Coast Guard and local agencies participate in multi-agency cargo inspection

5th Coast Guard District NewsNORFOLK, Va. — The Coast Guard, along with federal, state and local agencies conducted a multi-agency strike force operation at Hampton Roads port facilities Wednesday and Thursday.

The focus of the operation was to promote awareness and verify compliance with federal and state intermodal container, truck, air, rail and hazardous material safety regulations at the Norfolk International Terminal and APM Terminals.

The Coast Guard employed container inspectors, vessel boarding security teams, maritime security response teams and Coast Guard intelligence. Additional agencies that took part in the operation included: Customs and Border Protection, National Cargo Bureau, Transportation Security Administration, Virginia International Terminal Port Police, Chesapeake Police Department, Newport News Police Department and the Department of Homeland Security canine unit.

“This year we are doing something a little different,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Bryan Anderson, a marine-science technician in the port safety and security branch of Coast Guard Sector Hampton Roads. “We conducted a DHS joint initiative known as Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response operation, in conjunction with MASFO, which included TSA, DHS and the local law enforcement community.”

The operation involved the inspection of trucks as they left the marine terminals with shipments from both domestic and international locations. Inspections included verifying proper truck and container documentation, structural integrity of shipping containers, licensing, customs and fuel tax compliance, and hazardous material markings, packaging and segregation.

“During MASFO we have higher chances to identify undeclared hazmat, improper shipments and containers not fit for sea service than during normal inspections,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Ximena Johnson, a Maritime Enforcement Specialist in the Port Safety and Security Branch of Coast Guard Sector Hampton Roads.

Operation team members discovered multiple container structural deficiencies that resulted in placing the containers on hold until the deficiencies were rectified.

Inspections on containers and trucks leaving the Port of Hampton Roads are frequently conducted by individual agencies focusing on a specific part of the inspection, but this MASFO is one in a series of similar initiatives conducted in ports nationwide since September 1998 that brings the agencies together and reduces the inspection time delay for cargo shipments.

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