CONTAINER INSPECTION PROCEDURE
For years the criminal element has made hundreds of millions of dollars smuggling illegal drugs and other forms of contraband into the United States. They have used all forms of transportation and hidden their contraband in all manner of packaging imaginable. Using these same techniques, the terrorist is able to move weapons of mass destruction all over the world.
With events of September 11, 2001, security has been tightened to levels never before imagined. The terrorist job is becoming more difficult. The airlines, once a favorite method for smuggling, are now more risky for the terrorist. The chances of getting caught are greatly increased. Trucks entering the United Sates receive a higher level of inspections at all border points. Government agencies are cooperating and sharing information about terrorists. With the department of home land security and new U.S. Customs and Border protection agency, the terrorist must look for new ways to move their weapons of mass destruction. One way to do this is using cargo containers.
Cargo containers have been a favorite means for smuggling drugs into the United States for many years. With more than 7,800,000 Cargo containers entering the United states each year. Finding contraband is extremely difficult.
It is highly unlikely that a terrorist will try to hide a nuclear weapon in a container. Even the smallest low yield bomb is the size of a large suitcase or a steamer trunk. Whatever the weapon, the terrorist will probably smuggle it in pieces to be assembled in the United states. One way to prevent this is by the careful inspection of cargo containers. This procedure is intended to show you how to inspect and discover the potential hiding places in cargo containers.
Containers are constructed of a rigid frame with panels between the frame members these panels are a corrugated single wall steel or aluminum construction and designed to accommodate a variety of needs. The corrugations are 3 to 4 inches wide. There may be a flat area located 12 to 15 inches from the front and rear walls of the container. They are usually located at the ventilation holes and are used for any markings that may be required. The most common types are: dry-van, open top, open side, bulk, flatrack, tank and refrigerated. These containers are usually 20 to 40 feet in length; however, we are now seeing modifications that can add 5 to 13 additional feet to the length of the container. These are usually made after the container is constructed and are added to the front and rear. In this procedure the inspection is based on the dry-van since this is the type of container most often used on ocean vessels, and is the standard type for products that retailers and manufactures buy.
The dry-van is a closed container with single access, double doors at the rear. The doors are lined with a rubber gasket to provide a seal against moisture. There are 2 small vents on either side near the top of container. One vent is near the front and the other vent is near the back of the container. The vents will allow the circulation of air within the container while preventing liquid from getting inside. The container is generally moisture resistant. At tne bottom of the container, on either side, is 2 to 4 ork lift slots located on the side rails. Fork lift slots are only on 20 foot containers. Tie downs, called lashing fittings, are inside the container. They are located on the left and right side, top and bottom, and are used to secure cargo in transit.
This is a 40 foot container modified to 45 feet with 21/2 feet added to the front and rear.
The container has two rear doors, with two vertical locking bars on each door. Each locking bar has a handle that will secure the locking bar in place. The security seal is attached to the right door. It is not uncommon for several seals to be attached to the container.
Vertical locking bars.
The bottom of container is constructed of steel cross members. The cross members are usually “c” beams, but may also be “I” beams or other suitable design. The floor of the container is usually wood. Or may be a combination of wood and metal for added strength. The flooring is bolted to the cross members for added strength and stability.
The top of the container is usually a solid construction with cross members on the inside, called roof bows, used for support. The roof may also be the same corrugated construction as the sides.
There is a slotted corner box attached to the frame and located on the top and bottom of each corner. On the underside of the container at each corner is a gusset attached to the side and front rails. The gussets give added support and strength when the container is loaded on the ship. The slotted corner boxes are where the crane hocks are attached during loading and unloading.
Corner blocks located at each corner on the top of the container are where the crane hocks will lift the container onto the vessel.
Contraband and weapons of mass destruction can be hidden in number of places on a container . many terrorism experts believe that it is highly unlikely that a terrorist will attempt to smuggle an operational nuclear devise on a container. It would be too difficult to hide and easily spotted during X-ray. Or open container inspection. The likelihood is that any weapon will smuggled in component parts, and on several containers.
Hiding places have been developed and used by drug smugglers for years. In addition to hiding drugs in cargo, false compartments and panels can be built into a container.
The doors should be constructed with hinges that are welded to the door. Or bolted with one way slotted bolts,or pan head (round head) bolts. These bolts are designed to be tightened only. Once installed they can only be removed by drilling them out. The hinge should be attached to the container frame with the hinge pin inside the hinge end box frame. This will prevent removal of the doors by removing the hinge pin.
The hinge is welded to the door and the and hinge pin is installed on the inside of the frame . this kind of construction makes it very difficult to the inside of the frame. This kind of construction makes it very difficult to remove and replace the hinge pin without obvious damage to the container.
The inside of the door panel should be open. Each door should have a gasket around the entire door. Doors that have been modified for hidden compartments will not have the gasket at the top or bottom.
The inside of the door panel should be open. If they appear to be solid, it could be a hiding place.
Check the bottom of the door. The gasket should go around the door.
False floor make a good hiding place. The floor should be level with the bottom of the door frame, this is an indication of a false floor. The floor may also angle up towards the rear. That is, the floor is level with the frame but angled up towards the front of the container. On a 40 or 45 foot container you would not notice an angled floor that is 4 or 5 inches higher in the front, but level with the back of the door frame.
One way to determine if the floor has been altered at an angle is to measure the inside height of the container at the back doors and again at the front. Any difference is an indication of a false floor.
The floor is level with the back of the container on the left. This gives the appearance of a normal floor. However, it rises toward the front of the container on the right creating a hiding place under the floor.
The container may have a false ceiling that could be internal or external. The internal false ceiling would be built on the inside. This would be level be level with the top of the door
frame creation a narrow compartment covering the entire top of the container.
The doors are mounted on the door frame 4 inches below the ceiling. If the ceiling is flush with the bottom of the door frame. This is an indication that the container may have a false ceiling.
The external ceiling would be built on top of the container. Normally the top is flush or slightly below the corner blocks . isf the top is above the corner blocks this is a good indication that an external false ceiling may exist.
The roof should be slightly below the corner block.
Another way to determine if the container has a false ceiling is to measure the ceiling height. Measure the front and back height. Then measure the outside height, front and back. There should
Be very little variance.
The front of the container may have a false panel. To make the false panel difficult to find the entire front may be replaced. This is easy to determine by measuring the inside length, and out side length of the container. There should be very little variance. Check the left and right corner post. They should be open and not boxed in except at the top where the corner block is installed.
The top cornet box is attached to the frame and is the only part that is enclosed. This is where the crane hooks lift the container.
The corner is open from corner box at the top to the floor of the container on the left and right side.
Open corner from the corner box to the floor
The container frame is the box that the container is built around. The corrugated front, side and top panels are welded to the frame. This is the main body of support for the container. It is also the most difficult hiding place to find. Here you would look for signs that a section of the frame has been removed and welded back in place. Burn marks from welding and freshly painted sections of the frame are indications that the frame may have been tampered with. The only way to prove that there is something in the frame is by X-ray , or drilling ahole in the upper part of the frame . if you drill a hole . you would use a string with a weight tied on the end, or a thin wire, to probe the inside of the frame. If you cannot reach the bottom this is a good indication that there may be some ting hidden in the frame.
Underside of the container
The underside of the container can also be used as a hiding place. The area between the cross members, where the flooring is attached, can be used to hide contraband or parts of a weapon of mass destruction. This could be as simple as attaching a metal box with magnets