Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Maritime Security

First, please know that here at Seebald & Associates, we hope that you, your family, employees, contractors, and others are safe and healthy.  You all remain in our thoughts and prayers.

The Coronavirus outbreak is a challenge for our nation.  There is excellent information on how to minimize your health risk at the Center for Disease Control: 

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.  Note that this includes specific guidance for ships:  https://www.cdc.gov/quarantine/maritime/recommendations-for-ships.html

The U.S. Coast Guard has also posted information on this topic, including links back the CDC, on their Maritime Commons blog.  In particular, note that the Coast Guard considers the presence of vessel personnel who show symptoms of COVID-19 or other flu like illness as a “hazardous condition” which must be reported to the nearest Captain of the Port.  While this regulation applies to vessels, not facilities, facility operators should consider making a courtesy notification to the Coast Guard if facility personnel display Coronavirus symptoms.

The Coast Guard has also posted information reminding facility operators to remain in compliance with all applicable regulations, and on merchant mariner credentials

The maritime industry has faced infectious diseases in the past, including quite recently with the Ebola outbreak in 2014 and the Zika virus in 2016.  At Seebald & Associates, we address infectious diseases in FSO courses and other discussions.  Our security recommendations for this situation are as follows:

  • To the maximum extent possible, ensure your personnel are aware of, and following, the guidance put out by the CDC and others concerning social distancing and sanitation.
  • Consider that accidents, security lapses, and other undesired events often occur when there has been a break in routine, or personnel are districted by unusual events. Remind your personnel to focus on safety, security, and following established procedures.
  • Recognize that your security may not be at its peak due to some employees working from home, or if some of your regular security personnel have been replaced with temporary or new workers. Remind your security forces and “All Others” to be alert for suspicious activity or other security concerns.
  • Cyber security is also a concern. An unusual volume of telework will put a strain on your IT department’s ability to monitor and secure such traffic. Ensure employees follow established policies while conducting telework and using VoIP systems.  Also, be aware of scams and misinformation; stick to reliable government and public health websites. 
  • Consider what procedures you would follow if you needed to allow an ambulance or other emergency/public health vehicles into your facility in order to assist a vessel crew member or facility employee with health issues. Such a situation would require attention to access control, vehicle transit through the facility, establishing a perimeter around the vessel and/or patient, notifications, and monitoring.