Port of Port Angeles Commissioners Connie Beauvais, left, and Steve Burke receive the Richard E. Bennis Award on Wednesday from U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Joe Raymond honoring the port for its effort to promote maritime transportation security. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Port of Port Angeles Commissioners Connie Beauvais, left, and Steve Burke receive the Richard E. Bennis Award on Wednesday from U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Joe Raymond honoring the port for its effort to promote maritime transportation security. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Port of Port Angeles wins top award for security

PORT ANGELES — The Port of Port Angeles has earned a top honor from the U.S. Coast Guard for having the “best of the best” security practices out of all the small ports in the country.

Capt. Joe Raymond, sector commander and captain of the port with Sector Puget Sound, presented the Rear Admiral Richard E. Bennis Award to the port during a special meeting Wednesday.

The award recognizes the port’s achievements and contributions related to implementing Maritime Transportation Security Act practices.

“When you look at Port Angeles, the commodities going in and out, the ships that are serviced here, the operations they have here, those are all very critical things,” Raymond said.

“To ensure the first entry point into the Puget Sound — Port Angeles — is secure, I think that is huge.”

He said while it’s common to use fences, gates and access controls, what made the Port of Port Angeles stand out was its use of technology.

High-tech equipment

The port is using sensors, cameras and modern computer systems that can detect when there’s a problem, he said.

“That allows us to use security personnel wisely,” Raymond said. “We know that if we get somebody inside a facility that shouldn’t be there, they can do all sorts of mischief.”

The Port of Port Angeles competed in the small-facility category for the award, which means stiffer competition, he said.

There are 358 ports across the country, about 300 of which are considered small facilities.

The port’s operations supervisor and facilities security officer, Dan Shea, compiled the information and submitted the award application to the Coast Guard in February.

The application highlighted improvements the port has made in local government planning and safety synchronization, security training and coordination, security lighting management, surveillance geo-locate methodology, surveillance stabilization and backup system and access control technology upgrades.

“This award is another example of how the Port of Port Angeles and the U.S. Coast Guard and other federal agencies work together in a collaborative way,” said Commissioner Steven Burke. “I am very proud of the port staff in receiving this award.”

Since 2008, the port has received more than $1 million in Port Security Grant funds that have helped defray the costs of these projects.

“Safety is of utmost importance to the port. Whether it is the protection of the public port assets, port employees or the maritime gateway, the port knows that the first line of defense is to be prepared,” said Commissioner Connie Beauvais. “The port has taken the initiative to improve security at the marine terminals. It is an honor to receive this award.”

The award is named for Rear Adm. Richard E. Bennis, who was captain of the Port of New York and New Jersey during the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

________

Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at jmajor@peninsula dailynews.com.

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