Nation and the East Coast. The Nation’s economy and security are heavily dependent on oil, natural gas, and other energy commodities. Bolstering port security in Houston and throughout the country is of paramount concern. The Port of Houston is a 25-mile-long complex of public and private facilities located just a few hours’ sailing time from the Gulf of Mexico.

More than 17 million people live within 300 miles of the city, and approximately 60 million live within 700 miles. The danger is very real that we may be escorting a weapon of mass destruction to its target. For every mile along the Houston Ship Channel that dangerous cargo passes, an additional 2,000 people are at risk. Clearly, once the cargo reaches the city, the risk is at its greatest.

Highlights of GAO–11–883T, Why GAO Did This Study.  The Nation’s economy and security are heavily dependent on oil, natural gas, and other energy commodities. Al-Qaeda and other groups with malevolent intent have targeted energy tankers and offshore energy infrastructure because of their importance to the Nation’s economy and National security.

The U.S. Coast Guard—a component of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)—is the lead Federal agency for maritime security, including the security of energy tankers and offshore energy infrastructure. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) also has responsibilities for preventing and responding to terrorist incidents. This testimony discusses the extent to which: (1) The Coast Guard and the FBI have taken actions to address GAO’s prior recommendations to prevent and respond to a terrorist incident involving energy tankers, and (2) the Coast Guard has taken actions to assess the security risks to offshore energy infrastructure and related challenges. The Coast Guard and the FBI have not yet taken action on a fourth recommendation to develop an operational plan to integrate the National spill and terrorism response plans. The Coast Guard has taken actions to assess the security risks to offshore energy infrastructure, which includes Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) facilities (facilities that are involved in producing oil or natural gas) and deep water ports (facilities used to transfer oil and natural gas from tankers to shore), but improvements are needed.

The Nation’s economy and security are heavily dependent on oil, natural gas, and other energy commodities. Nearly half of the Nation’s oil is transported from overseas by tankers. For example, about 49 percent of the Nation’s crude oil supply— one of the main sources of gasoline, jet fuel, heating oil, and many other petroleum products—was transported by tanker into the United States in 2009. The remaining oil and natural gas used in the United States comes from Canada by pipeline or is produced from domestic sources in areas such as offshore facilities in the Gulf of Mexico. With regard to these domestic sources, the area of Federal jurisdiction— called the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS)—contains an estimated 85 million barrels of oil, more than all onshore resources and those in shallower State waters combined.13 In addition, the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port (LOOP), a deepwater port, is responsible for transporting about 10 percent of imported oil into the United States.

As the lead Federal agency for maritime security, the Coast Guard seeks to mitigate many kinds of security challenges in the maritime environment. Doing so is a key part of its overall security mission and a starting point for identifying security gaps and taking actions to address them. Carrying out these responsibilities is a difficult and challenging task because energy tankers often depart from foreign ports and are registered in countries other than the United States, which means the United States has limited authority to oversee the security of such vessels until they enter U.S. waters.

Offshore energy infrastructure also presents its own set of security challenges because some of this infrastructure is located many miles from shore.

Energy tankers face risks from various types of attack. We identified three primary types of attack methods against energy tankers in our 2007 report, including suicide attacks, armed assaults by terrorists or armed bands, and launching a ‘‘standoff’’ missile attack using a rocket or some other weapon fired from a distance. In recent years, we have issued reports that discussed risks energy tankers face from terrorist attacks and attacks from other criminals, such as pirates. Terrorists have attempted—and in some cases carried out—attacks on energy tankers since September 11, 2001. To date, these attacks have included attempts to damage tankers or their related infrastructure at overseas ports. For example, in 2002, terrorists conducted a suicide boat attack against the French supertanker Limburg off the coast of Yemen, and in 2010, an incident involving another supertanker, the M/V M. Star, in the Strait of Hormuz is suspected to have been a terrorist attack

Our work on energy tankers identified three main places in which tankers may be at risk of an attack: (1) At foreign ports; (2) in transit, especially at narrow channels, or chokepoints; and (3) at U.S. ports. For example, foreign ports, where commodities are loaded onto tankers, may vary in their levels of security, and the Coast Guard is limited in the degree to which it can bring about improvements abroad when security is substandard, in part because its activities are limited by conditions set by host nations. In addition, while tankers are in transit, they face risks because they travel on direct routes that are known in advance and, for part of their journey, they may have to travel through waters that do not allow them to maneuver away from possible attacks. According to the Energy Information Administration, chokepoints along a route make tankers susceptible to attacks.

Further, tankers remain at risk upon arrival in the United States because of the inherent risks to port facilities. For example, port facilities are generally accessible by land and sea and are sprawling installations often close to population centers. Our work on energy tankers identified three main places in which tankers may be at risk of an attack: (1) At foreign ports; (2) in transit, especially at narrow channels, or chokepoints; and (3) at U.S. ports. For example, foreign ports, where commodities are loaded onto tankers, may vary in their levels of security, and the Coast Guard is limited in the degree to which it can bring about improvements abroad when security is substandard, in part because its activities are limited by conditions set by host nations. In addition, while tankers are in transit, they face risks because they travel on direct routes that are known in advance and, for part of their journey, they may have to travel through waters that do not allow them to maneuver away from possible attacks. According to the Energy Information Administration, chokepoints along a route make tankers susceptible to attacks. Further, tankers remain at risk upon arrival in the United States because of the inherent risks to port facilities. For example, port facilities are generally accessible by land and sea and are sprawling installations often close to population centers.

We will continue our broader work looking at the security of offshore energy infrastructure, including Coast Guard security inspections and other challenges.  This figure is based on the most recently available data for a full year from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.  The OCS is a designation for all submerged lands of which the subsoil and seabed are outside the territorial jurisdiction of a U.S. State, but within U.S. jurisdiction and control.

table 1 number of tankers attached by pirate 2006-2010







As shown in the table, pirate attacks against tankers have tripled in the last 5 years, and the incidence of piracy against tankers continues to rise. From January through June 2011, 100 tankers were attacked, an increase of 37% compared to tankers attacked from January through June 2010. Figure 1 shows one of the recent suspected pirate attacks. In addition, tankers are fetching increasing ransom demands from Somali pirates. Media reports indicate a steady increase in ransoms for tankers, from $3 million in January 2009 for the Saudi tanker Sirius Star, to $9.5 million in November 2010 for the South Korean tanker Samho Dream, to $12 million in June 2011 for the Kuwaiti tanker MV Zirku.

The U.S. Maritime Administration and the Coast Guard have issued guidance for commercial vessels to stay 200 miles away from the Somali coast. However, pirates have adapted and increased their capability to attack and hijack vessels to more than 1,000 miles from Somalia using mother ships, from which they launch smaller boats to conduct the attacks.

International Chamber of Commerce’s International Maritime Bureau operates a Piracy Reporting Center that collects data on pirate attacks worldwide. For more information on U.S. Government efforts to combat piracy, see GAO–10–856, which discusses the Coast Guard’s and other agencies’ progress in implementing efforts to prevent piracy attacks.

Risks to Offshore Energy Infrastructure.  Offshore energy infrastructure also faces risks from various types of attacks. For example, in 2004, a terrorist attacked an offshore oil terminal in Iraq using speedboats packed with explosives, killing two U.S. Navy sailors and a U.S. Coast Guardsman. Potential attack methods against offshore energy infrastructure identified by the Coast Guard or owners and operators include crashing an aircraft into it; using a submarine vessel, diver, or other means of attacking it underwater; ramming it with a vessel; and sabotage by an employee.

In addition to our work on energy tankers, we have recently completed work involving Coast Guard efforts to assess security risks and ensure the security of offshore energy infrastructure. Specifically, our work focused on two main types of offshore energy infrastructure that the Coast Guard oversees for security. The first type are facilities that operate on the OCS and are generally described as facilities temporarily or permanently attached to the subsoil or seabed of the OCS that engage in exploration, development, or production of oil, natural gas, or mineral resources.17 As of September 2010, there were about 3,900 such facilities

Based on Coast Guard records, we found that Coast Guard field units in several energy- related ports had been unable to accomplish many of the port security responsibilities called for in Coast Guard guidance. According to the data we obtained and our discussions with field unit officials, we determined that resource shortfalls were the primary reasons for not meeting these responsibilities. Furthermore, the Coast Guard had not yet developed a plan for addressing new liquefied natural gas (LNG) security resource demands.

According to Coast Guard officials, mobile offshore drilling units (MODUs), such as the Deepwater Horizon, do not generally pose a risk of a terrorist attack since there is little chance of an oil spill when these units are drilling and have not struck oil. However, the officials noted that there is a brief period of time when a drilling unit strikes a well, but the well has yet to be sealed prior to connecting it to a production facility. The Deepwater Horizon was in this stage when it resulted in such a large oil spill. During that period of time, MODUs could be at risk of a terrorist attack that could have significant consequences despite a facility not meeting the production or personnel thresholds. For example, such risks could involve the reliability of blowout preventer valves—specialized valves that prevent a well from spewing oil in the case of a blowout.

The 2009 National Infrastructure Protection Plan, 2010 DHS Quadrennial Review, and a National Research Council evaluation of DHS risk assessment efforts have determined that gaining a better understanding of network risks would help to understand multiplying consequences of a terrorist attack or simultaneous attacks on key facilities. Understanding ‘‘network’’ risks involves gaining a greater understanding of how a network is vulnerable to a diverse range of threats. Examining how such vulnerabilities create strategic opportunities for intelligent adversaries with malevolent intent is central to this understanding. For example, knowing what damage a malicious adversary could achieve by exploiting weaknesses in an oil-distribution network offers opportunities for improving the resiliency of the network within a given budget.

The findings of the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill incident illustrate how examining networks or systems from a safety or engineering perspective can bring greater knowledge of how single facilities intersect with broader systems. The report noted that ‘‘complex systems almost always fail in complex ways’’ and cautioned that attempting to identify a single cause for the Deepwater Horizon incident would provide a dangerously incomplete picture of what happened. As a result, the report examined the Deepwater Horizon incident with an expansive view toward the role that industry and Government sectors played in assessing vulnerabilities and the impact the incident had on economic, social, and environmental systems

CAPTAIN JAMES H. WHITEHEAD III, SECTOR COMMANDER, SECTOR HOUSTON-GALVESTON, U.S. COAST GUARD. We also rely heavily on our port partners to be the ‘‘eyes on the water.’’ With an average of 350 daily tow movements in the Houston Ship Channel and more than 100 waterfront facilities with a vigilant security presence, marine industry stakeholders are well-positioned to recognize when things are out of the ordinary and serve as a valuable resource by diligently reporting breaches of security and suspicious activity.

Houston handles over 50 percent of all containerized cargo arriving at Gulf of Mexico ports. Additionally, more than 50 percent of the gasoline used in the United States is refined in this area. With more than 100 petrochemical waterfront facilities, Houston is the second-largest such complex in the world. Major corporations such as Exxon-Mobil, Shell, Saudi ARAMCO, Stolt Nielson, Odfjell USA Inc., Sea River and Kirby Marine have National or international headquarters in Houston.

The Port of Houston accommodates a large number of tankers carrying crude oil, refined products and chemical cargoes. With approximately 9,600 deep draft ship arrivals each year, the Coast Guard maintains a very extensive Port State Control program in the Houston-Galveston area. The Port State Control program ensures the safe carriage of hazardous materials in bulk. Because over 90 percent of cargo bound for the United States is carried by foreign-flagged ships, this National program prevents operation of substandard foreign ships in U.S. waters.

SHERIFF ADRIAN GARCIA, HARRIS COUNTY, TEXAS.  We have learned about Osama bin Laden, how he had some of the same information showing how important the ship channel is and the Port of Houston is. No doubt would-be terrorists in the United States and foreign countries know this, too. Next time they scheme to kill Americans and disrupt the energy supply of Planet Earth, they may think about targeting the very ground that we are on today.

We keep our electronic eyes trained on the ship channel 24/7 with camera sensors, radar, and other technology. Data from these high technology devices is fed into a monitoring center that we operate on the other side of town 24/7. We help the Coast Guard escort high-value asset vessels. We join the Coast Guard and CBP in boarding ships and scanning ship hulls, and although several operations are highly sensitive, I can tell you that our patrols on land and water have responded to calls for service such as suspicious persons in vehicles, security zone breaches by personal water craft, sunken boats, downed power lines, industrial accidents, security card violations at plant gates, and others.

We are also in touch with pipeline companies, railroads, and emergency planners.

In a very different kind of pioneering outreach, I have established what we call the Incidence Response Forum. We use it to engage the widespread Middle Eastern and South Asian communities in the Houston area. This is a two-way communication pathway for law enforcement to share information with key civic and religious leaders. The spirit in which we started this program several months ago was expressed very well in a Homeland Security memo issued by the Federal Government within the last 3 weeks. It is titled, ‘‘Empowering Local Partners To Prevent Violent Extremism In The U.S.’’ Here is a brief excerpt that refers to the attempts by terrorist groups to recruit American residents:

‘‘Countering radicalization to violence is frequently best achieved by engaging and empowering individuals and groups at the local level to build resilience against violent extremism. Law enforcement plays an essential role in keeping us safe, but so too does engagement and partnership with communities.’’

But our Incident Response Forum has other uses. By sharing information with these constituents, we help protect them against misguided attacks that may stem from terrorist acts anywhere in the world. These leaders can also report hate crimes, help calm tensions that may arise in ethnic communities and provide feedback about the effectiveness of law enforcement by the Harris County Sheriff’s Office. We are conducting crisis response exercises with this group.

JAMES T. EDMONDS, CHAIRMAN, PORT OF HOUSTON AUTHORITYThe country’s largest refinery, with a refining capacity of 567,000 barrels a day, is located on the channel. From Houston, refined energy products are delivered over the infrastructure that transports them to every market east of the Rocky Mountains through the networks of roads, rails, and pipelines originating in Houston. This includes the 5,519-mile Colonial Pipeline system, which is the largest petroleum product pipeline system in the Nation and is a vital energy artery for the South and East Coast.

CAPTAIN WILLIAM J. DIEHL (U.S. COAST GUARD, RET.), PRESIDENT, GREATER HOUSTON PORT BUREAU, INC.  The district’s infrastructure improvements include wireless and fiber optic wire communication systems with integrated analytical and intelligence video software, surveillance and detection cameras, night vision, motion detection technology, and additional technology components such as radar, sonar, and sensor packages. We have already added 112 cameras, 69 handheld radiation detectors, two marine side-scan sonar units, four patrol boats, seven patrol trucks, five radar sites, and an underwater remotely- operated vehicle to our regional security picture.

The only way we are going to get there is through our ports. To keep our ports vibrant we need trade agreements, reliable intermodal transportation (i.e., roads, rail, & barge infrastructure) and dredging. Of these three, dredging is the most pressing. We are choking our global competitiveness by not maintaining our ship channels. Currently 8 of our 10 largest ports are not at their authorized width or depths. We can talk today about securing our ports, but if we cannot get ships in or out, then that conversation will not mean much. Needless to say, at the Port Bureau, we are dedicated advocates for

Mr. CALDWELL. This is basically an illustration of the energy supply for the Nation, and when you look at this map, it really brings out the fact that the majority of the energy for the Nation comes right out of here. I know the ExxonMobil refinery refines about 31 percent of the Nation’s energy. If that was taken out by a small vessel like this one, you can imagine the long-term consequences, economic. It could cripple this Nation from an energy standpoint and an economic standpoint. Can both of you speak to that issue in terms of how important this port really is?

Mr. EDMONDS. Something in the neighborhood of 49% of the refined products used in this country every day come from the Houston Ship Channel industries and an eighth of the gasoline consumed every day. So it would be devastating to the economy of the country. The tragedy is you don’t even have to blow up an Exxon. You can just shut off access to the waterway and you shut down all that refining capability. There is something leaving this port 24 hours a day through a pipeline or railcar or truck. So there is all kinds of arteries of movement, and you damage any one of those and that has a devastating economic impact.

Captain DIEHL.  One-third of our economy is associated with global trade, and that trade comes and goes through our ports. Ninety- five to  99 percent of it by tonnage probably comes in and out of our ports by ships. So it is not only the Port of Houston, but it is all our major ports are key to our economy. You shut it down; we are going to start heading towards a recession. What makes us unique as Houston is these refineries. You can shut down a container port and move up the coast to the next container port to deliver those boxes. You can’t package up the refinery and move it. You can’t take those pipelines and pull them out of the ground and shift them over to New Orleans. That is what is unique.

Captain WHITEHEAD. In fact, 2 days from now we have a Yemeni  LNG tanker. We have one coming into the Port Arthur area. Although we don’t have any LNG tankers come into this area, the Houston Ship Channel, but we do have them come into both Freeport, Lake Charles, and Port Arthur. With those, we do take additional measures. We utilize our MSSTs. Our maritime security safety teams assist us in securing the—as well as we work with our port partners when they come in as well to secure the port, make sure that we board the vessel before it even comes in, do security sweep, escort the vessel in. So we take additional security measures with LNG tankers that come into port.

Mr. EDMONDS. Because of our geography and because of weather patterns, we are hurricane prone. So for many, many years we have had a very sophisticated hurricane plan. After 9/11, that was our baseline to begin to build off of to try to apply security issues to that plan because they are very much interrelated. I will say to you that in the most recent situation with Ike, the hurricane plan worked very well. There is a schedule that, as a storm begins to come, we begin to get ships out of the channel, begin to batten down everything until basically everything is secured, including container of wharf grains. Everything is secured and everything is gone or tied down, and it worked very well for us in Ike.

Additional reading

  • GAO, Maritime Security: Federal Efforts Needed to Address Challenges in Preventing and Responding to Terrorist Attacks on Energy Commodity Tankers, GAO–08–141 (Washington, DC: Dec. 10, 2007).
  • GAO, Maritime Security: Actions Needed to Assess and Update Plan and Enhance Collaboration Among Partners Involved in Countering Piracy off the Horn of Africa, GAO– 10–856 (Washington, DC: Sept. 24, 2010);
  • GAO, Maritime Security: Updating U.S. Counterpiracy Action Plan Gains Urgency as Piracy Escalates off the Horn of Africa, GAO–11–449T (Washington, DC: Mar. 15, 2011).
  • GAO, Maritime Security: DHS Progress and Challenges in Key Areas of Port Security, GAO– 10–940T (Washington, DC: July 21, 2010).
  • GAO, Standards for Internal Control in the Federal Government, GAO/AIMD–00–21.3.1 (Washington, DC: November 1999).




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