Emergency Preparedness

FEMA Awards $100 Million Earmarked for Security at Over 33 Ports

The 2017 Port Security Grant Program recipients are using funding to shore up maritime transportation infrastructure and security activities against risks associated with potential terrorist attacks.

port security

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Ports from sea to shining sea and a host of others in between are being awarded funding for security measures as recipients of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) 2017 Port Security Grant Program (PSGP). Total funding available for the program in Fiscal Year 2017 was $100,000,000, and it is being shared in varying amounts among 33 ports throughout the United States.

PSGP funding helps “protect critical port infrastructure from terrorism, enhance maritime domain awareness, improve port-wide maritime security risk management, and maintain or reestablish maritime security mitigation protocols that support port recovery and resiliency capabilities,” said the DHS. “PSGP recipients support efforts to build and sustain core capabilities across prevention, protection, mitigation, response, and recovery mission areas, with specific focus on addressing the security needs of our Nation’s maritime ports.”

The vast majority of U.S. maritime critical infrastructure is owned and operated by state, local, and private sector maritime industry partners. According to American Association of Port Authorities President and CEO Kurt Nagle, activities at U.S. seaports account for more than one-quarter of the nation’s economy, support over 23 million American jobs, and generate more than $321 billion per year in federal, state, and local tax revenue.

Galveston is a busy port in Texas, handling about 1.7 million cruise passengers annually and a large number of cargo business lines. The Port of Galveston plans to use a portion of its 2017 PSGP award to fund two projects.

The first project expands the Port’s fiber infrastructure and video surveillance systems, supports cybersecurity efforts, and provides funds to assist with system maintenance. The second project will upgrade the area around the security gate serving the port’s West End terminals.

“We’re honored by the confidence FEMA has shown in the Port of Galveston with this award. It will help us continue our commitment to enhancing the security of the Port and ensuring the safe movement of passengers and cargo through the Port of Galveston complex,” said Peter Simons, interim port director.

The PSGP is one of DHS’s grant programs that is directed toward the implementation of Area Maritime Security Plans and Facility Security Plans among port authorities, facility operators, and state and local government agencies that are required to provide port security services.

The PSGP supports the goal to strengthen national preparedness and resilience. Port areas are selected for funding through a competitive review process. In administering the grant program, national, economic, energy, and strategic defense concerns based on the most current risk assessments available are considered, according to the DHS. By law, the DHS must direct these funds to the nation’s highest risk ports.

Safety and security are top priorities at ports throughout the country. Since September 11, 2001, ports responsible for security have greatly expanded their efforts to protect the port complex and surrounding communities.