Tuesday, May 1, 2012

ISSG Group Establishes in Ras al Khaimah

ISSG GROUP OF COMPANIES will focus its efforts on what it is best able to do with the resources available. By maintaining a system that brings together various humanitarian efforts, those resources can be moved efficiently without placing an undue burden on any one partner. At the same time, ISSG GROUP OF COMPANIES will maintain a broad range of capabilities, allowing mission planners the opportunity to choose the best tool for the job. 

Flexibility and operational focus is one of ISSG GROUP OF COMPANIES’ greatest strength. By working backwards from the solution, needs are more clearly identified and the opportunities needed to meet those needs are more readily apparent. Our primary goal is to ensure that the mission is achieved and can be sustained...and to find the appropriate solutions necessary to make that happen.

ISSG GROUP OF COMPANIES' ability to think outside the box—sometimes described as periodically checking inside the box—is one of its greatest strengths. The source of this strength comes from a unique balance of technical competence, operational experience and continuous learning brought together under a management structure that truly recognizes the value of innovation, creativity and persistence.

ISSG GROUP OF COMPANIES will play a pivotal role in the humanitarian supply chain. It will, through coordination and community building, help humanitarian aid agencies leverage off each other’s operations and plans. It will, through creativity and innovation, find solutions to complex challenges. It will, through maintaining an operational focus and persistence of effort prevail under difficult conditions and during high operational tempos. It will, by harmonizing efforts at various points within the supply chain, provide the international aid agencies better assurance that the humanitarian aid can get to its location on time, in acceptable condition and for reasonable costs.

There are generally three kinds of people in the world. There are those that do—and by risking greatly may either succeed or fail. There are those that watch those that do—and may contribute through their comments but who never have the satisfaction of having achieved great goals. And there are those that wish that they did—the tragic that saw opportunities and failed to summon the courage to take the risks necessary to seize opportunity. The same holds true for corporations.

The ISSG GROUP OF COMPANIES is a global entity that began with a vision to achieve great things and then strove to achieve that vision. While most are familiar with the maritime security efforts that have protected merchant shipping for over four years, the ISSG Group of Companies actually consists of eight companies with ten offices spread around the world. As we enter our next phase of operations and undertake the next great vision with partners in the Middle East, it is important that people have the opportunity to see beyond the public image and are introduced to the less public entities within the overall network.

ISSG UAE will serve as the operational arm. It plans to own and operate a fleet of assets including ships, cargo aircraft, rotary wing aircraft, land transportation and heavy equipment through its initial investment. Operating with the cooperation of the Emirate of Ras al Khaimah, this entity is formed for the operation of the office space, airport, maritime city, warehousing and logistical networks. These efforts, when combined and supported by training and insurance operations, will act as a central hub for global humanitarian efforts referred to as Global Humanitarian Central.

These efforts will increase the demands on the transportation system in Ras al Khaimah, particularly at its airport and seaport. The movement of cargo will factor significantly in this as the Global Humanitarian Central warehousing establishes stockpiles of emergency supplies that can be stored, located and moved efficiently for multiple NGOs. This movement will be initiated through the Ras al Khaimah airport that currently has surplus capacity to handle the increased flow of cargo aircraft.

Friday, April 27, 2012

ISSG Moving Ahead in International Leadership

There are generally three kinds of people in the world. There are those that do—and by risking greatly may either succeed or fail. There are those that watch those that do—and may contribute through their comments but who never have the satisfaction of having achieved great goals. And there are those that wish that they did—the tragic that saw opportunities and failed to summon the courage to take the risks necessary to seize opportunity. The same holds true for corporations.
The ISSG Group of Companies is an entity that began with a vision to achieve great things and then strove to achieve that vision. While most are familiar with the maritime security efforts that have protected merchant shipping for over four years, the ISSG Group of Companies actually consists of eight companies with ten offices spread around the world. As we enter our next phase of operations and undertake the next great vision with partners in the Middle East, it is important that people have the opportunity to see beyond the public image and are introduced to the less public entities within the overall network.

ISSG-USA serves to provide a point of contact in our efforts to ensure proper coordination with government and NGO organizations in projects in the area of international support for humanitarian aid and assistance. This corporate liaison company is based in Delaware, USA.

ISSG – Egypt provides a consistent and capable liaison for the purpose of transiting the Suez Canal. It is also positioned and prepared to undertake roles for the future use of the International Airport at Port Said, one of the major staging points for relief efforts across the North of Africa.

ISSG – Philippines focuses on maritime consultancy, including ship management and crewing operations. Based in our Manila office and supported with MOU’s with Progressive Shipping of Manila for crewing, this office supports our vessels involved in humanitarian operations and other merchant vessels.

ISSG – India has been the most public face of the company, largely through our efforts in the realm of vessel protection. It is the main maritime security component of the ISSG Group of Companies and, through our partnership with Jai Malanath Security of India; the ISSG Group of Companies is able to provide highly-capable former MARCOS personnel for the shipping industry at competitive cost.

ISSG – Maldives provides an entity ideally located to support flight and sea operations throughout Asia, the East of Africa and or humanitarian operations that need to bring supplies from East Asia. This center is established to be able to provide both flight and sea operations support.

ISSG-Comoros was originally established in support of maritime security operations and port services. It has been repositioned on the mainland of Africa for the support of flight and sea operations, largely associated with humanitarian aid.

ISSG-Seychelles is currently undergoing its third phase and transformation to an international, operational NGO. Focussing specifically on the logistical and transportation support (by air or sea) across the operational humanitarian community, this entity has been established to provide key support to agencies like the WFP, International Red Cross, International Red Crescent Society, UNICEF and others. By maintaining a clear and concise focus on the movement of critical supplies to operational relief missions, this NGO will establish itself as an effective and efficient means of ensuring that needed at gets to its destination on time and in good condition.
As we enter the third phase of operations, many of these efforts will become more apparent. In the near future, we will be releasing information that will describe how those companies who have already dared greatly to assist the disadvantaged—and those that are daring greatly in setting up to do so—will be able to benefit from these services and the outcomes of a series of projects that will be of unprecedented scale.

Friday, April 20, 2012


As Reported HERE , The IAMSP has significantly assisted in the standards with the lead voice from the Maritime Security sector.

"IAMSP congratulates ASIS International on the acceptance of the PSC.1 Standard for the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers into the ANSI system of standards. This achievement was a truly remarkable effort under the coordination of Dr Marc Siegel of ASIS International's standards development body that brought together representatives of foreign governments, the private sector, and non-government organizations. IAMSP, through the efforts of Allan McDougall, participated as the clearest voice representing issues and challenges within the maritime security domain, the largest group of signatories to the ICoC. This participation is representative of IAMSP's concrete efforts and volunteerism on behalf of the maritime security industry, something that continues to be vital as these efforts (and others) move forward.

IAMSP recently put forward comments regarding the ICoC Charter, expressing significant concerns over its structure and a number of specific measures. As an Association, we continue to be committed to the intent of the ICoC and will continue to support the ASIS International efforts in the development of those standards supporting the Code. Our primary focus will continue to be ensuring that the intent of the ICoC to weave respect for human rights and similar considerations into the business practices within the private security domain remains in the forefront of the Code and its integration into the maritime security domain.

We will continue our efforts in representing the industry through all phases of these efforts, working collaboratively with the various groups and interests involved to ensure that our members, and the maritime security industry in general, is given appropriate voice in these important efforts. While we continue to represent various trades and crafts within the maritime security domain, this effort, and others like it, demonstrate our commitment to operate in a leadership role with other credible associations to the betterment of the industry as a whole.

Again, our congratulations to all the representatives that participated in the development of this standard and who have been active in subsequent efforts and particularly ASIS International for providing the leadership and technical means of moving this important effort forward.

Congratulations and a job well done.

Monday, March 19, 2012


This is a fantastic step for both IAMSP and AMSSA as found HERE  on the IAMSP web site:

Public Release 201203-001
Topic: AMSSA and IAMSP – Harmonizing Efforts in Support of African efforts
Athens, Greece (11 March 2012) – The International Association of Maritime Security Professionals (IAMSP) and the African Maritime Safety and Security Agency (AMSSA)  today signed an Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), harmonizing their efforts to assist in the development of a safe, secure, sustainable and environmentally sound maritime transportation system (MTS) in Africa.
IAMSP, through this MOU, gains direct access to a number of AMSSA efforts and initiatives. AMSSA will receive significant support from IAMSP in its ongoing efforts at levels ranging from the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to training at the local level. The MOU has specific provisions allowing the sharing of information, expertise and efforts both on the ground in Africa and at international plenary groups. David Stone, signing the MOU on behalf of IAMSP, comments that this MOU allows for a stronger strategic position and voice for both Associations as they continue in their efforts in support of Africa’s development. Allan McDougall, President of the IAMSP, sees this MOU as a very positive step in terms of building greater capacity and focus. This will be of benefit to the nations and law-abiding people of Africa as the combined attention not only helps achieve greater positive results, but reduces the risk of unnecessary duplication or competition that could have been focussed to greater effect and benefit to the nation states and their citizens. This concrete step, the first in realizing a shared and positive vision for the MTS in Africa, will be seen as a setting out moment for both Associations at global, regional, national, and local levels.
We look forward to the ability to engage in common efforts and projects. Subsequent announcements of these efforts are forthcoming, making tangible the appropriately professional values held by both AMSSA and IAMSP.
The specific contents of the MOU will be made public shortly after each Association has the opportunity to brief its memberships and further chart out common efforts.

All I can say is well done to both organizations.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Coming Home to Roost

This is a guest post:

There is always a bit of risk with off-the-cuff humor. Of course, we will try to refrain from asking for a picture of Skipper from Gilligan's Island the next time an issue with a Captain comes up (In Response to this ) and we'll certainly not hold it against the whole industry if you have some problems missing bridges (just lept into the way--did it?) or staying awake at the helm like one ship master recently in the Baltic. We'll keep it professional,all we ask is the same courtesy.

The first issue here is who is responsible. That is pretty simple. The flag state is responsible for administering law on board the vessel. The Master is responsible for seeing that the ship follows the law, companies are responsible for ensuring that their practices comply with the law and individuals are responsible for adhering to the law.

What has happened, however, is that the maritime industry has been allowed to cut some corners. Anybody heard of the Mongolian Coast Guard?--well, they apparently have a ship in the Red Sea. This is the issue of flags of convenience.

Countries have been able to set themselves out as flags of convenience. This means that a ship can be registered in that country with only a basic corporate presence tied to that nation--and it is often used because companies are attempting to save in terms of taxes and the efforts associated with regulatory burdens.

What is also noteworthy is that some of these countries which have amassed rather large fleets (as opposed to others which have solid maritime safety, security, pollution control and other programs which have smaller fleets) have rather small navies, coast guards or inspectorates. In fact, some of them have organizations that could be put to shame (in terms of numbers) by a first year criminology class.

So, for the first issue, a suggestion might be that the IMO put in place measures that require nations that are going to allow their flag to be used to demonstrate (credibly...not just a note) that they have the ability to administer law on board the vessel. If not, then they should list that flag as being incomplete in this regard and less trustworthy as opposed to other flags that do put the effort in.

The second issue involves who is responsible on board the vessel. This is something that is a bit of a surprise as most companies were working on the assumption that the Master is. Now, I can understand how he or she might be a bit concerned about the whole idea of suddenly being in charge of an incident...but this is the new reality in many parts of the world and it gets handled like everything else. First you see it. Then you get educated or trained about it Then you get some experience about it. Then it is all about learning as you go. It's not rocket science but there has to be somebody in charge of the situation on board the vessel and the last time I checked it was still the Master.

That being said, the Master is not defenseless. In many countries, where a company's directors and executives make decisions that cause employees to come into conflict with the law, they are also held responsible. So, if the shipping company responsible for the Master's decisions and ship operations puts the master in this position...there's one source. At the same time, private security companies need to be able to demonstrate that they have an adequate corporate structure in place to ensure appropriate and consistent quality and supervision. Otherwise, there are some issues there. That being said, the trails upward are pretty straight forward.

The third issue involves the use of the military.This has been one of the larger errors, in my own personal view. Military forces are trained to project power and neutralize the enemy. This is not about neutralizing pirates. At the same time, the protection of the vessel is not a law enforcement pattern issue in that law enforcement deals with imposing the will of the state to ensure compliance with law, maintenance of public order and the like. What this is about is protecting the ship's personnel, assets (including cargo) and operations in such a way that it can carry on with the best possible opportunity to arrive where it wants to go on time, in acceptable condition, and for reasonable cost.

IAMSP has, for over a year now, been vetting those companies that have come forward to it. That vetting process, based on Quality Assurance requirements, maritime circulars (including, but not limited to MSC 1405), and the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers. This structure has been established using the internationally recognized standards developed by ISO--meaning that it can have a properly global perspective as opposed to one standards association--and also involves the concept of continuous improvement--companies receive assistance in terms of continuously improving their performance over a couple of years in the program.

There has been a level of back-biting against private security in the media, even out of some assumedly respectable blogs, that warrants a response after this incident--involving serving naval personnel, not private security. From the IAMSP perspective, our member companies that have achieved provisional recognition can show that they meet standards on par with other professional communities (we used the legal, medical and engineering as the basis for ours). We have a number (over ten) more companies that are well underway in the vetting process.

These incidents are unfortunate, indeed tragic for at least two families involved. The professional approach to this is to work through finding out the facts and not turning it into a political quagmire. After the facts are figured out, then the next step is to do the right thing, correct the deficiencies and learn from it so that we don't see it again.


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Italian Navy Kill Fisherman - Not Pirates

Investigation is continuing into a possible case of mistaken identity off of the west Coast of INDIA. On 15 February 2012 (1747), reports indicated that the Italian Navy had thwarted pirate attacks against the Enrica Lexie. In that report, the riflemen of the San Marco Batallion acting as a Vessel Protection Detail, engaged what was interpreted to be a threat from pirates around 1230 local time. The article from AGLit is available HERE
Concurrently, the HINDU times reported that "Two fishermen were shot dead in the high seas"(Article available HERE )  off of AMBALAPUHZA on Wednesday evening after having been mistaken for pirates. In both media reports, the name of the vessel (Enrica Lexi) was specifically and clearly identified and it has been indicated that the events were reported to the Coast Guard.

There are significant differences in the reported events. While Italian media are being rather consistent in terms of indicating that soldiers followed procedures for opening fire three times to dissuade the pirates and, after the third volley, the pirates left. The Hindu Times, however, indicated that the vessel was hit by a shower of bullets that lasted about two minutes and, in order to escape the gun fire, they sailed away from the vicinity of the vessel.

Of particular note is that the fishing vessel is reporting that it was within INDIA's territorial waters at the time of the firing. The Indian Coast Guard has indicated that fishing vessels will often come close to merchant vessels in order to prevent them from damaging their nets.

While the loss of life in this case would appear to be both regrettable and difficult to explain until a full investigation has taken place, it serves to illustrate that the use of military forces on board vessels does not preclude events of this nature. This should be clearly understood, particularly given certain groups within the shipping community that are demanding the use of military personnel on board their vessels in lieu of private security personnel.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Somalia-Piracy-Under Reporting Incidents

An article was published recently by Bloomberg which can be found HERE ,and below the article we have posted some thoughts:
Private armed guards placed on merchant vessels to protect them against Somali pirates are under-reporting attacks, according to the European Union naval force patrol-ling in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean.
Security teams are concealing de-tails even though industry practice is to alert armed forces about any attacks or pirate sightings, Simon Church, EU Navfor's industry liaison officer, said Wednesday at a piracy forum in London.
"Security teams are shaping this on-board decision-making for reasons of liability, because of the action they may have taken to defend ships against attack," said Church, who works at a counter-piracy base in Northwood, England.
The number of armed guards stationed on ships travelling through the region jumped this year as pirate attacks soared to a record and countries including the U.K. changed laws to allow weapons on board. Somali pirates cost the shipping industry and governments as much as $6.9 billion last year, according to a One Earth Future Foundation report.
As many as half of all ships sailing through the region now use armed guards, the foundation said at the forum. That's up from 25 per cent earlier this year, and companies providing security earn $530.6 mil-lion annually, it estimated. A total of 42,450 vessels pass through the region annually, it says.
Church cited a "disconnect" between the number of attacks expected last year, based on military intelligence assessments of pirates' strength, and levels in 2009 and 2010. A "plausible argument" can be made that the increase in armed guards was the cause, he said.
Somali pirate attacks rose to 237 in 2011 from 219 in the previous year, according to figures from the London-based International Mari-time Bureau. No legal framework exists to establish how armed guards should interact with pirates and what happens if any attackers are killed or injured, Pottengal Mukundan, the bureau's director, said at the forum.
Military counter-piracy forces are reluctant to co-operate with private companies that provide armed guards, James Butler-Wright of Aegis Advisory said at the forum. The consultant helps companies assess and adjust exposure to risk.
"Private security is desperate to work with the military," said Butler-Wright, a senior maritime analyst at Aegis. "We get shut down pretty quickly" when seeking information from navies, he said."

Recent comments were made that private security firms have dropped off reporting out of concerns regarding the liability associated with their actions. I would propose that this statement is less than complete and certainly less than representative. Some other reasons (for discussion), why these reports have dropped off.

Number 1 - even though approaches and suspicious activities were reported to the centers, they were dismissed as being "fishermen", "groups of fishermen" or even "curious skiff operators." After a while, people that report in (similar to calling the police in a city) suspicious activity stop doing so because the reports are simply dismissed (just so and so acting out).

Number 2 - even though approaches or suspicious activities were reported to the centers, no information was returned back. In short, reporting into the centers was a one way street where private security companies were reporting in and getting little to nothing of value in return. I will personally vouch for at least one time where I reported in activity and, when I asked if there was anything else in the area, was told that the information was entered into the military system but could not be shared with private security companies (this was a witnessed report by the way).

Number 3 - even though reports went in, there were several instances where the reports were never acknowledged or posted where other companies could use them.

Number 4 - more than one instance is on the books where security went to report in and was informed that they (ship operator) did not want a report in because of insurance issues.

I would propose that the statements being made, while potentially having a grain of truth somewhere, is as much about projecting a point of view and deflecting the issue.