CSO Alliance Interview: Dryad’s Ian Millen On The Big Risks For Shipping In 2016

With the threats facing shipping become ever more complex and diverse, Dryad’s COO, Ian Millen speaks to CSO Alliance about the big threats CSOs should be focusing their attention on in 2016 and what regions they should be most concerned about from a security perspective.


What are the big risks for shipping in 2016?

Maritime terrorism is obviously something that needs to be continually accessed at the moment. Currently, we [Dryad] are not as concerned as some media commentators, but this is not to say our evaluation of the threat won’t change. We know that terrorists use maritime routes for logistical purposes – moving fighters and weapons – so there is an obvious maritime link there that needs to be closely monitored.

Our assessment is that there is still a greater likelihood of attacks happening ashore rather than at sea, as we saw last year with the attacks on the Bardo Museum, the beach in Tunis and the offices of Charlie Hebdo, and therefore more risk to seafarers and tourists when ashore. Ship and port security is generally good, but beyond this exists a greater level of risk and uncertainty.

Everybody needs to remain vigilant as we’ve seen terrorists strike in many different areas.  That doesn’t mean that the threat of terrorism should paralyse maritime trade or the seafarers that the industry relies upon. Keeping well informed of emerging threats and taking simple, but effective, measures to mitigate risk are the key to safety at sea and ashore.


What security process efficiencies can you recommend or envisage between the shipping and port industry?

The answer to this and many other challenges is the three Cs – Communication, Cooperation and Collaboration.  It’s important to communicate and share information on threats and risks across the industry, and indeed with other related industries. Cooperation is wide-ranging, but can be anything from responding to requests from others or simply complying with best practice – it’s a trust building activity that makes the whole more than the sum of its parts.

Collaboration is much stronger than cooperation and involves individuals, teams and organisations working together towards common goals and objectives.  Safety and security is everyone’s business, so there couldn’t be a more important sector to collaborate in.

To do all of the above requires commitment, effort and the infrastructure to share information. The CSO Alliance is one platform that can do this – think of the individual CSOs as the bricks and the CSO platform as the cement that binds them together. An intelligence picture is like a jigsaw puzzle that is made all more challenging by the fact that you rarely have all the pieces of the puzzle in your possession.

Not only do you not have the box lid with the overall picture on, but some of the pieces you need are in other people’s boxes.  Communicate, cooperate and collaborate and you have half a chance of filling the gaps and having a discernible picture from which you can make good decisions.  In Dryad Maritime, this is what we do all the time; finding the pieces, building the picture and taking the actions required to keep our clients safe.


Which regions most concern you from a security point of view?

When looking at the volume of maritime crime and piracy events, the numbers drive you toward Southeast Asia.  With a 10% rise in 2015 incidents, when compared to 2014, the area leads the crime league table.  It’s worth noting that much of the reported crime is of the less serious type (eg. theft of ships’ stores etc), but this does sit alongside more serious vessel hijack for the purposes of refined product cargo theft – and we saw a spate of this last year.

The good news is that much of the more serious criminal activity occurred in the first three quarters of 2015, with the final quarter showing crime levels falling back to the levels of 2009. Credit goes to the Malaysian and Indonesian authorities and their partners who have more effectively clamped down on the criminals involved.

We have recently witnessed the first hijack of a tanker for its fuel cargo in the Gulf of Guinea in 2016, following what was a quiet year in Gulf of Guinea crime in 2015.  This was, unusually, brought to a good outcome by the Nigerian Navy who intervened to retrieve the tanker and its crew over 300 miles offshore.  Of more concern to us, and for the crews operating in the Gulf of Guinea, is the criminal enterprise of kidnap for ransom off the Niger Delta.

Whilst the crew members are released after ransoms have been paid, we are seeing far too many vessels boarded by force and their crew members taken ashore.  In the last few days, we have seen the Nigerian Navy involved in the aftermath of another kidnap incident off the Niger Delta. The worry here is that the navies in West Africa don’t appear able to deter maritime criminals beyond their own territorial waters.

Somali piracy has been broadly contained, although the attack and detention of Iranian fishing vessels off the Somali coast has given some cause for concern.  We do not believe that these attacks signal an impending return to full scale Somali piracy, but instead a response to alleged illegal fishing activities.  That said, the demonstrated capability at significant range in some cases, reminds us of the need to maintain vigilance when transiting the waters adjacent to Somalia.  All it takes is a complacent ship and a few lucky pirates to reverse the good work that has been done and put more seafarers back in peril.

The situation in Yemen and the naval blockade along the country’s maritime borders mean that normal trade is severely limited and all vessels need to consider the dire situation on the ground, as well as the restrictions imposed by the Saudi-led coalition. The Mediterranean Sea is also very complex at present, with the flow of desperate people, fleeing across the sea to Europe, having a significant impact upon maritime activities.

Whilst this is primarily a humanitarian crisis, ships’ crews continue to be involved in assisting the regional rescue authorities and, in some cases, can be exposed to some risk. Balanced against the risk of innocent lives being lost at sea, this is thankfully a risk that continues to be managed by those involved.


This is part 1 of a 3 part interview originally published on the website on 22 March 2016. The full interview can be viewed online .