Since the terrorist attacks of 2001 and 2002, the world has achieved a heightened sense of security awareness. The maritime industry is no longer considered a safe, non-political, global transportation system that moves goods by sea harmlessly from one place to another, but rather, a liability that exposes all nations, maritime and non-maritime alike, to criminal threats and attacks.
There are hundreds of criminal/terrorist organisations around the world and these are not just the ones you hear about in the daily news. They all have their own political agendas, their own complaints, and their own victims. For the first time in the history any such organisation has the capability of wreaking mass destruction within or outside the nation in which it is located. Consequently, no nation, whatever its political affiliation, makeup or geographic location, is safe from such activity.
Such incidents in the maritime sector will have a significantly adverse impact, for a considerable period of time, on the transportation of the world’s trade of which, over 90 per cent is carried by merchant ships and passes through ports, and into the global economy.
IMO port security programme
In 2002 the IMO launched a global programme on maritime/port security in order to provide assistance through the use of regional, sub-regional and national seminars/workshops. This then developed even further into training programmes for personnel who have specific responsibilities in maritime security, such as company security officers, ships security officers and port facility security officers.
The IMO has always played a major role in maritime affairs and it recognises the importance of enhancing maritime security and making the seas a safer place. However, the security measures as detailed in SOLAS Chapter XI-2 and the ISPS code, which took effect on the 1st July 2004, will only be effective as long as the people responsible for protecting the industry carry out their duties effectively; this is where there seems to be failings.
Within the US there is the Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA) and within Europe there is EC Regulation 725/2004 and the EC Directive 65/2005, which carry in some way a little more punch with the compliance process. But to date, in the year 2008, many countries who claim they are compliant are in fact not, if you adhere to the content of the code in its entirety.
The industry today still faces major incidents of piracy, smuggling of drugs & weapons, and theft of cargo. It is also still facing a complex situation of International, National, interagency and government/commercial partnerships failing to be able to communicate and co-operate. This is in no way blaming any one organisation, but identifying that the complexity of the current situation is very difficult and in some cases almost impossible to overcome. Add to this the budgetary restraints and legislation incompatibility only adds further problems to the situation.
The Industry will need to find ways to enforce practices that will provide the required physical protection that is workable, measurable and can be policed by whoever to ensure these will be maintained.
There is no easy shortcut answer and we cannot wait for another major disaster to rock the industry, we cannot afford to let our guard down, because if we do we will face the consequences of our non-action.
Yes, security is a costly investment but it has now become a requirement of the world we live in today, and the sooner we realize this the better it will be for all.
Of course maritime security does not have to be nationally led or government sponsored. There are a host of initiatives which take place across Europe which are much more locally inclusive but very effective. An example of this is Project Kraken, which is run by Hampshire Constabulary in the UK. This force has developed an excellent reporting strategy for the public for the identification of anomalous activity within the maritime community which then allows for the immediate reporting to Police for an appropriate response. It also allows boat owners to sign up to Project Kraken and in return they would receive newsletters updating them on significant maritime issues affecting the region. It is also a way of having a network of people whom operate daily in The Solent who could be contacted in times of threat and given information which would benefit the Policing process and general maritime security.
This system allows the Police to collate all information on suspicious maritime activity from within The Solent portal area and then identify risk/threat to the portal and subsequently plan a policing response which is both proportionate and measured against the posed threat. This threat is not just CT but also serious and organised crime and allows for a more inclusive and proactive approach with partners such as the customs and immigrations services to the incident.