Each year security risks associated with merchant shipping operations grow and the consequences of physical incidents become greater
Potential threats range from piracy and terrorism to theft, stowaways, rescues at sea and fraud. They can occur in port, at anchorage or on the high seas. They may involve violence, crime, disease or politically-charged incidents.
The most effective defence we have is the seafarers who crew BP vessels and the procedures we have adopted to minimise their exposure. Legislation introduced to apply the "International Ship and Port Facilities Security Code" in 2004 also shapes our approach, together with BP group security standards.
Underpinning all security processes is a need to be aware of the nature and scope of threats. Close liaison with third parties including government agencies, coastguard authorities and others is vital. Through the understanding created, we are able to develop appropriate responses and build them into operational planning. Typically this means identifying areas where our vessels will not trade, making use of special single voyage permissions, issuing routeing instructions and upgrading shipboard security practices.
Over the last two years, as we have started to consider the next generation of ships to enter the BP fleet, we have turned our attention to the design and equipment that will be used in these vessels. Changes to the physical design of ships can improve their passive defences by impeding or preventing intruders from taking control. New intruder detection equipment such as rear-focused radar can expand horizons. Night vision detection equipment is already in use on some of our newest vessels.
Of special concern to us is the issue of rescuing distressed persons at sea. BP Shipping is clear about its moral and statutory obligation to rescue distressed persons at sea but, when such rescues involve people other than bona fide seafarers, they inevitably also involve increased risk for our crews that requires robust, if sympathetic, management.