Rail and Water or Maritime Transport Could Essay

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Rail and water or maritime transport could be said to be a better protector of the environment compared to road and air modes of transportation, due mainly to the amount of fuel used or burned per ton of cargo moved. Also, water or ocean vessels can provide a very diverse form of intermodal transport. Container ships have huge capacities given the standardized containers, and the larger ships being constructed today. There has been a significant amount of press coverage about ocean or water transport as being a safe mode of moving freight into the U.S. port systems. Reporters have been probing experts about the safety of our sea ports. So, you, as an expert, are to address this issue now. Your question is, "What are the challenges at these ports from a national security viewpoint? "

There are many challenges at America's seaports, specifically security related. Sea ports, unlike roads and rail, are open to outside vessels and travelers. National security entities work hard to ensure safe port operations. The U.S. uses private security contractors as well as the Department of Homeland Security resources. The threat of outside terrorist attacks grows as ports row larger and become a larger part of the global transportation infrastructure. Threats such as attack from other vessels and attacks on port structures themselves exist as well. One of the largest challenges faced by these ports in terms of security is the sheer size of the ports themselves. Each port is unique, and exists as a vulnerable part of many nations' supply chains. These ports have grown so large as to become nearly impossible to patrol and monitor effectively without hiring teams of private security contractors.

Since ports and port operators are concerned with both port safety and efficiency, they often have to strike a balance between what they can accomplish in terms of patrols and screenings and the time it takes to berth vessels and make sure their paperwork and itineraries are up-to-date. This represents another security concern for port managers, since vessels are often in a hurry to move to and from the port itself.

Another major consideration for port security exists with the number of cargo containers and items that move to and from the port each day. It is very expensive and time consuming to have to screen each container, and while automated solutions do exist, these solutions often do not represent the most effective form of security for containers and cargo moving to and from the port.


Rodrigue, Jean-Paul; Comtois, Claude and Brian Slack. (2009). The Goegraphy of Transportation Systems,

2nd Ed.. New York: Routledge.

Strategic Intermodal Transportation

Written Paper (3 pages with references)

Select an article, agency website, or GAO report dealing with some aspect of government or military transportation. Prepare a one page synopsis on the article or agency's role in government or military transportation.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) plays and integral role in the security of U.S. ports and ort operations. This agency uses a host of different equipment and tactics to help accomplish many tasks. These tasks range from direct security of ports, border patrol, and recovery actions. There is little doubt that in the post-9/11 world, the DHS provides a critical presence in the fight against terror on U.S. soil. DHS acts as a first line of defense against U.S. terrorist threats. The agency's website as an entire page devoted to reporting terror threats as well as a place where people can go to check the current threat level and learn more about effectively preventing terror attacks on ports. This agency is responsible as a first line response agency as well in the event of a terrorist attack.

The DHS website is also host to a section relative to border security. This agency acts in many of the ports closest to foreign soil, helping to stem the flow of illegal immigrants into the U.S. via water, land, and air. The DHS actions are not limited to U.S. ports, but the transportation network of the U.S. is a major focus of the agency. Another major focus of DHS that is often overlooked is cyber security. The communications network of the U.S. is a critical and vulnerable part of the transportation infrastructure, and DHS is tasked with being the first line of defense for this as well. Along with other government agencies, DHS helps to monitor the cyber transportation infrastructure of the U.S. And U.S. interests.

Along with U.S. Border Patrol, DHS also offers its resources to help the fight against drugs and weapons crossing the U.S. border. DHS's website emphasizes these actions and helps to highlight the many successes in helping Border Patrol agents keep the drug wars in Mexico and the U.S. southwest under control. The DHS website acts as a springboard of information about the agency. It seems as though the website serves to both inform and highlight DHS actions by creating a forum where people can log on and see the latest updates and news about DHS actions.

Department of Homeland Security Homepage. (2010). Web accessed Sept. 11, 2010.

Discussion Board (1 page with references)

How does the U.S. Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM) and the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) work together with the commercial transport sector to support the warfighter?

USTRANSCOM works as a resource provider for warfighter. This agency has assets of over $52 billion dollars in vessels, equipment, and manpower. It provides the horsepower for the warfighter program and also provides all of the muscle behind U.S. port operations overseas. The DLA provides all the planning and logistics behind warfighter, and works closely with USTRANSCOM to help accomplish any task necessary to warfighters and U.S. overseas port operations.

Both entities work hand in hand with international port interests as well. These agencies ensure the safe efficient operation and deployment of U.S. armed forces and materiel. They work together with the U.S. armed forces during deployment and pullout of men and equipment. While neither agency is ultimately responsible for port security as a whole, they do provide valuable resources to port interests around the globe in times of need and emergency. These agencies act however, in unison in order to support U.S. interests abroad and warfighter interests.

The DLA also works to provide energy solutions to ports around the globe. These solutions focus on the current and future needs of each port and infrastructure. This agency works closely with other government agencies in order to come up with effective solutions to the complexities in energy resources and supplies that exist abroad and at home. Both of these agencies require strict oversight and benefit U.S. interests abroad as well as U.S. warfighter programs. These agencies are also the first line in logistics and resources when it comes to opening up a new theater of war and supporting those theaters that are already in existence. They are often overlooked and receive little credit though they deserve the lion's share of recognition as leaders in logistics and resources whenever U.S. warfighter interests need to be moved and supported.

Defense Logistics Agency Homepage. (2010). http://www.dla.mil. Accessed Sept. 11, 2010.

Rodrigue, Jean-Paul; Comtois, Claude and Brian Slack. (2009). The Goegraphy of Transportation Systems,

2nd Ed.. New York: Routledge.

USTRANSCOM Homepage. (2010). http://www.ustranscom.mil. Accessed Sept. 11, 2010.

Port and Terminal Operations

Discussion Board (1 page with references)

What are some of the factors that contribute to port delays and port productivity levels? Be specific. Discuss in detail.

There are quite a few productivity considerations in port operations, and these are not limited to specifics relative to logistics and port site itself. As ports grow, new challenges related to size and efficiency arises as well. Ship berthing times are a major factor in port delays. The berthing times are a critical function of port size as well as delays. Ships that are required to pass customs and other regulations are often tied up for extended periods of time at the port or just outside it. This of course depends on the destination of the cargo and the nature of business.

Another concern for port productivity is the fact that larger ports are often harder to navigate and are less efficient relative to vessels moving in and around the port. Ort managers and operators need to pay special attention to the layout of the port and the efficiency of the labor crews and operations affecting the productivity levels. The Panama Canal is an excellent example of a port that has slowly become outdated, and since vessels are much larger today than they were 10 years ago, this port has to be updated to help reflect the best possible technological considerations relative to port productivity and security.

Another major factor that can often delay or create productivity problems at ports is the complexity of the supply chain. Ports are subject to these complexities, which include mechanical considerations, time and distance constraints, and more importantly, labor considerations. All of these complexities are of course subject to the specificities of each…[continue]

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