Port Authority Security Manager Calls Ports Safer, Calls For More Improvements

"Prior to 9/11, security was not a top concern for most U.S. ports. That changed in an instant after that tragic day, and Congress and the Administration took quick and decisive action to help focus on the risk to our seaports."

So began Bethann Rooney, the Port Authority's manager of port security, as she testified before the House Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation on September 11, 2012. Ms. Rooney is a member of the American Association of Port Authorities and serves as Security Committee chairperson of the AAPA Port Security Caucus.

photo of Bethann RooneyThe quick and decisive action Rooney referred to is the Maritime Transportation Safety Act (MTSA), which became effective January 1, 2003. The Act required "various security plans for U.S. Ports" as well as "improved identification and screening of seaport personnel."

In additional text, the Act notes how such provisions were necessary "considering that some 7,500 foreign flagged ships make 51,000 ports of call each year in 361 U.S. Ports."

In her testimony, Ms. Rooney confirmed that U.S. ports are indeed safer than they were 10 years ago, before the enactment of MTSA. In particular, she commended the U.S. Coast Guard for doing "an excellent job in enforcing regulations, conducting vulnerability assessments and developing vessel and facility security plans to secure the nation's ports."

But she also pointed out areas where she saw room for improvement. 

For instance, she noted that, while the Coast Guard has developed "a robust and comprehensive Maritime Security Risk Assessment Model, or MSRAM, the model isn't being used uniformly by all federal agencies that assess risk in the maritime environment."

MSRAM methodology was built on a two-layered version of Microsoft Access. The field layer supports data collection, analysis, and "what if" analysis while the command layer supports scenario forecasting based on combined data at the classified level.

Ms. Rooney advocated that, "MSRAM should be made available in an unclassified version, on a limited basis, to regulated facilities and vessels to conduct detailed risk assessments of their own facilities or vessels using the same scoring criteria that the Coast Guard uses."

A provision for this, she pointed out, was included in the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2010 by the 111th Congress. Yet it hasn't been implemented.

Other points Ms. Rooney stressed included:

  • The need to fully fund the federal Port Security Grant (PSG) program. - AAPA strongly opposes a proposal to merge all critical infrastructure grant programs -- such as those for port security, transit, intercity rail, and emergency management -- into one disbursement that would be managed by individual states. AAPA also opposes the 25 percent cost-share requirement for public agencies that receive port security grants.
  • The need to upgrade Department of Homeland Security (DHS) threat detection equipment at ports. – According to Ms. Rooney, the fiscal constraint placed on federal authorities that own, operate, and control DHS equipment has shifted the costs of installation and upkeep onto the ports and their terminal operators. She noted how one project at the Port of New York and New Jersey currently forces the terminal operator to shoulder $2.5 million in engineering, permits, infrastructure, and related costs, while DHS contributes only $750,000.

"That is not a very equitable ‘cost share'," she said. In her view, ports should be able to leverage grant funding to defray expenses.

  • The need to complete evaluation and testing for the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) card reader. –The lack of a final TWIC card reader specification and certification process makes it impossible to identify lost, stolen, revoked, or suspended cards. Ms. Rooney asked the House subcommittee to consider a list of five future MTSA enhancements such as requiring TWICs to be displayed on a worker's outermost garments and setting minimum-security standards for maritime support services.

To read a complete copy of Bethann Rooney's testimony before the U.S. House Subcommittee, click here.

Port Security is Everyone's Business

"Stay alert. Be aware. Speak up. The life you save may be your own."

During the course of a busy day, these words may seem like just another advertisement vying to capture your attention. They're not.

The Port of New York and New Jersey is one of several key locations that warrants increased vigilance during uncertain times.

"The port community benefits from skilled law enforcement personnel at various levels," says Bethann Rooney, the Port Authority's manager of port security. "But the real experts are the members of the port community themselves. If you work at the port, you understand how it operates better than anyone does. You also know what does and what doesn't belong in your work area, what looks out of place and what might be suspicious. As it turns out, members of our port community have become our first and best line of defense against criminals and terrorists. It's always a good idea to remind people that, if they see something, they should say something."

Here are a few examples of suspicious activity to keep an eye out for at all times:

  • Someone who looks out of place, or is obviously unfamiliar with the area, perhaps nervous, or perhaps dressed inappropriately for the environment, wearing bulky clothing, for instance.
  • Small pleasure craft moving too quickly or too close to shore in waterway where they don't belong.
  • Unattended packages.
  • A vehicle parked in a no parking area, with or without the engine still running.
  • Anyone lacking personal identification, a facility ID, or visitor's pass..
  • Anyone asking questions or making unusual requests.

In the event that you observe suspicious activities, notify your supervisor right away.

Do not approach the scene or take action yourself!

It will help if you can identify:

For people

Such characteristics as:

  • Height
  • Weight
  • Hair color
  • Gender
  • Skin tone
  • Clothing

For vehicles

  • Such characteristics as:
  • License plate state and number
  • Make and style of vehicle
  • Color
  • Any person(s) associated with the vehicle
  • Location or last direction of travel
photo of a police officer and police dog conducting a search

New Environmental Port Initiative Protects Region's Quality of Life

On Wednesday, August 1st, the Port Authority's Board of Directors approved $4.875 million to fund a three-year Ocean-Going Vessel Clean-Vessel Incentive program. A vital component of the Port Authority's ongoing Clean Air Strategy, the CVI encourages ships that call on the Port of New York and New Jersey to use cleaner fuels, improve their engines, and reduce their emissions.

Little known fact: ocean-going vessels produce the largest amount of air pollution at port-related facilities. The CVI therefore offers a direct return on investment in sustainability. The Port Authority anticipates that approximately 600 vessels a year will participate in the CVI, reducing annual port emissions by:

  • 182.2 tons of nitrogen oxide,
  • 38.3 tons of particulate matter, and
  • 264.1 tons of sulfur dioxides

In practice, the CVI awards financial incentives to ships that achieve a score of 20 points or higher on the World Port Climate Initiative's Environmental Ship Index (ESI). The ESI is a globally standardized mechanism that awards points to vessels that exceed environmental standards set by the International Maritime Organization. Vessels can accrue additional points by reducing their speeds to no more than 10 knots beginning 20 nautical miles from the entrance to the New York New Jersey harbor.

Adopting an ESI-based incentive program keeps the Port of New York and New Jersey competitive with 14 European ports and the Port of Los Angeles, the only other port in the U.S. to adopt such measures.

"Dramatically reducing air pollution, while keeping the port economically competitive, is a win for the port community and those who live in the region," said Port Authority Chairman David Samson. "This initiative furthers our longstanding commitment to be a responsible steward of the environment in the Port District, and is yet another example of how we are working with the private sector to improve the air quality at our port facilities."

"Today's action will result in significant air pollution reductions at our ports by providing incentives for vessel owners to invest in newer, cleaner technology," said Port Authority Vice Chairman Scott Rechler. "The Port Authority is committed to remaining a leader in green port initiatives."

photo of Pat Foye surveying the Port"The Clean Vessel Incentive program will result in cleaner air, which in turn means better health for the people who live and work in the Port District," said Port Authority Executive Director Pat Foye.

"This program means that more of the ships that call on our port will be cleaner ships, burning cleaner fuel," said Port Authority Deputy Executive Director Bill Baroni. "That means fewer emissions and greener port operations."

Port Sustainability, An Ongoing Campaign

The CVI is just one of many initiatives the Port Authority has designed to protect the environment in and around port facilities.

In July 2012, the Port Authority Board of Commissioners implemented another key component of the Clean Air Strategy initiative by installing Shore Power technology at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal. Shore Power allows cruise ships serving the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal to plug in to a more environmentally friendly electrical landside power source. The expected environmental benefits of the Shore Power Project include annual reductions of 1,400 tons of greenhouse gasses, 90 tons of nitrogen oxide, 93 tons of sulfur dioxide and 6 tons of particulate matter.

In 2011, the Port Authority approved a $6 million Low-Sulfur Fuel Program to provide incentives to operators of ocean vessels for up to 50 percent of the cost differential between conventional high-sulfur bunker fuel and low sulfur fuel.

The agency approved approximately $30 million over a six-year period (2009-2015) to fund air quality initiatives that resulted in curtailing emissions by more than 500 tons of nitrogen oxide and 26 tons of particulate matter by Q1 2012.

The agency also authorized $34 million to assist the owners of trucks that service Port Authority marine terminals. Under the Truck Replacement Program (TRP), those vehicles with engines model year 2003 or older could apply to purchase newer, more environmentally friendly vehicles. This past spring, the TRP won the Breathe Easy Award sponsored by The Northeast Diesel Collaborative (NEDC), a partnership among the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, state agencies, and private and nonprofit groups. The Breathe Easy award recognizes the outstanding efforts of individuals or organizations who actively promote NEDC's goal to reduce diesel emissions, and have made significant contributions to improving air quality and public health.

ExpressRail Sees Record Growth In Cargo Shipments

It's all about the numbers.

In the first six months of 2012, the Port Authority's ExpressRail system transported 228,298 cargo containers from port terminals in Elizabeth and Newark, New Jersey, as well as Staten Island, New York. That number represents a 10 percent surge in volume over the same period in 2011.

But the good news doesn't end there. Of all constituent ExpressRail terminals, The New York Container Terminal at Howland Hook, Staten Island, reported the largest increase in transported rail cargo, up 45 percent this year compared with the same six-month period in 2011.

"ExpressRail set records last year," says Richard M. Larrabee, director of the Port Authority's port commerce department. "But this early increase in volume is the best news yet. It puts us on pace to exceed the last high water mark, and we're very excited about that. It's a clear validation of our investment in the ExpressRail system."

"In part, the increase is attributable, to a new ExpressRail service between the Port of New York and New Jersey and Chicago," says Pete Zantal, a manager for strategic analysis and industry in the Port Authority's port commerce department. "That route began earlier this year. Its success indicates that our plans to expand ExpressRail are right on target."

The Port Authority has invested $600 million to build the ExpressRail intermodal system as part of its commitment to a cleaner environment in the Port District. Transporting goods via intermodal rail helps to reduce congestion on roadways in the New York-New Jersey bi-state region. This alleviates wear and tear on the roads while reducing emissions of harmful exhaust-borne pollutants. Evidence exists that intermodal rail also speeds delivery of products to market.

The Port Authority estimates that the number of cargo containers transported on ExpressRail during the first half of 2012 resulted in approximately 525,000 fewer trucks on area roadways. But this number can be seen as an early indicator of the system's success. At full capacity, the current ExpressRail system can handle 1.3 million cargo containers annually, thereby reducing the number of trucks on local roads by 3 million, along with their corresponding emissions.

And the system is still expanding. It was built to do just that.

Consider ExpressRail Elizabeth. This part of the system was built with an 18-track facility that straddles the APM and Maher Terminals at the Elizabeth-Port Authority Marine Terminals. But the agency also built a second lead rail track that allows trains to move into and out of the ExpressRail Elizabeth facility at the same time, thereby maximizing volume and efficiency.

In 2009, the Port Authority completed construction of a rail support facility along Corbin Street that can handle four 10,000-foot trains daily. Construction is currently under way to build a bridge that will link the Port Newark Container Terminal with its rail facility on the western side of Corbin Street. Forecast for completion in 2013, the bridge will greatly improve the flow of truck traffic carrying containers to the trains.

"A cost effective, time reducing, environmentally friendly way to move goods from the premier port on the U.S. East Coast to markets across the country," says Richard Larrabee. "That's what ExpressRail is all about, and that's why we're so proud of its success."

Zantal agrees. "We're always looking for ways to ensure that our port remains the preferred destination for cargo," he says. "ExpressRail is one of the many commitments we've made to take the level of service we offer to the next level, and beyond."

Richard Larrabee Wins Malcom McLean Memorial Award

photo of Richard LarrabeeOn Monday, September 10, 2012, the Association of Bi-State Motor Carriers presented its Malcom McLean Memorial Award to The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey's Richard M. Larrabee, Director of Port Commerce, for his "personal contributions toward the advancement of the intermodal container industry during the past year."

Mr. Larrabee accepted his award "on behalf of the men and women of the Port Commerce Department at The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the people who you work with each day to make our port more competitive and a better place to do business."

The namesake for the Malcom McLean Award would certainly know a thing or two about the virtues Mr. Larrabee mentioned. Often called "the father of containerization," Malcom McLean's biography presents a classic story of American success, but one whose implications stretch beyond the borders of our nation to touch nearly every human being alive today.

In 1934, after saving $120 from his job pumping gas, McLean bought a second hand truck, which he used to start McLean Trucking. Over the next twenty years, he grew the business to include 1770 trucks and 32 terminals based out of Charlotte, North Carolina. McLean Trucking became the first trucking company listed on the New York Stock Exchange. It had experienced smashing, unprecedented success, but Malcom McLean was just getting started.

McLean took an interest in the way military forces shipped trucks across oceans during World War II. He thought the methodology was inefficient. A truck's oblong frame and undercarriage made them hard to position and resulted in broken stowage, lost space that could otherwise be used for cargo. So he hit on a new idea: why ship the whole truck? Why deal with the cumbersome chassis when you could detach the boxes, load them, and stack them as cleanly as blocks?

Up until this point, cargo was ferried as break-bulk that had to be loaded and unloaded by hand. By loading cargo in boxes – "containerization" – McLean was espousing a method that maximized a vessel's storage capacity while greatly reducing the time and expense required to load and unload goods.

But there was a problem. U.S. trade regulations in the mid 1950s prohibited trucking companies from owning a shipping line. So McLean sold his interest in McLean Trucking for $25 million and took out a bank loan for $500 million. With these funds, he bought two old T-2 oil tankers, which he retrofitted to carry his new 35-foot containers. On April 26, 1956, his first tanker, the SS-Ideal-X set sail from Port Newark-Elizabeth Marine Terminal for the Port of Houston, Texas carrying 58 containers, along with a load of liquid tank cargo.

A new age of global trade had been born. Containerization made room for huge increases in port and ship productivity while helping to lower the cost of imported goods. As the practice of containerizing cargo swept the industry, new ports opened in locations previously considered too obscure to establish mercantile footholds. And ccontainers made shipping so cheap that industries could locate factories far from their customers. In many ways, this opened the road for Asian to become a high-volume producer of low-cost goods which markets across the world currently enjoy.

Malcom McLean passed away in 2001 at the age of 87. Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta said: "A true giant, Malcom revolutionized the maritime industry in the 20th century. His idea for modernizing the loading and unloading of ships, which was previously conducted in much the same way the ancient Phoenicians did 3,000 years ago, has resulted in much safer and less-expensive transport of goods, faster delivery, and better service. We owe so much to [this] man of vision."

In accepting the Malcom McLean Award, Mr. Larrabee addressed the state of the containerization industry and what it meant for the growth of the Port of New York and New Jersey, as well as the shipping industry in general (for more information on this, please see the article, EXPRESSRAIL SEES RECORD GROWTH IN CARGO SHIPMENTS in this issue). He also offered his take on key strategic events like the nearly complete expansion of the Panama Canal, which some experts say will bring more boxes, and therefore trade, to U.S. ports.

"I am not convinced that our future is dependent on this one event," Mr. Larrabee said. "Larger ships coming through the Canal will possibly mean lower shipping costs. It will certainly mean fewer ships with greater efficiency but the larger ships, in of themselves, will not necessarily drive more cargo. That is still a function of supply and demand."

Mr. Larrabee outlined three distinct areas where he feels the Port of New York and New Jersey should focus to maintain and increase its competitive edge:

  • Infrastructure – "Harbor Deepening completed in early 2014," said Mr. Larrabee.  "Terminals ready to handle larger ships. Intermodal Rail at Global [Marine Terminal]. Bayonne Bridge. Double marine highway capacity."
  • Sustainability – Mr. Larrabee called for the financial resources necessary to fund the roughly $1.8 billion of projects scheduled for the port over the next ten years (excluding the work to "Raise the Roadway" at the Bayonne Bridge). He also mentioned the need for an additional focus on port security, as well as timely address of environmental challenges.
  • Productivity – "We are labeled as one of the most expensive ports in the world to work in," Mr. Larrabee said. "Post Panamax ships will require greater productivity. More cargo on one ship will require that cargo must be moved with greater velocity once it arrives on the terminal . . . we must find a way to control costs."

Maiden Voyage for Cross Harbor Freight Program

The Hudson River and New York Harbor have always confounded the flow of freight throughout the New York / New Jersey metropolitan region. These two bodies of water separate the large consumer markets of New York City, Long Island, and New England, which lie east of the Hudson, from the nation's major centers of agricultural and industrial production, as well as the region's major freight facilities and distribution centers, which lie west of the Hudson.

The problem stretches back to the 19th century and the age proceeding the Industrial Revolution. Imagine trains carrying goods from all over the United States bound for our metropolitan region. They came from the west, they came from the south, they came from deep in the heartland, but not one of them made it all the way to the Promised Land, the robust community and teeming markets of Manhattan, New York City. The Hudson River and New York Bay blocked their passage, and trains are notoriously bad at swimming.

Until now.

On July 18, New York New Jersey Rail, a company bought by The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey in 2008, kicked off operations for its long-awaited Cross Harbor Freight Program. The Cross Harbor Freight Program increases freight rail access to destinations east of the Hudson River by floating railcars on barges between New York and New Jersey, thus reducing truck traffic and pollution on local roads and crossings.

The barges will shuttle cargo as varied as apples, home heating oil, biodiesel, pulp board, plywood, new cars, cornstarch, and Idaho potatoes.

"It's actually an old idea," said John Liantonio, a senior manager with the Port Authority's Government and Community Relations department. "From the early 1900s to about the mid-1970s, we floated a lot of freight across the harbor on barges. Then the highways took over and now about 90 percent of our freight crosses the Hudson via the George Washington Bridge. That puts a great deal of strain on that piece of infrastructure, which is something we want to alleviate."

But change is in the air.

According to Liantonio, the Cross Harbor Freight Program accomplishes a number of goals. First, it relieves congestion along the region's major freight corridors. Second, it provides Cross-Harbor freight shippers, receivers, and carriers with some additional and very attractive modal opportunities. Third, it expands the port's overall ability to move goods, while increasing safety, security, and resiliency of our infrastructure. Finally, it improves the overall quality of our local and regional environment.

At present, the Cross Harbor Freight Program encompasses 54 counties in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut, but places a great deal of focus on the regional and local freight corridors running through the tri-state metropolitan area.

At present, Cross Harbor Freight ferries 1,500 freight cars per year. The Port Authority hopes to increase that number to 25,000.


Lucy Ambrosino

Bill Cronin

Brian Kobza

Robert LaMura

Sharon McStine

Peter Zantal

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