Ian Millen - Dryad COO

CSO Alliance Interview: Dryad’s Ian Millen On What More Can Be Done To Support CSOs

In the concluding part of his interview with CSO Alliance, Dryad’s COO, Ian Millen is asked about which ports give CSOs the most cause for concern, and what more can be done to support the vital role CSOs carry out for shipping companies and their crews.


Please note: this is part 3 of a 3 part interview. The first part can be read here, the second part can be read here


Which ports do you see as being problem areas for CSOs?

Ports where on-the-ground information is hard to obtain and qualify, and where information and security situations constantly change will be problem areas for CSOs. Ports in Libya are a prime example, which is why we produce a weekly report that focuses solely on Libyan ports to better inform CSOs of the constantly shifting situation. Other areas are also on our radar, such as Syria, Yemen and the Crimea.

In some of these there are real threats ashore, in others the risk of falling foul of international sanctions. In addition to the careful overview we keep on Libya, vessels considering trading in Yemen need to be aware of the fluid and dangerous situation ashore, as well as the likely reaction of Saudi-led coalition naval forces who are carefully monitoring all movements in and out of Yemeni ports.  A complex situation that requires careful observation and analysis and something best done by professionals, such as our team of intelligence specialists.


Some CSOs believe that because they don’t transit a High Risk Area, their vessel is safe. What’s your view?

Uncertainty is everywhere – from weather and metrological factors, sanctions and geopolitical aspects, to the threats that exist to crews when ashore. Having and maintaining strong Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) will help you to understand where the areas of high risk are. Having a clear understanding of the threats, existing and potential, in your operating areas can help you to not only plan appropriately and effectively, but also help you to better educate your crews in the risks not only at sea but also ashore.

That said, despite the very real threats in certain areas, we don’t want to be paralysed by fear; that’s not good for global maritime trade, but particularly bad for the seafarers we rely upon to keep the lights on and the world fed. With proper education, good awareness and simple, but effective, risk mitigation, we can continue to trade effectively and safely across the vast majority of the globe.


How can shipping make life easier for CSOs?

Firstly, by recognising the vital role that they play and by arming them with the tools they need to do the job. Security is a job in which we shouldn’t be cutting corners – it’s far too important and the consequences of doing it badly are serious.  CSO’s need to be resourced adequately, either with people or money to apply the proper amount of effort to do the job properly. If they need professional support, especially in complex and dangerous regions, then owners should ensure that they have the funds to access such help.

Secondly, through education and training. Enhancing the Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) of CSOs and enhancing education on risks and how to mitigate them is the key to safe operation of their vessels.  The sharing of good practice and exchange of information, ideas and views between themselves and other CSOs, as made available through the CSO Alliance is also a way that life can be made easier for these hard working individuals. In certain maritime communities, CSOs meet regularly to do just this, but where that is not physically possible, then doing it virtually is the way to go. Doing this activity online also provides a searchable record that can be tapped into.


What’s the best piece of advice you could give a CSO?

If transiting an area of potential high risk then a proper comprehensive risk assessment is essential to understanding any events that might affect shipping, be that security or safety. Only by fully understanding the actual possibility of potential threats to occur, can owners, charterers and ship managers take the decisions on what is the most cost effective measure to mitigate this risk.  A CSO carries a huge responsibility and they owe it to the seafarers they support to do the job well.

But if I could only give them one piece of advice to CSOs, it would be to do their homework on who they take advice from. Watch out for vested interests and beware of those whose business relies upon the continued presence of danger – they might not be the most objective of analysts, especially if the danger they speak is mitigated by the provision of their services. There are plenty of good, professional suppliers out there, so do your homework and find out who you can rely on to meet your needs.

It’s far too important a job to take a chance on.


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