Accession Number:



U.S. Seaport Security: Critical Challenge for Department of Homeland Security

Descriptive Note:

Research paper

Corporate Author:


Personal Author(s):

Report Date:


Pagination or Media Count:



There are an estimated 360 seaports in the U.S. These seaports annually handle roughly 1.5 billion tons of cargo worth over 1 trillion, arriving in at least 11 million containers. These seaports require deep-water access, sufficient land for staging and storage, and unrestricted access to highway, rail, inland waterway, and pipeline networks. The Department of Defense DoD maintains only an informal business relationship with U.S. ports. However, it plays a considerable role in the security plan to prevent attacks on seaports, prepare to respond to possible attacks, and to restore their services. The 911 terrorist attacks instantly created a new American consciousness of the homelands vulnerability to terrorism. Political will rose to an unprecedented level to address the nations new priority of protecting the homeland. In the aftermath of 911, the President created the Department of Homeland Security to develop and implement a comprehensive national strategy for homeland security. The 2004 Presidential Directive for Maritime Security Policy mandated that the collaboration among state, local, and private sector entities be conducted at the federal level to achieve complete and unified maritime security programs and initiatives. Thus, U.S. seaports have been designated vital to the U.S. economy and national security strategy. The maritime transportation system was identified as an easy target as a result of the 911 commissions investigations. Seaports were considered to be the most vulnerable sectors that could affect U.S. economy. This paper focuses on the following 1 the security threats and vulnerabilities of U.S. seaports 2 the roles, responsibilities, and strategies taken across the full spectrum of government to improve the security of U.S. seaports and 3 port security issues and challenges that remain.

Subject Categories:

  • Government and Political Science
  • Surface Transportation and Equipment
  • Civil Defense

Distribution Statement: