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(Washington, D.C.) -- Today, Senator Murray joined with TSA, Customs, Coast Guard and port officials to announce a new pilot project that will improve cargo security and expedite cargo efficiency.

The Ports of Seattle and Tacoma will be the first ports in the nation to enter into a formal agreement with the Ports of Singapore and Hong Kong.

The system will catalogue and inspect U.S.-bound cargo at foreign ports and enable U.S. authorities to track the shipments through their entry into the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma and on to their final destination.

The initiative represents the first time that an end-to-end security procedure for commercial cargo has been implemented in this country, and represents one of the first concrete measures taken by any U.S. port to improve port security.

As chairman of the Senate Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, Murray created and funded "Operation Safe Commerce," a $28 million pilot program to improve cargo security at the nation's three largest container ports (including the Ports of Seattle/Tacoma).

Senator Murray's Remarks at the Press Conference Follow:

I'm proud to be here today to announce a new partnership to protect our ports and our people. In Washington state, our ports are the lifeblood our economy -- supporting tens of thousands of good-paying, family wage jobs.

Over the years, we've worked hard to make our ports and cargo networks as efficient as possible. That efficiency has helped us attract cargo from around the world making the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma the third-largest load center for containerized cargo in the nation.

Today in the wake of September 11th, we're working quickly to make our port systems less vulnerable to terrorist attacks. We must improve security without undermining our efficiency. It's going to take new thinking, new technology, and new partnerships. We need a coordinated approach between many federal agencies, the ports and everyone in the supply chain.

As the chairman of the Senate Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, I've held several hearings on port and cargo security, and I've funded port security grants and marine security teams.

More than 6 million cargo containers enter the U.S. each year. We don't know much about what's in the containers, where they've come from, or where they're going. It's clear we need a system to help track and monitor container cargo from the point of origin to the ultimate destination. I'm proud to report that we're on track to fund such a program.

Operation Safe Commerce

In the supplemental appropriations bill, I wrote and funded a new initiative called Operation Safe Commerce.

This $28 million pilot program will allow our nation's three largest ports (including Seattle and Tacoma) to monitor and track cargo. Operation Safe Commerce lays the foundation for a new national port security regime. I put that initiative into the supplemental because I know there are security vulnerabilities we must address in a coordinated way.

The bill also provides $59 million for Custom's Container Security Initiative. The supplemental bill is now in conference with the House and I hope the conference will be completed quickly.

As the federal government works to improve port security, our ports and shippers are also moving forward quickly with their own efforts.

Today, I'm proud to announce that the Port of Seattle is the first port in the nation to enter into a formal agreement with the Ports of Singapore and Hong Kong to dramatically improve cargo security.

This new system will catalogue and inspect U.S.-bound cargo at foreign ports. It will also allow U.S. authorities to track the shipments through their entry into the U.S. and onto their final destination.

All these entities are working together to create a system that parallels where the federal government is headed. This new partnership sends a clear message. It tells terrorists that we will protect our cargo and our ports, and close the gaps that may leave us vulnerable. And it tells residents in the Puget Sound that when cargo arrives in Seattle and Tacoma we will know what's inside, where it's been, and where it's going.

This is a model for how our nation can improve port security, and I'm proud that the Northwest is on the cutting edge as the first commercial port in the nation to offer this level of security.

Because shippers value safety, security and efficiency, Seattle and Tacoma will become even more attractive to shippers worldwide.

I'm proud today that we're joined by so many leaders in port security, who we'll be hearing from them in a moment, including: We're honored to be joined by

  • Rear Admiral Richard Bennis of the Transportation Security Administration
  • Rear Admiral Paul Pluta of the Coast Guard
  • Jayson Ahern from the Customs Service
  • Ambassador Chan of the Republic of Singapore
  • Gary Gilbert of Hutchinson Whampoa
  • Gen John Coburn of the Strategic Council of Security Technology
  • and Mic Dinsmore of the Port of Seattle.