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Savannah, GA CBP Hosts Exercise with Seaport Partners to Test Cargo Ops Business Resumption Plan

Release Date: 
February 13, 2015

SAVANNAH, Ga., — U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Office of Field Operations at the Port of Savannah hosted a multi-agency and industry tabletop exercise January 21 at Georgia Ports Police Department Auditorium to test CBP Savannah’s Business Resumption Plan (BRP) for cargo operations immediately following man-made and natural disasters.

Additionally, the exercise tested how the port’s BRP expedited Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) cargo release, specifically for the pharmaceutical industry.

This exercise included 30 representatives from CBP, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, Chatham, Ga., Emergency Management Agency, Georgia Ports Authority, and the Independent Customs Brokers and Freight Forwarders Association of Savannah.

“It is essential that Customs and Border Protection employees, technology and systems are back on line and open for business immediately following a port-wide or region-wide shut down,” said Savannah Area Port Director Lisa Beth Brown. “One of the best ways that we can contribute to a regional disaster recovery is to be a responsible partner and facilitate legitimate trade and commerce resumption through our seaports and airports.”

The exercise principally tested CBP Savannah’s Business Resumption Plan to respond to a hypothetical emergency scenario involving two simultaneous incidents. The first incident involved a cargo vessel that was delayed upon arrival into the port due to an oil spill at the dock. The second involved a vessel grounding in the Savannah River turning basin. This scenario was a plausible one, and it would significantly delay the arrival of other vessels carrying national priority goods.

Stakeholder discussion focused on inter-agency and inter-industry coordination necessary to resume normal operations and expedite the release and inter-modal movement of trusted C-TPAT cargo.

Clear coordination and communication of information was of paramount concern by all stakeholders.

CBP Port of Savannah addressed the importance and processes for identifying lifesaving pharmaceutical cargo, the commercial benefits for businesses to being a trusted C-TPAT trader particularly during business resumption, and the various avenues to communicate with all affected parties.

Agencies, industry, and media also discussed the importance of ensuring a collective and concise external messaging campaign. Stakeholders recognized the impact to the community and to the public that a large-scale incident will have to port operations in Savannah and discussed measures that could address those concerns.

Participants left the exercise with a better understanding of the complexities and potential constraints faced when expediting cargo during normal operations, much less during an emergency event. CBP gained invaluable insight into port partner and stakeholder capabilities, concerns and expectations of CBP operations.

“This exercise reinforced the close working relationships, mutually beneficial interests, and open lines of communication enjoyed between Customs and Border Protection, Georgia Ports Authority, and our Trade Industry partners and stakeholders,” said Supervisory Supply Chain Security Specialist Liz Tritt.

Please visit CBP’s C-TPAT webpage to learn how trusted trader programs secure the global supply chain and benefit the program’s import/export industry partners.

Last modified: 
February 9, 2017