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New data from shipping routes across the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean reveals that little oversight exists for ships and vessels entering European ports after passing through questionable terrorist hot beds, like Syria and Libya.
The Financial Times and Winward, an Israeli maritime intelligence company, uncovered a number of vulnerabilities in the international maritime industry. In one case, a cargo ship switched off its location and transmitting signals while sailing near the coast of Tunisia. In another, a ship departing from Genoa, Spain, made a 500 nautical mile detour off the coast of Africa, where it stopped and lingered before returning to it's original destination in Portugal.
Maritime terrorist attacks are rare, but not unheard of. In 2000, the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole in the Gulf of Aden killed 17 Americans and injured dozens more. Exactly two years later, suicide bombers on a dinghy loaded with explosives rammed into the Limberg oil tanker, killing one crew member and spilling 90,000 barrels of oil into the Gulf of Aden.
Since 9/11, security measures across the aviation industry have been strengthened, but maritime security measures across Europe remain inconsistent. With thousands of miles of coastline across the Middle East and Europe, some experts are concerned that terrorist groups may begin to exploit those vulnerabilities along the vast terrain of the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean.
Gerry Northwood, a former Royal Navy captain and chief operating officer of Maritime Asset Security and Training (MAST), a global security provider, reflects on the state of maritime security, and the biggest threats facing ships and ports.