GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - A major breakthrough in security enhancements at the Port of Gulfport was announced Friday ahead of the opening ceremonies at the Rapiscan Classic. Officials with Rapiscan Systems and S2 Global announced the next step in security for the United States and the country of Guatemala.
Port of Gulfport CEO Jonathan Daniels said that step is beginning right here in Gulfport.
“Now the opportunity to be able to clear these containers on a foreign shore, put them on the vessel, allow them the opportunity to arrive at the Port of Gulfport in the United States, immediately put them on the chassis and dispatch them through the port, is extremely efficient," Daniels said.
With any technological advancements comes a decrease in boots on the ground. Daniels said that’s not necessarily the case at the Port of Gulfport.
“As we’ve seen an even more efficient operation in the last few years, we’re seeing about a 35-40 percent increase in longshoreman hours,” Daniels said. "So, we anticipate as we get more efficient then we are gonna see more longshoreman hours.”
The agreement was made with Guatemalan port Puerto Sonto Tomas de Castilla. The president of the board of directors of that port, Byron Alejandro Monterrosa, has been in South Mississippi for discussions with officials from the Port of Gulfport and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Bobby Watt, director of Non-Intrusive Inspection Division with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, said that with this increase in efficiency, the Port of Gulfport could become a litmus test for other U.S. ports of entry and their security relationships with foreign ports.
“This is a first of it’s kind for people of Gulfport, so this will be a good test to see how things go," Watt said. "I think it will work great, and I think it’s the wave of the future. It’s what Congress wants, to examine all of the containers overseas prior to their arrival in the United States.”
With a faster and more efficient flow of containers from ship to truck, that means dollar signs for the Port of Gulfport.
“If you can save an hour or two, you’re doing a pretty good job. If you can save days, and that’s what this technology is going to do," Daniels said. "All of a sudden the cost of doing business begins to decrease, and all of a sudden the efficiency of the operation increases significantly.”
It’s all about streamlining the process for Customs. Jonathan Fleming, president of S2 Global, said that is how local economies get their boost.
“The ability for Customs to visualize trade before it’s loaded on ships and before it heads to the Port of Gulfport allows them to make decisions way in advance, which will speed processing once it lands on the port," Fleming said. "Ports can only operate as fast as the amount of land it has really and as efficient as it is. Increasing efficiency in a port drives economy locally, so that’s what we’re doing.”