By Chris Kittleson, Sr. Safety & Risk Management Consultant - Public Risk Underwriters of Florida, Inc.
The Port of Palm Beach, along with South Florida’s Regional Domestic Security Task Force, conducted Operation Guardian on March 13, 2017, providing for a full day of training, safety and security exercises. The eight agencies that participated in the Operation were as follows: the Department of Homeland Security, Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, Riviera Beach Police Department, West Palm Beach Police Department, Broward County Sheriff’s Office, Fort Lauderdale Police Department, Miami-Dade Police Department and Miami Police Department.
As part of the Port’s compliance requirements with the Maritime Transportation Security Act, the Port, as well as other seaports are required to conduct full-scale security exercises once every 18 months and drills once every 90 days. By conducting Operation Guardian, the Port of Palm Beach strengthened its resolve in upholding its mission to prevent, deter, respond and recover from acts of terror or aggression, while giving assets within the region the opportunity to train on complex and rigorous missions.
In addition to the hundreds of personnel from eight law enforcement agencies, 120 actors were on-site to assist in executing the various training scenarios. The agencies conducted hostage situations and active shooter sequences in the Maritime Office Building (MOB). In addition, Actors depicting a protest were staged in front of the Maritime Office Complex (MOC), along the cruise terminal entrance. Further training scenarios included an assault on a vessel and the hijacking of a city bus. Even the newest Port Commissioner on the Port of Palm Beach Board offered up her acting skills to the Operation. Commissioner Katherine M. Waldron posed as a hostage during one of the assault exercises in the MOB.
“Operation Guardian is a splendid example of eight agencies working alongside each other to enhance the security of our Port,” noted Manuel Almira, PPM, Executive Director of the Port of Palm Beach. “These exercises reflect the best possible training effort to secure our Port facilities.”
About Port of Palm Beach:
Located in Riviera Beach, the Port of Palm Beach is a full-service, diversified port, offering cruise and cargo services to more than 30 onsite tenants and users. At 162 acres, the Port’s efficiency is unparalleled, processing more than $7 billion in commodities, 2.5 million tons of cargo, and 500,000 cruise passengers annually. As one of the largest employers in Palm Beach County, the Port of Palm Beach and its tenants employ more than 2,850 people. Through the contribution of more than $185 million in business revenue and $17.5 million in tenant-contributed state and local annual tax revenue, the Port of Palm Beach is one of the largest economic engines in South Florida.