Responsibility for the implementation of the container security initiative



Erik Hoffer, CGM Security Solutions, Inc, FL, USA


For the past seven years the United States Gover nment, through many of its internal agencies, has asked the world to help secure our borders by securing their internal supply chain from terrorists.

Although the process and desire is noble, the specific marching orders have failed to materialise, leaving the world in a quandary as to how to achieve a non-defined goal. The CSI or Container Security Initiative is an excellent overall oncept but it also fails to create and define a functional and implementable stuffing and seal process from which ports can audit the security of the boxes they process.

Without continuity of the seal and the sealing technique, no reliable port audit can take place. Additionally without a simple visual inspection to insure containment through each phase of the supply chain, no effective overall solution to cargo containment can exist.

Security issues

Intelligence is now the main factor in determining which containers receive further scrutiny. No one can guaranty that your box will not be randomly selected for further scrutiny, but the onus is on the shipper to protect his cargo, not on the ports.

The process of the 24 hour rule in reporting freight content, shipper and many other criteria provide the basis for evaluation and help ports, and those in charge of  oversight, with data suitable for such a back office process. Regardless of the data source, content, shipper or other critical data for evaluation can be intentionally wrong.

Terrorists can easily and surreptitiously penetrate a container whose documents are accurate and use that box as a weapon. Based on current use of bolt seals, terrorists and smugglers can easily penetrate the container’s doors and ship illicit freight in your container with contraband content such as currency, drugs or explosives and the ports will not be able to detect it.

Security sealing,with this threat in mind, is a formidable task. What best sealing  practices can be implemented as shippers to both meet their needs for cargo  protection and the CSI mandates for supply chain security? One thing is certain, that without adequately defending against container penetration, thieves and terrorists
can beat the system.


Secure stuffing must be the responsibility of the shipper. He must audit containers supplied to him for false walls and floors and must insist on empties being sealed when they arrive at his dock and after unloading them in his yard. Sealing must be done with a suitable cable to retain the containers own steel keeper rods and thereby avoid the surreptitious introduction of materials into empties, whether coming or going.

The sealing of a filled box by the shipper must be somewhat more robust, as no one has the luxury of opening it during transit for inspection. Sealing of a container must provide for security in both an indicative or visually inspectable sense, and as a barrier to entry.

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