Sokratis Dimakopoulos, Deputy Managing Director of Tsakos Columbia Shipmanagement, explains the initiatives his company has taken to enhance cybersecurity, operational efficiency and personnel competence.
With a surge of cyberattacks across all industries, protecting shipping companies and their assets has become essential to ensuring safe operations. Recently published guidelines on marine cybersecurity by the round table of international shipping associations call upon shipping companies to enhance the security of their IT systems by developing cybersecurity management plans for their organizations and fleets. Several companies have already started to act on this with support from DNV GL – one of them is Tsakos Columbia Shipmanagement (TCM).
“We wanted to assure our charterers and customers that our systems would be adequately protected from cyberrisks by implementing the highest standards of cybersecurity on board our vessels and on shore. DNV GL’s proactive attitude, its clear vision and commitment to the highest standards will assist us in achieving this,” says Sokratis Dimakopoulos, Deputy Managing Director of TCM. Over the past five months, TCM has been working with DNV GL to create an information security management system which will assist in assessing cybervulnerabilities and implementing the necessary measures for mitigating risks and responding to potential system breaches.
“The results are based on a thorough risk and gap analysis and will be verified through penetration testing carried out by the DNV GL Group company Marine Cybernetics,” explains Nikolaos Kakalis, Head of the DNV GL – Maritime R&D and Advisory unit in Greece. DNV GL is the first classification society to implement this kind of cybersecurity service in practice. In addition to developing a robust information security management system, TCM has reinforced its IT department, developed in-house solutions for performance management and will be one of the first shipping companies in the world to apply for certification to the ISO 27001 standard. To be awarded this certification, companies need to demonstrate a process-driven approach for establishing, implementing, operating, monitoring, reviewing, maintaining, and improving their information security management system.
Training for 1,500 seafarers per year
TCM manages a fleet with a total of more than six million dwt, which primarily consists of tankers. In 2013, the company added two DNV GL-classed dynamic positioning DP2 shuttle tankers and a third will be delivered in 2017. “Equipped with state-of the art, technically advanced systems with sophisticated automation capabilities, these vessels require personnel with specialized skills and advanced training. We decided early on to invest in developing an in-house pool of skilled DP officers and crew to ensure safe and reliable operations,” says Dimakopoulos.
“Our Maritime Training Centre, the Maria Tsakos TCM Academy, has a DP bridge simulator and is currently acquiring accreditation for DP training and certification under an internationally recognized scheme,” he adds. Established in 2013, the academy has been expanding rapidly, both in terms of technology and its curriculum.” About 1,500 seafarers take part in TCM training courses every year and have access to a Class A bridge simulator, ECDIS simulators, cargo handling workstations, engine room simulators and a DP bridge simulator. “We consider our human resources as the key success parameter for our company. As such we are allocating significant resources to professional development projects to ensure that we attract, train and retain competent personnel,” says Dimakopoulos.
Optimizing internal processes and fleet organization are also at the top of the agenda at TCM. “We have reorganized our fleet groups based on their trading areas in order to facilitate best practice sharing and enhance in-house experience for dealing with operational challenges particular to a region,” states Dimakopoulos. In addition, TCM has been cooperating with DNV GL to improve the energy efficiency of cargo discharge and cargo heating operations as well as optimizing its dry-dock operations. Furthermore, DNV GL advisory experts have supported TCM in improving energy management and competence management. Later this year, TCM will work with DNV GL and several other shipping companies on an environmental benchmarking project.
Dimakopoulos is committed to reinforcing TCM’s position as a leading management company, and he is confident that Greek shipping as a whole will maintain and even enhance its leading position in the industry. “The ultimate challenge for Greek companies is to maintain the seamanship and the traditional maritime values of our people. Without these elements the sustainability of our industry could be at risk.”