Dryad Global express their concern about the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact it has on placing armed guards onboard vessels, noting that on a large volume of transits through the Indian Ocean, Gulf of Aden and Southern Red Sea, the embarkation of Armed Security is an unnecessary cost.
As the global pandemic has been affecting the whole world, states are taking measures to restrict the movements of personnel into and within their borders, as many states have already closed their borders to people coming from perceived high-risk areas.
Recently, Sri Lanka closed its borders to people coming from many countries, which led to potentially significant disruption in the embarkation and movement of Armed Security Teams. Then, PMSCs were required to find alternative embarkation points for weapons and teams, and shipping companies had to deal with increased ambiguities around the provision of security teams and potentially significantly increased costs.
Although the industry has lifted the ban on Armed Security Teams at Galle, Dryad states that this decision will be under continuous review. Also, Malaysia has issued its own proposal about an alternative embarkation and disembarkation point and has significantly restricted foreign access.
Following the feeling of doubt and fear due to the current situation, Dryad reported that there is an increased demand of Transit Risk Assessments and Vessel Safety Monitoring; Yet, Dryad argues that on a large volume of transits through the Indian Ocean, Gulf of Aden and Southern Red Sea, the embarkation of Armed Security is an unnecessary cost.
This means that the employment of guard should reflect the risks as it is at the time and not as it is perceived by legacy behaviours.
We advise that for the majority of transits through those key areas, the risk can be adequately mitigated by thorough risk assessment and vessel monitoring.
Key Concerns from shipping industry
The potential for increased costs, either as a result of being diverted to receive guards from a remote location or an increase in passed-on costs as the expense of logistical movements increase.
The prospect of having embarked AST who are then unable to disembark because of increased travel restrictions at their intended arrival point. The impact on commercial operations in both circumstances could potentially be significant.