Port Canaveral, 50 miles east of Orlando and the second busiest cruise passenger port in the world, has secured more than $1.9 million (USD) in federal funding to help finance essential security upgrades.
Several grants are part of the package, and will augment different parts of the port’s security measures, including some that apply to cruise passengers.
Funding for Security Upgrades
A total of $1,941,285 in federal grant funding has been awarded to Port Canaveral through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency Port Security Grant Program.
Together, three different grants are intended to protect the port’s critical infrastructure from terrorism and other security threats, and to improve port operations and technology.
“Port Canaveral is a major economic engine for Central Florida, expanding every year, and this funding is important to assisting the Port with enhancing safety and security for passengers and cargo operations,” said Congressman Bill Posey.
The first and largest grant, just over $1.3 million, is split between two projects. The larger of the two at over $880,000, is directed toward the Cybersecurity Vulnerability Reduction Project to elevate and enhance Port Canaveral’s cybersecurity. This will include additional information security personnel and services, resulting in a more secure and resilient facility.
The second grant, $472,500, was awarded for the port to purchase a new 33-foot, “Life Proof” Security Rapid Response Boat. The vessel will be operated by the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office and equipped to respond to and support current and future waterside security needs.
This could include a number of different threat responses. The boat will be specially designed and custom-built for the Canaveral Port Authority.
The third grant, just over $580,000, was awarded to the Canaveral Pilots Association for the purchase of a new new response boat with high tech, modern communication and sounding equipment to assist with emergencies and hurricane recovery operations.
That same funding will also help finance upgrades to the port’s existing pilot boats to improve efficiency and performance.
Together, these grants will facilitate significant upgrades to the port’s security, ensuring smooth and secure operations.
“Safety and security is a primary mission for Port Canaveral, and these awards signal great confidence in our Port from our Federal partners,” said Port CEO Capt. John Murray.
“We have a critical requirement to protect and maintain our infrastructure and operations. Grants like these are important funding to help us employ new resources and latest technologies to augment our security measures with an enhanced ability to detect and respond to threats.”
How Does This Impact Cruises?
While cruise passengers may not routinely notice the impact of these upgrades, the security enhancements protect the port area and ensure safe, secure operations for all travelers, ensuring adequate and immediate responses in the unlikely event of threats.
Furthermore, the enhancements to the pilot boats will make bringing cruise ships in and out of the port more efficient, allowing for smoother transits as vessels of all sizes navigate the narrow channel in and out of Port Canaveral.
The new rapid response boat will also be equipped to carry emergency personnel such as first responders, which could be helpful should there be a medical emergency or other incident onboard a cruise ship close to the port.
This same vessel can also assist with hurricane recovery, potentially helping Port Canaveral reopen more quickly after a storm so cruising and cargo operations can resume.