Protecting the global supply chain: MSU Port Arthur
Posted by LT Connie Braesch, Wednesday, August 17, 2011
The global supply chain, including America’s ports and waterways, is an interconnected powerful engine of commerce, jobs and prosperity. Consumers, businesses and military forces in the U.S. and around the world rely on the system every day – even the slightest disruption can have global economic impacts.
Securing the chain is integral to securing both the lives of people and maintaining stability in the global economy. As America’s lead maritime law enforcement agency, the U.S. Coast Guard is doing its part in defending our homeland and protecting the maritime transportation system. From the coffee that fuels your day to the gasoline that fuels your car, Coast Guard men and women are keeping the country going.
Marine Safety Unit Port Arthur in Texas, located on the border of Louisiana, is charged with safeguarding one of the nation’s vital waterways. The narrow Sabine Pass provides access to a strategic and nationally significant pertrochemical port complex that includes two military outload ports, two liquid natural gas facilities and two of the nation’s five strategic petroleum reserves located in Port Arthur and Beaumont, Texas.
The very nature of the maritime transportation system means that one vulnerability or gap anywhere has the ability to affect economic activity thousands of miles away. Protecting these critical elements of the supply chain infrastructure demands vigilance, robust maritime domain awareness, coordinated mission execution, retention of unique skill sets and unparalleled interagency collaboration.
Leveraging local, state and federal law enforcement capabilities, MSU Port Arthur coordinates the establishment of security and safety zones, high-interest vessel escorts, foreign and domestic vessel screening, maritime facility monitoring and vessel security boardings. Each month in 2010, Port Arthur members averaged almost 130 vessel security boardings, more than 21 high interest vessel escorts and two interagency law enforcement operations.
“The crew at MSU Port Arthur, and Coast Guard crews around the world, are integral to ensuring the global maritime supply chain remains safe, secure, environmentally sound and efficient,” said Rear Adm. James Watson, director of Prevention Policy for the Coast Guard. “Their efforts protect vital military cargo in support of U.S. actions around the globe, and prevent exploitation of the supply chain as a means to attack the homeland.”
Risks can always materialize and through partnerships, training and exercises the Coast Guard is working to bolster the resiliency of the maritime transportation system so when emergency strikes it can rebound quickly, with as little disruption as possible. In January 2010, when a collision resulted in a tanker vessel spilling more than 425,000 gallons of crude oil into the Sabine-Neches waterway – causing the worst oil spill with southeast Texas in 15 years – MSU Port Arthur crews established a joint unified response, recovery and reconstitution operation. The aggressive cleanup and salvage of the vessels resulted in the re-opening of this strategically important waterway within four days.
As a result of their operational excellence, MSU Port Arthur was the only Coast Guard unit among several distinguished Department of Defense units to receive the National Defense Transportation Association military unit award. This award recognizes military commands that have excelled in logistical support and readiness in a high intensity joint service arena.
With Coast Guard units like MSU Port Arthur located throughout the nation in vital ports of entry into the United States, the Coast Guard is doing its part to protect the strength and reliability of the global supply chain.