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Kanes Naidu Athinaidu – Managing Director, Sovereign Maritime Services (SMS) ‎– Malaysia

21.07.2015 / Energyboardroom

Kanes Naidu Athinaidu discusses the importance of effective Security Governance for Maritime and Oil & Gas Companies.

What was the original niche in the market you intended to target with the creation of Sovereign Maritime Services (SMS) in 2013?

Together with a group of dynamic individuals from security, armed forces, police, and corporate risk backgrounds, we conceived SMS. From the beginning, we centered on maritime and oil and gas security together as a collective. Eventually, as we started to establish our focus, we distinguished oil and gas services separately from maritime considering the expansive nature of both specializations. For maritime companies, the scope of our services broadly encompasses vessel protection, port security, risk assessments and investigation, fuel siphoning risks, and background screenings. Meanwhile, for our oil and gas clients, we provide security escort services for offshore support vessels (OSV) and offshore projects, journey management, threat and vulnerability risk assessments (TVRA), and political risk consulting services. Especially with the industry’s emphasis on health, safety, security, and environment (HSSE), we wanted to specifically tailor our oil and gas services in line with the standards that the industry has to come to expect and require. With that said, our services are not mutually exclusive. SMS caters to any client requiring security or risk management services within maritime and oil and gas – which often overlaps.

Why did you choose security governance as the backbone of SMS’s endeavors?

Considering the broader emphasis on corporate governance across all industries over the past decade, we are in the opinion that, in conjunction with our backgrounds and expertise, the paramount and sovereign nature of security governance would provide the most opportunity for SMS. When considering asset security and protection, the hallmark of a company’s security governance is its level of preparedness. Many companies often underestimate the value in having comprehensive crisis management and business continuity plans. Not knowing how to respond in cases of emergency where it can put significant financial and physical assets at risk, and unfortunately in some cases, even lives. Some companies already have these processes or standard operating procedures (SOPs) established, but fail to calibrate or recalibrate them on a recurring basis, which could eventually constitute security gaps and increase risk exposure. So, as you can see, there are many factors that tie into security governance, and at the end of the day, we want to emphasize to companies that effective security governance is a very critical component of daily operations for not only them, but us as well which also leads to effective Corporate Governance.

How is SMS suited to address the security threats constantly faced by your clients today? Maritime security, vessel protection, and risk assessments?

Within Malaysian waters, you already have a collective of government agencies that operate in the security governance landscape including the Navy, the Police, the Marines and the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA). However, with the abundance companies out there requiring such services, it may be challenging for governmental maritime authorities enabling such resources, especially to provide 24/7 comprehensive security solutions. With that said, maritime and oil and gas companies should be able to engage privately sourced security services with companies like SMS to complement the government’s efforts, especially with the prevalence of security threats such as sea robbery and piracy, fuel siphoning, and political instability among high risk countries. We are happy to say that SMS, in its brief history, has managed to develop a global reputation with strategic partnerships and worldwide affiliates in this area of expertise – collectively providing practical, cost-effective, and innovative security solutions for domestic and international clients.

What is the current mentality on oil and gas security in Malaysia, and how are you effectively communicating the message of security governance to potential clients?

Security is one of the most important concerns for our clients – they take it very seriously. Every company imposes different initiatives to address HSSE, which is why we SMS tailors our security services specifically to the needs of our clients. In that regard, however, we’ve developed five foundational elements of security that are generally addressed in our consultations – crisis management, security gap analysis, maritime and oil & gas security, travel risk management, and country risk assessments. We have a lot of companies that welcome our five element approach due to its cost-efficient and effective nature, and ultimately deem it critical to their success. 

Can you elaborate on what SMS defines as the five elements of security?

Crisis Management deals with how companies react in dire situations. We assist and advise them on the dos and don’ts, and also create SOPs, in which they can call upon or engage in during a crisis. In terms of Security Gap Analysis, we specialize in creating solutions to complement our client’s existing security infrastructure to truly eliminate any gaps and fortify their risk mitigation efforts. Maritime and Oil & Gas Security deals with the protection of vessels or business activities operating in any high-risk area; in these cases, we always urge our clients to challenge the effectiveness of their vessel protection teams – especially in terms of armed vs. unarmed maritime transit and monitoring their offshore facilities against threats and vulnerability including their journey management. The concept of Travel Risk Management views any individual of a company as a valuable asset and encourages companies to consider how these assets are adequately protected – especially in cases of medical or security emergencies. The companies will be able to access immediate information on the whereabouts of each of their personnel, and thus be able to provide more precise information in case of an unexpected security or emergency situation. Lastly, Country Risk Assessment services are for companies across the globe that are looking to invest in a foreign country. Although public information can be sourced for such decisions, we specialize in very comprehensive assessments across multiple fronts including social, political, commercial, and economic risks. So as you can see, the principles of security governance are quite comprehensive, and when combined with the extensive expertise and professionalism of our teams, SMS is well-positioned to provide total security solutions for the maritime and oil and gas industries moving forward. 

To date, what achievements are you most proud of and best represents SMS at its full capacity?

For one of our Malaysian clients, we successfully performed an armed maritime transit for two of their vessels operating in international waters. As a result of our professional teams, the journey was successfully navigated with no casualties or emergencies reported. This was a project that we were very proud of because in terms of armed security, especially when you’re bordering territorial waters, you need to have proper clearance from the host nations. We’ve also done very comprehensive emergency response training for one of our clients operating an oil rig. In this training, we grounded the principles of how to act and respond rather than reacting in the case of an emergency into every staff member, which are the keys to coming out of a crisis unscathed – both financially and physically.

SMS’s ultimate goal is to become the leading maritime and oil & gas security solutions provider. What will be your contribution to this vision in the next five years?

As a result of the dynamic nature of the industry, security is not a static element. As such, our priorities will focus on implementing a continuously innovative process for companies to truly evaluate the degree of protection over their assets. From more of a quality assurance standpoint, we’ve actually recently established a R&D department within our company, advised by our chairman and deputy chairman, to constantly monitor the needs of the market in hopes of not only producing more innovative security solutions for our clients, but also more cost-effective. For any new client, we make it our goal to have them realize that effective security governance is an imperative and a consistent on-going effort, especially while operating in such a volatile landscape. We implore clients to outsource security solutions to professionals like SMS and be vigilant through us, instead of vertically integrating – which may prove to be a very costly investment if not executed properly. Additionally, as a part of our initiative to give back to the community, we will continue to create job opportunities for ex-servicemen, many of whom are retired special forces, as we expand our operations domestically and internationally.

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