Byline: Ambrosia Brody
SAN DIEGO – Representatives from more than 15 agencies — including the Coast Guard, San Diego Harbor Police, the California National Guard, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Port of San Diego — gathered to discuss response protocols, ensure alignment of agency plans, and foster working relationships during a meeting of the San Diego Area Maritime Security Committee in Sorrento Valley.
The purpose was to determine the effectiveness of the Area Maritime Security Plan to ensure the safety and security of the Port of San Diego, according to the Coast Guard.
Held yearly, the Maritime Homeland Security training allows participating agencies to discuss contingency plans.
“By testing the effectiveness of the San Diego Area Maritime Security Plan, it helped to prepare local, state and federal agencies and port partners for prevention, protection and response to a possible weapon of mass destruction within the Port of San Diego,” explained Jim Hubbard, senior port security specialist for the Department of Homeland Security Sector San Diego.
The tabletop exercise, “Exercise Bay Shield 2013,” was mandated by the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002. The act requires the Coast Guard and Area Maritime Security Committees to ensure that exercises are carried out once a year to test the effectiveness of the Area Maritime Security Plan.
Notification and communication processes were tested during the meeting. Agencies also reviewed and validated roles and responsibilities of agencies responding to the potential emergency.
“The value of these exercises is immeasurable,” Hubbard said. “Exercising security plans and contingency plans ensures we are continuously improving the preparedness and security of our ports. These exercises help to identify gaps and validate best practices of security processes.”