MITAGS has published a guide which discusses some of the common threats to operations, how modern officers are dealing with these threats and what the future for marine security could look like.
What is Maritime security?
Maritime security is a general term for the protection of vessels both internally and externally. The areas from which ships and maritime operations need protecting include terrorism, piracy, robbery, illegal trafficking of goods and people, illegal fishing and pollution.
Through supervision, inspection and proactive procedures, the marine industry does its best to minimize threats to maritime security, both malicious and accidental. And as industry evolves and the marine sector grows, vigilance, enforcement and training will have to keep up with technology and increased opportunity for threats.
Since 9/11, there’s been an increased focus on protecting the marine sector from terrorism and other similar attacks, both in port and at sea. Several state and international organizations have formed to help set standards for bettering maritime security. Since the marine sector is so vast and the massive amount of goods entering the country is difficult to screen, every precaution possible to minimize malicious exploitation is critical.
Security is not only the job of vessel safety officers, but the job of the crew as a whole, which is why it’s so crucial for companies to educate and train their employees, so their vessels have a better chance of stopping security threats.
Common Security Issues
In today’s marine industry, ensuring security compliance is a complex task, as there is much to look over and many ways a security breach can happen.
Security officers not only need to be vigilant to prevent attempts to undermine the nation’s laws and security, but they also need to know how to be vigilant against local and internal threats. Small-scale attacks can still be harmful to a marine company and can result in the loss of lives, severe environmental damage or harm to company property. Here are a few of these types of risks.
When transporting valuable goods and resources, there are sometimes attempts at the local level to steal these goods from vessels. Security officers need to be vigilant for this reason both in port and at sea, to make sure valuable and sensitive cargo is secure.
Security officers must make sure that when their vessel is in port, no unauthorized personnel come aboard and tamper with sensitive equipment. Even if the documented crew members carry out vessel operations correctly, a trespasser can tamper with cargo rigging and other sensitive gear, which can lead to severe consequences at sea.
Large-scale security measures concern things that can happen on an international scale, usually as the result of more malicious operations than individual crimes, like terrorism, environmental crimes, smuggling and trafficking.
Modern advances in telecommunications and international commercial logistics have increased the range and avenues open to terrorists. Criminals sometimes attempt to use marine shipping channels to transport dangerous weapons and materials.
Terrorists use transportation avenues because they can move goods and even people to advance their cause, and the marine shipping industry is a prime target. They use shipping industries in attempts to damage global, political and economic security, as well as the safety of citizens. Security officers must be vigilant and knowledgeable about the pathways terrorists can use to attack.
Since the maritime shipping sector is by nature an international business, marine professionals must do everything they can to protect their vessel and country from these kinds of threats.
Illegal maritime trade
A side effect of increasing maritime trade and economic globalization is that it will facilitate the expansion of transnational crime. Trafficking in drugs, arms and people is already big business, and maritime shipping is a crucial method of transport.
International crimes will not disappear anytime soon, and maritime security must help minimize their spread. The more illegal cargo the shipping industry can stop at the source, the less damage the shipment will do once it reaches its destination — by keeping the unlawful products and weapons out of the hands of criminals.
With every shipping vessel carrying hundreds of large containers, it’s difficult for security to check each one thoroughly. Criminals know this, and use it to their advantage. Smuggling networks will attempt to get around security measures and the shipping industry because its vastness and scale make it an easy target.
Smuggling is not exclusive to the shipping industry, as criminals will sometimes attempt to use other types of vessels to get their contraband past international borders.
Just as the oceans are the highways by which we transport a large number of our goods, they’re also the highways for the import and export of illegal items. Organized and international crime organizations use the shipping industry to transport large masses of their product, as we can see when we look at the many large-scale drug busts throughout the years. Not only do they smuggle drugs, but they may also smuggle firearms and other illegal technology that fetches a high price on the black market.
Piracy may seem like an idea from the past, but large ships carrying millions of dollars’ worth of cargo still tempt criminals to attack ships. Today’s pirates and criminals are usually well-organized and equipped with advanced communication and equipment.
Ample training and experience in maritime security can help crew members prepare for and deal with a piracy attack safely.
Human trafficking is another one of the main issues that face international marine security. Illegal migration has been present in the maritime sector for a long time — whether it’s people escaping political unrest or unwilling people being trafficked. It’s difficult for the marine industry to catch all the illegal immigration, but proper marine security techniques help minimize the problem.
Because large-scale commercial operations take place in the ocean ecosystem, there will inevitably be incidents that harm the environment. It’s the job of marine security officers to help ensure that their vessel’s operations harm the environment as little as possible. Proper safety and security protocols are the best strategies to avoid disasters, especially in the petroleum industry.
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