ISM Code and Risk Management

December 2012 – Grounding of MODU KULLUK in Alaska (courtesy of nytimes.com)

On December 31, 2012, the Noble Drilling-operated Mobile Offshore Drilling Unit (MODU) KULLUK went aground on the eastern coast of Sitkalidak Island, Alaska. Amid winds as high as 50 miles per hour and seas as high as 18 feet, 18-member crew had to be rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG). The USCG and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigated the casualty. The USCG determined the most significant factor being the inadequate assessment and management of risks associated with a complex vessel movement during the winter in the unique and challenging operating environment of Alaska. The NTSB concurred with the USCG that the inadequate assessment of the risk for the planned tow resulted in implementation of a tow plan insufficient to mitigate that risk.

August 2016 – Grounding of TRANSOCEAN WINNER in western Scotland
(courtesy of bbc.com)

Almost four years later, we saw similar images of Coast Guard helicopter flying over the TRANSOCEAN WINNER, which was grounded in western Scotland. The casualty released approximately 12,000 gallons of diesel oil into the ocean. The UK Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) investigation into the grounding highlighted the lack of a contingency plan.

Both vessel operators are required to comply with the International Safety Management (ISM) Code. Section 1.2.2.2 requires a company to assess all identified risks to its ships, personnel and the environment and establish appropriate safeguards. Inadequate assessment and management of risks would be considered a Major Non-conformity under the Code. Per Section 13.5, this may result in the issuing government’s withdrawal of the company’s Document of Compliance, i.e., its ISM-compliant vessels can no longer operate until the identified discrepancies are corrected.

Meridian.us has certified and experienced ISM Code Lead Auditors, who can assist your company with their internal audits and management review. For additional information, please contact Captain Hung Nguyen at (808) 282-4981 or hnguyen@meridian.us.

Hurricane Irma Preparation

Hurricane Irma is now a Category 5, which has sustained wind speeds greater than 136 knots (157 mph; 252 km/h).  The latest storm track reveals that it is forecast to reach the Straits of Florida by 1am CDT on Sunday (September 10).  The National Hurricane Center has told Americans along hurricane-prone parts of the coast to get an evacuation plan in place.

In developing an evacuation plan, the following should be considered:

  • How are you getting to the evacuation hotel?
  • Do they accept pets?
  • Who else can reach you in case your cell phone dies?
  • How are you going to pay for expenses?
  • What are you going to take with you?
  • How will you secure your home?
  •  Without power, you are going to be consuming more water, therefore, it is recommended to have 100 ounces of clean water per person per day with regards to planning.
  •  Non-perishable food is the best to purchase
  • Once the power goes out, a freezer can last 72-96 hours if it is not opened before the food spoils.  Once it is opened, eat or dispose of everything in it in a timely manner.

For port users, please check with your local Coast Guard Captain of the Port (COTP) for status of Port Condition (PORTCON).  For example, COTP Key West has ordered PORTCON WHISKEY to be set at 8:00 PM, September 5 for the COTP Zone Key West, FL.  Some actions, which waterfront facilities, should take include:

  • Remove all debris and secure potential flying hazards.
  • Take due diligence to prepare for potential storm impacts.

Meridian can also provide Incident Management Support and Direct Asset Response Teams:

 

  • Incident Commanders
  • Incident Command System Specialists
  • Staging Area Management

 

Meridian.us can rapidly deploy highly-trained, disciplined, self-sustaining, multi-faceted, and dedicated unit of private security specialists for security, medical and or recovery services.

Meridian.us can assist with hurricane preparation, response and recovery.  For more information, please contact Jason Wilbur at (337) 515-5833 or jwilbur@meridian.us.

Is Your Company Doing Enough to Deter Pirates in High Risk Waters?

Earlier this month a court in Mumbai, India, sentenced a group of 15 pirates to 6 months in prison, plus time served.

In January 2011 25 Somali nationals attempted to board a merchant ship 1,400 nautical miles off the coast of their nation. The crew of the ship sent an emergency distress signal to the Indian Navy and Coast Guard, which responded quickly. The ensuing firefight killed 10 of the 25 pirates. The remaining 15 have been incarcerated in India for the last six-and-a-half years.

“The offenders have been given a lesson that in India there is rule of law and that the offenders are brought to justice,” said special public prosecutor Ranjeet Sangle. “From 2011, since the pirates were arrested, the entire piracy operation in the western waters of India has come down . . .  now, I believe that it will go down to zero.”

Unfortunately for merchant ships, the prospect of seven years in prison isn’t much of a deterrent, especially given the large potential payoff pirates receive when they are successful. 

But the firefight, resulting capture, and eventual conviction of these pirates should send a very important message to those who sail through high risk waters (HRWs):

A trained and armed presence on or near your ship can protect you and your crew from dangerous pirates.

Over the last several years pirates in HRWs have kidnapped crew to hold them for ransom, stolen highly valuable cargo, and even ended the lives of those on board the ships they attack.

But since 2009 Meridian.us has guarded hundreds of voyages, and has successfully defended ships from pirate attacks and suspicious approaches—all without needing to fire a shot.

If your shipping company is ready to take the security of its crew and cargo to the next level, we’re here to help.

Meridian is uniquely qualified to provide security, safety, and environmental services to the maritime community. For additional information, please contact us at (251) 345-6776 or info@meridian.us.

Are You in Danger of Being Doxxed?

Trolling online is one thing, but Doxing is something entirely worse.

Doxing when someone searches for and publishes private or identifying information about a particular individual on the Internet, typically with malicious intent.

Google yourself.  Put your first and last name in parenthesis then put the state.  What do you come up with?

There are hundreds of Databroker companies out there that survive off mining public databases, collecting that data and making it readily available at the touch of a button.  Doxing is becoming a common practice among populist and protesting movements.

Publishing your private information could open up you and your family to unprecedented dangers.

Business Executives, Public Figures, Public Officials are all to often become victim to their private information becoming public. A great deal of this information can be removed, though it isn’t easy. Depending on the state in which you are domiciled, you likely have the right to have your information taken down if requested. However, Databrokers don’t have to make it easy to navigate the process how.

Meridian can help. Meridian can remove your information from commonly searched sites and help to monitor it in the future. Please let us know if you are interested in this service.

For additional information, please contact us at (251) 345-6776 or info@meridian.us.

Meridian.us Honored as ‘Patriotic Employer’ by ESGR

Meridian’s Josh Simonson and Jonathan McConnell are presented with the Patriotic Employer Award.

Meridian honored for its support and hiring of National Guard and Reservists by Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) organization.

MOBILE, Ala., JULY 12th, 2017 – Meridian.us, a Mobile-based Veteran-Owned Small Business was honored Wednesday by being recognized as a “Patriotic Employer” by the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) organization.

Employers are nominated for the award by their employees in thanks for their support of the duties required of National Guardsmen and Reservists. Every member of the National Guard must drill one weekend a month as well as participate in a two week Annual Training.

For many Guardsmen and Reservists these requirements can be tough to negotiate with their employers.

But for Meridian, supporting veterans is part of the mission. Approximately 95 percent of Meridian employees are veterans, and many of them have either served or continue to serve in the National Guard or Reserves.

“It was an honor to be presented with this award today by ESGR,” said Meridian.us President Jonathan McConnell. “It is one of our top priorities to support the veterans, National Guardsmen, and Reservists who work with us by allowing them to continue to serve.”

ESGR, a Department of Defense program, was established in 1972 to promote cooperation and understanding between Reserve Component Service members and their civilian employers and to assist in the resolution of conflicts arising from an employee’s military commitment. ESGR is supported by a network of more than 4,000 volunteers in 54 committees located across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam-CNMI (Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands), Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

About Meridian.us

Meridian.us is a Certified Veteran-Owned Small Business (VOSB). Meridian provides professional, scalable, cost-effective solutions to clients’ safety, security, and environmental stewardship needs. Meridian finds solutions that match the level of risk to proportional protection, giving the client the most efficient and sustainable solutions anywhere in the world.

In response to the attack on the Maersk Alabama in 2009 Meridian.us was formed under the leadership of Jonathan McConnell to provide a cost-effective solution to combating piracy. Security teams, which consisted of US Marine Veterans, most of whom served with Jonathan, began serving onboard U.S. flagged vessels. Meridian was the first US-based, ISO 28007-certified maritime security firm. We proudly serve multiple Fortune 500 companies. To better serve our clients, our services have been expanded to include Incident Management Support, Corporate & Regulatory Consulting, Direct Asset Response Teams, Executive Protection, and Training.

Providing the world’s most trusted and reliable risk mitigation service to the maritime community

In 2009, Meridian began working as a maritime security company for merchant ships off the coast of Somalia. Since then, Meridian has grown into a full-scale security, safety, and environmental service company. Our vision is “To create the world’s most trusted and reliable risk mitigation service to the maritime community.”

In striving for our vision, we have implemented an integrated management approach to service development and delivery. This involves implementing ISO 9001:2015 standards for quality management and Incident Command System (ICS) tools and processes for mission planning and execution.

An example is how we provide our Direct Asset Response Team (DART) services. The mission of our DART is to provide the requesting client with a highly-trained, disciplined, self-sustaining, multi-faceted, and dedicated unit of private security specialists available on short notice for security, medical and or recovery services.

In meeting ISO 9001:2015 (Section 8.2), we closely collaborated with our clients to determine the requirements for DART services. For example, we staffed our DART(s) with highly qualified personnel, including:

  • Former Military and Law Enforcement Personnel;
  • Medics;
  • HAZMAT Specialists; and
  • Incident Command System Experts.

We recognized that, in most situations, DART(s) will operate within an incident management organization that uses ICS tools and processes. To facilitate DART’s response and seamless integration with the ICS organization, we maintain an initial Incident Action Plan that can be quickly updated for an emerging situation.
Before Tropical Storm Cindy hit the Gulf Coast last week, several companies inquired us about our DART services. We quickly provided them with a copy of our standard operating procedure and our DART(s) were ready to respond as needed.

Meridian is uniquely qualified to provide security, safety, and environmental services to the maritime community. For additional information, please contact us at (251) 345-6776 or info@meridian.us.

Client Satisfaction Update

Meridian.us has protected freedom, industry, and most importantly life for close to 8 years now. Since our establishment in 2009, Meridian has strived to set ourselves apart from the field through professionalism, versatility, and resolve. In order to not just maintain our standard, but also raise it, Meridian puts great importance on client satisfaction. Meridian views our client satisfaction scores as a free evaluation for improvement.

Every suggestion is progress and opportunity.

Meridian has been sending questionnaires to our clients upon completion of operations for years as part of our Business Management System. Meridian’s Client Satisfaction Survey is graded on a 10 point system which deducts points for anything below a “Very Good.” This grade is based on remarks for improvement as well the survey questions.

Meridian has set a goal of 8/10 to be the minimum standard set forth for our Client Satisfaction survey. Over the years, with many different clients, Meridian has an average assessment score of 9.5/10. Meridian not only celebrates our success, but also resets the bar. The company is enthusiastically making progress toward new goals above 9.5.

“As a company we want to be successful,” said Joshua Simonson, VP of Maritime Security. “Success is not just tied to completion of operations, but just as importantly, satisfaction of our clients.”

It is this kind of culture and military professionalism that have propelled Meridian to where it is today, and will be what brings us even more success in the future.

Minimizing the Impact of a Cyberattack

On May 12, 2017, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) acknowledged that the ransomware WannaCry had infected computers of hospitals, companies, and government agencies around the world.  WannaCry restricts users’ access to a computer until a ransom is paid to unlock it.

The 2016 Horizon Scan Report of the Business Continuity Institute, a leading organization that certifies Business Continuity professionals, showed that for the second year running cyberattacks were the number one threat.  Cyberattacks can significantly disrupt an organization by causing loss of data, compromised personal or financial information, and unplanned downtime.

In minimizing the impact of a cyberattack, business continuity planning must address cyber security.

 All critical IT applications, processes, data, and locations that support the organization’s revenue, customer information, trade secrets, and other keys to success must be identified and properly protected.

To help secure your systems from cyber security threat, DHS recommended the following practices:

  • Update your systems to include the latest patches and software updates.
  • Do not click on or download unfamiliar links or files in emails.
  • Back up your data to prevent possible loss, whether you are at a home, work, or school computer.

Meridian.us has highly experienced subject matter experts who can assist your organization with business continuity planning.  Additionally, we have partnered with several leading cyber security service providers that have successfully served a wide range of customers from Fortune 100 and 500 companies to the U.S. Military.

For more information on our business continuity planning and cyber security services, please contact Meridian.us at (251) 345-6776 or info@meridian.us.

How Meridian.us Can Help You Prepare for Hurricane Season

North America’s hurricane season begins June 1st, bringing with it the threat of torrential winds and rain, loss of life, power outages, and an increased risk of security breaches.

The mission of Meridian.us’s Direct Asset Response Team (DART) is to provide our clients with a highly trained, disciplined, and dedicated unit of private security operators available on short notice for safety and security services. Upon request this unit can be rapidly deployed to address a variety of situations including but not limited to: Site Security, Heightened Security Risks, Personal Security Details, Natural Disasters, and Asset Recovery Operations.

Meridian.us’s DART will assist your company in three phases after a hurricane or other crisis event.

Response Phase

Establish an immediate and controlled security presence at the incident site.
Conduct shelter-in-place procedures if necessary.
Conduct a preliminary assessment of incident impact, known injuries, extent of damage, and disruption to the facility’s services and business operations.
Provide facility management with the facts necessary to make informed decisions regarding subsequent resumption and recovery activity.

Resumption Phase

Establish and organize a facility control center and headquarters for recovery operations.
Provide security for facility support teams necessary to facilitate and support the resumption process.

Recovery Phase

Prepare and implement procedures necessary to facilitate and support the recovery of time-sensitive business operations.
Coordinate with higher headquarters to discern responsibilities that will fall upon the facility’s Business Operations Recovery Teams and Technology Recovery Teams
Assist facility management coordinate with employees, vendors, and other internal and external individuals and organizations.

Meridian Global’s DART operations, utilize teams of highly trained private security operators. Our clients are not simply provided a one dimensional security team. Meridian.us supplies its clients with teams that are multifaceted, with personnel trained in the following areas:

  • Emergency Medical
  • Emergency Management Coordination
  • Incident Command System
  • Hazmat
  • Search and Rescue
  • K9
  • Special Response

Equipment

  • Firearms (Handgun, Carbine, Long Rifle)
  • Body Armor
  • Ammunition
  • Communication Equipment
  • Generators
  • Food Rations
  • Hazmat Equipment
  • Mobile Command Center
  • Tactical Operations Center
  • Watercraft/Maritime Patrol
  • ATVs
  • And more

For assistance with DART operations and preparing your business for hurricane season contact Meridian.us at (251) 345-6776 or info@meridian.us.

REGULATORY ADVISORY: Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA) Facility Access Control Discrepancy on the Rise

On May 4 the Coast Guard Office of Port & Facility Compliance released its 2016 Year in Review.

In 2016, the Coast Guard completed 6,002 MTSA annual and spot check examination activities. About a third of the enforcement actions are related to access control—a category that has doubled in two years.

Per Title 33 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 105.255, the facility owner or operator must ensure the implementation of security measures to:

(1) Deter the unauthorized introduction of dangerous substances and devices, including any device intended to damage or destroy persons, vessels, facilities, or ports;

(2) Secure dangerous substances and devices that are authorized by the owner or operator to be on the facility;

(3) Control access to the facility; and

(4) Prevent an unescorted individual from entering an area of the facility that is designated as a secure area unless the individual holds a duly issued TWIC and is authorized to be in the area.

For assistance with MTSA compliance, please contact Meridian.us at (251) 345-6776 or info@meridian.us.