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Re-post of an article – Security Awareness in the Maritime Domain

Posted by on April 17, 2009

Security Awareness in the Maritime Domain

As we move further along into the 21st century, security concerns are becoming an
increasing part of every-day business. In the maritime arena, it is incumbent on us to perform all the acts we would normally assign to a police force or security service. It is a fact that if there is an incident at sea (or dockside), the event will be over long before law enforcement elements will arrive. The prudent mariner will endeavor to prevent acts of piracy and crime from happening rather than dealing with the after-effects of an assault.

As part of the process, situational awareness concerning the security climate will prevent a substantial portion of the security incidents.

Situational awareness is nothing new to sailors. It is an unconscious part of what responsible mariners do prior to and during any time at sea. We pay attention to the current weather, sea conditions, weather forecasts, and all the systems involved in maneuvering our craft from one place to another. Security awareness is adding one more layer to the process; it is non-intrusive and can assist in ensuring the success of your voyage.

We focus on two ranges in security awareness – close and far. Close refers to our
vessel, the immediate area around it (berth, anchorage, marina) and can extend out to our visible and/or electronic horizons. Far refers to our destination and the waters along the way. Obviously, we are concerned at first with the close, and as we travel, the far areas come into focus and become our close.

At close range we focus on our vessel. We may assign a crew member to stay on-board and provide security and day-to-day housekeeping chores that need to be done. We may install an alarm system (security and safety system) that provides an audible signal that something is wrong (flooding, intruders), monitored at either the location or remotely via the Internet or telephone. We may have remote cameras to view our vessel from the office during the day, so we can see what goes on around her at any and all times. Close also includes being familiar with the marina we are docked at, knowing our neighbors. Will the marina provide a response to an alarm, or will they merely send a nasty message telling you that your alarm disturbed their nap time? Becoming involved in the activities at the marina/yacht club will provide you with a good idea of the security climate.

Close also refers to what you can see. Are there other vessels following you or
approaching you when the majority are maintaining a safe distance? If you are in a
channel, a boat following you is to be expected. On the open seas, it is not a usual
occurrence (unless traveling in convoy). At anchor, a boat approaching you at night with the lights off is an indicator that something may be amiss. A radar system that signals you audibly when a vessel approaches within certain parameters can assist you in maintaining your awareness.

At the far range, we focus on our destination. As we would not travel from Tampa to Key West in August without an up-to-date weather forecast, so we should not travel without checking the security situation en-route and at our destination. It may be good to know that Montego Bay is a safe place to stay and visit, but if we have to go through an unsafe area to get there (say, Port Au-Prince?), we may need to re-look our route. There are myriad sources for this information, all available to anyone with an internet connection. In addition, while conducting close range awareness (back at the marina), you can start collecting the information you need on your long range areas. Talking to others who have just returned from your destination can be invaluable.

This has been a short introduction to security awareness in the maritime domain, as it pertains to small craft owners/operators and yachtsmen. It is another layer added on to the procedures we already practice, and can add to the boating experience. The more aware we are of our surroundings, the richer the experience can become.

Maritime Vital Asset Security, LLC

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