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.

Does Your Safety Management System Address Cyber Risks?

At the recent Connecticut Maritime Association’s 2017 Shipping Conference, Coast Guard Rear Admiral Paul Thomas, Assistant Commandant for Prevention Policy, indicated that the U.S. has submitted a paper to International Maritime Organization (IMO) for consideration that makes the case for installation of governance over cyber risks as part of the Safety Management System (SMS) required by the IMO’s ISM Code. “ISM requires that SMS establish safeguards for all risks, and put in place procedures to ensure compliance with all requirements of the convention and domestic regulations. ISM specifically mentions computer systems, which we take to include control systems. Our paper suggests a timeline for port state control officers to verify that SMS do indeed address cyber risks.”

Soon after the Connecticut Maritime Associations Shipping Conference, the U.S. Coast Guard released its Port State Control 2106 Annual Report. Detainable deficiencies are ranked as follows:

It is interesting to note that International Safety Management (ISM) Code has risen from 10th in 1998, when it became mandatory for companies operating certain types of ships, to 2nd in 2016.  In his February 2017 interview with Marine News, Admiral Thomas indicated that the Agency is working hard to update ISM requirements in both regulation and guidance.

To mitigate the risk of critical cyber systems, new Coast Guard ISM requirements may include the following:

  • Designated person responsible for Cyber Risk Management (CRM);
  • Corporate structure to address CRM;
  • Training requirements based on access to cyber systems; and
  • Corporate and shipboard procedures for operations and maintenance of critical cyber systems.

Does your SMS have these components?  How effective is your implementation?

Meridian.us can help your organization improve the effectiveness of your ISM Code compliance and cyber risk management.

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

WILCO – What’s New from Meridian Global Consulting

WHAT’S NEW
Welcome to the inaugural edition of Meridian Global Consulting’s quarterly Newsletter.

Since our establishment in 2009, Meridian has been known as a high-quality organization that goes the extra mile to meet client expectations. The name “Wilco” reflects our values and commitment to those we serve.

In every edition of our quarterly newsletter, we will strive to provide information that facility and vessel operators can use to ensure operational readiness and regulatory compliance. We welcome any feedback or suggestions for improvement.

Jonathan McConnell
President
Meridian Global Consulting

 

Read the whole newsletter HERE.

REGULATORY ADVISORY: Proposed Manning Changes for Mobile Offshore Drilling Unit

Nearly seven years ago, on April 20, 2010, while conducting temporary well-abandonment activities in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, the mobile offshore drilling unit (MODU) Deepwater Horizon experienced a series of events that resulted in explosions, fire, loss of eleven lives, sinking of the vessel, and the largest oil spill in the U.S. history.

There were many investigations in the aftermath of the disaster to determine causal factors and identify potential safety improvements to offshore oil and gas drilling. The Department of Homeland Security and The Department of the Interior conducted a joint investigation. All told, the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) held seven public hearings, called over 80 witnesses, issued more than 90 subpoenas, and collected over 400,000 pages of evidence.

Within the U.S. Coast Guard jurisdiction, the JIT recommended 52 safety improvements, on 80 percent of which the Commandant agreed to take action. One major recommendation was to implement regulatory changes that provide clear designation of the person in charge under both operating and emergency situations for all MODUs operating on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf.

Additionally, in March 2013, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) began its investigation into the Deepwater Horizon casualty.  A proposed amendment to the MODU Code under consideration is “For units that use dynamic positioning systems as a sole means of position-keeping, the master should be designated as the person in charge at all times.”

On November 28, 2014, the Coast Guard published the Proposed Rules on Requirements for MODUs and Other Vessels Conducting Outer Continental Shelf Activities with Dynamic Positioning Systems, which requires all MODUs be under the command of an individual holding an appropriate certificate of competency as a master issued by the Flag State authority.

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

  1. International Maritime Organization, Review the MODU CODE, LSA CODE and MSC.1/CIRC.1206/ REV.1, SSE 2/12 19 December 2014

  2. Federal Register, Requirements for MODUs and Other Vessels Conducting Outer Continental Shelf Activities with Dynamic Positioning Systems; Proposed Rule, Vol. 79, No. 229, November 28, 2014

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