International commerce is dependent on sea lines of communication. The ability for a nation to operate a system of international commerce unimpeded is vital to its security. More than 95% of America's international trade traverses the nation's maritime infrastructure through the 361 ports in the United States on approximately 7,500 foreign-flagged vessels that make more than 50,000 port calls annually. Every year more than 6 million containers, carrying more than 156 million tons of hazardous cargo and 1 billion-plus tons of petroleum products depart American ports. The shutdown of one or two ports could potentially cause more damage to the U.S. economy than the September 11 attacks. Maritime assets such as offshore production platforms, deep seabed mining operations, and liquefied petroleum tankers are attractive targets to a terrorist organization or a state actor seeking to strike a strategic U.S. center of gravity, disrupting sea lines of communication and its ability to operate internationally. With an ever - increasing reliance on networked technologies to manage this infrastructure, a federal framework to manage the cyber risks posed to maritime assets should be adopted.
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