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Commentary on US port security effectiveness

Coda Octopus : 30 May, 2008  (Technical Article)
Recent report highlights holes in the ability of the US Government to protect its ports from the threat of terrorism
Coda Octopus Group has applauded the recent GAO report released on Tuesday identifying significant gaps in the US port security program - most particularly our nation's ability to deter a potential terrorist attack.

Coda Octopus CEO Jason Reid said that the report "Reminds us that nearly seven years after September 11, the potential threat to our ports remains virtually unchanged."

Reid said that Coda Octopus has received "Tremendous support from the US Coast Guard, the Department of Defence, and the Department of Homeland Security in developing and perfecting a new generation of technology that can "see" underwater, and both identify and classify potential intruders and objects the size of a baseball from a distance of up to 100 meters."

Reid pointed out that Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Thad Allen and Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Gary Roughead have recently discussed the ability of the US government to conduct surveys of domestic ports to help defend the country against a potential underwater mine or improvised explosive device attack. In an April 9 interview for "Inside the Navy" the top Coast Guard officer said "What we've been discussing with NOAA [National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration], the Navy and everybody else is how to come up with a standardised, repeatable process to do port surveys - we're putting together a plan on how to do it, everyone is in agreement we need to do it and we're going through the first year of [figuring out how to] program that into budgets."

Nonetheless, Reid said "The ability to actually deploy next generation technology in the ports on a scale that would be necessary to make our nation meaningfully safer, would require a significant improvement in the level of coordination and support between local port authorities and relevant federal agencies."

Coda Octopus is the developer and patent holder of real-time 3D sonar technology, and has introduced the Echoscope as its lead product. The Company has sold and successfully deployed 30 of its Echoscope technology systems in seven countries in the Pacific Rim, Middle East, Europe and North America. The Echoscope is also being deployed for various commercial applications, worldwide.

Reacting to the GEO report, Senator Charles Schumer stated "The bottom line is the DHS has basically passed the buck on port security by allowing shipping companies to police themselves with almost no overview." Reid said he agreed with Schumer that we need stronger leadership and better visibility. "All of us involved in this effort from both the public and private sectors need to do a better job educating the American people both about the nature of the threat, and about the steps being taken to make us all safer" Reid said.
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