ADAC, CCICADA and CREATE Organize a Workshop on the Suez Canal Incident: Implications for the Global Maritime Supply Chain

When the container ship Ever Given ran aground in the Suez Canal in the morning of March 23, 2021, the incident led to some significant short-term supply- chain impacts and aggravated other existing supply-chain issues.

Figure 1. Credit: Wikimedia commons, Contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data [2021], processed by Pierre Markuse

Although the incident was resolved in six days, it nonetheless exacerbated port congestion, container shortages, and spikes in freight rates and energy prices affecting commodities and goods from food to microchips. A longer blockage would have certainly been more disruptive, raising concerns about how to handle complex supply-chain challenges of long-term importance.

For this reason, the network of DHS university centers of excellence (COEs) convened a Workshop on “The Suez Canal Incident: Impact and Implications for the Global Maritime Supply Chain,” on June 21, 2021. The Workshop was organized by directors of three DHS COEs:  Randy “Church” Kee, Maj Gen, USAF (Ret), of ADAC (Arctic Domain Awareness Center led by the University of Alaska), Dr. Fred Roberts of CCICADA (Command, Control, and Interoperability Center for Advanced Data Analysis led by Rutgers University), and Dr. Adam Rose of CREATE (Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events led by the University of Southern California), together with CAPT Andrew Tucci, USCG (ret.).

When the Suez Canal incident occurred, the global supply chain, which is dominated by maritime traffic, was already impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. How did that make the impacts of the incident worse? This was a key question addressed by speakers at the Workshop.

Malicious actors, natural disasters, pandemics, geo-political events and marine casualties such as the Suez event can disrupt domestic and global supply chains. These and other disruptions can occur singly or in combination. While supply chains may be resilient enough to cope with a wide variety of single disruptions, aggregated challenges may result in cascading failures, well beyond the ability of many organizations to address. Accordingly, the Workshop addressed the questions: How do multiple, interconnecting disruptions of global supply chains produce outcomes that are much more complicated and challenging than those of single disruptions, and how can we best prevent them, prepare for them, respond to them, and recover from them?

Our nation’s homeland security is linked to global maritime trade. What lessons have we learned from the Ever Given incident that will help us be prepared for future disruptions to the marine transportation system? Examining the Suez incident provides a unique opportunity to identify emerging global supply-chain factors, improve preparedness, enhance business continuity, and prioritize future research and policy decisions.

A New Post-Pandemic Economy

Before the Suez incident occurred, the global pandemic had already forced fundamental changes in the world’s economy, as related by US Coast Guard Rear Admiral (RDML) Brian Penoyer, the Workshop’s keynote speaker. RDML Penoyer described the impacts of the pandemic and the subsequent reopening of the world’s economies on the marine transportation system (MTS). At one point, because of delays at the ports of Los Angeles-Long Beach and resulting spillover to Oakland, San Francisco Bay was filled with containerized shipping waiting to dock—a scene no one can remember seeing. Toyota pointed to a shortage of petrochemicals traceable to weather systems affecting Houston. Honda pointed to problems resulting from a confluence of events: weather, ship shortages, COVID’s influence on the workforce, etc. Some of these events are due to a large surge in imports and exports, with demand now growing to pre-pandemic levels and beyond. During the pandemic, many people moved to online shopping. As a result, the economy became further “Amazonized,” with more shipping but little change in global containerized-shipping capacity. Will things go back to a pre-pandemic economy or are the changes long-lasting? And what will be the effect on the MTS? These questions are central to understanding how the MTS will handle future disruptions.

Just-in-Case vs. Just-in-Time

Before the pandemic, supply chains had become very efficient because of “just-in-time” technology, an inventory and production program driven by a desire to minimize costs and enabled by artificial intelligence and machine learning. One of the chief benefits of just-in-time methods is the reduction of real property and product costs by downsizing warehouses filled with products waiting for sale.  Under relatively stable conditions, just-in-time methods allow companies to accurately anticipate demand and minimize inventory costs. It works well until there is an anomalous event such as a pandemic. In the wake of large-scale disruptions during the pandemic, shippers and merchants ramped up shipments “just-in-case” there are future shutdowns—said Bethann Rooney (Deputy Director, Port Department, Port Authority of New York/New Jersey.) This has strained supply-chain systems around the world. According to Rooney, there was five years’ worth of growth in cargo volume in five months, and that is not sustainable.

But while we may expect industry to gradually revert to just-in-time, what consequences can we expect from the next disruption, or series of disruptions, and what modifications to just-in-time methods might make global supply chains more resilient? These are central research topics coming out of the Workshop.

Node Resilience vs. Network Resilience

Figure 2: Cruise Ship Grand Princess Source: Wikimedia commons, Chilli Head  – no changes made

Admiral Penoyer said that, for the 15 months during the pandemic, the US Coast Guard has focused on resilience, including resilience of the MTS and global shipping industry. The supply chain is more accurately depicted as a network that can find alternate pathways if an individual node (such as an individual port facility) becomes unavailable, he said.

Early in the pandemic the cruise ship industry was hit hard. Communities were reluctant to accept ships with known or suspected COVID cases, and existing cruise ship passenger terminals were ill suited to accommodate the social distancing and other health procedures needed to reduce risk. The first cruise ship to reach the US was the Grand Princess, waiting off of San Francisco with confirmed positive cases on board. Nearby hospitals were over-run and short of supplies, and the ship could not come into its normal berth, so the US Coast Guard facilitated the use of an alternate port facility where screening, vetting, and medical intervention could take place. This required coordination across various maritime and public health entities. Hospitals became part of the supply chain for cruise ships during the pandemic. Although the original node—the designated passenger terminal—was unequal to the challenge, the network, including non-maritime organizations, provided the resilience needed to resolve the situation safely. The important distinction here is that in supply chains, node resilience and network resilience are different.

 Predictability Contributes to Resilience

 When vessels were waiting for a blocked Suez Canal to reopen, there was an alternate route to consider:  Go around the Cape of Good Hope at the southern tip of Africa. Such a voyage would normally add 8 to 9 days to the voyage. But it was hard to decide whether to take this alternate route given the unpredictability of the delay, especially in the early stages of the response.

As RDML Penoyer noted: Delays in the supply chain are acceptable if they are predictable. To a large extent some level of disruption is always occurring and is therefore arguably labeled as “predictable.” Unusual events can be “predictable” to the extent that government agencies and others share information on how an incident is being managed, allowing industry to make alternate plans. Despite the unusual and high-profile nature of the Suez incident, it was resolved within six days. The node and network aspect of the global supply chain provided the resilience necessary for the system as a whole, despite the impact to individual cargo owners.

Nonetheless, even that “resilient” network has its limits, especially if disruptions exceed the built-in resilience that the supply network has adapted to over time. RDML Penoyer gave the example of the Houston Ship Channel. Although the US Coast Guard cannot promise to always keep the passage open, it has been able to limit closures to at most 5 days, even in the event of oil spills, ship collisions, and hurricanes, providing considerable predictability. Modern modeling systems used to manage today’s supply chains can take such levels of delay into account.

In short, some level of predictability contributes to resilience. However, disruptions greater than 5 days  would likely exceed the reserve capacity of refineries and other nodes in the energy sector, leading to more severe consequences and unpredictable impacts in other areas of the trade network and greater economy.

Anatomy of the Incident

With the MTS already straining under large cargo volumes generated by reopening economies, it was confronted with another challenge—a massive container ship blocking the Suez Canal, one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.

Figure 3: The Ever Given is one of the world’s largest container ships–nearly a quarter mile in length and able to carry 20,000 containers. Credit: Robert Schwemmer for NOAA’s National Ocean Service, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Suez Canal connects the Red Sea with the Mediterranean, providing the shortest year-round route between Europe and South and East Asia. In 2020, nearly 19,000 ships carrying over a billion tons of cargo and representing about 12% of global trade passed through the canal. An estimated $400 million of goods transit the canal each hour. By any measure, it is a critical waterway and one of the world’s critical chokepoints—a single point of failure that makes many supply chains vulnerable, according to Brandon Fried (Executive Director, Airforwarders Association).

The Ever Given ran aground and became wedged in the canal, blocking traffic in both directions for six days. The six-day closure stranded more than 400 vessels, leaving them to either wait it out or reroute around the Cape of Good Hope which would add more than a week and considerable cost to the journey.

CAPT David Moskoff (US Merchant Marine Academy) provided some insight into how something like this can happen. To begin, he noted that the Suez Canal was built in 1869 and designed for fairly small ships. At 400 meters in length, 59 meters in width, and carrying 200,000 tons of cargo, the Ever Given is huge. And such ships keep getting bigger. Just since 1968, the container-carrying capacity of ships has increased by over 1500% and has almost doubled in the past decade. It is reasonable to wonder if the Canal is still adequate in this context.

Figure 4: The Suez Canal was built in 1869. Source: Wikimedia commons, Royal Air Force

CAPT Moskoff suggested that many factors likely contributed to the accident: the ultra large size of the ship; the fact it had a single propeller; wind (strong gusts); the ship’s speed; the lack of an escort tug made up to the ship; and the hydrodynamics of the canal.

At the time of the workshop, the Ever Given remained in the Suez Canal, though no longer blocking traffic, but unable to continue pending negotiated settlements. Sam Ruda (Port Director, Port Authority of New York/New Jersey) observed that vessel owners, charter parties, and vessel operators need not be one and the same. This leads to bifurcated and complex identification of “responsible party” accountability if/when a crisis occurs. Another factor in the delayed resolution of the incident, according to Brandon Fried, was the multi-national makeup of the stakeholders. The MV Ever Given was owned by a company in Japan, operated by a container shipping firm based in Taiwan, managed by a German company, and registered in Panama, with 26 crew members from India.

CAPT Andrew Tucci (USCG, ret.) pointed out that the incident could have been much worse. The incident occurred while the size of the daily tides was still rising; this meant that the Canal had increasing depths of water during the response, helping to refloat the ship. Had the opposite been the case, the incident would have lasted longer, perhaps even requiring cargo to be unloaded to lighten the vessel. The result would have been an enormously complex and time-consuming operation. So, while the incident was significant (it delayed more than 400 ships after all), a worst-case scenario would have been much more disruptive and costly.

Lowering the Probability of Similar Incidents in the Future

What can be done to lower the probability of similar accidents in the future? CAPT Moskoff listed a number of alternatives:

  • Making the canal deeper and wider (dredging is under way)
  • Requiring tugboat escorts (faster, more powerful tugs)
  • Improved (and improved access to) weather monitoring (and corresponding control of traffic)
  • Requiring specific training in how to safely navigate the Suez Canal and/or similar bodies (using live models and simulators)
  • Establishing improved (and specific) transit management practices (better delineation of pilots, vessel monitors on board)
  • Creating qualified and competent audit teams (to provide regular monitoring of vessels)

The Port Authority’s Sam Ruda said that among the lessons learned were the needs to develop/establish:

  • Pilot training on 16,000+ TEU class vessels, including use of simulators in training
  • A protocol for tug deployment: how many and under what conditions?
  • Requirements for “back-up” resources in case of vessel-related issues: tugs, private dredge fleet, ACOE dredge fleet, etc.
  • A resiliency protocol in constrained navigation channels

The Impact of the Incident Was Small…but Could Have Been Large

CAPT Zeita Merchant (Commander, USCG Sector New York) said that 45% of the traffic destined for the port of New York/New Jersey transits the Suez Canal. Thus, one could have expected a significant impact of the Suez Canal blockage. Yet, Sam Ruda of the Port Authority of New York/New Jersey said that the Suez Canal incident had a small, short-lived impact in the New York/New Jersey area. There were 11 vessels heading to New York/New Jersey that were impacted; five chose to go around the Cape of Good Hope. Within three weeks, all affected vessels had arrived and departed. One vessel changed its order of port arrivals, going to the Port of Norfolk in advance of New York/New Jersey. Overall, the impacts of delays in cargo delivery were basically resolved in three weeks. Bethann Rooney of the Port Authority described this impact as insignificant and pointed out that, in the container shipping world, ships are off schedule approximately 65% of the time. The Suez incident just added to this slightly.

As CAPT Tucci said, the impact of the event could have been large. For example, unloading the cargo from the Ever Given in the Suez Canal would have led to a much longer delay. We may not be as lucky the next time, especially if a chokepoint blockage occurs in the context of a cyberattack or a hurricane, a labor stoppage or another major disruption. Accordingly, research is needed to understand such complex, interconnected events and how to prepare, prevent, respond to, and recover from them.

While we heard from workshop speakers that the Suez Canal incident had relatively minimal and short-term impacts on particular US ports, we did not fully address the possibility that cascading impacts might have had large and longer-term economic and supply chain impacts. Most of the traffic through the Suez Canal coming from Asia is destined for Europe, not the US. What we need to investigate is whether delays in supplies headed to a port such as Rotterdam have downstream impacts in the US when those supplies are needed to produce goods that are later intended for the US. Research to understand the indirect effects of an event such as the Suez Canal blockage is needed.

The Suez Canal is not the only Chokepoint of Significance

Figure 5: Kill van Kull Source: Wikimedia commons, No changes

There are a variety of chokepoints in the global MTS. In addition to canals, narrow channels pose similar risks to some of the country’s busiest ports. Sam Ruda pointed out that the Port of New York and New Jersey has its own chokepoint: the Kill van Kull (KVK) navigation channel. CAPT Merchant said that 80% to 90% of the region’s goods travel through the KVK. This is an area of great focus for the US Army Corps of Engineers, the US Coast Guard, and the Port Authority of New York/New Jersey. Bethann Rooney said that the Port Authority has systems in place to prevent an Ever Given type event and also has the ability to respond quickly. CAPT Tucci mentioned the container ship Golden Ray that capsized off the coast of Georgia in 2019 and for which the salvage operation is still ongoing. If that were to happen in the Kill van Kull, there would be a major issue.

The Arctic Route Is Not a Suitable Alternative.

Figure 6: Capsized container ship Golden Ray off Coast of Georgia. Source: Wikimedia commons, US Coast Guard

The Northeast Passage across the top of Eurasia for shipping from Asia to Europe has been touted as an alternative because it is a shorter distance on maps compared with more southern routes. The Northern Sea Route (NSR) Russian national Arctic waterway extending from the Kara Sea to Bering Strait (that does not include the Barents Sea) is viewed by some in the Russian Federation as a viable alternative for global shipping between East Asian and European markets in part due to the increase in marine access from the profound retreat of Arctic sea ice. Currently, the NSR is seeing seasonal increases in destination traffic (not trans-Arctic voyages) primarily by icebreaking Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) carriers and icebreaking tankers transiting bulk product from LNG and oil terminals in Ob Bay along the Yamal Peninsula. These cargoes are mainly headed to ports in China, Japan, and Korea. Maj Gen (Ret) Church Kee (Executive Director of the ADAC COE) noted that in the aftermath of the Suez Canal mishap, Russian Federation President Putin messaged the Global Maritime Community extolling the value of shipping via the NSR as a useful alternative to transiting from Asia to Europe via the Suez Canal.

However, according to Dr.  Lawson Brigham, (CAPT USCG ret.), now on the research faculty of the University of Alaska Fairbanks, the Arctic Ocean is not a solution for the global maritime transportation system for global container shipping; the Northeast Passage, NSR or any other Arctic route are not substitutes for the Suez and Panama canals. Yes, Arctic sea ice coverage (in terms of seasonal area coverage and associated ice volume) has been steadily decreasing since the early 1980s. However, during the colder months (October to May), sea-ice will always cover the Arctic basin.  During these times, except for ice-breaking vessels (capable of negotiating sea ice more than a meter thick) most of the Arctic is impassible by normal ocean vessels.  Projections indicate that—even by as late as 2050—the Arctic Ocean will remain largely ice covered for 6 to 8 months a year. Thus, most Arctic routes will likely be seasonal at best, except for the most ice-capable of ships.

In order to negotiate ice-covered waters, vessels have to reduce transit speed. When such speed reductions are required for safe passage, these slower ship speeds can well negate the advantage of shorter distance in the Arctic Ocean. Passage through the ice-covered waters of the Arctic usually necessitates use of specialized ships (whether they are ice-breaking or ice-strengthened). Notably, all commercial ships intending to operate in the Arctic Ocean must meet the broad marine safety, environmental protection, and marine experience/training requirements of the mandatory International Maritime Organization (IMO) Polar Code. Currently, there are a small number of world class, Arctic capable ships (mostly bulk carriers) that meet the rules and regulations of the Polar Code.  However, the overwhelming number of today’s huge container ships are not constructed, equipped, or manned with Arctic mariners to enable operating in the Arctic Ocean.

CAPT Tucci observed that the remoteness and lack of infrastructure would make any event happening in the Arctic significantly more difficult to resolve than a similar event in a place like the Suez Canal or the Port of New York. CAPT Phil Thorne (USCG, Ret, now USCG District 17 Arctic Program Specialist) highlighted the many challenges facing marine traffic in the Arctic:

  • Limited infrastructure
  • The tyranny of distance
  • Minimal communications
  • Sparse resources
  • Extreme/unpredictable weather
  • Reduced government response capability

All of these factors increase the cost and risk of passage, making the Arctic an unattractive choice for routine traffic, despite the overall reduced distance if ice-free conditions are present. To date, essentially all Arctic shipping has been related to the movement of cargo (or cruise ship passengers on destination voyages) to or from the Arctic rather than as an alternative to non-Arctic voyages.

A variety of international forums exist to reduce Arctic risks. These include the IMO and international collaboration with Arctic nations such as Russia and Canada. The IMO’s Polar Code includes human factor rules, polar certificates, and polar manuals of operation. But, per CAPT Brigham, human factors are a considerable limitation—not many mariners have polar ship experience.  Training and preparing mariners to safely operate in the Arctic requires investment of time and resources and is not an inconsequential consideration.

Figure 7: Arctic ice. Source: Wikimedia commons, author Patrick Kelley, no changes made

Moreover, technology is not necessarily a solution. A new design for an ice-breaking container ship might be feasible for ships carrying up to 8,000 boxes but not the 20,000-box capacity of the Ever Given.

CAPT Thorne called for more research on the direct effects of the physical environmental change and the speed with which it is happening. He also called for more research on the second (and higher) order effects of such change.

Complex Incidents

CAPT Merchant told us that after the Suez incident, stakeholders of the Port of New York/New Jersey held a roundtable discussion to validate current prevention/risk management efforts, identify unmitigated areas of concern and potential “worst case” scenarios, share potential impacts of prolonged waterway closure, and discuss adequacy of existing response/salvage resources to execute recovery. Among the multiple, complex disruptions discussed were combinations of pandemics, cyberattacks, natural disasters, active shooter events, congestion challenges, and unmanned aerial systems. She talked about how a cyberattack could turn into an oil spill (referencing what if the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack were on the OT systems in addition to the IT systems), and how the threats we face in the cyber domain will soon equal or exceed the physical threats managed daily.

CAPT Tucci highlighted the importance of exercises in preparing for incidents and mentioned the emergency plans developed with the help of US Coast Guard Area Maritime Security Committees throughout the United States. He asked whether these plans are robust and if we are exercising them. But, most important, do these plans cover situations where there are multiple disruptions at the same time?

Envisioning Incidents that Might Have Dramatic Impact

The Suez Canal incident had somewhat constrained impacts. Once we understood the effects, the system adapted to the situation. Are there incidents for which we might not have a readily available work-around?

CAPT Moskoff mentioned GPS as being critical to navigation and one that currently does not have a widely available alternative. He said that the Chinese and Russians among others can manipulate it in ways to make it unusable, or worse, misleading in ways that could lead to a grounding, collision, or other marine casualty.

Other ideas mentioned included automated systems to handle larger container ships, shifting the risk/impact from physical to cyber, and increasing urbanization, requiring technologies to handle traffic congestion near a port.

CAPT Eric Johansson of the SUNY Maritime College talked about the impact of single and redundant points of failure, as well as increased weather events on ships operating in ports. He talked about issues arising from the fact that to control increasingly larger ships entering our ports, we must rely a great deal on electronic navigation and escort tugs to offset the reduction of visual sight lines for pilots. Other significant concerns include cyberattack, escort vessel vulnerabilities, episodic weather events, and the need for adequate safe anchorages.

CAPT Johansson said that an event is seldom unpredictable if correct organization and infrastructure is in place.  We need to be prepared for unexpected but forseeable events. To minimize the impacts of such events in a large port system, we need to develop risk analysis and recovery protocols for all stakeholders, prepare/review assets in key locations, prepare/review recovery facilities, and train individuals. He cited a resiliency report written by FEMA following Superstorm Sandy. The report highlights the role of the towing industry and its ability to shelter critical cargo at anchor in the Hudson River[1]. This is just one key feature of the industry that serves the Port of New York and the millions of citizens who rely on the maritime transportation system for critical cargo.

Fred Roberts (Director of the CCICADA COE) said that one can classify such incidents in terms of both spatial and temporal extent. Hurricanes and earthquakes are local and limited in time. This makes response easier and allows for use of other parts of a network. A pandemic like COVID was complicated because it was widespread geographically and also lasted a long time. Henry Willis (Homeland Security Operational Analysis Center, RAND Corporation) noted that climate change is another example of a widespread and lasting threat. These kinds of threats require totally different kinds of responses than the local and short-term disruptions.

Henry Willis introduced another way of looking at disruptions. He suggested that the global supply chain is not a single network. Instead, there is a physical logistics layer, a transaction layer, and a governance layer. Natural disasters can affect the logistics layer, which includes ports, vessels, rail and truck carriers. Labor disruptions would affect this layer, as would piracy. Customer base disruptions such as decreasing or increasing demand would affect the transaction layer, which includes domestic and foreign suppliers, consolidators, and retailers. As an example, at the beginning of the pandemic, fuel consumption dropped. There were not enough places to store available fuel which led to some fuel being given away. Cyber events could also be in this layer or the logistics layer. Trade disputes, blockades, wars, etc. would affect the governance layer, which includes organizations such as the Coast Guard, Customs and Border Protection, the Federal Trade Commission, and the International Maritime Organization.

Don’t Limit the Problem to Individual Ports or Vessels

Figure 8. The supply chain has physical, transactional, and relational networks. Courtesy of Henry Willis, Homeland Security Operational Analysis Center. Source: Willis and Ortiz 2006 available at

The causes and impacts of disruptions cannot be limited to a single node or port, according to Gabriel Weaver of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. One needs to consider both upstream and downstream effects and system interconnections. A chokepoint in a connecting rail network might have a dramatic effect on a downstream seaport. In the future, we will see co-located seaports and spaceports. Smart cities with smart traffic signals that get impacted could affect a nearby port. Autonomous technology in and around seaports could be a factor. Vulnerabilities in emerging communications technologies can impact trains and vessels, and ransomware is an increasing problem already.

Technology is a Two-Edged Sword

Commenting on the vulnerabilities in emerging communications technologies, Fred Roberts said that while new technologies are needed to prevent or mitigate the impact of future disruptions, we have to keep in mind the possibility that new technologies might create new vulnerabilities that will make future disruptions more likely and/or increase their impact. For example, rapidly developing technologies are improving the efficiency of transportation systems, but also creating vulnerabilities and dependencies. Captain Tucci noted that while many automated systems can be operated manually, they cannot do so at the needed capacity for any sustained period. So, technology is a two-edged sword.

 Lowering the Probability and Consequences of MTS Incidents

While specific mitigations might lower the probability of an impactful MTS incident or minimize the consequences of such an incident, there are some general approaches that might help. CAPT Johansson suggested extensive study of probability of failure and consequences of failure for supply chains under different types of disruptions. The probability of failure is increasing due to more and more severe weather events, a reliance on technology leading to cyber/terrorist attacks, larger delivery modes making chokepoints more vulnerable, and the likelihood of pandemics increasing due to increased global movement of people.

Bethann Rooney emphasized the critical importance of relationships in being able to respond rapidly to a disruption and minimize its impact. Numerous port committees such as harbor operating committees are vital to being able to prepare, plan, respond to, and recover from all sorts of incidents.

Challenges Facing the MTS

The Port of Long Beach, together with the Port of Los Angeles, makes for the busiest port complex in the US and the ninth busiest in the world. Rail and trucks play a key role at the port. Casey Hehr, Director of Security at the Port of Long Beach, predicts more and more backups if the demand for imports continues on the current trajectory. One reason for this is that ports and manufacturing in Asia operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. By comparison, the Port of Long Beach is not typically a 24/7 operation nor are the supporting logistics required to move and store imports including warehouses.

Figure 9: Port of Long Beach. Source: Wikimedia commons, CBP

Hehr said that the Port of Long Beach had a record volume last year. China accounts for 60% of the imported container cargo. As people build or rebuild houses, a great deal of what goes into them is from China. The Suez Canal incident has highlighted some of the issues facing the port, which are exacerbated during disruptions. As demand grows, the number of containers available for manufacturers has not been adequate. The desire by terminal operators to electrify terminal operations is pressing. Terminal operators have claimed environmental regulations in the State of California as reason as well as the need to invest in infrastructure capable of handling increasingly large ships. The surge in the   frequency of cyberattacks is a concern. Hehr mentioned the resilience of the electrical grid as a major area where research is needed.

Dr. Kimberly Young-McLear (LCDR, USCG, on assignment to CISA) also highlighted cyber as a major concern in the maritime domain. She described MTS cyber risks in facility access; to terminal HQ data; to operational technology (OT) systems; to position, navigation, and timing; and to vessels. Further, she addressed the increasing vulnerabilities and rising costs to the MTS from ransomware attacks by criminal actors.

Young-McLear talked about resilience of cyber systems with an emphasis on the need for system agility and responder agility, mentioning the importance of cognitive delay and cognitive misjudgment. Human factors are so important in cyber security, and there is need to train to account for the increasing complexity of cyber-physical systems and the ability to analyze and respond to disturbances of such systems. Young-McLear stressed the importance of research on how people perform under the stress of multiple disruptions.

[1] Regional Resilience Assessment Program. (November 2018). New York City Critical Supply Chains Resilience Assessment. p. 53, Office of Infrastructure Protection, Department of Homeland Security. Note that the Office of Infrastructure Protection changed its name when the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) was created.

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