Avoiding Temptation at Sea

By John Thompson
Tuesday, March 04, 2014
Photo courtesy Ambrey Risk

The recent deaths of two security operatives on board the Maersk Alabama highlighted an acute concern amongst the shipping community: the threat of substance abuse. That there were narcotics found in the same cabin as the individuals concerned is even more worrying, but nothing new. The area of particular concern though is the likely use of drugs and alcohol by embarked security personnel with access to weapons. Ambrey received a flurry of enquiries from clients following this incident, seeking reassurance about drug and alcohol policies for embarked teams.

Like every shipowner, manager and charterer, Ambrey has a detailed drug and alcohol policy, with 10% random testing per year throughout the company. We conduct testing of both our staff and operatives and have had no incidents of drug misuse on board a vessel, nor have any of our operatives been specifically tested at the instigation of the Master. Overseas, Ambrey empower their Senior Team Leaders to spot test as and where they feel appropriate. Testing is carried out by our own staff and applies for all employees and contractors, in the U.K. and overseas. Most recently an Ambrey team was tested along with the crew of a vessel at the master's request, who was instructed by the shipowner, to test his crew for the presence of drugs and alcohol. As an Ambrey security team was on board at the time, they were also tested and all passed.

For every seafarer, including embarked security personnel, the sanction of being found tested as positive, or even refusing a test, can result in the removal of the individual from the vessel and termination of contract or from employment. However, despite this, the option of using drink or drugs to relieve the routine of being at sea is still a powerful alternative. Which begs the question of how an owner can be sure of the sobriety of their seafarers on board? Spot checks and the threat of dismissal will go so far, but when this unknown is transferred to the embarked security personnel, the quality of personnel recruiting and screening comes into consideration. It is of no surprise that owners wish to drive down the cost of embarked security against a perceived diminished threat, but attacks and suspicious approaches continue. So when it comes down to the rigor and professionalism of the security staff, there is a cost implication for quality. The indicators of quality are subjective, but given the recent implementation of ISO28007 and the sheer amount of due diligence conducted upon private maritime companies; ship-owners can quickly gauge standards at the point of delivery.

For private maritime security operatives, periods of time without alcohol is not uncommon, former military personnel are well accustomed to long periods abstinence on deployed operations and the legacy of a zero tolerance policy towards the use of narcotics in the U.K. Armed Forces remains strong amongst the private security community. But given the isolation of teams on board and long periods of time at sea, Ambrey is not complacent and is increasing its testing to a greater percentage of its staff and contractors and also introducing the carriage of test kits throughout all team boxes / kit, in order that a sufficient method and deterrent is present. Working on merchant ships is challenging and often hazardous; combine the effects of substance misuse, it becomes a potentially lethal environment.  Preparation, screening, awareness, education and sanction can overcome temptation at sea and thus deliver the reassurance sought from quality security providers.

John Thompson is the Managing Director of Ambrey Risk

ambreyrisk.com
 

Maritime Reporter June 2015 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

News

Yanmar Diesel Engines for Fast New Crew Tender

The expansion of the number of wind turbines out at sea near the northern Dutch coast was reason enough for Ubels Offshore to expand its fleet with a fifth ship last year.

Charleston Harbor Deepening Gets US Funding

Charleston Harbor deepening project earns key federal funding for preconstruction engineering and design; U.S. Army Corps of Engineers allocates $1.303 million

Lifting Specialists Modulift, IMES form Joint Venture

Lifting industry specialists Modulift and IMES have formed a joint venture to offer an integrated management service to clients internationally.   The two companies

Maritime Safety

SUNY Maritime to Host e-Navigation Conference

The e-Navigation Underway 2015 – North America conference will be hosted by The State University of New York (SUNY) Maritime College from September 28 to 30 on the college’s Throggs Neck, N.

Kenyan Port Workers Strike Over Higher Health Costs

More than 2,000 workers at East Africa's biggest port in Kenya's coastal city Mombasa went on strike on Wednesday protesting an increase in the amount they will

DNV GL Holds Hearing Ahead of New Rules Launch

More than 800 customers and stakeholders will receive the new DNV GL rules today as part of an external hearing process before their publication and entry into force.

Consulting

Beier Radio is now Beier Integrated Systems

For 70 years, Beier Radio has provided engineering, sales, and service for marine electronics around the globe. As the corporation marks its 70th anniversary,

China's State Audit Uncovers Misdeeds in Cosco

Intensifying crackdown on corruption China’s National Audit Office released an audit report for state-run shipping conglomerate Cosco Group in which it has uncovered

New European Inland Waterway Project Underway

Engineering and consulting firms setec and Royal HaskoningDHV have been selected by VNF – the French navigable waterways authority – to jointly provide program

 
 
Maritime Contracts Maritime Security Maritime Standards Naval Architecture Offshore Oil Pod Propulsion Ship Repair Ship Simulators Sonar Winch
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | contributors | top maritime news | about us | copyright | maritime magazines
maritime security news | shipbuilding news | maritime industry | shipping news | maritime reporting | workboats news | ship design | maritime business

Time taken: 0.2127 sec (5 req/sec)