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Baltimore port deemed secure by Coast Guard

The port of Baltimore's public marine terminals have earned a positive security assessment from the Coast Guard for the sixth year in a row, the Maryland Port Administration announced Thursday.

The port's public terminals include Seagirt, Dundalk, North and South Locust Point, Cruise Maryland, Fairfield and Masonville.

The port also received a positive evaluation by representatives from the European Commission "conducting a review of the United States' enforcement of the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code," the port administration said.

The Baltimore port was the first in the nation to undergo such a joint review.

Coast Guard Captain of the Port Kevin C. Keifer said in a letter to James J. White, executive director of the port administration, that the port staff's "proficiency and firm commitment to security at all of your port facilities led to a positive assessment of the United States from the European Commission."

Keifer also wrote that the port administration's efforts "to renovate facilities while also establishing more effective security risk mitigation strategies has demonstrated your continued dedication to securing your facilities."

Since 2007, the port has received $12 million in federal security grants to upgrade its security measures, the port administration said, including installing more cameras and live video surveillance; installing barriers and intrusion detection at the cruise terminal; installing a new access control center for terminals; requiring Transportation Workers Identification Credentials; installing a new entry system for trucks at Dundalk Terminal; improving perimeter fencing; and enhancing "radiation portal monitors" that check containers coming into the port.

This summer, a Brookings Institution report found that ports across the country — including Baltimore's — were vulnerable to cyberattacks.

The report, written by Coast Guard Cmdr. Joseph Kramek, who spent a year as a Brookings fellow looking at cybersecurity at six of the nation's busiest ports, found the nation's economy "would grind to a halt in a matter of days" in the event of a cyberattack on the nation's ports.

At the time, port officials said the port takes cybersecurity seriously and that Kramek was not told about all precautions being taken.

The port administration did not outline any new precautions specific to cybersecurity in its announcement Thursday. Richard Scher, a port administration spokesman, could not be reached for comment.

"Thanks to our federal and state security partners, we have made tremendous strides in the last six years toward making the Port of Baltimore one of the most secure seaports in the nation," Gov. Martin O'Malley said in a statement. "I congratulate all of our security professionals who work at the Port of Baltimore on this outstanding achievement and thank them for making Maryland citizens safer and more secure."

krector@baltsun.com

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Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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