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Shipping Container Security

The security of the ever-expanding fleet of container ships that ply the world’s oceans is an issue that Port Containers USA and the wider shipping industry take extremely seriously.

Shipping Container Security is a critical focus for Port Shipping USA when maintaining the safety of goods, vessels and personnel is critical to customer confidence and we aim to do our best with the measures that are in place to fulfil expectations.

International Cooperation is Key

Since 2000, the World Shipping Council has played a vital role helping maintain the high standards of shipping container security established by ocean-going liner operators, who facilitate approximately 60% of the international trade in goods, primarily through container and roll-on/roll-off vessels.

The Council and its member companies work with government legislators and other stakeholders to improve communication, cooperation and technology in security, without disrupting the smooth flow of cross-border commerce that is key to profitability.

To this end the Council set up a U.S. Security Advisory Committee back in 2004. This body sits alongside NMSAC, the Homeland Security’s National Maritime Security Advisory Committee’s National Maritime Security Advisory Committee, plus U.S. Custom’s Border Protection Trade Support Network (TSN). There are similar bodies operating in Europe and other continents, to ensure a joined-up approach to managing the many security challenges.

Practical Steps Towards Enhanced Shipping Container Security

One important strategy implemented in the U.S. was the insistence that shipment data is submitted 24 hours prior to loading. While many cargoes are benign in nature – clothing, furniture and plastic for example – others are volatile and require specialized handling. This ‘24-hour Rule’ means proper risk assessments can be done, thus avoiding last minute problems that can create havoc with loading times and seriously delay a ship’s departure.

In addition, all U.S. bound carriers are required to file specific data about their consignments. This programme is operated by U.S Customs and commonly known as the ‘10+2 Rule’ or Importer Security Filing (ISF). It’s is an extremely complex piece of legislation that covers every aspect of the content, bonding, stowage and movement of shipping containers and other modes of haulage. To make life easier for shipping companies and importers, there’s a user-friendly web portal in existence that they can simply register to use.

The Threat of Terrorism

In our post-9/11 world, every operator and government must be aware of terrorist threats and the U.S. is increasingly vigilant in this respect. With thousands of shipping containers arriving at our ports each day from every continent, shipping container security is not something to be taken lightly.

In November 2001 U.S. Customs led the formation of the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) which is a voluntary scheme aimed at securing international supply chains. The programme currently has over 10,000 members. Their enhanced security checks on shipping container contents is rewarded with low-risk designation, which means fewer cargo inspections and much faster progress through import channels. This is good news for both the shipping container companies and their customers.

C-TPAT membership also confers other benefits, such as the right to an assigned security consultant and access to various training seminars. There are also reciprocal arrangements with the import administrations of specific countries, including Canada, Mexico and the European Union, that help expedite the movement of American shipping containers through foreign ports.