Search this site

Terror Target: Port Canaveral, FL

Title: Brevard Country Tempting To Terrorists?
Date: November 16, 1998
Source: Florida Today

Abstract: Inside Bernard's Surf, Sen. Ted Kennedy, D.- Mass., enjoyed his second helping of stone crab claws. Outside, someone double parked a truck and walked away, leaving the engine running.

On most nights, Cocoa Beach restaurant hostess Betty Lou Griffin might not have noticed it. But this was the night before John Glenn was scheduled to go back into space -- and the restaurant was packed with former astronauts, politicians and celebrities.

"We have a lot of dignitaries around here, and we're careful about what happens inside, but there's not a lot we can do outside," said Griffin, who called her boss's attention to the truck. "We do think about (terrorism) around here."

Griffin wasn't overreacting: Law enforcement officers and security experts think there is good reason to worry about terrorism in Brevard County.

At first glance, the area doesn't look like a prime target. There is no World Trade Center or foreign embassy. Brevard is home to fewer than a half-million people. The crime rate is below the state average, and the median income is higher.

Experts, however, say the county may be a more attractive target than many larger metropolitan areas because of publicity surrounding its high-profile government programs and businesses.

And because of the increased tension with Iraq, the risk of terrorism increases, said law enforcement consultant Bob Bolin, a retired CIA and State Department agent who lives in Satellite Beach.

"Before the Oklahoma City bombing (in 1995), who would have thought a building in Oklahoma would be a target? We are very susceptible," he said. "We have attractive targets. We have every mode of transportation to get here, with very little security.''

According to Bolin and others the most likely local targets would be:

1. Disney's Port Canaveral cruise terminal and the Magic cruise ship;
2. The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex;
3. Aware Woman Center for Choice in Melbourne.

"When we look around, we feel there is a threat," county Director of Emergency Management Bob Lay said on the first day of a two day terrorism class at Port Canaveral last week.

About 100 local law enforcement officers, emergency rescue workers, firefighters and hospital workers attended the seminar.

It was designed to teach them how to identify the types of weapons that a terrorist could use, including explosive, chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.

"If something happens at the (KSC) visitor center, who would respond?" Lay asked. "If something happened here at the port, who would respond? We need to be ready."

Magic Vulnerable
He pointed toward the Disney Cruise Terminal.

"What's over there?" Lay asked. "That's one of the biggest cruise ships in the world, and because it's owned by Disney, and everything they stand for, I would think they could be a target."

Bolin said the Magic is particularly vulnerable to a chemical or biological attack.

He said a microscopic amount of anthrax, a deadly bacteria, could be smuggled on board and introduced into the water supply.

In a few hours, most of the ship's 2,400 passengers would be dead or dying.

To make his point, at last week's seminar be taped an envelope under a student table and asked the person who found it to open it.

At first, the person didn't notice a pill but soon found it tucked in a fold.

"That could be anthrax," he said. "I told them that would be enough anthrax to knock out all of North Brevard."

And there is little anyone could do to stop such kind of attack.

"If something happens at the (KSC) visitor center, who would respond? If something happened here at the port, who would respond? We need to be ready." -- Bob Lay, director, emergency management

Security Falls Short
Most security measures are designed to detect bombs and guns. Port Canaveral security, which is provided by the Canaveral Port Authority, is no exception.

Port Authority spokesman Tim DeClaire said the techniques used to minimize the threat of terrorism are similar to those used at airports.

He refused to elaborate or to acknowledge that Disney would be more of a target than other cruise lines.

"We are well aware of the potential'' for a terrorist attack, DeClaire said.

Darlene Papalini, director of communications for the Disney Cruise Line, would not discuss specific details about the ship's security.

"Security ... and the safety of our passengers ... is paramount to us," she said. "We have very tightly controlled access to our ship. We took our experience from 25 years at Walt Disney World and have applied it here."

Like Disney, the space program has become a symbol of America's dominance around the world.

Wayne Kee, emergency preparedness officer at the Cape, said that could make it a target.

Most of KSC is relatively safe, he said. The center is surrounded by fences and water, and everyone entering must pass through a series of guarded checkpoints.

The Visitor Complex, however, is a weak link.

Unlike most of the space center and nearby Cape Canaveral Air Station, there are no security checkpoints leading into the complex, although it sits on land owned by KSC.

The kind of stringent security used at KSC would not be possible at the complex, which hosts thousands of visitors daily.

The center was the sixth most popular tourist destination in Central Florida last year.

"You don't have any control," Kee said. "We don't know who is on all those buses (that take tourists into KSC)."

Gatherings Risky
Added Bolin: "Any place where there is a gathering of innocent people is a target. But (an attack at the Visitor Complex) would be pubIicized worldwide because of its connection to the space program."

Bolin said an attack on the Magic or the Visitor Complex would garner worldwide attention -- but a third potential target is at a much higher risk.

"The (Aware Woman clinic) is the primo, primo, primo target," he said.

He said abortion clinics have become routine targets for terrorists.

Most recently, a New York doctor was assassinated, and eight Midwest abortion clinics received letters containing a powder that the sender claimed was anthrax spores.

The powder in the envelopes was not the bacteria, but one day, the powder will be real, Bolin said.

"A good student can go to the library ... and learn how to grow this stuff," he said.

Locally, the Aware Woman clinic has escaped direct assault but it has been the site of legal and illegal -- protests for years some of which have drawn national attention.

Twice this year, the bomb squad was called out to the abortion clinic to investigate reports of suspicious objects.

Both turned out to be nothing.

But a "deranged" person looking to make a statement could find the Melbourne clinic an attractive target, Bolin said.

"They want to make a statement," Bolin said. "Sometimes they don't even mind being arrested. They want to say, "Hey look at what I did."

Clinic owner Patricia Bait Windle said she knows of the risks and keeps herself and her staff educated.

For example, she knew that the recent anthrax threats came in envelopes with a Cincinnati postmark. And any letter from there would be suspect.

"But we knew that because my connection with the Internet not because anyone told us," she said.

City Ready to Help
Melbourne police Capt. Ron Bell said the city is ready to help clinic employees any way they want, but often Windle knows as much as his intelligence officers.

He said the city treats the clinic as a high priority, but preventing an attack would be difficult.

"If it's a group or a nation, we can track that," Bolin said. "It's the individuals and the cells of two, three people -- the Timothy McVeighs and Terry Nichols."

How do you track an individual who grows hatred against a government or company?

"You can't," he said. "It's not matter of if it's going to happen, but when" (Florida Today, 1998).

Title: Divers To Patrol Port For Terrorism
Date: June 12, 2002
Source:
Orlando Sentinel

Abstract: Anticipating new U.S. Coast Guard rules designed to thwart underwater terrorism at seaports throughout the nation, port officials here are preparing to hire a team of divers that would inspect cruise ship piers and pilings.

It's unclear whether the Coast Guard will require the underwater security sweeps to be random or routine, only that they likely will be required to begin no later than Aug. 1, said Malcolm McLouth, Port Canaveral's executive director.

"We're doing this in response to a Coast Guard dictate," McLouth said Tuesday.

Mike Rosecrans, the Coast Guard's captain of the port, confirmed that the agency is increasing security standards at ports with overnight passengers but would not comment on specific security measures.

"The passengers are the most precious cargo carried on the sea, so we would give them the first attention," said Rosecrans, who is based at Mayport in Jacksonville and is responsible for ports along Florida's coast from Kings Bay to Melbourne. "I don't think it's appropriate, and I think people expect us not to give everything away."

Port Canaveral commissioners are expected to approve advertising for bids from diving firms during today's Canaveral Port Authority meeting, said Dixie Sansom, spokeswoman for the port.

"We're trying to stay ahead of the curve," she said. "By advertising now, the staff will be able to recommend a diving services contractor at the July commission meeting and be able to meet the Aug. 1 deadline."

The Brevard County port, one of the busiest cruise ports in the nation, has used private firms and the Brevard County sheriff's dive team on occasion, McLouth said. But the firm ultimately hired by the commission will be responsible for providing security diving services on command, seven days a week, 24 hours a day, regardless of weather conditions, officials said.

"They will have to be able to respond to emergency situations in the port area and be in the water within one hour of the emergency call," Sansom said.

The firm will be responsible for inspecting more than a mile of pier and must have enough scuba cylinders, lighting and equipment to work underwater for six to eight hours. It also should have a submersible video with a topside monitor and recording devices in case an explosive device is found, port officials said. The divers will have to be U.S. citizens and undergo background checks, she said.

The new measures could cost the port, which already has spent $1.5 million on security since Sept. 11, as much as $200,000 or as little as $25,000, McLouth said. The amount will depend on what's required by the Coast Guard under its new regulations.

"I don't know how often we'll be doing it," he said. "But if there's a specific threat, we'd be doing it quite religiously."

McLouth said the underwater-security measures were being considered before a May 23 FBI memo highlighted possible threats by swimmers and scuba divers. FBI agents across the country fanned out to dive shops, seeking records on people who had been trained to dive (Orlando Sentinel, 2002)

Title: Ports Ratchet Up Security To Block Terrorist Attacks
Date: July 1, 2004
Source:
Orlando Sentinel

Abstract: While officials at seaports across the world scrambled to meet today's deadline on new security measures, Port Canaveral's executive director Mac McClouth did something different.

He took a vacation.

"We're absolutely on course," Port Canaveral spokeswoman Dixie Sansom said earlier this week. "I assure you, if we were scrambling, Mac would not be gone."

Port Canaveral, the second-busiest cruise port in the world, announced Wednesday that it has met the standards outlined in the Maritime Transportation Security Act and imposed by the U.N.'s International Maritime Organization to thwart terrorism in ports and at sea.

Starting today, the Coast Guard will board every foreign-flagged vessel sailing into the nation's 361 seaports, including Port Canaveral, to ensure they are complying with the new rules.

Every port must have a Coast Guard-approved security plan in place to continue operations.

Some of the new measures include increased identification checks on crew members and visitors to the ports, perimeter fencing equipped with surveillance cameras, X-ray machines on all large cruise ships and increased patrols.

Most U.S. ports and ships are expected to comply by today, but many ports in smaller, poorer nations won't meet the deadline. That could cause problems, especially in trade, experts said.

Any cruise or cargo ship docking in the United States will have to produce documents showing the last 10 ports visited comply with the new rules.

Ships not in compliance could be delayed by lengthy at-sea inspections by the Coast Guard, or even turned away.

According to the maritime organization's most recent figures, 71 percent of tankers, 89 percent of cruise ships and 56 percent of cargo ships had certificates of compliance. Only 32 percent of foreign ports had approved security plans.

Meanwhile, officials at Florida's 14 ports were predicting few, if any, problems.

"I honestly think all our ports in Florida will do well," said Nancy Leikauf, executive vice president of the Florida Ports Council, a nonprofit state organization.

At the Port of Miami, spokeswoman Andria Muniz said officials there "have been working very diligently to meet the requirements.

The port received its letter of authorization from the Coast Guard this week.

The new security measures also call for expanded baggage and passenger screening, restricted access to sensitive areas, more bomb-sniffing dogs and additional employee training.

Inspectors will be looking under vehicles with mirrors and opening up trunks, said Jerry Simon, director of security at Port Canaveral.

All visitors to restricted areas will be escorted, and all trucks making deliveries or pickups at companies in restricted areas must be on a list to gain access. Ports could face fines starting at $25,000 per violation, per day if security plans aren't being followed, Simon said.

Despite the new rules, Port Canaveral officials predicted Wednesday that cruise-ship passengers won't notice a difference since many of the measures have been in place there for years.

In fact, the Brevard County port has been at the forefront when it comes to protecting passengers and property, spokeswoman Sansom said.

Three years ago, it was the first Florida port to come into compliance with state regulations imposed after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, D.C. Since then, the Canaveral Port Authority has spent $5.2 million beefing up security.

Before Sept. 11, the port spent $700,000 annually on security manpower, since then the yearly cost has skyrocketed to $4 million, officials said. Statewide, ports have spent $155.6 million over the past three years on security.

The International Council of Cruise Lines, whose members include major lines such as Disney, Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Princess and Norwegian, also announced this week that all of its 118 vessels are compliant with the new regulations.

While there was concern worldwide about the possible impact on foreign trade, Coast Guard spokesman Dana Warr said the agency is "trying to find a balance between security and the free flow of commerce."

"The Coast Guard is very serious about these regulations, but I'm sure they'll also provide some interim solutions," said Leikauf.

"The Coast Guard is not going to throw up a solid wall around this country."

At Port Canaveral, cruise ships make up 70 percent of the traffic, Cargo vessels represent the remaining 30 percent. Nine cruise ships sail in and out of Port Canaveral six days a week on three-, four-, and seven-day itineraries.

During 2003, a record 2 million cruise passengers passed through the Canaveral's terminal.

"Our vessel schedule is so spaced out that we never have 10 or 20 vessels trying to get into port on the same day," Sansom said. "I would not anticipate a waiting line at the buoys."

Coast Guard and Port Canaveral officials acknowledged that more work needs to be done and that security is an ongoing process, but they said the port is the safest it has ever been.

"We're looking hard," Coast Guard Lt. Patrick Eiland said Wednesday. "And, we know who is coming in our port." (Orlando Sentinel, 2004)

Title: Port Canaveral To Get Tighter Security In TSA Anti-Terrorism Measure
Date: March 31, 2008
Source:
WFTV 9

Abstract: Travelers will soon see more security officers at Port Canaveral in Brevard County, but they won't see them all. Customs and immigration teams will work with the Brevard County Sheriff's Office and other law enforcement groups as part of a new transportation security plan.

At Port Canaveral the focus is the cruise line industry, but new security measures won't always be visible.

"The hope is that terrorists, it's a watching transportation network, would not know what to expect the next time they come into this area. They would not know if there was going to be a large, visible presence. They wouldn't know if we're going to be behind the scenes," said Lee Kair, the federal security director for the TSA.

The team also includes security experts to catch fake travel documents, suspicious behavior and thoroughly screen passengers. In the past 18 months, the TSA has led similar security missions at ports in Tampa and Jacksonville (WFTV 9, 2008).

Title: Inter-Agency Maritime Operations Center At Port Canaveral
Date: May 19, 2010
Source:
AOS

Abstract: The port has potential high-profile terrorism targets

The port last year received a $4.9 million grant from the Department of Homeland Security to cover three years programme.

“The concept is straightforward, putting public safety, emergency services and operations on the north side of the port, closer to the growth in activity,” Port Canaveral CEO J. Stanley Payne said.

Funding for construction comes from the federal government through the Port Security Grant Program. This grant award, worth $2.8 million, included money for construction of the building and some communication equipment.

Security at Port Canaveral has had a greater focus since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11. The port has potential high-profile terrorism targets, with six terminals and an estimated 4 million passengers sailing out annually, as well as its new, $100 million fuel tank terminal.

“We’ll also position an emergency response vehicle closer to the masses of cruise passengers,” Payne said. “The concept evolved from Homeland Security funding but took on new urgency when we secured the stimulus grant that expedited development of the police department.”

Port Canaveral
A paramount cargo and cruise area, Port Canaveral Florida brims with possibilities in the travel and tourism sector. Located an hour’s drive east of Orlando and situated slightly north of Cocoa Beach, Port Canaveral is a highly visited area on the popular east coast of the state. In Port Canaveral cruises are one of the top, all-time favorite things to do and are the most common type of transportation heading outside of the area. Almost five million travelers pass through the port each year, making it the second busiest port in the world. Major cruise lines routinely dock at the Port Canaveral cruise terminal, which houses six separate terminals that accommodate the major cruise lines that travel between Florida and many other ports in the world.

Aside from being the Atlantic’s surfing capital, Port Canaveral is the biggest sea turtle nesting place in the USA, home to exciting shuttle and rocket launches, and a refuge to a number of endangered species. The Port Canaveral cruise terminal is perhaps the most predominant aspect of Port Canaveral itself for tourists. The six cruise terminals accommodate millions of passengers every year. All six areas of the Port Canaveral cruise terminal are well designed and focus on embarking and disembarking passengers with ease and convenience. The terminal is adorned with palms, tropical hues, restaurants, and other convenient amenities to make your visit as enjoyable as possible. There are Port Canaveral cruises ranging from one to seven days or longer, and three major cruise lines arrive and depart regularly from the port’s terminal.

Port Canaveral fishing history dates back to the spark of the commercial fishing era circa 1950. Large cargo ships saddled with newsprint and oil frequented the port, carrying massive loads back and forth to many parts of the world. Tankers also began shipping Florida’s famous orange juice out of the port to New York State in the later 1950s. Port Canaveral cruises didn’t catch on in popularity until the 1970s when ships began bringing in loads of passengers interested in touring central Florida attractions. Port Canaveral is also known worldwide for its role with the NASA space program and is the nation’s foremost launch site.

Port Canaveral Florida is also now a major leader in the sport fishing sector. In Port Canaveral fishing is possible from many areas, including state park shorelines, fishing piers, marinas, and the harbor. The harbor offers convenient boat access through the Canaveral Lock, Canaveral Barge Canal, Banana River, which is part of the Intracoastal Waterway in Florida, and also provides easy access to blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Both Freddie Patrick Park and Port’s End Park offer complimentary boat launches, and with six marinas situated both in the harbor and the Barge Canal, visitors hauling their own boats have plenty of choices. Port Canaveral fishing offers plenty of opportunity to catch a variety of sport fish including drum, mackerel, snook, and a number of other types of deep-sea species.

The most popular of all attractions in the Port Canaveral Florida area is the Kennedy Space Center. With more than 70 miles of glorious coastline, beaches are also a major attraction, many offering picnic pavilions, restrooms, and showers. Shopping is also a popular pastime in Port Canaveral Florida with a large variety of items available through specialty shops, modern shopping malls in historic and nearby Coca Village. With cuisine ranging from fresh seafood to Caribbean food to steaks and more, there is something for everyone to enjoy when eating out and something to be had for every budget. With a visit to the Port, each family member will be satisfied with the diversity of things to do and see during a Florida vacation (AOS, 2010)

Title: Police Dogs Join Port Canaveral Security Amid New 9/11 Terror Threat
Date: September 9, 2011
Source:
Bay News 9

Abstract: It's a first not only for Central Florida's port, but also for the nation.

On the same day U.S. announced a new "credible, but unconfirmed" terror threat related to the upcoming 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks on America, the Transportation Security Administration announced a new police dog explosives detection team at Port Canaveral, with the goal of protecting the country's fastest growing cruise port.

More than 1 million passengers pass through Port Canaveral, and officials said they hope the new, TSA-certified dog team will keep the port and the people safe from potential explosives.

Three dogs and their handlers will work as the first team dedicated to a cruise ship facility. One of those dogs served in the war in Afghanistan.

TSA touted the team as a mobile asset to thwart potential threats to the port, much like teams have been doing at national airports since 9/11 -- and also to protect the seven ships based at Port Canaveral, each carrying thousands of passengers on any given day.

John Daley/TSA Orlando

"Port Canaveral is an important economic driver in the local community," said John Daley, a TSA official based in Orlando. "Having a safe environment for people who stop to cruise is critical to that vibrant economy."

The new team has a partnership with a new one at Sanford International Airport. That, too, is a first.

They will have the ability to pool their resources if a threat is seen.

The seaport's new police department has also recently taken over security duties from the Brevard County Sheriff's Office (Bay News 9, 2011).

Title: Coast Guard And Partner Agencies To Participate In Joint Security Exercise In Port Canaveral
Date: October 24, 2011
Source: Coast Guard News 

Abstract: The Coast Guard and Canaveral Port Authority along with federal, state and local partner agencies are participating in Operation Focused Lens East, a full scale Area Maritime Security Training and Exercise Program designed to evaluate area maritime security operations in response to an increased threat in Port Canaveral.

The objectives of Operation Focused Lens East are designed to mitigate vulnerabilities associated with terrorist attacks and to enhance communications and response operations between federal, state, and local agencies and industry maritime stakeholders.

“We are exercising our outstanding interagency partnerships in Port Canaveral in order to increase preparedness for all types of security challenges,” said Capt. Andy Blomme, commander, Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville. “The Port Canaveral maritime stakeholder community can rest assured that all levels of government are working together in this endeavor.”

Participating agencies include the Coast Guard, Navy, Air Force, Customs and Border Protection, Transportation Security Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Central Florida Information Exchange, Port Canaveral Police Department, Brevard County Office of Emergency Management, Brevard County Sherriff’s Office, and Cape Canaveral Fire Department (Coast Guard News, 2011).

Title: Law Enforcement Agencies Prepare During Mock Terrorist Threat
Date: October 26, 2012
Source:
Bay News 9

Abstract: Terrorists attacking Port Canaveral is a concern and law enforcement from around the region are working to make sure they are ready to spring into action if the situation were to happen.

This week, they are simulating a terrorist threat at the port, called Operation Focused Lens East.

Officers are going through bags, cars, using police dogs to search boats and have added extra patrols on the water.

The Coast Guard, Port Canaveral Police and Fire, the Sheriff's Office, the FBI and other law enforcement agencies are working to improve communication and effectiveness.

They were located at various locations around the Port Tuesday, pretending they were dealing with a terrorist threat.

Coast Guard Petty Officer Christopher Evanson said it is vital the different agencies work together.

"All relationships, all the exercise will have become such a fine tune machine that when a real emergency strikes, we would have worked together and implemented a safe and secure response for any type of terror attack at the port, Evanson said. "It will ultimately protect the people in the community."

He also encouraged members of the public to be vigilant and to report any suspicious.

They said Port Canaveral has a lot of business that come and go from this area and a terrorist could see the area as an ideal place to attack.

Members of the public might notice an increased presence of law enforcement throughout the port and participants will be evaluated.

"We are exercising our outstanding interagency partnerships in Port Canaveral in order to increase preparedness for all types of security challenges," said Capt. Andy Blomme, a commander from Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville. "The Port Canaveral maritime stakeholder community can rest assured that all levels of government are working together in this endeavor" (Bay News 9, 2012)