On February 4, the Hormcliff, on charter to fruit giant Del Monte, arrived at Falmouth Dock with a 300 mm hole on the port side. The hole was caused by a container that was lost overboard. A total of 58 refrigerated 40ft containers were lost at sea during a storm. Only 41 remained on board, including four that were badly damaged. Unfortunately, containers are not as secure as one may think. Security analysts warn that terrorists may use a cargo container to smuggle a nuclear bomb and detonate it in a major port. But do not fear, because this is one of the least likey forms of a terrorist attack.
Alane Kochems of The Heritage Foundation, points this out in her policy paper entitled “Taking a Global Approach to Maritime Security.” Her argument against demands to screen every container includes:
• The nuke-in-box is an unlikely terrorist tactic. A terrorist would use a private water craft that is safer and more secure
• Terrorists could easily employ another tactic
• Searching every container is inefficient and expensive
• There is no viable business case for hardening ship containers
To reinforce Kochem’s third point colleague Dr. James Carafano, points out that the mandate (Secured Freight Initiative 2006) is a non-logical policy that requires 100 percent inspection of every container (Read “A Second Look at Container Security: Lessons from Hong Kong.”) It is too costly, time consuming, and in reality terrorists are less than likely to use a cargo container to launch an attack on the United States.