top of page

5/07/22: Leveraging Unmanned Surface Vessels to Enhance the Effectiveness of Port & Harbor Security

USVs can be a powerful force multiplier in keeping up with security operations in ports and harbors.

When most people think of globalization, they immediately think of the international trade that has lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty over the past few decades. As a former active-duty U.S. naval officer, that is where my focus has been for most of my professional life—on the high seas. That changed in August 2020 when deadly explosions rocked the harbor in Beirut, Lebanon. However, lost among the headlines that dominated the international news for weeks, was the importance of ports and harbors to the global commerce that is the lifeblood of the economy of virtually every nation.


The critical nodes that support trade are the world’s harbors. From Shanghai, to Rotterdam, to Los Angeles, to Hong Kong, to Shenzhen and to other mega-ports, as well as hundreds smaller ports, ports and harbors are critical to world prosperity. A catastrophic event could close one of these ports for an indefinite time and spill an enormous amount of pollution into the oceans.


Faced with this challenge, port authorities must ensure security twenty-four hours a day, every day. This task includes continuous inspection of port assets, threat detection and security response, ongoing surveys to ensure navigable waterways, hull inspections, and a wide-range of other missions.


The magnitude of providing comprehensive security for an average size port – let alone some of the world’s mega-ports – can sometimes lure port authorities into wishing away the challenge. But in an increasingly dangerous world, ports that can be attacked via land or sea present an inviting and vulnerable target.


USVs can be a powerful force multiplier in keeping up with security operations in ports and harbors.

When most people think of globalization, they immediately think of the international trade that has lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty over the past few decades. As a former active-duty U.S. naval officer, that is where my focus has been for most of my professional life—on the high seas. That changed in August 2020 when deadly explosions rocked the harbor in Beirut, Lebanon. However, lost among the headlines that dominated the international news for weeks, was the importance of ports and harbors to the global commerce that is the lifeblood of the economy of virtually every nation.


The critical nodes that support trade are the world’s harbors. From Shanghai, to Rotterdam, to Los Angeles, to Hong Kong, to Shenzhen and to other mega-ports, as well as hundreds smaller ports, ports and harbors are critical to world prosperity. A catastrophic event could close one of these ports for an indefinite time and spill an enormous amount of pollution into the oceans.


Faced with this challenge, port authorities must ensure security twenty-four hours a day, every day. This task includes continuous inspection of port assets, threat detection and security response, ongoing surveys to ensure navigable waterways, hull inspections, and a wide-range of other missions.


The magnitude of providing comprehensive security for an average size port – let alone some of the world’s mega-ports – can sometimes lure port authorities into wishing away the challenge. But in an increasingly dangerous world, ports that can be attacked via land or sea present an inviting and vulnerable target.


Enhancing the Effectiveness of Port and Harbor Security

The enhanced port and harbor security methodology described in this article has not been evaluated previously, and there is a reason. The technology to provide reliable, adaptable and affordable USV support to augment manned capabilities and expand the reach of port security officials at facilities such as the Port of Los Angeles and Port of Tampa simply did not exist just a few years ago. But that has now changed.

This technology is available today with commercial off-the-shelf unmanned surface vessels, and these can be employed to increase the effectiveness of port protection. Given the enormous personnel costs associated with monitoring cameras and patrolling with manned vehicles, this innovative solution designed to supplement current capabilities will drive down life cycle costs.


This POLA demonstration and subsequent Port of Tampa validation certified that commercial-off-the-shelf unmanned surface vehicles can ably conduct a comprehensive security inspection of a mega-port. As the world continues to come to grips with the human and economic impact of the Beirut harbor disaster, all nations would be well-served to leverage emerging technology to enhance the security of the ports and harbors that make the global economy hum.

57 Προβολές0 Σχόλια

Comments


bottom of page