maritime security

Maritime Security – Internal and External Vessel Protection

What is Maritime Security?

Maritime security is an overview term for the maritime industry. It involves protection from threats, both internal and external, to vessels. Thes threats may not necessaily be intentional, and these threats can include:

  • illegal fishing
  • pollution
  • terrorism
  • robbery
  • piracy
  • illegal trafficking (goods and people)

Inspection, threat evaluation, and solutions proposals are utilized to identify and quantify threats and their sources. 

Security Issues

Following are descriptions of the most common maritime security issues that are addressed by maritime security specialists. Each has its own specific origins and threat level, but whenever present, each of these require security protocols for maritime security.


By its very nature, the maritime industry is under constant threat of harboring terrorists, their activities, and the materials and tools they utilize. The maritime industry is a global conduit for shipments of goods and transportation of people, so maritime security is critical to protection of those goods, people, and the vessels as well. Experience and knowledge of how terrorism threats are brought to bear is crucial to evaluating and mitigating threats.

Illegal Maritime Activities and Trading

Those who seek to conduct illegal shipping and trade on a global basis find that the maritime industry is their best resource. International crime is growing, and the best way to negate as much of it as possible is to stop illegal activity at its source, before the goods or trafficked people are in transport on a vessel. 

As the image in this article shows, the massive number of containers crossing the oceans on vessels makes it extremely challenging to combat illegal activities when they can hide contraband in containers that may not be inspected individually. Smuggling of illegal contraband and people is a major worldwide problem, and effective maritime security measures are crucial to stem the flow of illegal goods and people. Whether people being trafficked are willing illegal immigrants or unwilling victims, the goal is to catch them at the origination end before they cross the waters on vessels.

Maritime Security Strategies and Tactics

Security personnel are tasked with numerous duties to combat illegal activities and other threats. These strategies and activities include:

  • Cargo Handling Management – When cargo is being loaded and unloaded, security operators will be inspecting cargo, containers, and procedures. These inspection activities are undertaken both above and below decks as well as onshore.
  • Regular Vessel Inspection – Even when the vessel is at the dock and there is no loading or unloading activity, criminals and terrorists are actively seeking to accomplish their goals. Often they can find it easier to gain access when there is little or no activity. Maritime security personnel should be actively inspecting vessels on a scheduled basis.
  • Maintenance Oversight – There is constant vessel maintenance in play, and these maintenance activities can provide opportunities for illegal activities or smuggling. Security personnel should be overseeing maintenance from a security perspective.
  • Report Problems and Recommend Solutions – When maritime security personnel locate problems, they document them and report them. Along with those reports, usually suggestions will be made as to how to mitigate the threats or problems. Detailed documentation of every incident related to security is critical to successful threat avoidance.
  • Train Personnel – This applies not only to the security personnel, but also to crew members who load, unload, and monitor cargo in transit. The training should clearly set out what to look for and how to properly report suspicious activities.

Those major bullet points each involve numerous sub-activities to increase security awareness and mitigate threats.


The maritime industry is a target for smugglers, terrorists, traffickers, and pirates. With billions of dollars worth of cargo in hundreds of thousands of containers crossing the oceans annually, maritime security is of paramount importance. Kimmons Investigative Services’ relationship with Mitch Price, a global security expert, invite interested parties to use the form below to start a conversation geared to solutions for your organization.

Mitch Price Services Form

Use this form for a quick response from Mitch Price or Rob Kimmons to answer your questions or provide more information.

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Posted in Domestic Investigations, Global Security.