The significance of containers security



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A robust and secure supply chain is critical to ensure the products delivered are authentic. Supply chain security experts must ensure cargo integrity in the supply chain before it is delivered to the end customers. The security experts investigate and audit the entire ecosystem of the chain to ensure its integrity. Supply chain security also critical for global supply. The main channel of distribution for global distribution is through waters. The maritime shipping infrastructure is critical for the growth of every economy. It consists of ports, cargo and passenger ships, waterways, a network of transportation modes, dams, locks, and railroads and pipelines that connect to ships in port. About 80% of the world’s trade in volume is carried by ships. In the U.S about 7,000 commercial ships make up to 60,000 U.S port calls every year. The Maritime industry of the U.S manages up to 2.3 billion tons of freight, 3 billion tons of oil, 145 million ferry passengers, and 13 million cruise ship travellers. There are 361 seaports in the U.S each with its diverse characteristics and sizes. These ports are either privately owned, state-owned, or owned by the local government. The maritime sector is a huge contributor to the growth of the United States. Despite its significance, the maritime industry faces several security issues. The purpose of this paper is to perform a feasibility study on the measures put in place to address the Security risk facing the Maritime container supply chain and logistics.


The significance of containers security for world trade is well-established and has been a subject for discussion for a while. Container supply is the backbone of international trade and globalization. It has allowed firms to improve the efficiency and reliability of international logistics. The maritime industry is therefore constantly developing containers cargo and improving the containers supply chain to respond to the changing demands in the global market. The development of containerization has led to an increase in offloading and loading efficiencies better than before. With the increase in container supply chain came an increased dependence on the box. This also came with the industrial process being closely intertwined with the global supply chain management strategy which is necessary for the production and distribution of goods globally. This brought about several benefits but at the same time brought several challenges that the maritime industry continues to undergo. The growth in containerization exposes the supply chain to supply chain vulnerability mainly because of cost and security issues. There is no doubt that the development of container transport has substantially reduced the chances of cargo damage which was the primary problems for cargo transport for centuries, the risk of loss and other security concerns continue to rise.

Piracy, terrorism, contraband, and smuggling of people and weapons are the most common security concerns that disrupt the containers supply chain leading to increased costs. Globalized containers supplier involves travelling through remote waters in which the private owner or the government has no direct control or jurisdiction mean that the private owner or the government may have little control of the shipping thus increasing the risk of loss. The complexity of navigating foreign waters may also force the cargo transports to seek the assistance of other people which also increase the risk of a security breach. Criminals and terrorist continue to take advantage of the fact that container shipment translates into some of the most parts of the world with little control of the cargo owners.

Several government and organization continue to formulate policies and practices that are meant to reduce the exposure of container shipments and breaches that may disrupt the international chain of supply. Supply chain security refers to the process of formulating and applying policies, procedures and technologies to reduce exposure to insecurity issues arising in the container supply chain. The organization and governments primary aim for ensuring supply chain security is to protect people, products, facilities and equipment in the supply chain. It also aims at preventing a malicious attack on the normal flow of information and commodity by preventing theft and contraband.

International trade highly depends on the security of the maritime supply chain. Maritime security and container shipping are measures taken by the owner, organization, operators, port facilities and other stakeholders to protect container shipment against seizure, sabotage, pilferage, surprise, annoyance, or piracy. The global approach to the security concerns at the maritime supply chain is diverse and multifaceted and constantly renewed with the increase in the need to protect the global supply due to the constant increase in security threats. For example, after the September 11 attack on the U.S, the country has taken the issue of national security seriously and has since continued to strengthen security in its borders as well as its shipments by ensuring that terrorism and any other threat to the economy are foreseen and dealt with. Despite the policies, such countries put in place the maritime container supply chain continues to experience disruptions majorly because of the limited jurisdiction with national security forces not being able to pursue wrongdoer in international waters.

Security concerns in Maritime Shipping

The recent years, the influence of globalization and seaborne trade makes the supply chain of containers to be more vulnerable to several criminal activities that threaten the global supply of products and poses a huge risk to the economic activities of nations. The most common of the activities include piracy, people trafficking, drug trafficking, smuggling of weapons, information security, and terrorism.

Maritime piracy is a criminal act of violence, dentations, depredation that is orchestrated and committed for non-governmental groups by the crew or passengers of a private ship that is directed by on the high seas against a property or property on a ship or on another ship. The definition has been expanded to entail such criminal activities undertaken in both high seas and territorial seas. For a long time, the motive behind piracy is for economic reasons but with time, piracy is associated with terrorism with many occasions reported whereby terrorists hijacked ships. Researchers state that piracy data are reported by the maritime organization but the statistics are insufficient because most of the cases fail to be reported. Many shipping companies are reported to prefer to cover up their losses instead of reporting the even and suffer an increase in insurance costs and delays. Piracy is also not distinguished in terms of big and small. The reports show that the acts of piracy continue to increase over the past few years and the issues of piracy often occur in the areas around the coast of East Africa, the Gulf of Eden, and waters around of Indian Ocean. The hotspot of piracy has shifted from Indonesia to Somalia with worries now rising in the south China regions.

Improved governance onshore, enhancement of local security and international corporation between navies of different countries could help reduce the instances of piracy thus abating and containing maritime insecurity.

Maritime terrorism is also an issue of rising concern. Terrorism in the context of maritime refers to the undertaking of terrorist acts within a maritime environment either using the vessel or using another vessel in the seas, port, or ocean against passengers, person, costal facilities, residents, organizations, port areas, and port cities.” Experts expand the definition to include using a maritime supply chain to smuggle weapons or personnel into a country to commit terrorist acts. Experts report that terrorist attract have a high potential of disrupting the container supply chain and create global chaos in global logistics. However, the researchers also mention that terrorist pose minimal risk to the maritime supply chain as in most cases, the terrorist use the maritime sector to ship their weapons or to get into the places where they plan to execute their terrorist acts and rare cases are recorded whereby terrorist hijacked a ship and attacked it. The experts underline the need to distinguish between the two so that appropriate steps should be taken to stop the terrorist using maritime vessels to smuggle their weapons and thereby stop the terrorist before they occur. The awareness of terrorism followed the September 11 attack. This act increased the awareness of terrorism and measure puts in place to end terrorism. Despite the measures, countries continue to report an instance of terrorism and researchers to state the terrorist ship their weapons and themselves via maritime vessels as air security is more stick than port security. Several security measures and regulatory measures are taken to ensure maritime security but still, case of terrorism continue to be reported. This means that the relevant authorities need to be more resilient in fighting terrorism both on land and on water. They need to tighten port security to reach and even surpass the airport levels given that the maritime industry is critical for the functioning of an economy and terrorism pose threats to both the maritime sector and the country of interest. An appropriate risk assessment also needs to be performed on the measures taken to ensure security. A cost-benefit analysis will help determine the optimal amount of security and regulatory measures to be taken because over-investment in anti-maritime terrorism may exceed maritime container shipment.


A mixed qualitative research design has been applied to analyze the feasibility of the measures put in place to handle security issues facing the container supply chain. A large part of the quantitative research will be carried out through a thorough literature survey based on two dimensions. The first dimension was undertaken by evaluating current shipping trends including the global container shipping industry, local shipping, and short seas shipping. A second dimension is a qualitative approach that will analyze challenges that the maritime container supply chain experience with the main focus on security risk. Evaluation of the security challenges will be done in details to fully understand the current position of the industry and highlight the need for improvement and solution.


There is no doubt that the rising security issues in the maritime supply chain need to be addressed urgently. To address the rising threats in the ports, the stakeholders and the authorities need to work closely together to achieve a substantial enhancement of oversight of the container supply chain. The relevant stakeholder should improve the current operation and introduce high and more efficient technologies to improve the operations within the container supply chain. The stakeholders should also keep to a minimum the cost and lead time to safeguard the competitiveness of the ports. The new technology that can screen the maximum number of containers and the most effective time should also be adopted to ensure efficiency.


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