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Cal Maritime Hosts Nationís 1st Port Security Training Exercise Program; Lessons learned Will Help Establish National Standards for Port Security Exercises and Training


WEBWIRE

VALLEJO, Calif., Aug. 18 -- The California Maritime Academy (Cal Maritime), a campus of The California State University, today announced that it has been selected as the host facility for the nationís first regional test of the Port Security Training Exercise Program (PortSTEP), a joint effort between the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and United States Coast Guard that will help establish critical security exercise training programs for U.S. seaports.

The multi-agency command and control tabletop exercise will be held today on the Cal Maritime campus and will involve the TSA, Coast Guard, Ports of San Francisco and Oakland, regional and local emergency planners, as well as the first responder communities that would be involved if a port-related terrorism event were to occur in the San Francisco Bay Area. More than 200 personnel are involved in the exercise, either as participants, evaluators, controllers, or observers.

The PortSTEP program is designed to test planning, preparation, response, and recovery capabilities to include all facets of the intermodal port community, including maritime, rail, and vehicle transportation modes. The event is the first of more than 50 exercises of its kind that will be held throughout the United States over the next two years that will assist the TSA in establishing national standards for port security exercises and training that complement other government homeland security training programs.

ďWe are honored to be a part of this first test of a critical national program,Ē said Captain Bruce Clark, USCGR (ret), director of maritime security programs at Cal Maritime. ďThis is a seminal event for integrated security planning that for the first time proposes to link the preparation, response, and recovery operations within a total port environment. PortSTEP allows us to move beyond single facility, single vessel, or even single port area footprints and engage in the real process of dealing with the possible aftermaths of a terrorist event, which will transcend artificial company, operational, or jurisdictional barriers.Ē

One major objective for the exercise will be to test the Coast Guardís Area Maritime Security Plan for the San Francisco Bay Area as part of compliance with the provisions of the Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA) of 2002. The exercise will test the planís site-specific and regional emergency procedures, communications, coordination, and interoperability.

ďThe exercise will be instrumental in identifying the elements of the plan that work well as well as the areas in need of further refinement,Ē added Clark. ďUltimately, the results collected will further advance our regionís -- and ultimately our nationís -- preparedness to thwart a potential terrorist event and to effectively minimize the negative effects of such an event should one occur.Ē

Cal Maritimeís crisis management simulator will be used during the PortSTEP exercise to provide plot and dispersion modeling of a simulated release of hazardous materials resulting as a collateral effect from a terrorist event occurring within the San Francisco Bay Area port environment. Virginia-based UNITECH(tm) will provide multi-media exercise support for the event as a part of their national TSA/USCG PortSTEP contract.

The PortSTEP exercise is the first that Cal Maritime has hosted since recently receiving a three-year, $1 million grant from the California Office of Homeland Security to guide the development and implementation of statewide standards for maritime security training, drills, and exercises for vessels, port facilities, harbors, maritime companies, and other organizations involved in moving freight to and from our nationís harbors.

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About Cal Maritime:

Cal Maritime, a campus of The California State University, is one of only seven degree-granting maritime academies in the United States, and the only one on the West Coast. Tucked away in San Pablo Bayís Morrow Cove in Vallejo, Calif., Cal Maritime offers four-year degrees in business administration, facilities engineering technology, global studies and maritime affairs, marine engineering technology, marine transportation, and mechanical engineering, as well as a number of continuing education and maritime security related courses. For more information about Cal Maritime, visit http://www.csum.edu .



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