There are 43 Area Maritime Security Committees (AMSC) around the country that include participants from government partners as well as industry stakeholders with a common goal of ensuring the preservation of a secure and resilient Marine Transportation System.
The recently released annual report details the challenges, suggestions, accomplishments, and best practices of 2020. This report is an important tool that can be used to develop strategies to help address common issues and emerging threats.
Download the full report below or read on for key takeaways.
Virtual meetings present a higher security risk compared to in-person meetings, especially when discussing sensitive information.
Cybersecurity poses a significant threat to the Marine Transportation System (MTS). This is exacerbated by the fact that it is often coupled with a lack of cyber expertise amongst facility and vessel operators. There is a lot of information available on how to properly ensure a secure cyber environment, but it is often highly technical and difficult to translate into actionable efforts.
There is a lack of jurisdictional clarity, policy/guidance, and enforcement options for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), or drones, flying in restricted air space above maritime infrastructures. Similar challenges apply to newly observed "unmanned mini self-propelled semi-submersible vessels".
There is a desire to see more definitive guidance on cybersecurity, including the inclusion of cyber-related Transportation Security Incidents (TSI) in Area Maritime Security Plans (AMSP)
Formal guidance should be provided for MTSA facilities on how to address Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) in their airspace. This can then be modified to incorporate into their existing security plans.
There are varying suggestions on how to address Active Shooter (AS)/Active Threat (AT) incidents in ports with high volumes of passenger ferries, tourist boats, and cruise ships.
AMSC members would like to see additional Incident Management System (ICS) training for members as well as port partners.
"In 2020, AMSCs and their respective subcommittees collectively facilitated 1,843 events (many made possible using virtual platforms)... [including] 793 administrative AMSC meetings...and 1,050 training specific events...These coordinated opportunities resulted in effective, real world security prevention, response, and recovery efforts."
Many AMSC subcommittees have been established to tackle the growing focus on cybersecurity risks and are seeing increased participation from port partners.
AMSC member participation increased with the use of virtual meeting platforms during COVID-19 restrictions, though most members still prefer in-person meetings.
USCG Headquarters continues to develop cybersecurity guidance and additional cyber safety, security, and risk management resources for the MTS. They are also working to develop a variety of methods to conduct cyber training for the field.
The USCG is involved in Department of Homeland Security UAS working groups. One group is concentrating on the reauthorization of a USCG pilot program, Counter-Unmanned Aircraft Systems (C-UAS), that was developed to mitigate credible threats that UAS's may pose to the safety or security of a covered facility or asset.