Thursday, March 02, 2006

Any Port, Part Deaux

Here’s an ugly little secret about a major US Port that’s been allowing foreign companies to operate it’s container cargo operations for years: it’s worked flawlessly.

What is now the Danish Maersk company has been moving container cargo in and out of the Port of Houston for 37-years.

This morning the Chairman of the Port of Houston Authority, James Edmond, was my guest, and pretty well put to rest many of the issues that the nattering naybobs of negativity have been harping on over the Dubai Port World acquisition of Peninsular & Oriental.

P&O basically operates the cranes that load and unload cargo containers at the ports in which it leases space. DPW is simply going to take over those operations. In every US port from Brownsville to New York, the Longshoremen provide the physical labor that make these ports hum.

The cargo containers that move through these ports are sealed when they’re packed—no doubt for freshness. From the time a container leaves Europe or Asia or any place in the world, it is track via GPS, subjected to numerous X-ray inspections, and literally followed every inch of its trip from shipper to recipient. 72-hours before a cargo ship arrives in a US port, its manifest and crew roster are forwarded to the Coast Guard and FBI for perusal. Before a container leaves the port, it is again X-rayed, sometimes twice. Still sealed.

If anything, the focus on the DPW acquisition of P&O has illuminated the safety measures and security levels already in place in US ports, and clarified the fact that the Arab-owned company, a US ally, will be but a small cog in the gearboxes of these ports’ operations.

I’m still more concerned about fertilizer and diesel in a rental truck in middle America than some schlub from the Middle East getting a toe hold in a US Port.
Possible, yes.
But not likely.

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