A Pleasant Surprise!

Eric Watkins has an article in this month’s MARINE DIGEST and Cargo Business News that gives us a chance to talk about the effectiveness of security procedures.  The Department of Homeland Security Secretary, Michael Chertoff, recently announced that the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach will have complete Radiation Portal Monitor (RPM) coverage by the end of 2005.


“By applying advanced technology, we will soon be able to screen every vehicle and container entering the nation’s busiest seaports for nuclear and radiological materials, without disrupting the free flow of trade.  Complete and efficient coverage at the LA-Long Beach seaports is a major step forward for national security and a model for other ports,” said Secretary Chertoff.


Secretary Chertoff said that by December 2005, a total of 90 RPMs will screen all international container traffic and vehicles exiting the facility for nuclear materials or hidden sources of radiation.  By the end of June, he said, three terminal locations, at Piers 400, 300, and Trans-Pacific, within the Port of Los Angeles are scheduled to go on line.


But here’s the rub.  One informant told Marine Digest and Cargo Business News that these procedures are inadequate.  “The RPMs check containers after they have been off-loaded from containerships and have reached the dock …  but what if the port itself is the target?”  An undetected radiological device could be timed to explode on a ship as it enters port, he said, and an explosion in the LA-Long Beach port complex, where more than 40% of all foreign imports arrive, could bring the U.S. economy to its knees.  Hmmm.


Well, here’s a thought.  Why not figure out a way to install these RPMs aboard cargo ships?  Would it be possible, do you suppose, to move shipboard cargo around somehow so that each container, or each vehicle, could be scanned prior to the vessel’s arrival in port?  Just think of the benefits.  Our vital ports would be secure and maybe millions of lives would be saved.  Our nation’s economy, our lifeblood, would no longer be threatened, and … you think we’re dreaming?


Here’s a pleasant surprise.  On the left hand side of the pages in this website is a “Chronology” button.  Click on that button and you’ll see a rundown of our patent activity beginning on July 10, 1989.  What we’ve been discussing so far, and what this website has been describing, is the land-based application of our patented warehousing system.  From July 11, 1997 on, however, the Chronology provides a rundown of our patented activity with respect to shipboard storage and retrieval systems.  That’s right. We’ve designed and patented, in every country having shipbuilding capability, a method of retrieving any single container from aboard ship without offloading or even handling any other container.  (Cf. U.S. Patent Numbers 5,860,783 and 6,077,019 for further details.)  Just think of it.  An RPM aboard our patented container ship would scan every container while the ship is underway and long before it arrives in port.  The entire procedure would take less than a week, and suspect cargo would be deep-sixed without a moment’s hesitation.  Would this be a deterrent, you wonder?  Would you consider being a stowaway under those circumstances?