Problem Solving

Due to the complexity of modern port operations, even minor disruptions to normal procedures can result in costly delays. The Port of Virginia continues to lead the industry and community on initiatives to proactively identify and mitigate risk and respond to events with practiced resiliency. To prepare for everything from fluctuations in the shipping industry to rising sea levels, our port employs a thorough Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) program, which emphasizes a holistic approach to identifying and eliminating such risks. Rather than preparing for challenges at a department or agency level, we work to bridge the gap between on- and off-terminal stakeholders and to create a framework for addressing risks as a unified entity, whether those issues are related to the web, weather or worksite.


Moving cargo around the world requires more than ships, trucks and trains. It requires sophisticated software and equipment that enables that cargo to move safely, swiftly and sustainably. Cyber security is an integral part of our overall security measures. We work with the U.S. Coast Guard's Cyber Command and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to protect our facilities, employees and partners against a breach. Cyber exercises, like Cyber Crucible, a first-ever tabletop exercise program for us, are an integral part of preparing for and protecting against 21st-century threats.


Our port's location along the East Coast requires preparation for natural disasters. Hurricanes, Nor'easters, snow and ice storms — even the occasional tornado — can impact and impede port services.

The answer to these potential threats begins with analyzing our infrastructure. We identify potential vulnerabilities within our facilities and operations, allowing us to prioritize investments and harden infrastructure accordingly. For instance, an ongoing Resiliency Study seeks to map terminals against projected storm surges and flood risks. The goal is to identify infrastructure that requires strengthening or relocation, eliminate potential points of failure and assign risk grades for every imaginable scenario. It's through these efforts that an informed capital budget is created.

Sea level rise is of particular interest and concern to us. Hampton Roads is the second-most susceptible region in the U.S. to rising sea levels and because we are a Catalyst for Commerce, disruptions to port operations can have widespread economic impacts on the region. That's why we work with off-terminal stakeholders in academia, local government, industry and the military on studies to identify threats and propose resiliency strategies for our port and the community at large.


Protecting our colleagues' health and safety is job number one. Ongoing training and an emergency notification system prepare port employees for potential threats. In 2016, we trained 136 colleagues during a simulated active shooter exercise that incorporated both personal response techniques and law enforcement response. Providing this type of situational awareness training further reinforces our core values in our colleagues.