When operating their ships in regions where there are geopolitical difficulties, shipowners must overcome several obstacles. It takes careful preparation, risk assessment, and observance of regional and global norms to navigate through such areas.
Below see practical advice on how to mitigate some of these risks:
Consult the flag state for any advice or recommendations for navigating in a particular high tension area.
Follow flag state requirements in relation to Ship Security Levels under the ISPS Code.
Review any regional specific security guidance on the region, such as the Best Management Practice Guides.
Conduct a pre-voyage threat and risk assessment before entering regions with ongoing tensions.
Amend the Ship Security Plan if the pre-voyage security threat and risk assessment deems it necessary.
Ensure the Automatic Identification System (AIS) and any other identification systems are switched on and functional unless otherwise advised or for security reasons. If a system is turned off remember to keep a paper trial to later document that it was switched off due to security reasons.
Consider privately Contracted Armed Security Personnel as a risk mitigation measure only in regions where local regulations permit their use.
Preserve Voyage Data Recorder data in the event of an incident.
Conduct Security drills prior to entering these areas.
Avoid entering exclusion zones.
Maintain a full and vigilant bridge watch.
Always monitor and log relevant very high frequency (VHF) calls.
Masters are to follow the advice of local/military authorities.
Masters are encouraged to comply with all available Voluntary Reporting Schemes. (VPS)
Promptly report suspicious activity as per the guidelines issued by the flag state, VPS or local authorities.
Activate the Ship Security Alert System immediately in the event of an incident where the ship or crew is endangered.
Operating vessels in areas with geopolitical tensions can be challenging, but with careful planning and risk management, shipowners can navigate through these regions successfully.
Due to the fluid nature of many of these situations this guidance is to be considered generic and local agents are to be contacted for the most up to date and specific information.