Worldwide there are approximately 3,000 merchant ports and the work of the Harbour Master can vary widely from country to country and from port to port even within the same country.
On 24 July it was reported from Savannah, Georgia, by US Coast Guard that they along with partner agency crews had completed an Area Maritime Security Training and Exercise Program (AMSTEP). Our illustration here was kindly provided by the USCG, the photograph is by Petty Officer 1st Class Luke Clayton of US Coast Guard District 7 (USCG ©).
This exercise consisted of 25 federal, local and state agencies from the Savannah area.
Such an AMSTEP exercise is used to test the area’s maritime security plans for different disaster scenarios and find ways to improve response capabilities.
The US Coast Guard-led three-day exercise consisted of deploying a command structure, inter-agency field teams and conducting a field exercise to test the unique capabilities of each agency and their assets.
In the words of Commander Norm Witt, the Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Savannah Commanding Officer: ‘Port safety and security is not a single agency mission. There are numerous responsibilities and overlapping jurisdictions. Each agency brings a unique set of abilities and strengths to the group.’
During the field exercise, crews role-played a scenario where a container began leaking hazardous material in the port. Agency assets from the Coast Guard, Savannah Fire Department, and others responded and coordinated tactics to contain the spill.
It is reported that the exercise’s primary goal is to protect the public and region from numerous threats while increasing capability in the fourth largest container port in the United States.
On 19 February the European Sea Ports Organisation (ESPO) published its Position Paper on the European Green Deal objectives in ports.
The publication of this position paper fits into the European Shipping Week (ESW), taking place in Brussels from 17 February. In the framework of the ESW, ESPO and the European Community Shipowners’ Associations (ECSA) organised on 19 February a workshop on Decarbonising the shipping industry: What’s already happening and how can we help accelerate it?
The Executive Summary of the ESPO Position Paper reads as follows:
Following reports received regarding the impacts on the shipping industry of the sudden and rapid outbreak of the Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), IMO issued a Circular Letter* on 19 February advising Member States and others on implementation and enforcement of relevant IMO Instruments.
The letter urges Flag State authorities, port State authorities and control regimes, companies and ship masters to cooperate, in the current context of the outbreak, to ensure that, where appropriate, passengers can be embarked and disembarked, cargo operations can occur, ships can enter and depart ship yards for repair and survey, stores and supplies can be loaded, certificates can be issued and crews can be exchanged.
The principles of avoiding unnecessary restrictions or delay on port entry to ships, persons and property on board are contained in articles I and V and section 6 of the annex to IMO’s Facilitation Convention.
IMO will continue to monitor the situation closely and will provide additional information as and when appropriate.