US government security teams have executed a container-climbing trial designed to safely place radiation detection equipment on and around stacked cargo containers aboard the vessel Maersk Detroit.
Members of US agency National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), specifically the Nuclear/Radiological Advisory Team (NRAT), conducted advanced maritime training aboard the vessel while it was on a voyage last month.
During the tests the 6,300 TEU containership was fully loaded with commercial cargo as it sailed from Savannah, Georgia, to Houston
NRAT is a deployable team of experts that provides critical scientific and technical advice to domestic and international partners in response to a nuclear or radiological threat.
NRAT team members then recorded data from specialized radiation detection equipment designed to detect weak or shielded radiation sources.
Aboard the Maersk Detroit, NRAT team members conduct radiation mapping measurements on the weather deck.
The NRAT unit that participated in this exercise was composed of scientists, engineers and technicians from Joint Base Andrews near Washington, DC and Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas, US.
Over the last 20 years, NRAT has developed and refined specialized tactics, techniques, and procedures to better locate and identify radioactive material on container ships.
Lonnie Swindell, program manager for NNSA’s Office of Nuclear Incident Response, said: “Combining those tactics, techniques, and procedures with specialized tools and detection instrumentation, NRAT has become the most capable entity in the world for handling this type of operation.
“At the same time, the team was able to address the challenges and complexities of radiological detection on a large vessel while at sea.”
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