Day 02 of 2020 SAFETY4SEA Virtual Forum focuses on safety and security challenges amid the pandemic crisis

by 21, Oct, 2020Innovation

The event was organized by SAFETY4SEA having as lead sponsors the following organizations: MacGregor & SQE MARINE. The event was also sponsored by: ABS, American Club, Arcadia Shipmanagement Co Ltd, Blue Planet Shipping Ltd, Capital Shipmanagement, Chandris (Hellas) Inc., ClassNK, Costamare Inc., CR Ocean Engineering, Dorian LPG, DNV GL, ERMA FIRST, Green Jakobsen, JOTUN, Latsco Marine Management Inc., MarineTraffic, Metropolitan College, MINERVA Marine, Neptune Lines Shipping, North P&I Club, Orpheus Marine Transport Corporation, RINA, RISK4SEA, SHIP MED CARE, Standard Club, Steamship Mutual P&I Club, The Swedish Club, Synergy Group, Tsakos Group of Companies, UK Club, WALLEM, World Link Communications. Supporters of the event were: AMMITEC, Chios Marine Club, Green Award Foundation, Hellenic Engineers Society of Great Britain, PEPEN, WISTA Hellas.

Panel 4 – Ship Safety

Safety is a key concern in all crisis period nor only for shipping but for society as well. This period of uncertainty tied with a rise of all incident types onboard and ashore has the industry on the ropes. Experts of panel 4 shared their views on how to improve safety, especially during these challenges times where digitalization is the new normal.

Capt. Mark Bull, Trafalgar Navigation, Director, stated that the pandemic crisis will accelerate the autonomous shipping. Technology has come to place and this situation has forced us to a digital format of the things, i.e. now we witness remote inspections. In any case, we need to rethink all lessons learned, but where is the guarantee that they have been understood?

Mr. Manit Chander, HiLo Maritime, Risk Management, highlighted the importance of data statistics to improve our focus on safety, he said. With regards to pandemic, there is opportunity around connectivity and efficiency. As explained, these two are inter connected; people are now more open to the virtual environment. This brings an adoption of technology, the result of which is efficiency onboard and ashore.

Mr. Dimitris Monioudis, Rethymnis & Kulukundis Ltd, General Manager, noted that technology has many benefits for the industry, however we should acknowledge the value of human interaction/ communication. The future will give us the opportunity to readdress issues. In order for things to improve, there should be an agreement that all parties have responsibility. This decade will see new fuels and technologies coming onboard, but we have to talk on how these are impacting operations and what training is required.

Capt. Panagiotis Nikiteas, Maran Dry Management, HSQE Manager / DPA / CSO, highlighted that safety is a multi facet, ever changing and varying discipline that requires holistic but also changing methodologies. With regards to pandemic, he noticed that the last months were a a great disappointment; priority was only given to the continuation of the trade, however all seafarers that made this possible should be placed on top.

Mr. John Southam, North of England P&I CLub, Loss Prevention Executive, commented that things have not significantly changed since he was a cadet onboard in the past. Training and safety issues are at the centre of discussions with their members. How we use data is important, he said, mentioning that there is a significant shift; companies have started to pay attention to software, technology has entered into safety discussions, while there is increased focus on safety culture projects.

Mr. Peregrine Storrs-Fox, TT Club, Risk Management Director, also noted that there were given different priorities by stakeholders and governments during the pandemic. Much priority was given around trade and the fact that crew change is still ineffective is a huge side effect. With regards to safety, a common culture of the risks involved is needed. Overall, we should have in mind that safety is a common aim for the maritime industry, he concluded.

Panel 5 – Cyber Security

The IMO deadline is approaching within the next months, while as the industry is shifting to remote work along with the digitization trend, making cyber safety a key priority. Experts of panel 5 discussed whether industry is ready for the shift and all cyber security challenges amid the pandemic.

Mr. Francesco Arischia, RINA, Senior Consultant, observed that the pandemic has increased the gap between evolution of technology and protection measures. As a solution, we need to start to consider cyber security in parallel when we develop a new technology, platform or any remote services. As the IMO deadline for cyber security approaches, we still have a lot of work to do, he said. Overall, cyber security should be accountable in the daily operation of a maritime company.

Mr. Manos Christofis, Diaplous Group, Cyber Security Strategy Advisor, noticed that the problem with cyber security lays in top management which does not believe in cyber importance for the industry. They do not see a clear motivation, they are not considered as targets. However, cyber risk is high; this is a key message to pass across all maritime executives in order to pay the proper attention and invest in cyber security.

Mr. Stavros Koutoupes, World Link Communications, Greece Country Manager, said that the more communication and bandwidth onboard, the more vulnerable the vessels can be to a cyber attack. A key problem is that we lack of top management commitment and line management enforcement. Most of the managers are not convinced of the danger. Any external attack of the internet should be stopped by satellite comm centre so as not to disrupt communication with the vessel. The most important thing is to safeguard satellite comm links, he highighted.

Mr. Yannis Maroulis, ABS Group, Manager, Business Development, mentioned that although digitalization brings benefits to industry, the risk of cyber incidents is also increasing and highlighted that cybersecurity is a business imperative.. Although regulatory bodies are bringing new guidelines forward, cybersecurity in maritime is still behind. Compliance does not equal security. The industry needs to invest in industrial cybersecurity capabilities, making cyber operations a part of day to day business, he concluded.

Mr. Themistoklis Sardis, Costamare Shipping Company S.A., IT Manager, provided a brief overview of the investments that his company has made in cyber security, highlighting that cyber security is a worthy investment for all business. When it comes to IMO deadline for cyber security, technically there is a doubt if we are 100% prepared, he noted, reminding that cyber security is an ongoing process based on Plan – Do – Check- Act cycle. Certainly, many issues and emerging challenges are on the way in which we need to shed our focus on.

Panel 6 – Maritime Security

The pandemic may have posed new challenges to the shipping industry; however, piracy and sea robbery incidents is a persistent challenge and a significant threat, especially in high risk areas. Notably, an increase of incidents in the Singapore Strait and threat of abduction of crew in the Sulu-Celebes Seas have been identified while the Gulf of Guinea remained the area worst affected in 2019. Experts of panel 6 provided an overview of the current security landscape, highlighting that vigilance should be always maintained even in the Indian Ocean where is now considered as a free of risk area.

Mr. Philip Diacon, Dryad Global, Owner/ Director, praised the work of fusion centres which provide detailed information and coordinate security efforts. He also noted that the last years the Indian Ocean is clear from attacks since there is no piracy attacks or threats. The industry has managed to develop a mature structure in place over there, that is why there is no tension. On the contrary, West Africa is now a high risk area, where piracy is escalating and needs extra vigilance.

Mrs. Lydelle Joubert, Stable Seas, Researcher ,mentioned that between January and September 2020, the highest number of incidents of piracy and armed robbery of ships were reported in Asia. However, incidents remained high in the Gulf of Guinea with most kidnapping incidents worldwide reported in this region. Pirate groups launch attacks from the Niger Delta. Nigerian government security measures through the Nigerian government and Industry Joint Working Group shows promise.

Director, Terra Firma Risk Management, advised to shed a focus on proper preparation when vessels transiting in the Gulf of Guinea. As such, among many, they should: conduct drills and rehearsals before their arrival; Ensure the attack emergency alarm is differentiated from other alarms; If the attack emergency alarm is sounded, all crew, less those required on the bridge or in the engine room, go to the citadel immediately, using internal routes.

Mr. Dimitris Maniatis, Marisk, CEO, highlighted the importance of the maritime security system that has been developed in the Indian Ocean; this is why we see no tension the last years. However, we have to pay a lot of attention in order to upkeep due dilligence in place and the quality of security, he pinpointed. If we look at the costs and the bigger number, there is no profits, but nonetheless the security level needs to be maintained, he concluded.

Mr. Mark Sutcliffe, CSO Alliance, Managing Director, referred to the great work of fusion centres, highlighting that communication is the key. Although a communication gap may be noticed when it comes to incidents reporting, how we use any available information is important. Nonetheless is a team effort. Concluding, he urged stakeholders to continue working effectively together, and show focus on transparency. Security provision is imperative. All crew must be allowed to go to work safely and secure; and it is our work to ensure that, he said.

Panel 7 – Marine Insurance Claims in the COVID-19 era

Damage goods and containers is already one of the most frequent causes of insurance claims in the shipping industry, according to AGCS. The pandemic has heightened the risk environment around high-value and temperature-sensitive goods. Lockdown measures and reduced staffing levels at warehouses and facilities may also increase the risk of theft and fire and damage due to extended storage. Experts of panel 7 focus on how the pandemic has affected claims, noticing possible alarming trends.

Mr. John Dolan, Standard Club, Deputy Director, Loss Prevention, acknowledged remote surveys as an imperfect but temporary solution since nothing can beat the physical presence. Overall, operating a ship is challenging, especially nowadays where crew changes is a big issue. Although it is early to see the implications of the pandemic, we should expect something to spike anytime soon, he commented. What they have recently noticed in claims is an increase of phishing mails. It is a great concern now that goes in hand with digitalization, he noted, that we need to raise awareness; in any case, the ship manager and its crew is always the first line of defence.

Mrs. Eva Ioannidou, UK P&I Club, Senior Claims Executive, briefly mentioned how the pandemic has affected claims so far; from example increased costs due to crew change, repatriation and medical issues were reported. Crew changes is a violation of MLC, she highlighted, that cause problems with flag states. Most importantly, industry needs to focus on seafarers’ wellbeing and any problems raised due to mental health. How to safeguard the members position with respect to crew changes and problematic issues onboard should be considered as top priority.

Mr. Gordon Robertson, North of England P&I Club, Director (Greece), gave a brief feedback on the claims received noting that a lot of documentary problems arose which are not helpful for P&I activity. Nonetheless the many challenges, industry is resilient. To improve, a better understanding is needed and cooperation between authorities. When we conquer problematic areas, such as ships keep trading without crew change issues or anyone is able to work from home effectively, we would enhance our operational resilience.

Mrs. Elina Souli, American Club, V.P., Regional Business Development Director and FDD Manager Piraeus, provided a quick overview of the situation with regards to crew changes and all problems concerned, noting that operations have become more complicated nowadays due to the pandemic. For example, more often than before, during these couple months, they have noticed request from members with regards to BoL. Also, some clauses were amended to reflect new requirements. Concluding, she highlighted that industry needs to focus on seafarers’ wellbeing; that goes in hand with cyber security.

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October 2020