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Sunday, 8 November 2015

ROV carrying explosives near Nord Stream pipeline

I've talked about tension and how for example the tension in and above the Baltic Sea increases and therefore also the probability of security incidents increases.

On November 7 (2015) an unmanned remotely operated vehicle (ROV) was found on the sea bed in the Baltic. It was found on international water, but within the Swedish economic zone. What makes this story extra juicy is that:
(1) the ROV was found not far from the gas pipeline Nord Stream going from Russia to Germany, and
(2) the ROV is carrying explosives.

This type of ROVs are often used in mine clearing operations (of new as well as old mines). In such operations the mine is first localized with sensor from afar and the detonated under controlled circumstances with dispensable ROVs like this one (used by many nations).

Unfortunately the Baltic is full of old WWII mines and unexploded ammunitions. Clearing mines in the Baltic (especially in the eastern part) is a long going tradition since Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania became independent states in the beginning of the nineties and the Swedish Navy has taken part at least since the mid nineties as an exercise with an important result. However, the exercise became more political as a result of the Ukraine crisis even though clearing WWII mines has only friendly implications.

The relative large extent of mine clearing over a long period of time in the Baltic makes it very possible that the now found ROV is a left over from such operations. Therefore, the most likely explanation is that the ROV is a result of peaceful intentions. However, I've seen discussion on the internet trying to make it out to be something else. The point of such discussions can be questioned!

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Swedish boarders has been violated at least 42 times over the last five years

Based on a request from the Swedish news paper Dagens Nyheter  the Swedish Department of Defence has released a list of the documented violations of Swedish borders in the air and at sea for the years 2011 to 2014. In total the list contains 42 incidents and 16 countries (out of which 12 are NATO countries).

The list is based on information provided by the Swedish Armed Forces and new a praxis in force since October first 2015 makes the information available to the public. This new praxis is mostly a result of political needs to put defense issues on the agenda.

The amount of violations has increased from three in 2011 to twelve in 2014 (not counting the submarine in the Stockholm Archipelago in October 2014) and so far eleven times in 2015.

Personally I don't want to put too much focus on the violations because every serious nation will train their forces and easiest way to do this is from your country and outwards, i.e. towards your neighbors. During such training an over eager pilot can easily turn away to late even though there is no aggression involved.

The highest number of violations are performed by the US, seven in five years. Russia only six during the same period. This in itself is nothing to get all fired up about and also Sweden manages to do the same to our neighbors. However, two things worries me:
- Russia does not acknowledge their mistakes which could lead to problems if there was a more serious incident; and
- the increased numbers of incidents is a proof of more activity and probably also more tension over the Baltic Sea.

With more activity (and tension) comes an increase in the probability of something going wrong or being interpreted the wrong way which could lead to consequences, i.e. there is an increase in security risk on and above the Baltic Sea.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Now easy to download!

The article Ship security challenges in high-risk areas: manageable or insurmountable? by Österman, Sörenson and myself and published in the WMU Journal of Maritime Affairs is now easy to download from the journal's webpage:
Liwång, H., Sörenson, K., Österman, C. (2015). Ship security challenges inhigh-risk areas: manageable or insurmountable? WMU Journal of Maritime Affairs.14:2. pp 201-217.

Friday, 9 October 2015

Safe at port or safer at sea?

Land is dangerous 1(4)
Personally I as a captain (of my small boat) feel the safest when the boat is away from land and the less control I have over the boat (as a result of for example bad weather) the further away I want to be (but a nautical mile or two is often for me enough). My respect for proximity to land stems form that I have seen the problems that rock-ship interactions can have, but also because I know how the effects of bad weather can be turned in to dangerous forces by the closeness to land such as when shallow water makes a seemingly small wave turn into a wall of water or when high wind speeds are turned into erratic gusts by land formations.

Land is safe 1(1)
At the same time I see the logic in rules and regulations that define port as the safest place to be. This is exemplified in regulations such as:
- the safe return to port concept for passenger ships (because a port is the only place where many people can debark safely), or
- when some types of work are only allowed to be performed if the ships is at port.

Land is dangerous 2(4)
My research clearly show another dangerous aspects of land. Ships are the most susceptible to many security threats in ports or close to land as a result of low speeds and high density of ships. Civilian examples of this include piracy in the Malacca Straits and off Nigeria and military examples include the suicide bombing attacks performed on naval ships (Hans Liwång, Survivability of an ocean patrol vessel – Analysis approach and uncertainty treatment, Marine Structures, Volume 43, October 2015, Pages 1-21) of which the attack on USS Cole probably is the most know example.
Land is dangerous 3(4)
Another example of safe at sea is tsunamis were you at port or even on land potentially is a sitting duck. However, at sea a potentially devastating tsunami may raise the sea level but can pass by unnoticed.

Land is dangerous 4(4)
Almost all (>90%) personal injuries onboard ships in the Swedish statistics from the years 1995-2010 happened in the harbor area and about 60% when a ship hit a man-made structure above water (kay, dock, bridge).

Consequently, I see land as a dangerous thing for boats. It is a 4-to-1 victory!

But then reality show me that it isn’t that simple
The container ship El Faro sunk east of theBahamas October 1 2015 after losing propulsion while attempting to get away from the hurricane Joaquin along the ship's route from Jacksonville to Puerto Rico. All reports indicate that the 33 persons on board died in the accident. Loss of power makes the waves much more difficult to handle which in this case probably led to the reported list and water intrusion through an open hatch. Therefore, in this accident being at sea introduced several uncertainties which this time interacted in such a way that the ship sunk.
Consequently I have to update my statement from above about land being dangerous:
At sea a ship is in its right element and even if something goes wrong you most often have the time and possibility to fix it before it gets dangerous. However, at sea the uncertainties are high and how and when depends on many aspects.
The land it self introduces several new potential hazards, however the situation or consequences are generally more controllable or predictable.

So if you like predictability stay close to land, but if you really want to use the boats capabilities be at sea.

Monday, 14 September 2015

Risk management when it goes wrong: artificial sounds on (electric)cars

All over the world (for example USA, EU and Japan) and there are popping up laws banning (or plans for banning) cars that does not make a sound. This as a result of the low level of noise from electric cars at low speeds.
The argument is that if the car doesn’t make a sound you will not look for it and therefore step out in front of it, but also that sound is important for blind persons. The speeds discussed are low, i.e. “parking lot speeds”, at higher speeds all cars make a sound.
Today we have a society where cars are all over the place; this has not always been the case and will hopefully not be the case for ever. Putting warning sounds on cars can only help in situations where cars are the only danger. In all other situations you still need to be careful.
Therefore, banning quiet cars is based on a technocratic view on safety and a narrow understanding of our world (it is not a robust solution). A more robust solution is to teach persons to use appropriate carefulness when moving around. If you can, look where you are going; if you can, listen for sounds that could mean problem; if you can, smell for smells that could hinder your activity and so on and then use the information gained to guide your actions (like lowering your speed if you lack relevant information). This robust solution will work for interactions with cars (silent or not), bikes (silent or not), lions (silent or not) and so on…
At parking lot speed I for one have no problem with stopping for a walking person (blind or not) as long as he or she is not thrown out in front of my car. However, as I biker I have a problem with people with headphones that, without looking, suddenly step out into the bike lane (because they also think, as many legislators do, that everything dangerous sounds a lot).
Do not try to fix a behavioral problem with a technical solution and I am hoping for a quieter future!

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Insightfully written about assessing (security) risks

I too seldom push for work by others, but today it is easy. I had this summer the pleasure of reading Terje Avens article “On the allegations that small risks are treated out of proportion to their importance” in Reliability Engineering & System Safety (Volume 140, August 2015). I the article Aven take his starting point from two risk examples, one introduced by Kahneman in “Thinking fast and slow” and one by Joakim Hammerlin in the book “Terrorindustrien”, both examples deals with risks from terrorists. Aven’s point is that when assessing a terror risk there is no right answer. Therefore are terms like under or over estimation irrelevant (as well as objective risk). A terror risk cannot be compared to lotto or other well defined systems, because in such systems there is a right answer.
An insightful article.
This doesn’t mean that we should stop assessing terror risks, but we should understand the difference between types of risk management situations and also always include/assess uncertainties. But don't take my word for it, read Aven’s article instead:

Aven, T. (2015). On the allegations that small risks are treated out of proportion to their importance, Reliability Engineering & System Safety, Volume 140 (pp 116-121).

Thursday, 25 June 2015

“Sea blindness”

Last week I had the opportunity to visit Stavanger and together with people from Finland, Sweden and Norway talk about Maritime Security. The days in Stavanger looked at a broad spectrum of maritime security issues with a particularly focus on northern Europe.

During the visit we met with, among others, Commodore H.C. Helseth (Royal Norwegian Navy), Deputy Director International Military Staff, HQ NATO. Commodore Helseth introduced us to the concept Sea blindness describing a thing I meet too often:
Sea blindness: the society’s lack of understanding for maritime matters.
People on land take decisions in maritime matters, but without understanding (or seeing) how and why things happen at sea. I meet sea blindness on many levels such as from politicians, government bodies as well as from some ship operators (particularly those with another core business than shipping). I also acknowledge that I sometimes am blind to conditions at sea, but I hope that I then take use of people with the right experience and understanding.
Today at sea it's like if traffic on land were planned and decided by people that never had used a car nor bike and never crossed a street by foot, i.e. only seen it all from afar.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

One accident doesn't mean a thing is risky...

A while ago I wrote about a new section of bike lane that I use on the way to work. It was created one year ago with the ambition to improve, but “done with sudden turns (radius 2 meters) were I and other bikers (two-way) are supposed to [as we are turning and keeping our eyes on the cars] share a lane less than 2 meters wide. It is also marked out with curb stones immersing the bike lane risking striking down bikers”.

Today at the very spot described above there was an accident involving at least two bikers (the slow careful types judging by their appearance) and a car. One person looked to be injured enough to be waiting for an ambulance. This is otherwise a quite spot and a lot of people where helping so I hope everything worked out just for the best.
All intersections can have an accident, even in their first year. This without proving that the intersection is a bad one (about this one I however have my doubts).

Monday, 18 May 2015

Comparison between different survivability measures on a generic frigate

New published article in International Journal of maritime Engineering:

Choosing suitable survivability measures is a demanding task that has to start early in the ship design process. Throughout the design process there is a need for compromises that will define and sometimes limit future operations or capabilities. In this study generic survivability measures are compared. The study also examines the sensitivity of the calculated probabilities to changes in the threat description. The result shows that it is important to investigate the total effect of a hit over a set of relevant ship functions defined for example by survivability levels. The calculations for different threat definitions show that the changes in survivability are substantial when the threat definition is changed. Moreover, the effects of different hit assumptions differ between weapon types. This must be treated as an uncertainty which also should be reflected in the output and weighted into the decisions made, based on the survivability analysis.
Authors: Hans Liwång, Swedish Defence University and Chalmers University of Technology, Henrik Jonsson, Royal Swedish Navy.

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Survivability of an ocean patrol vessel – Analysis approach and uncertainty treatment

New published article in Marine Structures:

Abstract (somewhat extended)

Military ocean patrol vessels (OPVs) are today an increasingly common type of naval ship. To facilitate the wide range of tasks with small crews, OPVs represent several ship design compromises between, for example, survivability, redundancy and technical endurance. Some of these compromises are new to military ships.
The aim of this study is to examine how the design risk control options in relation to survivability, redundancy and technical endurance can be linked to the operational risks in a patrol and surveillance scenario where the ship can be attacked by a suicide bomber with an IED in a small boat. The ship operation for a generic OPV, including the actions of the threat, is modeled with a Bayesian network describing the scenario and the dependency among different influences. The probabilities for the consequences to the crew, ship buoyancy and maneuverability as a result of a possible attack are calculated.
The scenario is described with expert data collected from subject matter experts. The approach includes an analysis of uncertainty using Monte Carlo analysis and numerical derivative analysis.
The results show that it is possible to link the performance of specific ship design features to the operational risk. Being able to propagate the epistemic uncertainties through the model is important to understand how the uncertainty in the input affects the output and the output uncertainty for the studied case is small relative to the input uncertainty. The study shows that linking different ship design features for aspects such as survivability, redundancy and technical endurance to the operational risk gives important information for the ship design decision-making process.

Author: Hans Liwång
Department of Military Studies, Swedish Defence University, 11593, Stockholm, Sweden.

Friday, 17 April 2015

The risk for refugees in the Mediterranean so high it is intolerable

I had to do some basic calculations on the societal risk in the Mediterranean for the refugees and compare it with the risk for seafarers off Somalia 2011 as a result of piracy. The risk in the Mediterranean is off the chart and according to IMO standard so high that it has to be reduced!
An FN-diagram showing the the number of deaths in the Mediterranean today
(2015) and off Somalia 2011. Both risks are intolerable, but only the risk
for the refugees is off the chart.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

A valid need for increasing SAR resources in the Mediterranean

One of yesterday’s conversations in my head:
- How can you have a blog called ”Risky business at sea” and not write about the horrible conditions for boat refugees in the Mediterranean trying to get from Africa or Asia to Europe (or into EU)?
- I can’t and I’ve avoided it for too long.
- Why is that?
- The explanation is that it is a complicated problem. However, that isn’t a valid excuse!

So here we go:
This far 2015 (mid-April) reports (UNHCR) talked about 900 persons drowned or missing from these transports, for the same period 2014 the estimation was 47 persons! The explanation for this increase is reported to be the result of several changes since last year including the war Syria and further destabilization of several African countries south of the Sahara.

The direct cause of these deaths is the state of the ships used and how they are overloaded by refugees. However, that is because no one takes responsibility for the voyages and that people are willing to take great risks in order to cross the Mediterranean Sea. The long term solution therefore, off course, lies in reducing the need for crossing the Mediterranean. That is however not a simple task (and out of the scope for this blog). However, in the meantime we know that many boats and ships (as a result of the risks taken by the refugees and criminal acts by the people organizing the human trafficking) will capsize and or sink in the Mediterranean without the possibility to send out a distress call.

Do these seafarers, because they also are refugees, have less right to be expecting rescue than others? NO, but at the same time any seafarer cannot expect to be rescued instantly anywhere in the world. What you can expect depends on where you are, but it shouldn’t depend on who you are. Does that mean that we should relocate Europe’s Search and Rescue (SAR) resources to the Mediterranean Sea and these refugees in distress? We would probably save more people that way because nowhere else is the need for rescue as great. However, relocating all resources to one area is not possible (logistically, but also) as all nations have a responsibility for they their waters that cannot be left unattended. So even though relocating all SAR resources to the Mediterranean Sea would give the most bang for the buck it isn’t possible.

The EU replacement for the Italian Mare Nostrum, the Frontex Plus/Trition, is given reasoning above the right type of solution. However, it is unfortunately under equipped and under financed given the need.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Humans are awesome!

In November 2014 I was quoted by “Gotlands Tidningar” (a small Swedish newspaper) saying that I was skeptic to unmanned cargo ships. I am, but I also know that there are a lot of (simple) activities at sea that can be solved with unmanned or even autonomous systems (for example unmanned submarines for civilian or military purposes). An autopilot is a simple thing solving a simple task, the problem arises when the wrong pipe rapture in the middle of the Atlantic because no one was there to see the sign before it was too late. With no one onboard such a small break-down suddenly becomes a big problem. 
Fixing a leaking pipe with a soda can, no
big problem for a human!
 I like to argue that making ships insensitive to small break-downs is much more expensive (in regard to investments, fuel and maintenance) than keeping the crews onboard.
Now, when watching ”People are awesome” videos on Internet I would like to be able to say “I rest my case”. Because, after seeing for example how a person can sail and tack a foiling moth in rough seas it is for me obvious that humans’ ability to react to sensory information and adapt actions is second to none.
The problem is that too many still fail to see this and talk about drones and autonomous systems like it is some kind of solution. At least at sea the tasks are too complex to be defined in advance and implemented into a computer.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

[Biking:] Risky business on land!

In the well written piece “Gatustrid” (Street fight) in the Swedish morning paper Svenska Dagbladet (Sunday March 1st) E. E. Almqvist writes about how the work to get better conditions for everyday bikers in Stockholm has failed. The article describes how Stockholm’s bike lanes are full of sudden interruptions, a description I as an everyday biker all too well recognizes. There exist many documents describing that Stockholm aims for creating good (and even excellent) conditions for bikers, but the reality is that even new projects are made with zero understanding on how to create safety for bikers.

(With the "risk" of reducing my credibility) My carbon disc single speed cyclocross bike for year-around biking to work. © Hans Liwång 2015.
On my way to work there have been a couple of changes the last years with the ambition to create a “priority bike path”. However it is done with sudden turns (radius 2 meters) were I and other bikers (two-way) are supposed to share a lane less than 2 meters wide. It is also marked out with curb stones immersing the bike lane risking striking down bikers and making it impossible for the snow plows to remove the snow (even the narrow plows don’t fit between the curb stones and therefore leaves 1 dm thick snow very hard to master on a bike).
The article also describes the documentary “Bikes vs Cars” by F. Gertten where normal people, (like me) who have found the bike to be perfect way for transportation, unwillingly have become activists fighting against the car dominated way of modern life.

So, why am I writing about bikes on this blog? It is because I know that if you don’t have an understanding and culture (from planners to builders and operators) for the goals you are trying to achieve (could be bike safety or maritime security) you will fail. You cannot make mistakes. For example a good plan for a bike lane will not make for a good bike lane unless you make every meter of the lane good (you cannot interrupt every 100 meters with a bad solution where the biker has to “fight” her way for ten meters). I bike such bad solutions every day and I have seen such solutions to many times on ships. You can identify the plan, but you see that it was not followed through.
IT IS ABOUT A SHARED RISK AWERENESS FROM decision maker via planner/designer to user!

There are cities that have made it work for bikers, (like Copenhagen) so it is possible. I have also seen good solutions on ships.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

No one...

No one want to be onboard a sitting duck, and no one want to create one with poor design or poor operational decisions. To help in avoiding such decisions there is a thesis about decision support methods for ship security.

Risk-based ship security analysis – a decision-support approach

Thesis abstract

The protection of shipping does not come without hazards and threats for military forces, individual civilian ship operators and crews. With particular focus on security threats, this thesis is about how to prepare for such operations without introducing unnecessary risks, i.e., supporting conscious risk-taking related to ship security. It examines both civilian and military aspects of maritime security and therefore draws from the experience of both fields.

(C) H. Liwång 2015
Maritime safety regulations, guidelines and methods have a history and culture of systematic research, development and implementation. In contrast, international security is highly politicised and therefore less transparent. Unfortunately, comprehensive studies of ship security risk are rare. Moreover, applying risk-based approaches to security areas requires special considerations, and the limited research in this field has led to a knowledge gap.

To reduce the identified challenges with respect to security risk analysis, the goal of this thesis is to improve security decision support by defining an approach to ship security analysis. To increase overall safety, this approach must facilitate compromises between traditional maritime safety and maritime security. Accordingly, the objective is to develop an approach that is both systematic and gives the decision maker an appropriate picture of the security risks. To examine the requirements for a security decision-support approach, the work in the appended papers studies both threats to naval vessels and the security threat posed to commercial vessels by pirates.
The results of the studies can be used to further develop military doctrines and civilian guidelines. This study shows that the description and quantification of the (concept of) operation in the risk analysis is central for implementing both security and naval ship survivability. In addition, the crew’s risk perception, procedural safeguards and how the implemented risk controls are perceived have an important role not only in risk analysis but also in deciding the effectiveness of implemented controls. It is also concluded that only using expected values—not collecting and using uncertainties—in the analysis can lead to misleading results. Therefore, the uncertainty treatment offered by a quantitative approach is crucial for risk understanding, especially if the aim is to find robust control options or to support the development of a resilient culture.

The Thesis was defended in public on March 12th for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy at the Department of Shipping and Marine Technology, Chalmers University of Technology. The faculty opponent was Dr. Rolf Skjong, DNV GL, Norway.
More information including extensive summary in full text

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Sitting duck [Sedens Anatis s.l.]

(C) Hans Liwång 2015
The Sitting duck belongs to the family of things and is characterized by its helplessness and low level of protection. Can be found at sea, on land and in the air.

Evolution/history: the Sitting duck (Sedens Anatis) was first found in, and is still common in, the Anatidae (duck) family of birds. Therefore, the traditional Sitting duck is characterized by it being an easy target floating on the water, not suspecting that it is the object of a hunter or predator. During the last centuries there have been many reports of Sitting ducks in other forms, including artefacts, humans and other types of animals. Sitting duck at large is therefore today considered as a family of things and formally named Sedens Anatis Sensu Lato (s.l.).
No one want to be onboard a sitting duck, and no one want to create one with poor design or poor operational decisions.