Maritime Security: An Introduction

By Michael McNicholas; Reviewed by Kenneth Gale Hawkes

***** Maritime Security: An Introduction. By Michael McNicholas; published by Elsevier/Butterworth-Heinemann; available from ASIS, item #1773, 703/519-6200 (phone), (Web); 469 pages; $70 (ASIS members), $77 (nonmembers).

With this new text, author Michael McNicholas provides a general introduction to the field of maritime security. Its primary value is as a survey-course text for the beginning student or security novice in maritime transportation, private security, or law enforcement, and as such, it lives up to its title. Its textbook-style writing, in fact, with clearly stated learning objectives at the beginning of each chapter, is reminiscent of high-school textbooks or low-level military course materials. 

The book falls short of reaching its broader stated target audience, which goes beyond the student to include the government homeland security official or policy maker and the private sector maritime security professional. However, in its defense, few works can achieve such a universal goal. The text does contain a number of useful chapters with generalized information covering piracy and stowaways, drug smuggling, terrorism, and security management.

Perhaps the book’s most glaring shortcoming is its cursory treatment of the development and application of the 2002 Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA) and the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPS), both of which form the foundation for post-9-11 maritime security operations. This clearly takes the book out of the realm of usefulness for the homeland security official or policy maker, who must understand the current national enforcement policies, differing legal interpretations, and potential legal conflicts.

For the same reasons, the book also offers little or no specific help to the maritime security professional with regard to meeting the two codes, as well as the Code of Federal Regulations, the Safety of Life at Sea Convention (SOLAS) 2002 Amendments. The book further offers no information regarding potential litigation and government administrative actions. 

For the maritime security professional, this book is definitely not a “how-to” text. However, it would serve as a legitimate introductory piece for a student of, or newcomer to, maritime security.

Reviewer: Kenneth Gale Hawkes is a Miami-based maritime attorney, admitted to practice before federal courts including the U.S. Supreme Court. He served as a special consultant to the International Maritime Organization following 9-11 and later as a security adviser to the American Bureau of Shipping. He is a former adjunct professor at  the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy and  former chairman of the ASIS International Subcommittee on Seaport Security.


Canadian Security Firm

Canadian Security Firm Fights Pirates:

CBC Radio: interview with a Pirate and with Sunil Ram
of Executive Security Services International:


Contact: Mr. Sunil Ram
Media Security Consultant

November 19, 2008

Canuck seamen seek security advice


TORONTO -- Canadian seamen and shipowners are looking at ways of warding off pirates in the dangerous waters along the coast of Somalia. And they're searching for answers in Huntsville, Ont.

The latest high seas seizure is a Hong Kong-registered Iranian cargo ship commandeered in the Gulf of Aden yesterday, just days after a Saudi supertanker was taken.

"I have been getting a steady stream of calls from concerned seamen," said Sunil Ram, of Executive Security Services International. "People want to know what they can do to ensure their safety," he said yesterday.

"We offer a range of services to help with their security."

Crews are advised to use high-pressure fire hoses to keep pirates from boarding vessels and to be equipped with floodlights and sirens and if necessary, armed security teams, he said.


"The rails of the ship should be greased and electrified to prevent pirates from boarding," Ram said.

Foreign Affairs in Ottawa said its embassy in Somalia has been closed and Canadians are being told to leave the country.

"The security situation in Somalia is very volatile," a government website says.

Sylvie LaFleur, of Canada Steamship Lines, one of the Canada's largest carriers, said its ships travel through the pirate-infested waters.

"We take many precautions to ensure the safety of our crew," LaFleur said.

Pirates last month seized a Ukrainian cargo ship that had on board tanks, rocket-propelled grenades and ammunition. Food shipments to the war-torn region are also being disrupted.




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