While we understand that this procedure may not directly apply to all operators but if you operate passenger carrying services you should have a procedure for how to deal with a bomb threat.
With the growing worldwide concerns about terrorism, it makes sense to ensure you and your crew know what to do in the event something like this occurs.
In fact, many of our SMS manuals where carrying the public including ferries, water taxis and many charter vessels we include a procedure for how to deal with a bomb threat.
Carrying the public includes but is not limited to ferries, water taxis and many charter vessels such as whale watching tours, sightseeing cruises, etc.
It’s not just passenger carrying vessels that are a target for bomb threats, although they are the highest risk vessels that transport cargo/freight can also be a prime target.
Add to that offices, shops and factories can also be prime targets for bomb threats based on the purpose for the bomb threat or attack.
How likely is it to occur?
The truth is the likelihood is actually quite low but while low it should still be considered.
When we talk about the threat of terrorism I like to break up the potential risk factors into 3 specific categories, these are:
- Bomb threat
- Terrorism alert
- Suspicious object
When you consider a bomb threat think about the potential loss of life and damage that would occur if a bomb was detonated on a vessel (or factory/office) where the public are gathered!
It’s quite likely that any bomb threat would be directed at an operator that carries passengers to crowed locations but that may not always be the case.
Also think that placing a bomb onboard a vessel that is not as crowded or in a high-density area is often easier and may be a statement in itself.
Usually a bomb threat is delivered to the operator’s office but it could also be in the nature of a note left onboard, a phone call, email or, in some case no threat is actually made.
Where a bomb is left onboard and no threat is made these are the worst cases as often the bomb has a timer or is remotely activated.
Now, let’s look at how to develop a procedure for a bomb threat.
The procedure is quite simple in itself but even though it’s brief the steps are critical factors in ensuring a safe outcome.
The very first point is if you find a note indicating a bomb is onboard is not to panic or start yelling about a bomb onboard.
The last thing you need is to panic all the passengers which then turns into another situation to manage.
From there it’s a really simple process…
- Notify Emergency Services by calling 000 immediately
- Follow your Counter Terrorism Plan (if you have one)
- Follow instructions given by Emergency Services personnel
- Inform passengers as instructed by Emergency Services personnel
- Await further instructions from Emergency Services personnel before undertaking any further response
The steps above also relate to offices, shops and factories.
We strongly recommend that if you carry passengers or even transport cargo you have a procedure for a bomb threat in place.
For larger operators we recommend the development of a counter terrorism response plan. I know it all sounds like a lot but in the unlikely event any of these thing occur you will be prepared and able to deal with the situation.
Like all procedures, just having them is not enough therefore our best tip is to ensure all crew members and, where carried Special Staff are familiar with not only your Bomb Threat procedure but all procedures relevant to them.
While not technically a log book our Follow-up Record form is a critical part of your documentation and must be kept up to date.
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