US State Department Updates Travel Warning System

Launching in January, the State Department will update how its travel advisories are issued and ranked for every country in the world to “provide U.S. citizens with relevant safety and security information.”

According to the announcement from the State Department: “Travel advisories will give advice to U.S. citizens by following a four-level classification system and providing clear actions to take. So the level one is to “exercise normal precautions;” level two would be “exercise increased caution;” level three would be “reconsider travel;” and level four would be “do not travel.””

Meridian offers travel advisory and logistics services. As Meridian is a global scale risk mitigation specialist, travel is a large part of our operations.

Meridian operators travel to “any clime and place,” just like the U.S. Marine veterans we employ. Since Meridian travels often and has learned to make our arrangements at a moment’s notice, we have decided to open up our contracted travel rates, savings and services to our clients.

Your company can pre-submit employees and personnel as well as travel documents to use the Meridian Travel Account. They can then submit an email of who will be traveling, when and where they would need to they need to depart and/or arrive. We will then respond with options that work. The travel will then be billed to the business.

Meridian can offer Marine and Offshore airfares and has access to air, ground, sea, and agent services. Meridian will get your business there fast for less.

Further, we have the ability to offer Safety and Security reviews of your travel itinerary, giving a comprehensive look into any security or logistics concerns while you travel in the United States and abroad.

For more information on Meridian’s travel services Contact Us.

Offshore Oil and Gas Regulatory Compliance 2016

In 2016, the U.S. Coast Guard conducted at least one inspection on 103 unique Floating Production Systems (FPS’) and Mobile Offshore Drilling Units (MODUs) that operated on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). Additionally, 49 fixed platform inspections were performed.

These inspections resulted in 222 deficiencies being written on FPS’ and MODUs and 100 deficiencies on fixed platforms. Fourteen OCS units (8 MODUs, 5 FPSs and 1 platform) received an operational control action as a result of a top-level deficiency being discovered.

Deficiency category breakdown is shown by the diagrams below.

Helping your company ‘Walk the Walk’ in response readiness

As a management consulting firm, Meridian assists our clients’ compliance with safety, environmental and quality management system standards. For example, we recently conducted an external review to verify that an organization’s internal quality system is based on ISO 9001:2015. Similarly, in enhancing our clients’ contingency preparedness, our Response Services Division provides Incident Command System (ICS) training and facilitates drills and exercises.  

In “Walking the Walk,” Meridian uses ISO 9001 and ICS processes and tools in managing our tactical operations.  Potential tactical operations, which Meridian may be asked to provide, include:

  • Armed Vessel Security
  • Direct Asset Response Team
  • Event Management
  • Executive Protection
  • Fixed Site Security
  • Oil / Hazardous Material Spill Response
  • Route/Convoy Security

The ISO-ICS integrated process starts with Meridian’s standard operating procedures and policies, which creates our framework. From there, Meridian has ensured its personnel have the required training and experience for the position they are assigned to. This includes becoming familiar with the Meridian Incident Management Handbook (MIMH), as well as completing our position-specific qualification requirements.

There are numerous moving parts when it comes to managing tactical operations. There is a constant flow of information. To ensure our readiness to respond, Meridian proactively developed Incident Action Plan (IAP) templates for various types of tactical operations. These templates incorporate lessons learned and best practices.  They serve as a 70% solution, which enables Meridian to respond to the needs of a client quickly and effectively.

From the moment a client requests our services, Meridian begins updating the appropriate template with the client’s specific information.  We assess and track the current situation.  We document the client’s objectives and priorities.  We identify resources and develop assignments.

By using ICS processes and tools, Meridian can make a seamless transition from managing routine activities to supporting crisis management while  easily assimilating into the client’s response management organization.

By having things well-organized and documented, it ensures continuity of operation.  Meridian upper management can quickly step in and effectively and efficiently complete the operation if an emergency arises and the project manager is unavailable.

Once an operation is complete, Meridian electronically archives the IAPs, so they can be referenced at a later point in time if needed. We update our IAP template.  This procedure is not only ISO compliant, but it also allows us to reference the documents as needed.  

Meridian Operational Planning Cycle for Managing Tactical Operations

 

The Importance of ISO accreditation and Quality Management Systems

As an ISO-accredited and ICS-based organization, Meridian takes great pride in providing scalable, cost-effective solutions for our clients.

Using these rigorous systems, Meridian is able to set the standard for accountability in five ways:

Quality Assurance

Because Meridian has taken the time and effort to undergo the process of complying with ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 28007:2015 standards, our clients are confident that we will meet their high expectations even before our first day on the job.    

Quick and Accurate Decision Making

When minutes matter, our clients don’t have hours to respond. Having high quality management systems in place means Meridian will be able to make high quality decisions quickly and accurately.

High Efficiency

Because Meridian has these processes in place, every member of our leadership team knows how to step in and take action. A certified ISO 9001 quality management system ensures there are clear processes and communication structures in place throughout our entire organization.

Culture of Continual Improvement

One of the central tenets of ISO is fostering a culture of continual improvement. Simply put, we are not satisfied with the status quo and are constantly seeking ways to further expand our capabilities and hone our existing skill sets.

Ability to Partner with Other Organizations

Because ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 28007:2015 standards are universally accepted and respected, they provide a high measure of continuity and compatibility with other organizations and companies. Additionally, our strategic use of the Incident Command System (ICS) tools and processes enables us to provide integrated services that optimally support our clients’ contingency preparedness and response management.

As we roll out additional products and services, we look forward to assisting your organization’s effort to promote safety, security, and environmental stewardship.

Meridian Celebrates Cyber Security Awareness Month

Since 2003, October has been recognized as National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM). This collaboration between the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the National Cyber Security Alliance started this initiative to ensure the safety and security for individuals or companies during their online experiences.  

There are various types of cyber threats that result in daily occurrences. The Government Accountability Offices (GAO) mentions these threats consist of Bot-network operators, criminal groups, foreign intelligence services, hackers, insiders, phishers, spammers, spyware/malware authors, and terrorists. These threats do not just threaten the U.S. Federal Government and Critical Infrastructure, but also small businesses or individuals.  Everyone is at risk. A successful cyber-attack could have severe impacts emotionally, economically, and environmentally.

Meridian’s Cyber Security Approach identifies threats & vulnerabilities, assesses risk exposure, develops protection & detection measures, establishes contingency plans, and responds and recovers from cyber security incidents. Meridian has multi-skilled specialists that can deliver Cyber Security services that includes:

  • Cyber Security Policies
  • Cyber Security Management Plans
  • Cyber Security Procedures
  • Cyber Risk Assessments
  • Office Contingency Plans
  • Vessel Contingency Plans
  • Cyber Security Training & Awareness

10 Basic Cybersecurity Measures (Water ISAC)

  1. Maintain an Accurate Inventory of Control System Devices and Eliminate Any Exposure of this Equipment to External Networks
  2. Implement Network Segmentation and Apply Firewalls
  3. Use Secure Remote Access Methods
  4. Establish Role-Based Access Controls and Implement System Logging
  5. Use Only Strong Passwords, Change Default Passwords, and Consider Other Access Controls
  6. Maintain Awareness of Vulnerabilities and Implement Necessary Patches and Updates
  7. Develop and Enforce Policies on Mobile Devices
  8. Implement an Employee Cybersecurity Training Program
  9. Involve Executives in Cybersecurity
  10. Implement Measures for Detecting Compromises and Develop a Cybersecurity Incident Response Plan

 

Meridian.US Announces New Designated Person Services

Regulations, including International Safety Management Code and Towing Safety Management System, require a vessel operator to appoint Designated Person(s) that have the following responsibilities:
  • Ensuring the safety management system is implemented and continuously functions throughout management and the fleet.
  • Ensuring the safe operation of each vessel.
  • Providing a link between the Company and those on board.
  • Monitoring the safety and pollution-prevention aspects of the operation of each vessel and ensuring that adequate resources and shore-based support are applied, as required.
For companies looking for highly experienced contractors to supplement their staff, Meridian.us has senior-level personnel who can serve effectively as Designated Person(s).
For more information on Meridian’s Designated Person services, please contact Captain Hung Nguyen at (808) 282-4981 or hnguyen@meridian.us.

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.