Wes Hickman (202-224-5972) or Kevin Bishop (864-250-1417)
-- It has been a productive week for the future of port security and Project Seahawk at the Port of Charleston.
Last week, the U.S. Congress passed legislation, the SAFE Port Act, calling for the establishment of interagency port security centers modeled on Project Seahawk at every high-priority port in the United States within the next three years. Closer to home, the Department of Justice has agreed to U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham’s (R-South Carolina) request for the Department to release an additional $11.5 million in funding for continued operation of Project Seahawk at the Port of Charleston. The funding will sustain Seahawk operations for at least the next twelve months.
“Project Seahawk is now the national model for port security,” said Graham. “We have had a productive few weeks when it comes to port security and Project Seahawk. With the strong collaborative support of Representative Henry Brown in the House we also have been able to have funding released from the Department of Justice which will help Seahawk continue operations at the port. Port security has been a weak link in our homeland security efforts. I’m glad to see we continue to take steps to ensure that we can protect ports in South Carolina and across the nation.”
Graham noted the SAFE Port Act contains language he authored that establishes interagency operational centers for port security throughout the country. The “Seahawk Centers” would be run by the Coast Guard and include the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Defense, Department of Justice, and other federal agencies. State and local law enforcement, first responders, port authority or maritime exchange representatives would also be included in the joint operations.
“The innovation and cooperation practiced at the Port of Charleston serves our state and nation well,” said Graham. “Project Seahawk is the answer to a very serious problem and I am pleased that we will put this innovative program into use across the nation. I’m very proud of the work being done in South Carolina to protect the port. This legislation will not only help keep Project Seahawk operating in Charleston, but it will help improve our port security operations across the nation.”
“I, along with Representative Brown, will remain tireless advocates for Project Seahawk and national port security efforts,” said Graham.
President Bush is expected to sign the bill into law in the coming days.