Homeland Security secretary tours local port facilities

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Assistant Secretary for Infrastructure Protection Robert Stephan met with security and operations officials for the Port of South Louisiana (PSL) and the Lower Mississippi River Port Wide Strategic Security Council (LMRPWSSC), a consortium of the five Lower Mississippi River Deep-water ports, partnering together to establish a regional maritime security layer.

Assistant Secretary Stephan received a briefing by PSL Director of Operations Mitch Smith at the Globalplex Facility Guesthouse. The briefing focused on the economic significance of the Lower Mississippi Port System to the United States, along with the creation of the Lower Mississippi River Port Wide Strategic Security Committee (including recent and planned security upgrades / PSL specific). The briefing concluded with discussion on potential opportunities for enhanced cooperation between the Federal Government and the Private Sector, with Lester Millet III, PSL Policy and Planning Director, touching upon the Port of South Louisiana’s Facility Security Officers Workgroup. The workgroup, composed of key members of both the government and private sectors, meets bi-monthly to network and share information pertaining to Maritime Security.

Assistant Secretary Stephan then joined Mitch Smith aboard the Port Security Vessel (PSV) PSL Responder for a short technology demonstration of vessel’s capabilities, followed by a down-river tour of the port, identifying critical infrastructures along the way.

The PSL Responder is an award-winning, state-of-the-art, 57-foot Dauntless Class port security vessel, equipped with the latest in communications and surveillance equipment, and capable of speeds in excess of thirty knots. Dedicated in August 2007, the vessel serves as a multi-mission command / control center for the Port of South Louisiana’s 24/7 security operations within its 54 mile wide jurisdiction, and supports various Coast Guard marine safety / security missions along the Lower Mississippi River’s three hundred mile stretch. The Port of South Louisiana purchased the PSL Responder with funds from the Department of Homeland Security Port Security Grant Program (Round 5).