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Homeland Security

Maritime Security Systems

The safety and economic security of the United States depends upon the secure use of the world's oceans. Since the attacks of September 11, 2001, the Federal government has reviewed and strengthened all of its strategies to combat the evolving threat in the War on Terrorism. Various departments have each carried out maritime security strategies which have provided an effective layer of security since 2001. In December 2004, the President directed the Secretaries of the Department of Defense and Homeland Security to lead the Federal effort to develop a comprehensive National Strategy for Maritime Security, to better integrate and synchronize the existing Department-level strategies and ensure their effective and efficient implementation.

Maritime security is best achieved by blending public and private maritime security activities on a global scale into an integrated effort that addresses all maritime threats. The new National Strategy for Maritime Security aligns all Federal government maritime security programs and initiatives into a comprehensive and cohesive national effort involving appropriate Federal, State, local, and private sector entities.

In addition to this Strategy, the Departments have developed eight supporting plans to address the specific threats and challenges of the maritime environment. While the plans address different aspects of maritime security, they are mutually linked and reinforce each other. The supporting plans include:

  • National Plan to Achieve Domain Awareness
  • Global Maritime Intelligence Integration Plan
  • Interim Maritime Operational Threat Response Plan
  • International Outreach and Coordination Strategy
  • Maritime Infrastructure Recovery Plan
  • Maritime Transportation System Security Plan
  • Maritime Commerce Security Plan
  • Domestic Outreach Plan

Development of these plans was guided by the security principles outlined in this National Strategy for Maritime Security. These plans will be updated on a periodic basis in response to changes in the maritime threat, the world environment, and national security policies.

Together, the National Strategy for Maritime Security and its eight supporting plans present a comprehensive national effort to promote global economic stability and protect legitimate activities while preventing hostile or illegal acts within the maritime domain.

The infrastructure and systems that span the maritime domain, owned largely by the private sector, have increasingly become both targets of and potential conveyances for dangerous and illicit activities. Moreover, much of what occurs in the maritime domain with respect to vessel movements, activities, cargoes, intentions, or ownership is often difficult to discern. The oceans are increasingly threatened by illegal exploitation of living marine resources and increased competition over nonliving marine resources. Although the global economy continues to increase the value of the oceans' role as highways for commerce and providers of resources, technology and the forces of globalization have lessened their role as barriers. Thus, this continuous domain serves as a vast, ready, and largely unsecured medium for an array of threats by nations, terrorists, and criminals.

Defeating this array of threats to maritime security - including the threat or use of weapons of mass destruction (WMD)2 - requires a common understanding and a joint effort for action on a global scale. Because the economic well-being of people in the United States and across the globe depends heavily upon the trade and commerce that traverses the oceans, maritime security must be a top priority. Maritime security is required to ensure freedom of the seas; facilitate freedom of navigation and commerce; advance prosperity and freedom; and protect the resources of the ocean. Nations have a common interest in achieving two complementary objectives: to facilitate the vibrant maritime commerce that underpins economic security, and to protect against ocean-related terrorist, hostile, criminal, and dangerous acts. Since all nations benefit from this collective security, all nations must share in the responsibility for maintaining maritime security by countering the threats in this domain.

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Page last modified: 13-07-2011 12:51:12 ZULU