Concern over growing security threat of drones

Drones: they are operating in a place near you.

Are they providing more security and safety, or are they posing a security threat? The answer, of course, could be either. If ever there was an example of regulation being needed, but of one-size-fits-all regulation definitely not being the answer, this is it.

Autonomous drones are being used in ports and industrial sites to secure fences and perimeters, carry out inspections, check cargo handling equipment, monitor shipping, and a whole host of other safety and security benefits.
But drones can also be used to carry drugs over prison walls, spy on sensitive operations, carry out a recce of a ship or terminal in preparation for theft (or worse), and even shift items illegally into or out of a container.
Martek Marine says commercial shipping is waking up to the growing threat that drones pose to the safety and security of vessels, and it has called for an urgent review of the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code to cover this.
Terrorist use of drones deploying explosives is already well documented and the potential for a drone to deliver an explosive charge through the deck of an oil/gas tanker or on a passenger ship with potentially catastrophic results is a stark reality, said the company.
AN IED ladened drone
A captured drone which was adapted to serve as an IED.
“Vessels in port, at anchor or on coastal transits are potential ‘sitting ducks’ and currently powerless to know if/when they’re going to be attacked, let alone be in a position to defend against the threat.”
The ISPS code Part A para 1.3.3 mandates requirements “preventing the introduction of unauthorised weapons, incendiary devices or explosive to ships”, and Ship Security Plans need to address countermeasures to protect from such threats, Martek pointed out.
“The problem is that, up until now, aerial threats from drones have just not been considered.
“The ISPS code requirements for Ship Security Assessments (SSA) and Ship Security Plans (SSP) are specific and comprehensive regarding identification and countermeasures for all risks except aerial risks.”
Super Yachts present target for a drone
Yachts present an easy target for rogue drones
Martek said that speaking to company security officers and ship security officers within its existing client base was alarming – “most were totally oblivious to the emerging threat of drones, nor had they even contemplated this threat in their periodic reviews of the SSA/SSP”.
Shirley Salzman, Marketing Director at Percepto, which is pioneering the use of commercial drones in industrial environments, said it was important to consider two approaches.
Fort de Brégançon
French security used counter-drone technology to down a suspect drone
“First, how drones can be an operating tool – helping people who manage terminals and ports to be more efficient by providing more flexibility, improving security and being part of the maintenance of the operation. This is one way to look at drones and that is what we do.
However, second is that as drones become much more available, they are becoming a threat. In critical sites such as military bases, there are already tools in place to counter drones and ensure they don’t just come flying over the facilities.
In prisons and other locations, drones are not allowed to be in that airspace and they have been interceptedBut there are a lot of problems.”
Someone can literally sit at home and operate a very simple drone – it’s almost an extension to computer games for some.
We need to ban drones in certain areas, said Ms Salzman.
Regulations need to distinguish clearly between the various types of operations of drones. Private drones in certain areas are one thing. Industrial drones operate to a specific brief within very strict areas which have their own rules of operation.
Two drones exploded in an apparent assassination attempt this weekend.
“Drones flying over public and populated areas are a very different thing and the same rules can’t apply to both events.”
What seems certain is that drones will become an ever more ‘usual’ part of our world.
“Once upon a time, there was resistance and concern about CCTV cameras. Now they are a given,” said Ms Salzman. “At any given moment we can go to a camera and check what is happening there.”
Percepto and Certus Port Automation recently announced a strategic partnership to integrate autonomous drones with automation solutions for ports and terminals.
A drone stationed in a port can be available 24/7 for operations and can carry out dozens of missions without any involvement of people, said Ms Salzman.
“Our drone can be pre-programmed to fly to certain locations to collect images, to survey the fence or determine if there are any unauthorised people in the area.
Once finished, it will fly back to its station, connect itself and be ready for its next mission.”
Russian forces claim to have downed two drones
Many ports have taken up drone technology, thanks in part to the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA), which is working with drone companies in order to improve coast guard monitoring and surveillance of maritime activity, said Ms Salzman.
Drones are being used in ports for surveillance and monitoring purposes and a few are even using them specifically for spotting migrants and refugees, she said.
The UK Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) and the RNLI have carried out exercises to test the use of drones for search and rescue operations.
Martek said it would be writing to all maritime non-government organisations, classification societies and flag administrations to raise the ISPS issue and get their individual responses on the matter.
“ISPS needs an urgent update to address the growing threat that drones pose to safety and security of commercial shipping.
It’s critical that awareness is urgently raised, and procedures updated to counter the growing threat before it’s too late,” said Martek CEO Paul Luen.

This article was taken from Issue 74 of Ship Management InternationalSee here

IMDG Code: Free Supplement for first 100 customers

International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code – New Edition

Essential Information

A carriage requirement for all vessels carrying Dangerous Goods and Marine Pollutants at Sea, this latest version will supersede the 2014 edition, which will become invalid.

The IMDG Code, 2018 Edition (inc. Amendment 39-18) comes into force on 1 January 2020 for two years and may be applied voluntarily as from 1 January 2019. The IMDG Code Supplement, 2018 Edition, once published, will render the previous 2014 edition.

The IMDG Code, 2016 Edition Amendment 38-16 came into force on 1 January 2018 for two years. The IMDG Code Supplement, 2014 Edition remains valid until further notice.


The IMDG code covers MARPOL and SOLAS Convention requirements and is the guide for handling dangerous goods and marine pollutants at sea.

The IMDG code includes:

  • Recommendations for individual substances materials and articles
  • Recommendations for good operational practice
  • Advice on terminology, packing, labelling, stowage, segregation and handling
  • Emergency response action.

Free Supplement for first 100 customers

It’s time to go digital.

Too often we store guides, code, updates and supplements in paper form. There’s still the sense of preferring to hold the physical product.

The problems lay when you need to find something specific within. Time is of the essence and there’s only so much the contents page can help with.
Dogeared and tattered, these can become difficult to store and to read.

In an industry that embraces technology as a means of improved performance and efficiency, it’s time digital books became the norm.


Content pages and index are useful for narrowing down your search in paper versions but can still be time-consuming.

With an e-book you have the ability to instantly search for keywords or phrases, saving valuable time previously spent flicking through pages.

No more legs

With a digital library, your publications are always in the same place. Regardless of who needs to use what or when a digital copy will be on hand for instant access

No losses

In a chaotic moment, items can get lost. There’s also a high risk of damage, especially with printed products.

Digital charts and publications remain safe and in place. Files are backed up to ensure that even with a system failure or loss, there’s another device ready to step up to the plate.

Reduce emissions

The maritime industry is set to reduce emissions by 2050. Whilst an e-book may not look to solve this directly, it’s a contributing factor. Reducing the need for paper form publications, and the methods of carriage and delivery all work towards the bigger cause.

Your free supplement

To help with your move towards digital publications, and for those who already use them, we’re offering a free IMDG supplement to the first 100 customers who purchase the latest edition of the IMDG guide in digital format.

The supplement is worth £65 and is packed with:

  • The Revised EmS Guide
  • The Medical First Aid Guide
  • Recommendations on the safe use of pesticides in ships
  • The INF Code
  • Other appropriate resolutions and circulars pertaining to the transport of dangerous goods

Claim your IMDG guide with free supplement now and lead the way as an early adopter in 2019.

Want to save money on charts, without compromising safety?
Sign up for our 30 min webinar and find out why you’re wasting money on digital charts.

V.Ships & Martek Marine to fight SCA at sea

Protecting against one of the world’s biggest killers

V.Ships Partnership to raise standards of crew welfare through onboard defibrillators.

As a trusted provider of technology for ship safety, performance and crew welfare, Martek Marine has teamed up with V.Ships, the world’s leading third-party ship management company to combat the number of fatalities from sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) at sea.

To combat SCA, V.Ships is rolling out Martek Marine’s Lifeforce® automated external defibrillator (AED) across each of its managed vessels, enhancing the welfare of its seafarer pool of over 44,000.

The issue of SCA is growing, not just in the maritime industry, with more than six million deaths worldwide directly attributed to SCA, and survival rates less than one per cent.

V Ships said:

“We undertook a thorough investigation of the global AED market before deciding on a model and partner to be equipped throughout the fleet. It was concluded that the LIFEFORCE AED from Martek Marine met all our criteria, with proven shipboard pedigree and type approval from DNV GL. As the leading ship management company in the industry, crew welfare is our highest priority, and as such we have mandated the requirement for AEDs on every ship to protect against sudden cardiac arrest.

Paul Luen, CEO of Martek Marine, said: “We feel this is the beginning of a truly great partnership, setting the new standard for crew welfare globally.”

Sudden Cardiac Arrest

SCA can strike anyone at any time. Lifestyle factors can increase the likelihood of suffering from SCA but unfortunately can’t guarantee that.

We’ve previously covered how Sir Ranulph Fiennes, the worlds most famous explorer, collapsed at Bristol airport.
Had it not been for an AED on hand within minutes, it’s highly likely that Sir Ranulph would not have survived.

Age isn’t the only factor either.

Earlier this year, there was a frightening study released on young footballers who suffered from SCA. These are some of the most active individuals on the planet, and the number who collapsed, and died, due to SCA is a stark reality.

Martek Marine is excited to continue to develop our relationship with V.Ships and hope that it will encourage other ship management companies to take sudden cardiac arrest seriously, and protect their crew with fleetwide AEDs.


LIFEFORCE® is an automated external defibrillator (AED) – specifically designed for the marine environment and was the world’s first defibrillator to be Type Approved.

It is designed to be the simplest to use AED on the market and independent tests have proven that members of the public without any training can deliver a life-saving shock quicker than any other unit in the market.

With a built-in handle and weighing just 1.9kg, the LIFEFORCE® AED is portable, lightweight and can easily be stored and carried to a victim’s side. It is a durable piece of equipment, tested for use in even the most hostile environments

The unit is weatherproof, with ruggedized handles and sides for ultimate protection from impact damage.

Martek offers a range of training options. You can have a dedicated standalone training unit; your LIFEFORCE® AED can be easily converted into a temporary training unit for in-house training, or we can offer on-site certified training.

Further info

Get in touch to see how the LIFEFORCE® AED can save the life of you or your crew.

Put a price on your life today.