The maritime container industry is staggering. Seaports throughout the world are critical gateway locations for the movement of international commerce and the world’s most common means of mass goods transport is through the use of maritime shipping containers. These containers account for 95% of U.S. import-export shipboard cargo. According to Department of Homeland Security, there are more than 108 million containers worldwide. It is estimated that there are approximately 200 million shipboard trips annually among seaports around the world. In the USA, more than 95% of our non-North American trade arrives by ship, most of which is transported in maritime shipping containers.
Moreover, the maritime container shipping business is expanding at an annual rate of about 10%. Almost 90% of the world’s manufactured goods are moved by container, with much of its stacked many stories high on huge transport ships.
These containers consist of large and sturdy metal boxes, typically 8 ft wide by 8.5 ft high and 20-40 ft in length. Containers are moved frequently, being transferred often between ships, railroad cars and highway tractor-trailers. Accordingly, it is a critical and dynamic national policy to protect our maritime infrastructure by keeping secure the primary distribution system of global trade – containerized shipping.
Government Agencies and Initiatives
According to various security industry commentators, the USA is highly vulnerable to the threat of a terrorist weapon delivered in a maritime shipping container. Frequently in the past, these containers have been used as a vehicle for the smuggling of contraband and human beings or animals into the United States, so they represent an ideal delivery vehicle for a terrorist bomb. Of the many millions of containers arriving at U.S. ports annually, U.S. Customs reportedly inspects less than 10% of them. Shipping containers provide a very attractive means for terrorists to deliver a nuclear or other mass destructive weapon in a container on just one of thousands of ships from foreign ports delivering millions of containers to U.S. ports each year.
The first and most important line of defense against such potential terrorism is at the foreign port of export origin. The primary preventive objective of U.S. policy regarding potential container terrorism is to ensure that containers leaving foreign ports for the U.S. have goods in them that have been verified, that they have been securely sealed to prevent tampering or unwarranted entry, and that they are monitored by security devices prior to being shipped to U.S. ports. We are convinced that our Gatekeeper technology will satisfy the continual monitoring of containers after leaving their foreign ports, and will detect and identify any harmful materials or intrusions into the container.