Seamen train for on-board security

Brodie Thomas
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Pirates, terrorists among high seas threats

The men and women who work on the high seas have to be prepared for just about anything.
Even pirates.

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With changes that came into effect on Jan. 1 of this year under International Maritime Association (IMO), all crewmembers on certain ships must now have safety-training certification.

MacDonnell Group held a training session in Port aux Basques in late February for workers in marine industries. Over twenty men from communities on the coast came out to receive the training.

Ralston MacDonnell, president of the MacDonell Group, said security has become a much bigger deal in marine industries since the September 11 attacks of 2001.

With many possible threats, the security training covers a lot of ground, according to MacDonell.

"They learn everything from suspicious behavior of an individual to identifying explosive devices to understanding the rules when there is a higher security level going on," he said.

The three levels are known as Maritime Security levels, or MARSEC levels.

When things are normal, the ship is at MARSEC 1. If someone has learned about the possibility of the threat, the level goes up to MARSEC 2. When there is a definite threat, the ship goes to MARSEC 3.

"In each case the security regime changes," said MacDonell.

He said where people can go on a ship changes with each level. A passenger might not be allowed to go to certain parts of a ship unescorted at MARSEC level 2 or 3.

Instructor Jeffrey Jenkins, a seasoned mariner, indicated this class was one of the most engaged to date.

"I am very pleased with the knowledge and experience of these students; their ability to make a real contribution to vessel security is clear to me," said Jenkins.

Organizations: International Maritime Association, IMO, MacDonnell Group MacDonell Group Maritime Security

Geographic location: Port aux Basques

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