This year’s NCT CBRNe Capability Award was won by the United States National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)’s Second Line of Defense Program for their Megaports Initiative. The story of this victor can be traced back to 2000 when the US Congress established a separately organized agency within the U.S. Department of Energy, responsible for the management and security of the nation’s nuclear weapons, nuclear nonproliferation, and naval reactor programs. Three years later the Megaports Initiative began and in 2009, all aspects of the agency were revitalized after President Barrack Obama’s statement that “the most immediate and extreme threat to global security” is the danger of terrorists obtaining nuclear weapons.

Four stimulating years later, the goal is the same and its mission ever so strong. NNSA’s program support is divided into several key program areas including Defense, Nuclear Nonproliferation, Naval Reactors, Emergency Operations, Infrastructure and Environment, Nuclear Security, Management and Administration and the Office of the Administrator.

Each program area is fixated on specific challenges, yet the overall task is to strengthen the capabilities of partner countries to deter, detect, and prevent illicit trafficking of CBRNe materials at international border crossings including: border checkpoints, airports and seaports, internal locations and other controlled land and maritime borders.

In addition, SLD strategy incorporates a threat-based, in-depth defense approach to illicit trafficking that recognizes CBRNe smuggling, gaps in the global radiation detection architecture and, more importantly, that an international coordination and collaboration is imperative to reaching global security needs.

To accomplish such a daunting task, the Second Line of Defense spearheads the global CBRNe security effort in two ways; first and foremost with its distinct implementation program which focuses on the installation and deployment of radiation detection equipment at border checkpoints, airports and seaports, internal country locations, and maritime borders. And secondly; its sustainability program which provides guidance, methodology, training and practical evolution support for appropriate officials and initial system sustainability support for partner countries as they assume fully operational, maintenance, and management responsibilities of the implementation of radiation detection equipment.

The Megaports Initiative’s main objective is to work with foreign customs, port authorities, port operators, and/or other relevant entities in partner countries to systematically enhance CBRNe detection capabilities. In support of this mission, the initiative helps partner countries equip major international seaports with radiation detection equipment and alarm communication systems. Correspondingly, the Megaports Initiative provides comprehensive training for foreign personnel, short-term maintenance coverage, and technical support to ensure the long-term sustainment and viability of installed radiation detection systems.

The goal of the Megaports Initiative is to scan as much container traffic as possible (including imports, exports, and transshipped containers) regardless of destination and with minimal impact to port operations. Since the start of the Megaports Initiative in the fiscal year of 2003, NNSA has completed installations at 27 ports and currently implementation is underway at 16 ports in the following locations: Bangladesh, China, Djibouti, Dubai-United Arab Emirate, Egypt, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mexico, Panama, and Spain. Furthermore, the Megaports Initiative seeks to equip 100 seaports with radiation detection systems by 2015, scanning approximately 50 percent of global maritime containerized cargo.

In conclusion, to date, SLD has installed over 2,500 radiation portal monitors, straddle carriers, spectroscopic portal monitors and/or provided handheld equipment at 455 international crossings and 45 megaports in 54 countries and kept up with the sustainability of 8 mobile detection systems (MDS) and 329 international points of entry in Partner Countries, including 260 sites in Russia, 55 other border checkpoints, airports and seaports; and an additional 14 megaports.

The NCT CBRNe Capability Award is given to reward a country or organization for cultivating its chemical, radiological, biological, and nuclear and explosives (CBRNe) capabilities, or for introducing or implementing a capability development program that positively impacts another country or organization. The criteria for the award is rather stringent and includes proven end-user benefits; a long-lasting impression on the CBRNe capability of a country, region or group of countries; and proven efficiency with regards to cost and avoiding duplication with other forms of assistance and/or development.

This year’s other nominees were the EU CBRN Centers of Excellence Initiative and the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA). After careful analysis and consideration by a distinguished jury, the United States National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA’s) Second Line of Defense (SLD) and more specifically SLD’s Megaports Initiative was crowned victor.