Most items in any given household or business were, at one time, shipped in a container. And as companies such as CN know full well, moving those containers is big (and profitable) business. Indeed, CN recently announced strong quarterly results that stemmed, in part, from increased movement of in-bound containers from countries around the world.
With all those containers moving the world’s economy, one might reasonably ask who helps secure maritime shipping?
Looking at a few of Canada’s harbours – and their connections to various coordinated government agencies – helps answer that question.
The Port of Montreal is one of the busiest harbours in North America. It handles more than 20 million tonnes of highly diversified cargo every year – including containers, liquid bulk and dry bulk – and generates economic spin-offs of $2 billion annually. It also operates 100 kms of railway directly linked to the yards of CN and CP.
Keeping watch over this massive installation is itself a massive job.
To that end, Port of Montreal officials invested millions of dollars in a master control centre that is open 24 hours a day. From this centre , security coordinators have a clear view of the entire port area thanks to more than 50 port video cameras installed at strategic locations and linked back to the command centre.
This in-situ security system, in turn, is connected to local, provincial and federal emergency services and border control agencies such as the Sûreté du Québec and the Canada Border Services Agency. Of note is the federal government’s Container Security Initiative (CSI) , a multi-national initiative that protects containerized shipping from being exploited or disrupted by terrorists. CSI is designed to safeguard global marine trade while enabling legitimate cargo containers to move faster and more efficiently through the global supply chain.
Similarly, though on a small scale compared to Montreal, the Toronto Port Authority closely monitors two million tonnes of cargo coming in from markets around the world every year. Security in this case is under the watchful eye of Angus Armstrong, Chief of Security and Harbour Master. Angus has 30 years of maritime security experience in Toronto and is a member of a number of national and international maritime security organizations.
Among other things, Angus was instrumental in having the Port of Toronto receive the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code approval. The ISPS Code is a comprehensive set of measures laid out by the International Maritime Organization to enhance the security of ships and port facilities, developed in response to the perceived threats to ships and port facilities in the wake of the 9/11 attacks in the United States.
So, who helps secure maritime shipping? Plenty of highly qualified professionals working in close coordination is the answer.
For those keen on learning more can check out an innovative on-line feature the BBC did last year on shipping [link to http://bbc.in/nptTgs]. They tracked a container for one year to tell stories of globalization and security. It’s well worth a few minutes.