Port Manatee Earns MARAD Security Training Certification

PALMETTO, Fla. -- Port Manatee today became the nation's first seaport receiving certification from the U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) for its seaport security training coursework.

The port's training courses comply with the congressional Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002 (MTSA) and International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) code. Training is based on curriculum models provided by MARAD.

"This is a significant achievement for Port Manatee and the U.S. seaport community," said Executive Director David L. McDonald PPM(R). "We have one of the most qualified security teams in the nation, which is being looked upon to train seaport security personnel from across the U.S."

Port Manatee submitted the demanding 750-page certification application in April 2005. All aspects of the course's planning and implementation including course materials, instructor qualifications and classroom facilities were evaluated.

"Port Manatee has shown true leadership and vision in receiving this important certification," said U.S. Congresswoman Katherine Harris, a member of the House Committee on Homeland Security. "They have worked immensely hard to distinguish the port as a leader in Homeland Security and I will continue to work hard to ensure that they remain a leader in port security by ensuring they have the adequate funding needed to carry out their goals."

The comprehensive training program is already attracting professionals from ports throughout the U.S.

"Educating and updating port employees on maritime security is critical for the health of the maritime community, and for winning the war on terrorism," said MARAD Acting Administrator John Jamian. "We encourage other facilities to follow the example set by Port Manatee."

"The certification ensures that security personnel who complete our courses meet all federal training requirements," said the port's Director of Seaport Security, Frank Holden. "These efforts lay the groundwork for Port Manatee to expand its training programs and work toward creating a maritime security academy."

The security training initiative is just one example of Port Manatee's cutting-edge approach to security since 2002. The port also enhanced its staff, security plan and access control systems while serving as a research and development site for new security technology.

The improvements are garnering attention not only from MARAD, but also the U.S. Coast Guard, Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the American Association of Port Authorities.

"We congratulate Port Manatee, which is a long-time member of AAPA, for being the first seaport in the country to receive the U.S. Maritime Administration's certification to provide this level of federally-compliant security training," said AAPA President and CEO Kurt Nagle.