Analyzing risks in Naval Operations: The case of visit, board, search and seizure operations in the Côte D’Ivoire Navy

Document Type

Article Open Access

Publication Date

Winter 2023

Journal Title

Maritime Technology and Research

Volume Number


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Visit, Board, Search and Seizure (VBSS) operations, which are the preferred modus operandi to deliver law enforcement at sea, have always been, and remain, a risky endeavor. Because this type of operation holds a pivotal role in maritime law enforcement, safe execution is vital to protect involved staff and assets. Hence, this paper analyzes risks associated with VBSS operations; its main aim is to improve the overall level of safety and bring the identified risks under control, by developing associated mitigation measures. First, the risks under discussion were assessed, based on the professional judgment and experience of the naval personnel involved in these operations. Their inputs were introduced in a conceptual framework and the associated results were scored, compared, and benchmarked. It is true that there is an inherent level of risk built in the execution of VBSS operations; although the occurrence of negative incidents/mishaps can be considered marginal for the vast majority of the time, events like these are most often associated with serious consequences. The results of this research effort acknowledged that risk management practices can be useful and have variable performance in bringing risks to as low as reasonably practicable. In this aspect, risk mitigation can be more effective by implementing a systems approach of physical and administrative barriers with four distinct pillars: “Training”, “Equipment”, “Organizational Culture”, and “Procedures”.