The U.S. Maritime Administration wants our input! From the 14th – 16th of January, the National Maritime Strategy Symposium will be held in Washington D.C. For more information visit http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=MARAD-2013-0101-0001. Today, November 29th, is the last day to submit suggestions for discussion. You’ll find my suggestions below. Be there, follow online or contact your representatives to be part of the process.
Docket ID : MARAD 2013-0101
Agency : Maritime Administration
Parent Agency : Department of Transportation
Suggested Topics of discussion :
1. Educate the general public and politicians about the U.S. merchant marine, its wide spread effect on the U.S. economy and the number of jobs directly and indirectly created by it. Compare and contrast the existing jobs associated with U.S.-flagged foreign and domestic shipping with ones that might be created with an effective maritime strategy. Particular attention should be paid to the U.S. merchant marine’s role in the overall logistics industry.
a. Use of social media – note effective use by companies such as Maersk Lines Limited
b. Direct advertising
c. Outreach to elementary and high schools – possibly best done by merchant mariners themselves.
d. Increased focus on apprentice-style programs – Vigor Industrial’s shipbuilding training and MITAGS Workboat program are two excellent examples.
The maritime industry is an economic powerhouse. Implementing a national maritime strategy and promoting growth within the maritime industry will have a positive impact on the country. Unfortunately, until we get the general public, politicians and media to understand that, we’re “only preaching to the choir.” Right now, the media (in general) have branded us a pet project of special interests – we need to change that perception and show the country the tangible benefits.
2. Implement the America’s Marine Highways programs. Increased short-sea shipping on all 4 of the United States’ coastlines and inland river systems can :
a. Take trucks off the roads, helping to reduce congestion, increase fuel economy and alleviate the current truck driver shortage.
b. Increase the job-base for merchant mariners
c. Increase job orders at U.S. shipyards for Jones Act vessels
In order to introduce short-sea shipping, we must have realistic “shovel-ready” projects. One point to emphasize to both the general public and politicians is that providing grants for short-sea shipping projects is a job-multiplier. Not only do we have the jobs directly funded by such a grant, we have the long term jobs created once the short-sea system is up and running.
While we have the TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grants available, a large portion of them are used for road projects and revitalizing urban areas. Shifting future TIGER grants to a modal-change emphasis (i.e. taking trucks off the road) or creating a new system of grants to do this would create an atmosphere where short-sea shipping projects could get off the ground. The European Union’s Marco Polo program is a good example, with demonstrable successes, that we could emulate.
3. Increased focus on Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) activities. Implement requirements to use U.S.-flag vessels and U.S. merchant mariners for activities such as wind-farm construction and maintenance.
How many times have we had the thought, “If I cheat the course just a few degrees to port, this guy will come down the starboard side with a decent CPA…..?” The problem with that chain of thought is twofold. First, simply by having that thought, you have confirmed that risk of collision exists in your mind or the mind of the person designating that CPA. And, as the posters below illustrate, COLREGS Rule 14 states that both vessels should alter course to starboard and pass port to port. Second, the vessel slightly on your starboard bow may not be of the same thought, implement Rule 14 as it is written and now everyone is having a bad day.
The insurance companies (protection and indemnity (P&I) clubs) have a lot at stake in these situations – a lot of money that is. That’s probably the main reason so much effort goes into Loss Prevention and in this case, preventing things that go bump (or crash, crumple and sink) in the night. The posters below come from but two of the many P&I clubs out there. A check of their Loss Prevention sections on the internet reveals many sources of products you can use for safety and training on YOUR vessel. Check out the “Links” section of Madden Maritime for a good selection of P&I Clubs that we find useful.
COLREGS are there for a reason. Like so many regulations in the shipping industry, they have their foundations in disaster and tragedy. It’s easy to say that everyone follows them, but sadly, there are frequent collisions, lost lives and lost careers when they are disregarded. Perhaps even by someone thinking, “If I cheat the course just a few degrees to port, this guy will come down the starboard side with a decent CPA…..”
Cyber-security issues onboard your typical merchant vessel would seem to be fall into one of two categories – acts of omission or criminal intent. Acts of omission are those errors that we make ourselves that might leave us open to nefarious deeds. Criminal intent is pretty self-explanatory. For whatever the gain – financial, social or security-wise – there is a determined effort to gain access to or information from a computer or network.
Acts of omission are those acts that leave us open to fraud, abuse or other dirty deeds due to our own errors or lack of care. Whether it is printing out your bank statement and leaving it on the printer, saving the password to your email account or leaving your favorite internet shopping website open to your account, there are any number of ways that we leave ourselves vulnerable to the opportunistic criminal.
- Saved passwords – Pick your program or website and it will ask to (or automatically) save your user name and password. It’s all in the spirit of making it easier for you to return there and conduct your business, but it can leave you vulnerable. When sharing a computer, such as on a ship, this is certainly a poor practice. Even when you are in a lofty enough office to get your own computer, you never know who will be there while you are on watch, ashore or on vacation.
- Password sheets next to or under the keyboard – Yes, it is difficult to remember all the passwords required – maintenance program, payroll, email, your frequent flyer account – it all piles up. Unfortunately, listing these passwords – especially in a public place is yet another invitation to the opportunistic (or dedicated) criminal.
- Less than robust passwords are yet another path to unsecured data. Whether it is the ship’s SMS program, payroll or your bank’s website, leaving the default password (i.e. “password”, “123” or “admin”) leaves your data open to theft and mis-use. While certainly easier for accounts that have frequent turnover – the Master’s payroll program for instance – is the ease of use worth the potential problems?
- Social media – everyone wants to know where you are, correct? That’s why websites/apps such as FourSquare exist. Checked in at the Dubai Mall? Well, we know you’re not at home and you have a really nice flat screen TV. Arriving in Singapore this afternoon and everyone is getting paid off? Easy translation to : The captain’s safe is full of greenbacks. Whether we know it or realize it, the information we provide on social media can have serious security repercussions. Reflecting back to WWII, loose lips sink ships.
- …..and the omission doesn’t necessarily have to be on the part of the crew. Many companies, in the quest for better customer service, have started putting a tremendous amount of information on the web. Ranging from the performance and crewing capabilities of a particular ship to the actual position of that ship, any information that a customer might find important is out there. From a criminal standpoint, knowing how many people are onboard at a particular time or exactly where that ship might be is incredibly useful information. There’s a term for this – it’s called operational security (OPSEC in military-speak). Unfortunately, by turning a blind eye to cyber-security, operational security is affected.
- While not necessarily an act of omission, the publishing of Automatic Identification System (AIS) positions on the internet has a serious effect on the security of a vessel. Whether the determined and technologically savvy pirate or one of the slew of extremists around the world, target acquisition is key. With the right ship, a pirate might triple their take – from the safe or from the ransom. With the right ship, an attack by an extremist group might be front page news or not even make the news – it all depends on what they are carrying and what flag they are flying. And all of this data is available for the low, low price of free – just check Marinetraffic.com or Vesseltracker.com. It doesn’t take a genius to see how these websites might be used for no-good.
Criminal intent is tough to overcome. Whether the criminal is out for financial gain or making the headlines, deterring the committed individual is difficult. All of the security lapses noted above in acts of omission play into the hands of those with criminal intent.
- With your birth date, social security number and a few other crucial pieces of data, identity theft becomes a very real reality. With your password and email information, fishing scams can be perpetrated on your loved ones. Left your credit card number on the computer? You might just have something being ordered online and not delivered to you. Or worse, that credit card information gets sent ashore and all of a sudden you have thousands of dollars charged before you know it.
- Even if you follow all the rules and try to safeguard your data, there is technology out there to defeat you. Just recently a number of department stores foiled attempts to gain credit card and personal data through the use of key loggers. These small innocuous devices can be inserted between the keyboard and computer, allowing all keystrokes to be saved and then analyzed. Perfect for the enterprising thief.
- Viruses. Perhaps it’s simply the joy of writing a good piece of code for the criminal involved or perhaps they have extracted some personal information from you. Either way, viruses on computers seem to be all too commonplace. And they spread like wildfire. As email attachments or portable media (i.e. USB thumb-drives, portable hard drives, camera cards, etc.) these viruses worm and weasel their way into your life. Sometimes they lead to dramatic computer failures, but more frequently are simply a hassle with which to deal. Getting rid of them almost seems easier (sometimes) than not getting them. For instance, are you going to tell the cargo planner that you can’t use his USB drive on your computer? Probably not, but you will want some robust anti-virus software.
We stand our pirate watches. We are on the lookout for surveillance in ports. We check the seals on the containers. We do stowaway searches. It’s time to turn our eyes inward now. Unfortunately, our good friend the computer – or smart phone – or tablet – might be our next security issue. Does it have the immediate threat of a pirate coming over the rail or the sinking feeling of seeing the bosun’s stores broken into? No, but the long term and cumulative effect of information ill-gotten may be on a par – or worse.
Additional reading :
At the end of the red-eye from New York’s JFK to Amsterdam’s Schipol airport, I had the opportunity to reflect on Yossi Sheffi’s Logistics Clusters : Delivering Value and Driving Growth. Breaking through the low clouds over Amsterdam, one of the first things I saw was a canal with a self-propelled river barge motoring along. Shortly after, a railroad came into view and after that major highways. Seeing so many modes of transportation (and riding in a fourth), I recalled that Amsterdam was one of the first “logistics clusters” starting in the 1600s with the Dutch East India company.
For most of us in the marine industry, the concept of the logistics cluster is rather nebulous. Yossi Sheffi, however, has written a relatively easy-reading book on the subject (link above). It goes in depth on the how’s and why’s of the development and success or failure of logistics clusters around the world. From the rise of Dubai in maritime shipping (and air traffic) to the development of FedEx’s (Federal Express) Mempis hub to the failure of others, Professor Sheffi takes us on a tour of the world. In doing so, he explains how international shipping has changed the way we work and emphasizes the positive effects of logistics clusters.
So, if logistics clusters aren’t even on our radar, why would we be interested in this book or the topic? The answer is relatively simple – it’s because we are part of this system. As we move containers, bulk cargoes, or petroleum products around the world, we are directly or indirectly feeding into logistics clusters or hauling from them. It behooves us to understand that there is much more to the whole shipping industry than the container reaching the dock. For a more in-depth look at logistics clusters, look no further than Logistics Clusters : Delivering Value and Driving Growth. For additional information on the shipping industry as a whole, the magazines American Shipper and Journal of Commerce are excellent.