Europe’s ports could be at risk from various illicit threats, such as bogus shipping logs and cargo theft due to there being no comprehensive system to track cargo and shipments at its ports, according to the Financial Times.
Royal Navy Captain Gerry Northwood, COO of maritime security company Mast, said: “So far, the thing about maritime security, and particularly terrorists exploiting weaknesses there, is that it’s the dog that’s not barked.
“But the potential is there. The world outside Europe — North Africa for example — is awash with weapons. If you can get a bunch of AK47s into a container, embark that container from Aden then you could get them into Hamburg pretty easily. A whole armoury’s worth.
“Some countries have pretty good customs operations, but we’re talking about having to monitor hundreds of ports and co-ordinate across them. The reality is that most of the time we are relying on what the ship’s captain is telling us.”
Calum Jeffray, Research Fellow at the defence think-tank RUSI, said: “What’s needed is better upstream intelligence. There is thematic analysis across Europe, but a lot of that is specifically around narcotics. There’s a tendency to overlook maritime and port security when it comes to terrorism.
“When you think about how much effort goes into airport screening — there’s a huge difference. And what is happening in North Africa at the moment is going to make that much more noticeable.”
Commercial shipping is most at threat of criminal acts such as cybercrime and piracy, with the latter showing signs of persistence in 2015.
The upcoming Counter Terror & Security Expo in Olympia, London will highlight the security threats across multiple industries, including ports and terminals and how industry professionals can protect themselves effectively.