Research Paper: Port of Baltimore Brief Over the Course

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Port of Baltimore Brief

Over the course of the last decade, port security has changed dramatically in response to evolving threats, and especially the threat of transnational terrorism. In response to the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001, the United States Congress passed the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002 (MTSA), and in 2006, after successful terrorist attacks in London, Congress passed the Security and Accountability for Every Port Act (SAFE Port Act). Together, these two laws instituted a hierarchy of federal agencies (under the newly-created Department of Homeland Security) responsible for maintaining port security and responding to possible threats (Department of Homeland Security 2012). Therefore, assessing the security of the port of Baltimore will require considering the various threats faced by the port as well as the hierarchy of agencies responsible for port security and threat response in light of the developments which have occurred over the last ten years.

The port of Baltimore's relative proximity to both the capital, Washington, DC, as well as the country's most populous city, New York, make it an attractive point of entry for individuals and groups looking to execute attacks in the United States. With this in mind, one may identify two major threat types alongside an attack on the port itself. Firstly, and perhaps the most obvious, are those threats which might enter the country via cargo containers, such as nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons. This is an attractive option for potential terrorists, because the sheer volume of cargo moving through the port means that it may be easier to slip through unnoticed than when attempting entry via air or land routes; in 2010 alone, almost 33 million tons of cargo moved through the port of Baltimore, and just under half of that was in imports (Maryland Department of Transportation 2012). These threats have the greatest potential for harm in terms of casualties and property damage, because by definition they are intended to target a large amount of people at once.

However, the second category of threat is no less serious, even if it less dramatic than the possibility of a nuclear weapon hidden in a cargo container. This second category of threat are people themselves, because once again, due to the sheer amount of cargo moving through the port, it remains a popular option for individuals looking to enter the country surreptitiously. The 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India provide an example of another potential threat from individuals entering the port; the attackers entered Mumbai via inflatable speedboats, and their success was enough for the Coast Guard to study the attacks and alter their Ports, Waterways, and Coastal Security strategy (United States Coast Guard 2012).

Finally, the port itself could very well be a valuable target for individuals or groups looking to attack the United States, because the port is an important economic target, and a successful attack would cause a severe disruption, even if it was only closed for a few days. This is especially true when one considers that the aforementioned 33 million tons of cargo comes out to around $45 billion dollars, such that an attack on the port itself would be damaging not only to Maryland's economy but the country as a whole (not to mention the potential loss of life) (Maryland Department of Transportation 2012). Of course, an attack on the port would also not be unprecedented; after all, the national anthem was written during a British attack on the port of Baltimore, Fort McHenry, and the nearby shipyards.

As mentioned above, the MTSA and SAFE Port Act formalized a hierarchy of federal agencies responsible for port security and threat response alongside state agencies. In the case of the port of Baltimore, the first line of security are private security personnel working for Securitas, Inc., a Swedish company contracted by the Office of Security in the Maryland Department of Transportation (Maryland Department of Transportation 2012). These private security personnel perform the day-to-day work of securing the port, and are responsible for all access control duties. At times they will work in conjunction… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Port of Baltimore Brief Over the Course.  (2012, February 24).  Retrieved December 7, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/port-baltimore-brief-course/679121

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"Port of Baltimore Brief Over the Course."  24 February 2012.  Web.  7 December 2019. <https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/port-baltimore-brief-course/679121>.

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"Port of Baltimore Brief Over the Course."  Essaytown.com.  February 24, 2012.  Accessed December 7, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/port-baltimore-brief-course/679121.