In the United States there are 95,000 miles of coastline, 3.5 million square miles of excusive economic zone and 361 ports of varying characteristics that are integral to our Nation’s commerce. United States seaports conduct over 95 per cent of U.S. overseas trade. Over the next 20 years, the total volume of imported and exported goods at U.S. seaports is expected to more than double. The top 50 ports in the United States account for about 90 per cent of all the cargo tonnage, and twenty-five ports account for 98 per cent of all container shipments. Cruise ships visiting foreign destinations embark from 16 U.S. ports, and U.S. ferries move 113 million passengers and 32 million vehicles each year. Over 90 per cent of all the war fighting capabilities required to project U.S. military power overseas flows from U.S. seaports of embarkation. Maritime industry contributes over $1 trillion annually to the gross domestic product. More than 7,500 ships and 200,000 sailors make 51,000 port calls every year in the United States, and those ships carry 6.5 million passengers, 1 billions tons of petroleum, and 6 million containers a year-16,000 each day.
On September 11th the terrorist threat demonstrated global reach that requires a higher maritime security posture and a “new normalcy” for Coast Guard mission priorities and capabilities. The Coast Guard has developed a maritime homeland security strategy that incorporates our core competencies into a layered operation that will push our maritime borders outward, and detect, deter, disrupt and intercept terrorist threats across the maritime domain as well as ensure the protection of maritime infrastructure from within. This strategy recognizes that terrorism can strike from within our nation or from outside our territorial boundaries. The Coast Guard is preparing to counter both vectors of attack. That strategy is preemptive in nature, and requires the Coast Guard to develop special capabilities with new skills. One of these required specialized capabilities is the active duty Maritime Safety and Security Teams (MSST’s).
Multi-mission active duty mobile Maritime Safety and Security Teams, modeled after Coast Guard expeditionary Port Security Units (Reserve Component) and Law Enforcement Detachments, will be established regionally to protect military load-outs, enforce security zones (moving and fixed), defend critical waterside facilities in strategic ports, interdict illegal activities and provide a modest level of shore-side force protection.