Port of Helsinki
13.5.2022 10:03:57

Ports proactively address security issues

Security work will never be done – there’s always plenty to do. “We are, however, in a good position, as ports take an open and positive approach to security issues – we’re proactive and get involved,” says Aili Lampilinna, Preparedness Manager at the Finnish Port Association.

Security issues largely revolve around ports that are critical for security of supply. The Port of Helsinki is naturally the largest unit in this group.

“The Port of Helsinki is highly prepared. They have long been part of the City of Helsinki’s well-established security culture, and are therefore much better prepared than ports in other cities. This reflects the size of the city – it has both resources and a great many activities that require a lot of work in terms of preparedness,” says Aili
, Preparedness Manager at the Finnish Port Association.

“Helsinki faces a diverse range of challenges, and has to be prepared for various types of incidents. Even the impacts of the pandemic changed throughout the crisis.”

The Finnish Port Association carries out studies and drills in collaboration with ports.

“We’ve secured connections to ports that are critical for security of supply. We know each other well, and ports within the network can support each other in areas such as cybersecurity. There’s no need for anyone to be left alone. For example, we have a cybersecurity working group and a Port Pool Committee. Seeing what other ports
are doing helps to create a sense of solidarity. Different ports face different preparedness issues depending on the exact nature of their business and human resources.”

“We maintain a situational picture, do continuity planning and drills, and carry out Port Pool studies. The last report was on safeguarding a supply of electricity for ports.”

Ports also have a joint network and information security team, in which they can share experiences and experts can give each other hints and tips.

Ports operate at their own risk

Ports are responsible for the continuity of their business and cannot rely on someone else coming in to handle continuity management. That’s the port’s job.

“Ports have to handle a lot of routine security, including everyday security issues. For example, occupational safety is part of daily life and ports do a lot of work in this area.”

Security and preparedness is a broad and multi-faceted field. Preparedness for exceptional circumstances and serious incidents is voluntary under normal circumstances.

“Preparing for extreme situations may have fallen a little by the wayside, but now the pandemic and Ukraine crisis have brought it back to the fore. Threats have grown and ports are revising their plans for more serious situations. Security is a multi-faceted field,” says Lampilinna.

Security includes security of supply

The National Emergency Supply Agency has 22 pools, one of which is the Port Pool, which was established at the beginning of this year. The Pool helps ports and operators who are critical for security of supply (and their partners) to prepare for exceptional circumstances and other incidents.

These activities are steered by the Port Pool Committee in accordance with the strategic policies of both the National Emergency Supply Agency and the logistics sector. The CEO of the Finnish Port Association, Annaleena Mäkilä, chairs the Port Pool.

“The Port Pool is part of a broader base of pools that enables us to cooperate with other sectors that are also critical to security of supply. Our key partners are the forestry, chemical, land transport and water transport pools. The National Emergency Supply Agency handles many areas, such as emergency stockpiling, coordinates
the situational picture, and maintains Finland’s National Emergency Supply Fund. The Agency also hires pool secretaries to run pool activities,” says Lampilinna.

Both the pandemic and the situation in Ukraine have made security of supply an interesting topic for everyone from companies to ordinary people in the street.

“We no longer have to market and attract listeners to security of supply events – they fill up really quickly,” she says.

Everybody has access to information

The Port Pool draws up a weekly situational picture, conducts drills, carries out studies, and encourages various parties to engage in closer cooperation.

For example, the pools have intensified preparedness cooperation between the Finnish Port Association and Finnish Port Operators Association.

Cybersecurity is always a topical element of overall security. Its key challenge is that companies employ only a few full-time ICT experts. There are only a few people who focus on cybersecurity in the port sector.

“A sector analysis of cybersecurity at ports has been carried out, and cybersecurity is at quite a good level compared to other sectors. The analysis will be updated this year, so we’ll be able see if there have been any developments.”

Cooperation with the authorities

The Port of Helsinki has a good collaborative relationship with many authorities. For example, the port engages in close cooperation with the Finnish Defence Forces, and they hold joint exercises together.

“The Finnish Defence Forces carry out their own exercises and the port provides them with a situational platform. The pool’s drills may involve a threat scenario provided by the Defence Forces, and we will practice how the port should react to it,” says Lampilinna.

The Guard Jaeger Regiment is aware of the importance of ports, both in terms of security of supply and military action.

“Maritime operators are correct when they underline the fact that ‘Finland is an island’,” says Lieutenant Colonel Matti Heininen, Chief of Staff of the Guard Jaeger Regiment.

“Ports, like other security-related elements of society, involve multiauthority activities. Success requires continual planning, a shared situational picture, and practical drills.
The Guard Jaeger Regiment engages in regular joint activities with ports on the south coast, and we conduct annual exercises both at ports and with port authorities,” says Heininen.