Monday, September 28, 2009

Anti-Piracy Training

MATS College of Technology, ISSG Holdings and Evolutionary Security Management are pleased to announce that they have reached a significant milestone in their efforts to support the seafarer community’s anti-piracy efforts through specialized practical anti-piracy training. The product of several months’ research and development, this training will provide seafarers with training that is specifically designed to meet this rising global challenge.

MATS College of Technology, a leading maritime training institution in the Philippines, has nearly forty years of history in training seafarers for the global maritime industry and is located within the city of Davao. Graduates from MATS College of Technology have often been found amongst the top graduates within the region.

ISSG Holdings, a specialized provider of ship security and high-risk transits, provides operational support and knowledge that will ensure that the training candidates receive encompasses the latest understanding of the operational environment. This is further refined through ISSG Holdings commitment to ensuring that the shipping industry receives both relevant and reliable ship security services, maintaining constant lines of communication with shipping companies, manning agencies and other supporting elements.

Evolutionary Security Management, a recognized training institution for maritime security based in Ontario, Canada, has been a leading research organization within the Transportation Security community with strong ties to first responder, professional security and asset protection associations. These include taking on leadership roles within those communities. The lines of communication into these professional associations ensure that the training provided to candidates aligns with best practices and sound security doctrine.

Located in Davao City, this course is easily accessible to the maritime and seafarer communities, taking into account the need for a cost-effective solution within the maritime industry. The vast majority of seafarers being drawn from this community mean that shipping companies and manning agencies are not burdened with the high travel and accommodation costs that are often encountered when attempting to coordinate specialized training in certain other parts of the globe. Concurrently, shipping companies and manning agencies have the option of having full crews undergo the training together, a practice that reinforces the crew’s ability to respond cohesively. Direct flights from Singapore, a major transportation hub, ensure that this training can be accessible across the global community.

By blending theoretical (classroom) and practical (on board vessel) training that culminates in a live practical exercise on board a vessel, this training is unique in its preparation of seafarers for real-world events. By building this capacity, this is the first course that balances the history and traditions of the professional merchant mariner with leading edge security practices and theory in a way that will have significant and cumulative benefits across the maritime industry.
The first full training course is currently slated for mid-November 2009. Details will soon be posted on the ISSG Holdings ( and Evolutionary Security Management ( websites. Further information can be obtained through ISSG Holdings by email.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Costs of Merchant Vessel Security

With shipping companies facing increasingly tighter profit margins, along with an increased risk transiting hostile waters, ISSG understands that inflated security costs can cause shipping companies to fore go risk mitigation to stay profitable. This is caused by a lack of understanding on the part of security companies, on how the shipping industry operates. ISSG understands that it is crucial to reduce the impact of security costs so that you can remain profitable, and stay competitive on carriage contract bids.

ISSG Holdings understands that shipping companies do not always have long advance notice of their upcoming transits, and routes can be unpredictable. This, combined with the ever-expanding piracy threat areas can create a unique challenge in arranging affordable comprehensive security for their assets. By developing the proper working relationships with shipping companies, gives us the flexibility to adapt to your needs in a constantly changing environment.

Some security companies have actually chastised us for offering what they consider "low ball" rates for security during transits. I have to say that like any business, we offer our rates according to our costs and the profit margin that we expect to gain. This is not a low ball situation, this is reality in today's times of market need.

If a security company is charging more than the market will bear, then the shipping company will fore go the security to maintain their bottom line. If the security company can understand the needs of the shipping company, they either offer their services at a rate that can be affordable, or stay out of the picture. The complaints about our costs should not enter your mind as i do not even know your costs. I can not be low balling mine if I am calculating my costs realistically, without even knowing yours.

This is not the time to take advantage of shipping companies due to piracy. This is the time to provide a service to shipping companies that is of best value and best service at costs that can be afforded.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Sept. 2009 Anti Piracy Assessment

Evolutionary Security Management, Inc. of Canada issues a bi-monthly Anti-Piracy Assessment for the maritime community. The September report specifically focuses on piracy around the Horn of Africa, and addresses the three elements of the problem -- the pirates, the international response and the impact of this response, and issues surrounding the presence in the region of a large military force.
You can find the September 2009 issue on the website of the company's risk management partner ISSG Holdings, Ltd. The assessment is available as a free PDF download at;

ISSG Holdings, Ltd., is an international business company engaged in merchant vessel protection.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Anti-Piracy Assessment: Sept. 2009

Evolutionary Security Management, Inc. of Canada has issued their September, 2009 Anti-Piracy Assessment -

In reading the assessment, I found two points of particular interest, first, under "defensive Operator Issues" A failure of insurance companies and similar underwriters to balance their response to the activities and measures taken by ship owners and operators:

This is of particular interest as with the shipping companies we have talked with, the insurance companies are not providing an incentive for the shipping companies when they are exercising due care and giving proper preparation for transits through the known piracy areas. It seems that the insurance companies are blanketing everyone with the same charges without regard to the preparations taken.

An example of this would be that if you owned a car, and you had an absolute clean driving record, had taken extra driving school classes, your insurance carrier takes this into consideration. On the other hand, if your record is very bad, and you have taken no steps to show any due care in your driving habits, your insurance would be much higher.

If the insurance companies were to give incentives tot he shipping companies to exercise due care, properly harden their vessels and take the proper steps to mitigate risks, more of the shipping companies would be inclined to take these steps to save on the insurance premium.

The second point "Costs associated with on board security being out of sync with realistic costs and continuing not to consistently follow sound security management or incident management practices;"

We have seen on board security quotes of up to $185,000.00 for a one week transit. This kind of pricing is absolutely ridiculous, as a team of 5 for example, would never cost that much money, even when you include the air fare, visas, hotels, agency fees etc. Some security companies apparently are attempting to take advantage of the shipping industry rather than be a reasonably priced service provider. In addition, many security providers are giving quotations for service before they even take the opportunity to conduct a proper risk assessment for that particular vessel and it's transit.

Insurance companies need to start giving incentives to the shipping companies so that there is motivation to take the proper steps to safeguard their assets and crews, and security companies need to reign in their price structure to a reasonable level, and provide a sound service based in a proven security doctrine.

Read the September 2009 Anti-Piracy Assessment and give your thoughts.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Why quotes for security services should not be received immediately

Ship security is becoming big business—but is it delivering a service in line with the risks that you need to address? Remember, your business is about moving persons and goods from one location to another so that they arrive at that location on time and in acceptable condition. If they don’t, you face not being paid, being forced to pay penalties, or higher operating costs in the future. You may also face losing clients that lose trust in your ability to maintain reasonable costs or even make delivery. If you hold a position of trust within your organization, you will someday find yourself having to answer one of two questions—were the measures that you took adequate to the situation or were the measures that you took really necessary and a worthwhile use of resources?

This needs to be answered in two parts. First, what is the risk to the vessel in terms of its transit? Is the vessel susceptible in some way to some kind of attack that could lead to the transit being interrupted, the cargo (or passengers) being lost, or even the vessel being taken? Each vessel is reasonably unique. They may share common characteristics depending on their class or type, but when you look at the vessel and how it operates as an entity on the water, it is now a unique being. The second question is how important is this transit to your company? Is the company relying on the transit in order to stay in business or is it simply one of many iteration of the same thing? Why is this important? Because the impact changes as the transit becomes more crucial to your organization’s survival.

As a person holding a position of corporate trust—either to the executive as a trusted advisor or to the shareholders as a capable executive—you need to have a sound basis for your answer if you are going to at least appear to be exercising your due diligence. You need to be prepared to answer why the services you are paying for, right down to the particular safeguards, should be considered an effective and efficient use of resources. That means that you need the security company to provide you with reasonable, logical arguments as to why they should be allowed to put administrative, physical (barriers), procedural or other kinds of protective measures on board your vessel. If they cannot provide this, you need to ask yourself whether or not the service that they are purporting to provide really would be adequate to the challenge at hand and, frankly, you will only be doing so based on luck, not on your exercising due diligence in making the decision.

In the security community, any security safeguard should be based upon a security assessment (often called the threat and risk assessment). In short, the safeguard is there to answer the question that the risk assessment asks the person responsible—is this level of risk appropriate and acceptable? If not, then you determine what steps or measures are put in place so that the risk is treated appropriately. What you should not see, is an immediate response to your question about how you would be protected unless the security company has examined those elements of the risk assessment that are needed in order to arrive at a logical basis for what they are going to propose.

Remember, risk management is more than simply addressing one of many issues. It is about appropriately responding to as many issues as possible in such a way that the delicate balance of operations is not disrupted inappropriately. You should not trade security risk for legal or operational risk where those other two risks would cause an equivalent or greater injury to your organization. Why? Because risk management is about being able to assure your organization and your clients that they can count on you to deliver on your own promises to them.

Some thoughts for ship managers and owners to ponder.