The Role and Risks of Maritime Security Guards

maritime security

When it comes to working in the maritime industry, most of us think about fishing, oil rigs, or cruise ship workers.  But there is one area of the maritime industry that doesn’t get as much attention, but is equally as relevant – maritime security.

Maritime security is an increasingly popular sector of the security industry.  There are several positions available in maritime security, including:

  • Maritime cyber security
  • Unarmed security guards
  • Armed security guards

Maritime security guards work onboard vessels, at docks, and in numerous locations related to protocols, training, and regulation.  These individuals are almost always contracted employees who work for a security company.

The Role of Maritime Security Guards

The role of maritime security guards is to protect crew members onboard ships and workers at docks and ports.  Maritime security guards also work onboard cruise ships and private yachts.  Maritime security guards are primarily deployed in areas with a high risk of piracy or robbery of vessels.  These high risk areas include:

  • Indian Ocean
  • Gulf of Guinea
  • Arabian Sea
  • Gulf of Aden
  • East Africa

These are areas where shipping and water transportation are incredibly popular, and are necessary to global trade.  Unfortunately, these areas are also prime targets for criminals looking to rob ships.  The presence of maritime security guards onboard ships deters criminal activity, and serves as a protective measure for crew members should violence erupt.

The Risks to Maritime Security Guards

Any kind of security job has certain inherent risks.  After all, your job is to deter criminals and protect the ship’s crew from potentially violent intruders.  Maritime security guards face multiple risks, such as:

  • Physical violence
  • Sexual assault
  • Confined spaces
  • Working around large shipping containers and freight
  • Working around unfamiliar equipment and machinery
  • Slippery decks and surfaces
  • Hazardous weather conditions
  • Dangerous wave and water conditions

These dangers can certainly result in a variety of serious injuries, and in some cases can be fatal.

Maritime Accidents and Injuries

Maritime workers in any sector of the industry are at risk for accidents and injuries including:

  • Slip and Fall – Slipping and falling is a huge risk when working on a vessel or dock. Slip and fall accidents often lead to broken bones, head injuries, spinal cord injuries, or even death.
  • Confined Spaces – Working in confined spaces puts maritime workers at risk for exposure to toxic fumes, or asphyxia due to lack of oxygen.
  • Falling Overboard – Falling overboard while working on a moving vessel is incredibly dangerous. Workers who fall overboard are at risk for hypothermia, drowning, entanglement, or coming into contact with the ship’s rudders.
  • Repetitive Use – No matter what sort of job you work, you likely will repeat certain actions and movements repeatedly. As a result, you may experience repetitive use injuries like tissue, tendon, or ligament damage in the hands, feet, ankles, shoulders, back, and neck.
  • Inadequate Training – No matter what your role is, working on a ship requires you to work around machinery and equipment that you may not be accustomed to. Without proper safety training, maritime workers can easily become injured by machinery or equipment with moving parts.
  • Cargo Injuries – Ships and dock areas often have cargo being moved around, stacked, or transferred. When cargo is not properly secured, it can become a dangerous force to be reckoned with.  Moving or shifting cargo can lead to crush injuries.

Safety and Protection for Maritime Security Guards

If you work as a maritime security guard, you may be armed and trained in how to protect yourself.  However, as we have discussed, there are numerous threats – some of which cannot be mitigated through weaponry.  To keep you and your crew safe, here are some tips for maritime security guards:

  • Be aware of where you are traveling. Familiarize yourself with the map and the route you are traveling. It is also important to research regional threats.
  • Depending on where you are traveling, you should certainly know what the threats are. Different regions have different standards of piracy, including the type of weapons used.  Some groups prefer knives, while others use guns.
  • Always make sure that your travel plans are registered. Furthermore, record your ships identification system, and leave that information with your supervisors.  In the event something happens, your team will know where you are and how to find you.
  • When traveling through dangerous areas, make sure that there are plenty of lookouts per watch. Rotate guards on watch to avoid fatigue, and keep in constant communication with each other.
  • Understand bridge protections. If pirates attack, they are likely going to try to take over the bridge because they want control.  Many ships install chain link fence around the bridge, or have several layers of access.  If you are a security guard, your primary goal will be protecting the bridge.  Consequently, you should know the strengths and weaknesses, and act appropriately.

By following these safety tips, you can help prepare yourself and your crew for possible dangers.  You should always follow safety procedures set for the ship, and participate in training whenever possible.

Are You an Injured Maritime Worker?

If you work as a maritime security guard and have recently been injured, it is certainly important to explore your rights and options.  Maritime workers do not qualify for workers’ compensation in the same way as workers in other industries.  Maritime workers are protected under The Jones Act, which allows injured seamen to file a lawsuit in pursue of maintenance and cure benefits or lost wages.

To find out what sort of legal protections you qualify for, and what benefits you can get as an injured maritime worker, contact Maritime Injury Guide.  Our maritime injury attorneys will review and investigate your situation. Furthermore, we will provide guidance on your best course of action.  For a free injury consultation, call toll free at 1-866-871-8422, or complete our online contact form.