From ferrying company directors by taxi in and out of Hereford, to greeting others enthusiastically in the specially prepared car park, maritime security specialist, Ambrey Risk’s Open Day was a meticulously planned affair that brought over 40 of the leading lights of the maritime world together in the middle of the Herefordshire countryside on probably the driest day of the year. How they organised the weather is likely to remain a closely guarded secret!
The event at Ambreys’ Operations and Training Centre was intended to promote transparency and openness and was a unique opportunity to look at the operations of a private maritime security company. Forty-five invited guests turned up for the event including ship owners and other stakeholders from industry, including representatives for compliance, insurance, government, incident response and the media.
One of the purposes of their early Autumn Open Day was to show how competently the deployment of security teams and equipment, including weapons, is undertaken in often remote (and, more often than not, extremely security-conscious) areas of the world. Steven Jones, Maritime Director at SAMI (Security Association for the Maritime Industry), was one of the Open Day guests and he explained what brought him to Herefordshire: “SAMI is committed to supporting its members and so was extremely pleased to be invited to the Ambrey Risk Open Day. The day served as an excellent opportunity to meet the team, and also to get to understand the inner workings of a company which has experienced success and rapid growth. The day was excellently organised, and while such events can sometimes fall into arrogance and boasting, this felt very different.
“The Ambrey Risk team spoke on a range of maritime security subjects, and did not shy away from difficult issues and the complications their business faces – as well as the problems which beset the entire industry. What came across was a determined, confident professionalism – something which perhaps indicates why the company has been so successful so quickly. The event also demonstrated how private maritime security companies can positively engage with stakeholders across the shipping industry, and the benefits which this open and inclusive approach can bring.”
Kate Chaston, Operations Manager, Eitzen Chemical A/S, Denmark, added her own reasons for travelling to Herefordshire from Copenhagen: “As an owner, the open day at Ambrey Risk gave us a comprehensive insight into the way the company operates, their vetting & training procedures, as well as the possibility to meet the Team Leaders and Security Officers that actually attend our vessels. Overall I got the impression of a company dedicated to professionalism, safety consciousness, and with their finger on the pulse to keep ahead of potential issues in this ever changing industry.”
James Gasson-Hargreaves, Business Management Director of Ambrey Risk, based in Brockhampton, described why Ambrey had decided to hold an Open Day: “Just briefly, the purpose of the Open Day was to introduce ourselves to stakeholders across the maritime industry and to take advantage of this occasion to be as open and honest about what we do, why we do it, and how we achieve our objectives, as it is possible to be.”
The day began with an introduction by Chris Charnley, Managing Director, explaining what Ambrey Risk does, namely their Maritime Operations, such as: High Risk Area Vessel Transits, Offshore Maritime Security Projects; and other services, such as: Maritime Consulting, Armed Maritime Security Teams, Training (Anti-Piracy and ISPS), Company Security Reviews, Vessel Security Reviews and their wide and diverse client base from major fleets and oil majors to vessel owners. The Ambrey MD also expanded on the company’s land operations, such as: Security Risk Consulting, Protective Services, Security Management and Training; and Special Projects, for instance: security for Shell, Barclays, London 2012, and advising FIFA regarding their preparations for Rio de Janeiro in 2014.
Chris Charnley then introduced Karen Jacques and Ian Millen of Dryad Maritime who described how Dryad gathers information for vessel safety monitoring and how they share that information in a strategic partnership with Ambrey Risk as well as other MarSec organisations to provide impartial vessel routing and security advice. Karen Jacques observed that although the total number of piracy attacks in 2012 was down, Somali piracy was unlikely to be dead, but the trend is likely to be a downward one. She felt that complacency was the greatest threat and constant vigilance and the maintenance of best management practice was the answer to this.
John Thompson, Commercial Director, of Ambrey Risk discussed Ambrey’s strategic drivers, compliance-led, people-centred, client-focused approach. Their wider market stakeholder engagement, thought leadership, key drivers for growth, transparency and compliance. He then outlined how Ambrey stay agile and responsive to the needs of shipping, their account management, uncompromising standards and attention to detail. He also discussed the company’s 100% delivery record, and how they were moving ahead of the market with a value added approach.
Before conducting a tour of the Ambrey Risk Operations Room, Operations Director, Tim Barrett, discussed the composition of the Maritime Security Teams, how they were selected and trained and their responsibilities onboard the vessels they are tasked to protect. Tim then gave an overview of Ambrey’s transit planning process and the logistical support that was required to remain flexible and introduced everyone to the concept of the ‘Pods’ – the grouping of teams of people responsible for liaising with the vessels owners, charterers and Masters and managing the deployed security teams.
After that introduction, we were all invited to take a look inside the Operations Room to see the ‘Pods’ in action, then there was a question and answer session, followed by lunch. The afternoon was devoted to a tour of the site and a weapons and equipment briefing followed by a demonstration of the equipment by one of Ambrey’s team leaders and a description of how the equipment is safely transported to the vessel along with the team. During this period we learnt that Ambrey Risk had grown over the last two years into an organisation with over 50 full-time employees, over 100 contracted employees and with over 400 guards vetted and available for deployment.
James Gasson-Hargreaves concluded: “I think everyone appreciated how we opened our doors to the maritime industry and we overheard lots of discussions on the day along the lines of how clients wished other companies would reveal the details of their operations management. We had a very good take up for the Open Day with representatives from many different sectors of the maritime industry, and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who attended for giving up a valuable day of their time to explore our Herefordshire headquarters.”
Paul Gibson, Director – Security in Complex Environments Group (SCEG), commented: “I thought the day was excellent; thoroughly informative and professionally run. Everybody I met on the day impressed with their enthusiasm for the company and their determination to deliver consistently high standards for clients in challenging environments. The company’s openness to standards and regulation was genuinely impressive.”
Karen Jacques, Chief Operating Officer, Dryad Maritime Intelligence Service, summed up what she thought Ambrey’s Open Day had achieved: “The Ambrey Open Day was a great success. From our perspective it provided a unique occasion to explain in depth how Dryad and Ambrey are working together to deliver a combination of market leading impartial intelligence alongside top quality physical security. The opportunity to update attendees on the current thinking regarding the Indian Ocean HRA and West Africa was also invaluable. Ambrey should be commended on their proactive, highly responsive and engaged approach to this occasionally cynical market place.”