London: Maritime Security Resource Group (MSRG) provides owners with a pool of handpicked private maritime security companies (PMSCs) that are vetted and pass a number of key criteria to ease shipowners concerns on the quality levels of this often murky sector. Onboard the firm is Will McManus, the former ceo of PMSC REDfour MSS, who was interviewed on this site last year.
McManus explains how his new role is different to his previous employ.
“This time,” he says, “we are a facilitator, not a provider of these services and all we do is undertake a vetting system on each company that wishes to enter the pool, ensuring that the client receives a timely cost effective security solution, without them having to do all the leg work, we can provide all the information they require to satisfy P&I Clubs, lawyers and the like with one email attachment.” Moreover, the shipowner does not pay any more for using MSRG’s service as its fees are paid for by the chosen PMSC.
“The time consuming process of which company has the best qualifications, history, correct insurance, etc has been taken away from the guy sitting in an office in New York, Singapore or Hong Kong at 10’o clock at night stressing over which provider to use,” insists McManus. MSRG provides owners with a complete dossier on each of the companies in its group, including all compliance documentation, all ISO details and weapons licenses.
McManus, 48, served in the British armed forces and the French Foreign Legion and has worked in hostile environments for the past 28 years from Iraq to Afghanistan, both in a military and civilian role, running land based and amphibious operations worldwide.
McManus is insistent that piracy has not gone away.
“The are different kinds of piracy,” he explains, adding: “West Africa has always been the most violent, Somali pirates the most prolific and opportunist while in the Far East most of the incidents were opportunist thieves stalking choke points like the Straits of Malacca whereby they would board a ship and steal anything that wasn’t nailed down and leave.”
There are many options open to shipowners on how to make a successful boarding almost impossible when transiting risky areas such as Indonesia, McManus says. The use of ballistic film for the bridge windows is a tried and tested method, making freeboards higher, making entry to the superstructure of the ship difficult with the removal of ladders, all these methods can help.
On how security teams can better integrate with crews when onboard, McManus is clear. The best practice is for security personnel to board a ship with their weapons and ammunition out of sight; said weaponry should be locked up on the bridge and not used unless necessary. Security teams should then engage with the crews, training them where possible
“Inclusion of the crew in the security team’s work would instigate a feeling of trust and would assuage concerns of the crew,” McManus says. “Any team doing otherwise is not doing its job correctly,” he maintains.
“Just having a team get onboard, not say much to the crew, not smile, and cut about the ship carrying a weapon is not the way the security industry can get away from the Blackwater-esque stereotype that people perceive operators to be like,” the security professional warns, before concluding: “It’s a cliché, but it works: win the heart, win the mind.”