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Exploring All Too Real Maritime Risks

The 11th Annual Maritime Risk Symposium: A Virtual Event Exploring All Too Real Risks

The past year has been as impactful for the world’s maritime transportation xystem as it has been for the rest of society. From the Suez Canal to the Arctic and beyond, human, technology and environmental events disrupted maritime activity. And the pandemic highlighted supply chain vulnerabilities in many ways, from mariners quarantined aboard vessels to port congestion due to COVID-driven surges in e-commerce. Another impact: the 11th Annual Maritime Risk Symposium, scheduled for November 1-5, will be a virtual event.

The U.S. Coast Guard’s Maritime Risk Symposium (MRS) is for many a “must do” event in November. This year’s addition of the Arctic track helps put a sharp focus on the challenges and opportunities to leverage in advancing U.S. national interests in a region which, at its core, is maritime. Please join us virtually at MRS21 in learning more about this fascinating region and the opportunities that exist there.

The internationally recognized Maritime Risk Symposium will be hosted by the University of Houston’s College of Technology, which will stream the event. Last year’s MRS, hosted by the Critical Infrastructure Resilience Institute at the University of Illinois, was also held virtually, and was a great success with over 500 attendees despite the challenges at the time.

The 11th Maritime Risk Symposium will bring together executives, leaders and researchers from government agencies and maritime industries to examine emerging risks, challenges, research and technology in the maritime sector. The distinguished keynote and plenary speakers reflect the symposium’s superb reputation as a forum for insightful discussion and analysis.

Keynote and plenary speakers

Additional speakers and session chairs hail from around the world, and represent the very best of their professions, from law and cyber to biofuels and robotics. The diversity of topics and speakers will allow exploration of topics from every perspective.

This year’s MRS is organized around six tracks, each representing a distinct field of maritime activity and chaired by leaders in their fields. The formal track concentrations are:

While the MRS has always highlighted cutting-edge technology, the inclusion of the Human Element reflects a commitment to the actual human beings who serve on vessels, in ports and supporting aspects of the industry. Willis, who is director of RAND’s Homeland Security Operational Analysis Center Strategy, Policy and Operations Program and is the think tank’s senior policy researcher, stated that “MRS has consistently brought together thought leaders in maritime transportation from across the USCG, industry and research communities. This is why I look forward to the event every year and I’m impressed by this year’s program.”

An increasingly popular event is the Student Research Poster Competition. This is an opportunity for high school, undergraduate and graduate-level students to contribute to the field of maritime risk, gain professional recognition and build a network of like-minded students, colleagues and mentors. Our virtual format actually facilitates student participation since many students could not afford to attend in person. Last year’s MRS hosted 42 different student submissions and even more are expected this year.

As the students provide enthusiasm and innovation, the more “seasoned” at MRS have a chance to foster that energy through the Senior Mentor Breakfast. In this event, students from the mentors to discuss issues in the maritime industry, receive career advice, and challenge the so-called experts.

The maritime industry is global by design, yet as vital on the local level as it is internationally. As the past year has shown, it is more important than ever to study the threats, vulnerabilities and consequences associated with maritime activity. From this understanding we can mitigate risk and find new opportunities to promote a safe, secure and sustainable maritime industry.

Additional online registration information, for the virtual event is being developed and can be found at

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