Cruise ships and ferry boats need more protection against terrorist attacks that could kill and injure many passengers and cause serious financial losses, according to a new RAND Corporation report.And an interesting summary (partial):
“Attacks on cruise ships and ferry boats would meet the interrelated requirements of visibility, destruction and disruption that drive transnational terrorism in the contemporary era,” said Peter Chalk, one of the report's co-authors. “Recognizing this is essential to any comprehensive regime of maritime security.”
The report concludes it is not adequate to base maritime counterterrorism efforts only on increasing port security and the security of cargo container ships, rail cars and trucks that transport goods into and out of United States ports.
“Focusing solely on securing the container supply chain without defending other parts of the maritime environment is like bolting down the front door of a house and leaving the back door wide open,” said Henry Willis, a RAND researcher and a co-author of the report.
- Reducing the risk of an atomic device being smuggled into a U.S. port is a priority, though increasing attention to the control of nuclear weapons and materials may be more important than inspecting containers. Policies must balance the need for reducing the risk with the need to keep shipping open.Full Rand Report available here.
- There is no observable evidence that terrorists and piracy syndicates are collaborating to attack maritime targets. In fact, their motivations and overall objectives are frequently in conflict.
- The potential economic impact of a maritime terrorism incident could be reduced by improving procedures to reopen ports and restore container shipping systems that might be shut down following a terrorist attack or natural disaster.
-There is little prospect of terrorists successfully blocking a shipping lane by sinking a ship. Such an attack would not achieve terrorists' desire for maximum public attention through inflicted loss of life, and modern hull design makes it difficult to sink a ship. In addition, if an obstruction were created in a critical shipping channel it could be cleared quickly.
- Because cruise liners and ferries must allow passengers to move freely, security improvements should focus on developing more stringent and effective means for screening passengers, crew and luggage.