Maritime Security: Coast Guard Efforts to Address Port Recovery and Salvage Response

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 2012-04-06.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

United States Government Accountability Office
Washington, DC 20548

           April 6, 2012

           The Honorable John D. Rockefeller, IV
           Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
           United States Senate

           The Honorable John L. Mica
           Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
           House of Representatives

           The Honorable Frank A. LoBiondo
           Chairman, Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation
           Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
           House of Representatives

           Subject: Maritime Security: Coast Guard Efforts to Address Port Recovery and Salvage

           According to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), ports, waterways, and vessels
           are part of an economic engine handling more than $700 billion in merchandise annually,
           and a major disruption to this system could have a widespread impact on global shipping,
           international trade, and the global economy. As the lead federal agency for the Marine
           Transportation System (MTS), the U.S. Coast Guard is responsible for facilitating the
           recovery of the MTS following a significant transportation disruption, such as a security
           incident or natural disaster, and working with maritime stakeholders for the expeditious
           resumption of trade. 1 Area Maritime Security (AMS) Plans, which are developed by the
           Coast Guard with input from applicable governmental and private entities, serve as the
           primary means to identify and coordinate Coast Guard procedures related to prevention,
           protection, and security response, as well as facilitation of MTS recovery. In the aftermath of
           Hurricane Katrina, the Coast Guard conducted efforts to identify additional recovery-related
           elements and incorporate them within its AMS Plans to help ensure a consistent approach
           to MTS recovery and trade resumption. In addition, the Security and Accountability for Every
           Port Act of 2006 (SAFE Port Act) required that AMS Plans include a Salvage Response
           Plan to ensure that waterways are cleared and port commerce is reestablished as efficiently
           and quickly as possible following a transportation security incident (TSI), among other
           things. 2 These additional recovery and salvage elements were to be included within the

             The MTS is a network of maritime operations interfacing with shoreside operations at intermodal connections
           and is part of global supply chains or domestic commercial operations. The various operations within the MTS
           network have components that include vessels; port facilities; waterways and waterway infrastructure; railroads;
           bridges; highways; tunnels; intermodal physical, cyber, and human connections; and users.
             Pub. L. No. 109-347, § 101, 120 Stat. 1184, 1187-88 (2006) (codified at 46 U.S.C. § 70103(b)(2)(G)). A TSI is a
           security incident resulting in a significant loss of life, environmental damage, transportation system disruption, or
           economic disruption in a particular area. 46 U.S.C. § 70101(6).

                                                                              GAO-12-494R Coast Guard Recovery Planning
2009 updates of the AMS Plans. Further, the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2010 called
for AMS Plans to establish response and recovery protocols to prepare for, respond to,
mitigate against, and recover from a TSI. 3 To facilitate these updates, the Coast Guard
revised available planning guidance, which includes a template for use in developing
applicable recovery and salvage response content.

Given the importance of ensuring that the Coast Guard has incorporated these recovery-
related elements as directed, you asked us to determine the extent to which the Coast
Guard has revised AMS plans to facilitate recovery of the MTS as called for by legislation
and Coast Guard guidance. In addition, as discussed with your offices, we are also
continuing to assess the extent to which federal entities are working with maritime
stakeholders to enhance the resiliency of port-related infrastructure. We anticipate reporting
the results of this work in the summer of 2012.

To address our audit objective for this report, we reviewed the seven Coast Guard AMS
Plans for the DHS-designated Group I port areas—those determined to be the highest risk—
to assess whether they included provisions regarding recovery and salvage as required by
law. 4 Further, we compared the recovery and salvage sections of those plans with guidance
and criteria issued by Coast Guard headquarters to determine the extent to which this
guidance was reflected in the AMS Plans. We selected these locations because their status
as Group I port areas heightens the likelihood of a TSI and importance of planning for
recovery of the MTS after a transportation disruption. 5 We also obtained additional
information regarding the Coast Guard’s plan review and approval process to determine the
extent to which all AMS plans were reported to include applicable recovery and salvage
response components. 6 To determine the key recovery-related elements for summarizing
our plan review, we reviewed available Coast Guard planning guidance and applicable
Commandant Instructions for discussion of principal recovery entities and operational
processes. 7 Our characterization of these elements was further corroborated through
interviews with Coast Guard headquarters officials.

  Pub. L No. 111-281, § 826, 124 Stat. 2905, 3004 (2010) (codified at 46 U.S.C. § 70103(b)(2)(E)). The plans are
to be consistent with the National Maritime Transportation Security Plan and the protocols for the resumption of
trade required by the SAFE Port Act.
  To promote a regional approach to port security, DHS aggregates individual ports into “port areas” for grant
funding purposes. DHS determines the level of risk faced by U.S. port areas and then assigns those port areas
to one of three groups based on that risk. There are seven Group I port areas in the United States—Delaware
Bay (which includes Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Trenton, New Jersey; Wilmington, Delaware; and other ports in
the region); Houston-Galveston, Texas; Los Angeles-Long Beach, California; New Orleans, Louisiana (which
includes Baton Rouge and other ports); New York, New York and New Jersey; Puget Sound (which includes
Seattle, Olympia, Tacoma, and other ports in Washington); and San Francisco Bay, California (which also
includes Oakland and other ports in California).
  The term ‘‘transportation disruption’’ indicates any significant delay, interruption, or stoppage in the flow of trade
caused by a natural disaster, heightened threat level, an act of terrorism, as well as any TSI. 6 U.S.C § 901(16).
  AMS Plans are developed for each of the 43 individual Captain of the Port zones—specific port areas
geographically defined in 33 C.F.R. part 3. The Captain of the Port is the Coast Guard officer designated by the
Coast Guard Commandant to enforce, within his or her respective area, port safety, security, and maritime
environmental protection regulations, including, without limitation, regulations for the protection and security of
vessels, harbors, and waterfront facilities. These port zones generally correspond to the 35 Coast Guard Sectors
(field-based operational units responsible for executing the agency’s missions within their areas of responsibility).
However, separate AMS plans have also been developed for six Marine Safety Units—which represent distinct
areas (zones) within those sectors—as well as the Gulf of Mexico, and the Commonwealth of the Northern
Mariana Islands.
  Coast Guard, Commandant Instruction 16000.28, Recovery of the Marine Transportation System for
Resumption of Commerce (Feb. 18, 2008); Navigation and Vessel Inspection Circular 09-02, Change 3,
Guidelines for Development of Area Maritime Security Committees and Area Maritime Security Plans Required
for U.S. Ports (Apr. 29, 2008); and Commandant Instruction 16601.28, Area Maritime Security Plan Development

Page 2                                                               GAO-12-494R Coast Guard Recovery Planning
We supplemented our plan review by conducting interviews with Coast Guard officials from
each of the seven sectors responsible for the Group I port areas to discuss their process for
developing and updating AMS Plans, as well as coordination of recovery planning with
industry stakeholders. We also interviewed additional maritime stakeholders (e.g., port
officials, vessel and facility operators, and marine exchanges) in two selected Group I ports
to determine their roles in working with the Coast Guard to plan for recovery of the MTS
following a transportation disruption. We selected these two ports, in part, because they
represent varied coastal environments and waterways, a range of potential natural
disasters, and are overseen by two different Coast Guard command entities. Though these
stakeholders’ views do not represent all key maritime stakeholders in these or other ports,
they provide valuable insights into collaborative port recovery efforts.

We conducted this performance audit from August 2011 to April 2012 in accordance with
generally accepted government auditing standards. Those standards require that we plan
and perform the audit to obtain sufficient, appropriate evidence to provide a reasonable
basis for our findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives. We believe that the
evidence obtained provides a reasonable basis for our findings and conclusions based on
our audit objectives.

Results in Brief

Each of the seven Coast Guard AMS Plans that we reviewed has incorporated key recovery
and salvage response planning elements as called for by legislation and Coast Guard
guidance. Using a template provided by Coast Guard headquarters to help guide AMS Plan
development, each AMS Plan included an applicable section addressing procedures to
facilitate recovery of the MTS following a TSI. While some variation exists regarding the
level of detail provided and the inclusion of additional recovery-related appendices, each of
the seven plans identified key recovery components and applicable operational processes
as called for by Coast Guard guidance documents. These components include procedures
for establishing a Marine Transportation System Recovery Unit (MTSRU) to work with
stakeholders and provide guidance to the Incident Command; 8 procedures for gathering and
updating Essential Elements of Information (EEIs) to provide status updates on key port
assets and operations; and identification of general recovery priorities to help guide decision
making. In addition, each AMS Plan also included a Salvage Response Plan to provide a
coordination framework for salvage activities and identify available equipment and other
resources that may be necessary to support the clearing of waterways to enable resumption
of port commerce. Although our plan review was limited to seven high-risk port areas, the
Coast Guard provided documentation indicating that all 43 AMS Plans have been approved
as meeting all applicable content requirements, including recovery and salvage response

Process (Apr. 29, 2008). According to headquarters officials, the Coast Guard is in the process of updating policy
directives and guidance to align with the evolution of national recovery and resiliency policy. These revisions are
expected to be completed within the year; however, officials do not expect this policy alignment to necessitate
significant changes in the MTS recovery regime at the field level.
  The Incident Command System is a standardized, all-hazards, incident management approach used at all
levels of government to help ensure a coordinated response among various jurisdictions and functional agencies,
both public and private. The Coast Guard Captain of the Port would normally serve as the Incident Commander
during a localized port incident within his/her area of responsibility.

Page 3                                                            GAO-12-494R Coast Guard Recovery Planning

Legal Framework
Much of today’s current port security framework was set in place by the Maritime
Transportation Security Act (MTSA) of 2002. 9 Among other requirements, MTSA directed
the Coast Guard to develop Area Maritime Security Plans—to be updated every 5 years—
for ports throughout the nation. 10 These plans are to, among other things, describe the area
and infrastructure covered by the plan and how the plan is integrated with other area
maritime security plans. 11 MTSA also called for development of the National Maritime
Transportation Security Plan that included procedures for restoration of domestic cargo flow
following a TSI.

The importance of recovery planning was reiterated in Homeland Security Presidential
Directive-13, which called for the development of a National Strategy for Maritime Security to
include a Maritime Infrastructure Recovery Plan (MIRP). In response to this directive, DHS
released the MIRP—one of eight implementation plans designed to support the National
Strategy for Maritime Security—in April 2006 to establish a comprehensive approach for
recovery from a TSI. 12 The MIRP contains recommendations for MTS recovery management
and provides mechanisms for national, regional, and local decision makers to set priorities
for redirecting commerce, a primary means of restoring domestic cargo flow. Among other
things, the MIRP also provided guidance to inform the development of recovery aspects of
Coast Guard AMS Plans.

The nation’s port security framework was further refined through the enactment of the SAFE
Port Act in October 2006. 13 The SAFE Port Act created and codified certain port security
programs and initiatives, and amended some of the original provisions of MTSA. In the area
of Coast Guard port recovery planning efforts, the SAFE Port act required the development
of protocols for resumption of trade following a TSI, 14 as well as Salvage Response Plans to
be developed and incorporated within AMS plans. 15 These Salvage Response Plans are to
identify salvage equipment capable of restoring operational trade capacity, and to ensure
that waterways are cleared and the flow of commerce through U.S. ports is reestablished as
efficiently and quickly as possible after a maritime TSI. The Coast Guard Authorization Act
of 2010 further reinforced the need for recovery planning and required AMS Plans to
establish response and recovery protocols to prepare for, respond to, mitigate against, and
recover from a TSI. 16 (See encl. I for a summary timeline of key legislative provisions and
Coast Guard documents developed to address recovery of the MTS).

AMS Plans and Committees
In response to legislative requirements and applicable DHS guidance, the Coast Guard—in
partnership with maritime stakeholders—has prepared AMS Plans for each of its 43

  Pub. L. No. 107-295, 116 Stat. 2064 (2002).
   46 U.S.C. § 70103(b).
   46 U.S.C. § 70103(b)(2)(B), (C).
   The National Strategy for Maritime Security and its eight underlying plans were developed to meet the
requirements set forth in HSPD-13 as well as the National Maritime Transportation Security Plan called for in
MTSA. See 46 U.S.C. § 70103(a).
   Pub. L. No. 109-347, 120 Stat. 1884 (2006).
   6 U.S.C. § 942.
   46 U.S.C. § 70103(b)(2)(G).
   46 U.S.C. § 70103(b)(2)(E). The plans are to be consistent with the National Maritime Transportation Security
Plan and the protocols for the resumption of trade required by the SAFE Port Act.

Page 4                                                           GAO-12-494R Coast Guard Recovery Planning
designated Captain of the Port zones. 17 Coast Guard guidance states that AMS Plans
provide “coordinated security measures and procedures to deter and/or respond to TSIs and
other security events.” They are also to serve as coordinating plans for joint deterrence
within the AMS community and provide linkages to other emergency response plans. As of
April 2008, AMS Plans are also to provide for facilitation of the recovery of the MTS from
TSIs, and must include a salvage response component. To assist field staff in preparing and
maintaining their individual AMS Plans, Coast Guard headquarters developed a plan
template to promote standardization between plans and help ensure that required sections
can be easily located. All AMS Plans are subject to review and approval through the Coast
Guard chain of command, which includes verification of plan content requirements using a
detailed checklist. Coast Guard guidance denotes that the template is intended to ensure
that AMS Plans meet all MTSA and SAFE Port Act requirements. However, the guidance
allows for individual plan variation and discretionary use of appendices to address the
unique characteristics of each Captain of the Port zone, as well as the development of more
specific information outside the scope of the AMS Plan.

In addition to the AMS Plans, each Captain of the Port is responsible for establishing and
maintaining an AMS Committee that is to advise on the development of these AMS Plans,
among other responsibilities. AMS Committees are also tasked with planning and
coordinating security procedures and providing subject matter expertise to the Captain of
the Port, and are required to meet at least annually or when requested by a majority of
members. Coast Guard guidance states that AMS Committees are to contain a number of
different port stakeholders and governmental entities charged with regulation and
enforcement of the MTS. A combination of federal (e.g., Coast Guard, Army Corps of
Engineers, Customs and Border Protection), state, local, territorial, and tribal (e.g., law
enforcement, transportation, and environmental agencies), as well as private sector entities
(e.g., vessel agents, terminal operators, and marine exchanges) may be represented within
each port’s AMS Committee.

All Coast Guard AMS Plans Reviewed Include Elements to Address Recovery of the
Marine Transportation System

Overall, each of the AMS Plans that we reviewed addresses recovery and salvage
response, as required by law, and incorporates the specific recovery and salvage response
elements, as described in Coast Guard planning guidance. These plan elements include
discussion of the roles and responsibilities related to the establishment of the MTSRU in
preparing for, responding to, and recovering from a TSI; gathering of EEIs from industry
partners regarding the status of key maritime assets and operations, such as bridges and
waterfront facilities; identification of recovery priorities; and plans for salvage of assets
following a TSI. Although we limited the scope of our plan review to seven high-risk port
areas, the Coast Guard provided documentation indicating that all 43 AMS Plans were
updated to include applicable recovery and salvage response elements.

Among the plans we reviewed, six of the seven plans incorporate recovery elements as a
separate Recovery Annex, with varying levels of detail also incorporated into the main body
of the AMS Plan. The remaining plan (New York/New Jersey) uses the recovery section of
the AMS Plan as its main source of recovery information, with its Recovery Annex serving to

  Although the law requires AMS Plans to specifically address potential TSIs, officials at Coast Guard
headquarters noted that the AMS plans are compatible with efforts to address all-hazards.

Page 5                                                           GAO-12-494R Coast Guard Recovery Planning
exclusively discuss gathering of the EEIs identified. See table 1 for a summary of key
recovery elements addressed in selected AMS Plans.

 Table 1: Summary of Recovery Elements Contained Within Area Maritime Security (AMS)
 Plans for Selected Port Areas
                                             Present in all
 Elements of recovery                                            Additional/notable information provided
                                             AMS Plans?
 Marine Transportation System Recovery                           • Two plans provide particularly robust
 Unit (MTSRU) Information:                                         details regarding topics such as conducting
                                                                   post-incident assessments, identifying port
  • Procedures for establishing unit
                                                                   area needs, and checklists for key items
  • Roles in information gathering and                             needed to support MTSRU functions.
    providing guidance to the Incident
                                                                 • Two port areas leverage existing
                                                                   collaborative bodies to support MTSRU
  • Communication with stakeholders                                information-sharing functions during a TSI.
  Procedures for gathering Essential
  Elements of Information (EEI):                                 • Five plans provide a template or
   • Discuss importance of developing                               instructions for determining applicable EEIs
     pre-incident baseline data                                     to gather, in some cases providing details
   • Obtaining and updating data during a                           on specific EEIs within the port area.
     TSI                                                         • All plans provided guidance or references
   • Providing guidance for EEI                                     to external guidance to be used in EEI
     development and/or references to                               development.
     other guidance
  Recovery Priorities:                                           • Five plans include slight modifications to
   • General priorities for port area                               Coast Guard HQ-defined priorities to reflect
     recovery                                                       unique conditions in their port areas.
  Salvage Response Plans:
   • Defining the roles and responsibilities
                                                                  • Details were generally very consistent
     of federal, state, and local partners
                                                                    between individual plans.
   • Defining recovery-specific tasks to
                                                                 • One plan outlines specific tasks for the
     identify salvage response needs
                                                                    senior salvage officer following a TSI.
   • Identifying local marine salvage
     providers for use when needed
Source: GAO analysis of selected Coast Guard AMS Plans.
  Of the other two plans, one provides guidance on the roles and responsibilities of an EEI work group for
developing and cataloging EEIs in their data system. The other plan states that EEIs are kept and maintained
separately within the Coast Guard and made available when needed following an incident.

MTSRU Information

Each of the seven AMS Plans we reviewed discusses the role and importance of a MTSRU
as suggested by Coast Guard guidance. A MTSRU is a collection of personnel—typically led
by the Coast Guard and augmented by federal, state, local, and private maritime industry
partners—established during a TSI to provide support to the Incident Command. Coast
Guard guidance states that the complex nature of simultaneous response and MTS
recovery actions following a TSI requires assistance from specially qualified Coast Guard
and external personnel, hence the MTSRU concept. The MTSRU function is responsible for
tracking and reporting on the status of the MTS, understanding critical recovery pathways,
recommending courses of action, providing stakeholders with a venue for input to the local
response organization, and providing the Incident Command with recommended priorities
for MTS recovery. 18 AMS Plan guidance stresses the need to establish a MTSRU as quickly

     The MTSRU is activated within the planning section of the Incident Command System.

Page 6                                                            GAO-12-494R Coast Guard Recovery Planning
as possible during a TSI. Coast Guard guidance recommends that AMS Plans address and
contain procedures for the following items related to MTSRUs:
    • establishing a MTSRU as soon as possible after a TSI;
    • gathering information and providing recovery recommendations to the Incident
       Command; and
    • addressing the importance of communication and coordination with key stakeholders
       (other governmental entities and industry partners) during a TSI.

Each of the seven AMS Plans addresses the procedures listed above. For example, all
plans present information on the role of MTSRU participants in reaching out to port
stakeholders to gather critical information on the status of port operations. The plans we
reviewed incorporate these elements in varying degrees of detail. Two plans, for example,
provided particularly robust details covering efforts such as conducting post-incident
assessments and identifying port area needs, and contained checklists for items needed to
support MTSRU functions. For example, the Recovery Annex to the Delaware Bay AMS
Plan discusses the general roles of the MTSRU at a high level, such as MTSRU
responsibilities in working with stakeholders to conduct a post-incident assessment,
identifying post-incident needs related to national security, critical infrastructure and key
resources, and the economy, as well as information needed to support a recovery
assessment, among other elements. Additionally, the Delaware Bay Recovery Annex
contains a separate appendix entitled “MTSRU Guidelines.” This document provides
detailed information divided into the following topics:
    • Major Accomplishments (key deliverables for which the MTSRU is responsible);
    • Responsibilities;
    • References;
    • Go-Kit Materials (suggested supplies/materials for the MTSRU to function for 24-48
    • Composition of the MTSRU (suggested federal, state, local, and industry
    • Interrelationships (how key participants of the MTSRU will need to interact with other
        partners, what they will need to obtain and share); and
    • Sequence of Activities (helpful details, information on the types of reports/products
        that will need to be prepared, and information on demobilizing the MTSRU).

In practice, the specific roles and responsibilities of a MTSRU can vary by port area, as
some port areas are able to leverage the information-sharing abilities of established
collaborative bodies to support decision making. For instance, the Houston plan provides for
establishing a MTSRU as more of a coordinating body of Coast Guard personnel that serve
primarily to gather and disseminate information, such as EEIs, within the Coast Guard. The
MTSRU, in this case, would work closely with a Port Coordination Team of industry
stakeholders, while the Port Coordination Team acts as an advisory group to the Incident
Command and “performs many of the functions normally associated with the MTSRU in
other ports.” According to port security specialists in Sector Houston, the Port Coordination
Team is a long-established unit that works together during transportation disruptions (such
as hurricanes or port closures due to heavy fog) to provide recommendations for action to
the Captain of the Port. Sector New Orleans has adopted a very similar approach. Sector
New Orleans officials report that their Port Coordination Team has allowed the Coast Guard
to form successful relationships with federal, state, local, and private industry port
stakeholders. Officials from Coast Guard headquarters added that in response to a

Page 7                                                GAO-12-494R Coast Guard Recovery Planning
transportation disruption, the concept of collaboration and information sharing with port
stakeholders is of key importance, and using such established mechanisms for gathering
and sharing information—in conjunction with the MTSRU’s role in information sharing—can
be an effective approach. Industry partners that we spoke with in the New Orleans area
confirmed that they have established a collaborative relationship with the Coast Guard
Sector through the Port Coordination Team construct, as well as through AMS Committee

Essential Elements of Information (EEIs)

Each of the seven AMS Plans we reviewed contains information on the need to gather EEIs
to inform recovery and restoration activities in accordance with Coast Guard guidance, in
varying degrees of detail. AMS Plan guidance highlights the importance of gathering and
disseminating EEIs. EEIs consist of quantitative and objective information used by the Coast
Guard to complete status reports during a TSI. EEIs can include specific information about
assets and waterways within a port area, such as the location of aids to navigation and
bridges, waterway depths, and key products handled by waterfront facilities. The Coast
Guard develops EEI baseline information to provide sectors and districts with pre-incident
information on MTS critical infrastructure and interdependencies. 19 Post-incident EEI
reporting allows the Coast Guard to monitor the status of the MTS and provides information
to better facilitate MTS recovery and commerce resumption. Coast Guard guidance stresses
that the following items should be addressed in AMS Plans:
     • importance of developing pre-incident baseline data in preparation for a TSI;
     • obtaining and updating current EEI data to inform decision making during a TSI; and
     • guidance for developing specific EEIs and/or references to other EEI-related

All plans contain details stemming from the guidance above, particularly regarding the role
of the Coast Guard in gathering and updating EEI data, and/or references to other guidance
available for preparing EEIs, while five of the plans include a template or instructions for EEI
data gathering. The New York/New Jersey AMS Plan is one that contains many details in
terms of EEI information; specifically, the plan includes a separate Recovery Annex that is
focused on the gathering of EEIs. The annex discusses the MTSRU’s role in gathering EEIs,
and provides instructions for completing the EEI templates. The plan then provides EEI
templates and applicable instructions for completing them, including details in five EEI asset
categories (waterways and navigation systems, port area-critical infrastructure, port area-
vessels, offshore energy, and monitoring systems).

In addition, the Delaware Bay Recovery Annex provides extensive EEI detail on assets in
each of four categories (waterways and navigation systems; port area critical infrastructure;
port area vessels; and monitoring systems). As an example, under Waterways and
Navigation Systems: Aids to Navigation, the document provides baseline data on the
number of these types of assets by geographic region throughout the area of responsibility.
Then, for each of these assets, additional data are provided: name and location, position
(longitude and latitude), characteristic, height, range, structure (description of appearance),
and remarks. As another example, under Port Area Critical Infrastructure: Container Cargo
Facilities, columns are provided for gathering information on facility name; waterway;

  Coast Guard districts are field-based commands that oversee sector operations. There are nine Coast Guard
districts throughout the continental United States, Alaska, and Hawaii.

Page 8                                                         GAO-12-494R Coast Guard Recovery Planning
location (latitude/longitude); average daily number of cargo containers off-loaded from
vessels; average daily number of cargo containers loaded onto vessels; importance,
criticality, or uniqueness of cargo; average number of daily vessel arrivals; and vessel/facility
limitations. While this type of information can be helpful in ascertaining the condition of
certain assets during a TSI, several Coast Guard Sector officials we spoke with identified
limitations regarding the level of baseline data that can be developed. These limitations
were attributed to the difficulty in gathering these data on an ongoing basis due to industry
concerns over the sensitivity or proprietary nature of some data. For example, officials with
Sector New Orleans stated that while industry partners are generally amenable to sharing
such EEIs (e.g., backup capabilities in the event of a port shutdown) as a security incident
unfolds, they have been hesitant to provide such information in advance. However, Coast
Guard officials reiterated that they were not concerned about being unable to obtain data or
industry being unwilling to provide data in conjunction with a TSI, given the cooperative
information-sharing relationships established with industry partners. Port stakeholders that
we interviewed in New Orleans, as well as Seattle, confirmed that the Coast Guard has
worked to facilitate sharing of such critical information during a TSI.

Recovery Priorities

Each of the seven AMS Plans that we reviewed incorporates Coast Guard guidance on
recovery priorities. AMS Plan guidance states that recovery of the MTS is to be coordinated
between the Coast Guard Captain of the Port and other government and private entities.
The guidance also provides general priorities for waterway/port area recovery, which are
intended to be used as an initial planning guide and adjusted as needed for individual port
areas, as follows:
    1. major transportation routes needed for first response and emergency services
       including evacuation routes, tunnels, bridges, and key waterways;
    2. main shipping channels critical for homeland security and homeland defense
    3. port areas and channels critical for military traffic or out-loads;
    4. main shipping channels critical to major commercial operations;
    5. other critical maritime infrastructure, operations, and structures critical to operation of
       the port/waterway identified by the AMS Assessment;
    6. secondary bridges and tunnels;
    7. secondary commercial waterways; and
    8. public/recreational waterways.

Overall, each of the seven AMS Plans incorporates these priorities. Five of the plans
adopted slight modifications of the priorities, as permitted in Coast Guard guidance. For
example, one plan (New York/New Jersey) combines the second and third priorities from the
guidance above and elevates them to the top priority, while also removing the fifth priority
above. Coast Guard Sector officials stated that this change was made to reflect the unique
characteristics and needs of the port area. Another plan (Houston-Galveston) merged the
second and third priorities listed above and did not include the fifth. In addition, the
Delaware Bay plan includes the eight priorities listed above and also added in a top priority
that the Captain of the Port will support all federal, state, and local efforts to (1) eliminate
immediate threats to life, public health, or safety; (2) eliminate immediate threats of
significant damage to the MTS; and (3) ensure the economic recovery of the affected areas.

Page 9                                                   GAO-12-494R Coast Guard Recovery Planning
Each of the seven port areas we focused on have also supported the development of
Portwide Risk Mitigation Plans—a requirement when applying for funding from FEMA’s Port
Security Grant Program—that, in some cases, may facilitate the identification of recovery
priorities within a port area. 20 The primary goal of a Portwide Risk Mitigation Plan is to
provide a mechanism to port stakeholders for considering an entire port system strategically
as a whole, and to identify and execute a series of actions designed to effectively mitigate
risks to the system’s maritime critical infrastructure. 21 As one example, in April 2009, the
AMS Committee in one port area issued a Strategic Risk Management / Mitigation and
Trade Resumption / Resiliency Plan. This plan identified the key strategic functions provided
by the port area’s maritime community, such as materials transportation and petroleum
supply, among others. The plan also included an assessment of existing risk to those
functions, ranked them by strategic priority, and identified initiatives intended to mitigate that
risk. 22 According to Coast Guard officials and port stakeholders, this process helped to
inform the local maritime community of potential recovery priorities as well as risk mitigation

Salvage Response Plans

Each of the seven AMS Plans we reviewed contains a Salvage Response Plan as called for
in the SAFE Port Act and the Coast Guard’s AMS Plan guidance. Specifically, the SAFE
Port Act mandated that AMS Plans are to include salvage response plans to identify salvage
equipment capable of restoring operational trade capacity and to ensure that the waterways
are cleared and the flow of commerce through U.S. ports is reestablished as quickly and
efficiently as possible after a maritime TSI. 23 The Coast Guard developed guidance for its
AMS Plans to ensure that these and other elements of salvage response are addressed.
Overall, there is little variation among the Salvage Response Plans we reviewed, as they
are all closely aligned with the Coast Guard guidance.

   The Port Security Grant Program exists to provide funding to the nation’s highest risk port areas to support
increased portwide risk management; to enhance domain awareness; to train and exercise; to expand port
recovery and resiliency capabilities; and to further capabilities to prevent, detect, respond to, and recover from
attacks involving improvised explosive devices and other nonconventional weapons. For more information on our
recent review of DHS’s Port Security Grant Program, see GAO, Port Security Grant Program: Risk Model, Grant
Management, and Effectiveness Measures Could Be Strengthened, GAO-12-47 (Washington, D.C.: Nov. 17,
   As such, the Portwide Risk Mitigation Plans can shed light on the overall resiliency—the ability to resist,
absorb, recover from, or successfully adapt to adversity or a change in conditions—of the port areas in question.
   Risk was determined using a standard risk-based decision-making model, with risk as a function of
consequence, threat, and vulnerability. DHS defines consequence as the effect of an event, incident, or
occurrence, reflecting the level, duration, and nature of the resulting loss; threat as a natural or man-made
occurrence, individual, entity, or action that has or indicates the potential to harm life, information, operations, the
environment, and/or property; and vulnerability as a physical feature or attribute that renders an entity open to
exploitation or susceptible to a given hazard.
   46 U.S.C. § 70103(b)(2)(G).

Page 10                                                              GAO-12-494R Coast Guard Recovery Planning
The key stated objectives of the Salvage Response Plan in AMS Plan guidance are as
     1. To provide a coordinated salvage response framework to ensure that waterways are
        cleared and the ability of the MTS to support the resumption of the flow of commerce
        through U.S. ports is reestablished as efficiently and quickly as possible following a
        TSI or other transportation disruption. 24
     2. To identify locally available salvage equipment capable of supporting the restoration
        of operational trade capacity within the MTS.

Some of key salvage response elements called for in AMS Plan guidance are:
  • defining the roles and responsibilities of federal, state, and local partners;
  • defining recovery-specific tasks to identify salvage response needs; and
  • identifying local marine salvage providers for use when needed.

Overall, each of the seven AMS Plans reviewed has addressed the key provisions called for
in Coast Guard guidance, as stated above. For example, each AMS Plan includes a
separate Appendix to the Salvage Response Plan containing names and contact information
for local salvage companies to be used. One Salvage Response Plan that we reviewed also
contains additional detail outlining specific tasks for the Coast Guard senior salvage officer
to perform in providing and obtaining information during a damage and impact assessment,
to include:
     • inventory of vessels and obstructions to be salvaged,
     • establishment of priorities for clearance, and
     • determination of the general technique and type of equipment to be used.

Agency Comments

On March 29, 2012, DHS provided written comments on a draft version of this report, which
are reproduced in full in enclosure II. DHS generally concurred with the findings contained in
the report, noting the positive recognition of actions taken by the U.S. Coast Guard to
facilitate recovery of the MTS.


We are sending copies of this report to the Secretary of Homeland Security, applicable
congressional committees, and other interested parties. This report will also be available at
no charge on GAO’s website at http://www.gao.gov.

   The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers holds the primary federal responsibility for maintaining the navigability of
federal channels—such as ensuring removal of an obstruction creating a hazard to navigation—in domestic ports
and waterways. In the event of threatened or actual pollution incidents in the coastal zone, this responsibility falls
to the Coast Guard.

Page 11                                                             GAO-12-494R Coast Guard Recovery Planning
If you or your staffs have any questions about this report, please contact me at (202) 512-
9610 or caldwells@gao.gov. Contact points for our Office of Congressional Relations and
Public Affairs may be found on the last page of this report. John Mortin, Dawn Hoff, Ryan
Lambert, Adam Couvillion, Jessica Orr, Tracey King, and Michele Fejfar made key
contributions to this report.

Stephen L. Caldwell
Director, Homeland Security and Justice

Enclosures – 2

Page 12                                               GAO-12-494R Coast Guard Recovery Planning
Enclosure I: Summary of Key Legislative Provisions and Associated Actions Related
to Recovery of the Marine Transportation System

The following table represents a summary timeline and description of relevant provisions in
key legislation (in bold) related to recovery of the Marine Transportation System (MTS) and
salvage response following a transportation security incident (TSI). Also included are
applicable presidential directives and associated documents developed by the Coast Guard
to address these provisions and other recovery-related efforts.

 Table 2: Summary Timeline and Description of Relevant Provisions in Key Legislation,
 Presidential Directives, and Associated Agency Documents.
 Regulation/ Document                         Description
 Maritime Transportation Security Act of      Required the development of Area Maritime Security (AMS)
 2002                                         Plans and a National Maritime Transportation Security Plan
 (November, 2002)                             that includes a plan for ensuring that the flow of cargo
                                              through U.S. ports is reestablished as efficiently and quickly
                                              as possible after a TSI.
 Homeland Security Presidential Directive13   HSPD-13 called for development of a National Strategy for
 (HSPD-13)                                    Maritime Security, which include component plans such as a
 (December, 2004)                             Maritime Infrastructure Recovery Plan.

 Maritime Infrastructure Recovery Plan        The MIRP contains procedures for MTS recovery
 (MIRP)                                       management and provides mechanisms for national,
 (April, 2006)                                regional, and local decision makers to set priorities for
                                              redirecting commerce, a primary means of restoring
                                              domestic cargo flow. Among other things, the MIRP also
                                              provided guidance to be used in development of recovery
                                              aspects of Coast Guard AMS Plans.
 Security and Accountability for Every        Required that AMS Plans include a salvage response plan
 Port Act (SAFE Port Act)                     to ensure resumption of commerce flow after a TSI and
 (October, 2006)                              identify salvage equipment for restoring operational
 Coast Guard Strategy for Maritime Safety,    Establishes six strategic priorities for the Coast Guard,
 Security, and Stewardship                    including “Developing a national capacity for MTS recovery.”
 (January, 2007)                              In developing this capacity the Coast Guard will, among
                                              other things:
                                                • Develop recovery policies, plans, and procedures at
                                                    the national, regional, and local levels.
 Recovery of the Marine Transportation        Provides guidance to facilitate recovery on the MTS
 System for Resumption of Commerce--          following a significant disruption and defines Coast Guard
 Commandant Instruction 16000.28              roles and responsibilities for MTS recovery.
 (February, 2008)                               • Established Coast Guard organizational elements to
                                                    address MTS recovery.
                                                • Describes procedures for communications with MTS
                                                    stakeholders and to help ensure coordination between
                                                    the Coast Guard, federal agencies and private sector
                                                    for MTS recovery and trade resumption.
                                                • Implements the MIRP for the Coast Guard and
                                                    provides integrated planning for MTS recovery.

Page 13                                                        GAO-12-494R Coast Guard Recovery Planning
 Customs and Border Protection                 Developed to establish national-level processes by which
 (CBP)/Coast Guard Joint Protocols for the     the Coast Guard, CBP, and other federal agencies will:
 Expeditious Recovery of Trade                   • Provide a forum for joint intergovernmental and private
 (February, 2008)                                    sector dialogues to identify and act on important issues
                                                     to facilitate rapid MTS recovery and resumption of
                                                 • Assist senior-level decision makers by providing a
                                                     process to collect and disseminate information to
                                                     understand the status of the national MTS and to
                                                     facilitate joint decision making.
                                                 • Assist senior-level decision makers by providing
                                                     recommendations for national-level priorities for
                                                     recovery of the MTS and trade resumption, including
                                                     cargo/vessel priorities.
 Guidelines for Development of AMS             Revised AMS Plan template to include recovery and salvage
 Committees and AMS Plans Required for         response sections which include, among other things, the
 U.S. Ports, Navigation and Vessel             role and importance of essential elements of information and
 Inspection Circular (NVIC) 09-02, Change 3.   the Marine Transportation System Recovery Unit in recovery
 (April, 2008)                                 planning.
 Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2010         Required AMS Plans to establish response and recovery
 (October, 2010)                               protocols to prepare for, respond to, mitigate against, and
                                               recover from a TSI.

Source: GAO.
  46 U.S.C. § 70103.
  46 U.S.C. § 70103(b)(2)(G).
  46 U.S.C. § 70103(b)(2)(E).

Page 14                                                         GAO-12-494R Coast Guard Recovery Planning
Enclosure II: Comments from the Department of Homeland Security


Page 15                                       GAO-12-494R Coast Guard Recovery Planning
This is a work of the U.S. government and is not subject to copyright protection in the
United States. The published product may be reproduced and distributed in its entirety
without further permission from GAO. However, because this work may contain
copyrighted images or other material, permission from the copyright holder may be
necessary if you wish to reproduce this material separately.
                      The Government Accountability Office, the audit, evaluation, and
GAO’s Mission         investigative arm of Congress, exists to support Congress in meeting its
                      constitutional responsibilities and to help improve the performance and
                      accountability of the federal government for the American people. GAO
                      examines the use of public funds; evaluates federal programs and
                      policies; and provides analyses, recommendations, and other assistance
                      to help Congress make informed oversight, policy, and funding decisions.
                      GAO’s commitment to good government is reflected in its core values of
                      accountability, integrity, and reliability.

                      The fastest and easiest way to obtain copies of GAO documents at no
Obtaining Copies of   cost is through GAO’s website (www.gao.gov). Each weekday afternoon,
GAO Reports and       GAO posts on its website newly released reports, testimony, and
                      correspondence. To have GAO e-mail you a list of newly posted products,
Testimony             go to www.gao.gov and select “E-mail Updates.”

Order by Phone        The price of each GAO publication reflects GAO’s actual cost of
                      production and distribution and depends on the number of pages in the
                      publication and whether the publication is printed in color or black and
                      white. Pricing and ordering information is posted on GAO’s website,
                      Place orders by calling (202) 512-6000, toll free (866) 801-7077, or
                      TDD (202) 512-2537.
                      Orders may be paid for using American Express, Discover Card,
                      MasterCard, Visa, check, or money order. Call for additional information.
                      Connect with GAO on Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, and YouTube.
Connect with GAO      Subscribe to our RSS Feeds or E-mail Updates. Listen to our Podcasts.
                      Visit GAO on the web at www.gao.gov.
To Report Fraud,
Waste, and Abuse in   Website: www.gao.gov/fraudnet/fraudnet.htm
                      E-mail: fraudnet@gao.gov
Federal Programs      Automated answering system: (800) 424-5454 or (202) 512-7470

                      Katherine Siggerud, Managing Director, siggerudk@gao.gov, (202) 512-
Congressional         4400, U.S. Government Accountability Office, 441 G Street NW, Room
Relations             7125, Washington, DC 20548

                      Chuck Young, Managing Director, youngc1@gao.gov, (202) 512-4800
Public Affairs        U.S. Government Accountability Office, 441 G Street NW, Room 7149
                      Washington, DC 20548

                        Please Print on Recycled Paper.