Following an inaugural conference call last November, Interferry’s newly-formed Security Committee held its first in-person meeting on February 15, hosted by regulatory affairs director and committee secretary Johan Roos in our Brussels office.

The meeting marked a further stage in our drive to ensure that the ferry industry becomes more visible on security issues. Interferry is already engaged in ongoing discussions about ferry security within the European Union, notably in the context of a recently launched study that will include several of our members. This work was explained by EU representatives during the meeting lunch break and further reviewed with them at a highly encouraging special meeting the next day.

Although no sector-specific threats had been alerted, the Interferry security committee was established as a precautionary response to recent terrorist events in Europe targeting the general public. Chaired by P&O Ferries fleet director John Garner, the committee is comprised mainly of company security officers from member operators. Participants at the meeting came from Brittany Ferries, Color Line, DFDS, FRS, Grimaldi, Marine Atlantic, Stena Line and Tirrenia.

Various mitigating solutions were discussed – such as CCTV, canine units and Advanced Passenger Information (API) – but the overriding conclusion was that, rather than a blanket approach, security measures must be tailored to the diverse requirements of individual operators and routes. Outcomes from a security practices questionnaire issued to members before Christmas supported this view.  The committee concluded that the measures listed should not be labelled “Best Practice” but circulated as “Possible Measures” to help operators make a bespoke choice.

The meeting also agreed to circulate details of a measure being pursued in France – the screening of all vehicle passengers between the car deck and accommodation areas – and a regulation in Canada, where all routes are risk-assessed to identify the most appropriate mitigating measures. Meanwhile, Interferry is to distribute DNV-GL’s cyber-security presentation at last year’s annual conference in Split and will also arrange a committee conference call on the subject.

In response to concerns raised over security measures at the ship/port interface, members were advised that Interferry has made initial contact with the International Association of Ports & Harbors about launching high-level cooperation.

Over lunch, members were joined by representatives from the EU Commission transport and mobility department DG MOVE, whose maritime security unit oversees MARSEC, the channel for formal dialogue with member states, and the more informal Stakeholder Advisory Group on Maritime Security (SAGMAS), where Interferry has held observer status since late last year. DG MOVE has just begun a ferry security study being carried out by a specialist consultancy.  This will involve in-depth analysis of ferry routes – several of which are operated by Interferry members – and a questionnaire to be completed individually by companies on the security committee.