Why CSO Alliance
Connecting CSOs
Communicating & Challenging
Confirming Crime
Collaborating Globally
News & Workshops
Contact us
Join now


Icon representing Maritime Information Warfare Conference 2019 -London -November 18-19
Maritime Information Warfare Conference 2019 -London -November 18-19

November 18th 2019
Icon representing CYPnaval Conference - October 2nd - Cyprus
CYPnaval Conference - October 2nd - Cyprus

October 2nd 2019
Icon representing CSOA First Response Report: Iran Seizes British Tanker
CSOA First Response Report: Iran Seizes British Tanker

July 20th 2019

Due Diligence tested

Written by Mark Sutcliffe 
November 4th 2016
Written by Mark Sutcliffe
Due Diligence tested: 22 October, 6 am, 300 NM off Somalia

In 25 mins an Armed Attack will change you and your crews lives, did you really execute due diligence?

How often can you hand on heart say you have completed effective due diligence of a PMSC and why is it so important?

We met with the PMSC company involved in the incident 300NM off Somalia on 22 October and can share with members the exact timeline on the CSO Alliance platform: https://my.csoalliance.com/report/?812002432&rl=2
It is a compelling read and this evidence has been supported by a full debrief with the military which means they have all the information to review the incident status.

Having a security team on a ship is like implementing any safety feature onboard, where you conduct extensive research pre procurement and constant performance assessment with regular spot checks to ensure it remains fit for purpose.
We realise time is short for CSOs, but it is clear from the BIMCO security release this week that there are now both legal and quality concerns on the supply side of the PMSC sector.
If you are boarding poorly trained PCASP with illegal weapons, you not only in danger of allowing your ship to become a 'gun runner', you are building in a critical performance weakness, and facing potential legal and insurance issues, so why does this matter?

To keep a first class security company operating requires considerable resources, which means following not only the spirit of the law, but the letter. Many in the industry believe it is acceptable to swap both weapons
(we would point out that weapons swapping is illegal according to the terms of licences granted to PMSCs) and teams, but you have to ask yourself what are you asking these security employees to do? Be vigilant, be respectful to the crew and when called on, to do their duty at speed whilst under significant pressure. This requires good team leadership, equipment that works and on which the team are trained, supported by effective line management.

The incident with Offen Tankers CPO Korea on 22 October is a good example of when this training was put to the test. At 06.55 in the morning a blue hulled skiff with 5 people on board was spotted approaching a vessel underway at 13 kts. Within 60 seconds the master was called to the Bridge, the security team mustered and were displaying weapons as part of their SOP. All the drills where followed, increasing speed, firing flares, activating fire hoses, and with the skiff continuing to approach at 2nm the crew ordered to the citadel. 15 mins after the initial sighting and the skiff still closing, warning shots were fired. Despite this, warning shots continued to close in on the ship and so further warning shots were fired by the security team. The skiff returned fire with around at which point the security team returned fire with an estimated 10-20 shots in quick succession. Following a final exchange of fire from the security team the skiff stopped chasing the vessel. The attack lasted for 25 minutes in total, with the exchange of fire lasting under 10 minutes.

The Captain and crew were fully supported and the CSO clearly has a security team that, when it came to the crunch, delivered. Contrast this with a team who may not be familiar with any of up to 10 weapons types, with no training to the companies RUF and whose teamwork is potentially compromised as they would only have met on a floating armoury. They would also be in breach of Guardcon, prejudicing their insurance covers as well as risking delay or detention as they would have illegal weapons on board

It is clear there is an art to due diligence checks. Some CSOs can travel, others outsource to consultants, but many need support on how to audit what is in part a semi military operation.
We are working with a few simple due diligence processes that can be done from a CSOs desk, so that you can feel confident you are doing everything possible to do your job, keeping your crews safe and the security operation legal.
As a further support, since the BIMCO security alert on 20 Jan 2015 we have been looking with our industry partners to explore the construction of a portal which would allow the Flag State or CSO to check and verify weapons documentation ahead of transit simply and safely using an independent verification process. We are now working with a supplier who clearly understands the sector and who has invested their own resource to create a prototype which we recently successfully demonstrated with a Flag State. There is naturally more work to be done on this issue, but a mixture of effective tools and due diligence will support CSOs in ensuring the security delivery remains compliant, so that it delivers.