E-Bulletin June 2024

Assessing port infrastructure risks USCG convenes Safety Board of Inquiry

On 17 May from Washington the US Coast Guard reported that it had convened a Ports and Waterways Safety Board of Inquiry two days before to evaluate the risks to critical port infrastructure posed by larger commercial vessels and increased traffic density. 

A comprehensive assessment of critical port infrastructure

The Board, authorized under Title 46 of the US Code and chaired by Rear Admiral Wayne R Arguin, Assistant Commandant for Prevention Policy, is comprised of a team of senior Coast Guard officers and experts who will work closely with federal, state, local agencies and port stakeholders to conduct a comprehensive assessment of critical port infrastructure.

To ensure navigational safety

Specifically, the Board will examine the implications of larger, more complex vessels and evolving maritime traffic patterns on port infrastructure, including bridges, cargo terminals, pipelines, railways and power plants and recommend risk mitigation strategies and best practices to ensure navigational safety.

A review of the historical use and effectiveness of the Coast Guard’s existing waterways risk assessment tools will also be conducted.

Admiral Arguin said: ‘The safety of our ports and waterways is paramount, and this Board will ensure that we have the necessary measures in place to address the challenges posed by increased maritime traffic and larger vessels.’

Ten domestic ports or port complexes

The Board of Inquiry is tasked with identifying ten domestic ports or port complexes to examine within thirty days of the convening order and producing a comprehensive final report by 31 May 2025.

It is understood that the Board will work closely with federal, state and local stakeholders, including the US Committee on the Marine Transportation System, the Army Corps of Engineers, the Federal Highway Administration and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to develop and implement effective risk assessment tools and procedures.

Arguin added: ‘Working closely with key government and industry stakeholders is the top priority for this Board and that close coordination will be critical to expeditiously completing this unprecedented assessment of our vital ports.

Highest level of assessment

A Ports and Waterways Safety Board of Inquiry is the highest-level assessment conducted by the US Coast Guard to address risks to port and waterway infrastructure following concerns from maritime incidents. This Board is a necessary step to bolster the US economic prosperity through safe, secure and efficient flow of commerce on US waterways.

Additional information can be found at the Ports and Waterways Safety Board of Inquiry website to be found here:  Based on material kindly provided by United States Coast Guard News

Rapporteur: Paul Ridgway

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