Portsmouth: What do many private maritime security companies and cheap parachutes have in common? It sounds like the start of nautical joke, but is in fact an important part of an argument put forward by Graeme Brooks in today’s Maritime CEO interview. The ceo of UK-based Dryad Maritime, a maritime risk advisory company, reckons that the role and number of PMSCs is set for a huge change in the coming months.
“As the suppression of piracy in the Horn of Africa continues,” Brooks says, “I think we will see a significant change in the way that maritime security is approached. The race to the bottom in pricing has left some shipowner/operators and charterers spending money on ineffective or even unsafe armed solutions because they charged the least. Our advice is that this is rather like buying a cheap parachute – either do it properly or don’t waste your money.”
Brooks reckons the stage seems set for the de-escalation from armed teams to hang in the balance with their fate driven by the risk appetite of shipping companies.
“Teams armed with non-lethal kit is one de-escalation possibility, but it would be extremely unwise for the community as a whole to go from an armed solution to nothing at all in a short space of time,” Brooks says.
With the threat of Somali piracy reducing it is easy to become complacent. However, other parts of the world, notably Southeast Asia, are seeing huge spikes in piracy incidents, and Brooks has useful advice for ships transiting piracy prone areas.
“It is important for masters to not forgo basic visual and physical deterrents, such as razor wire, and neglect basic BMP4 recommended measures,” he says.
Shipping companies can be poor at identifying risk in their operations.
“Profitability is a function of managing the uncertainty of the market and the risk and uncertainty of operations at sea,” Brooks says. “It starts with an all-factor risk assessment in the planning phase and then, in the execution phase, a monitoring service a little like wide area VTS.”
He says he often comes across busy operators who are tolerating huge inefficiencies in their operation either by doing it in-house with people carrying out the function in addition to their day job, or using complex platform solutions that require an investment in time and training to get the most out of them.
“When we start providing this for a client, we usually see a huge sigh of relief from the busy operators in the company,” he concludes.