Port of Tacoma applies for C-TPAT membership

The Port of Tacoma has submitted its application to become a member of the U.S. Customs’ C-TPAT (Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism) program.

C-TPAT is a joint government-business initiative designed to strengthen supply chain security and border security through cooperative relationships with members, which include air, rail and ocean carriers, brokers and manufacturers. Program membership was recently extended to terminal operators and port authorities.

According to Timothy J. Farrell, the Port of Tacoma’s deputy executive director, U.S. Customs developed C-TPAT after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States to enlist industry support in securing U.S. commerce. The objective is to reduce the chance that the supply chain will be used for terrorist purposes.

“Traditionally, supply chain security focused on anti-theft measures,” Farrell explained. “Today, we are focused on ensuring the integrity of cargoes from the point of origin to delivery. Each member of C-TPAT will demonstrate its control as cargoes move through their portion of the supply chain.”

As a member of C-TPAT, the Port of Tacoma would be responsible for meeting a detailed list of security requirements:

– Establish a security system for port property and facilities, compliant with Customs recommendations.

– Conduct periodic and unannounced security checks to ensure that all security-related procedures are being performed.

– Notify Customs and other appropriate law enforcement agencies whenever anomalies or illegal activities related to security issues are detected or suspected.

– Communicate C-TPAT security recommendations to contractors that service port facilities, and periodically review the security commitment of these companies.

– Develop a security awareness program for employees.

– Require that all employees cooperate fully with Customs in implementing the actions and initiatives of C-TPAT, including the expanded use of technology.

– Establish programs or procedures to safeguard Port information systems, documents and forms from unauthorized use.

– Provide Customs with requested information about vessel/container movement.

– To the extent possible, cooperate with Customs, domestic and foreign port authorities, foreign customs administrations and other industry leaders in advancing the C-TPAT initiative.

– Provide Customs, upon request, with documentation that demonstrates C-TPAT compliance.

Farrell emphasized that C-TPAT is a separate, but complementary program to other maritime container security initiatives, such as Operation Safe Commerce (OSC) and Safe and Secure Trade Lanes (SST).