Maritime Security Cooperation

Hiding in Plain Sight

In September 2008, the United States blacklisted Iran’s state shipping company and its fleet of vessels because of the company’s role in supplying Iran’s weapon programs. Soon after, in an effort to evade this sanction, The Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) company began a large-scale re-labeling of its ships, giving them new names, new managers, new “owners” – in short, new identities.

The combined effect of all these changes has made it harder for honest companies to comply with U.S. sanctions because the IRISL ships are “hiding in plain sight.”  However, while the IRISL ships can change their names and flags, they cannot legitimately change each ship’s unique IMO number. But these numbers do not always appear on cargo documents, such as letters of credit.

GreenLine’s iBench risk assessment tools have the capability of seeing through the “noise” IRISL vessels create and get to the heart of the matter.  Logging into iBench, we have navigated to the Mediterranean AOR (area of responsibility) which is the method iBench bounds a particular problem set. In this view we see there are 5793 vessels present. The vessels present are displayed geographically on the map and textually below in a standard grid format.  The vessels are displayed according to their perceived level of threat; red is high, yellow is medium, and green is low.

The analyst then chooses to filter the information they see in this case we will look for Iranian-flagged vessels.  Executing this filter we see that of the 5793 ships in the Med, only 1 is flagged Iranian.

But as was explained before this is not a true representation of Iranian owned or managed ships because of the renaming and re-flagging that Iranian ships are currently undergoing.  iBench easily and quickly circumvents this deception.

The analyst navigates to the View Manager which allows them to develop analyst defined queries which assist them to automatically navigate through the voluminous amounts of data and get to the bottom line.

In the View Manager the analyst assigns the view the title “Iran Ships in Med”, fills out the description and sets the visibility tab to either Private-meaning only the person creating the view sees it; Shared-meaning the analyst can choose to share it with others in the net; or Public-meaning everyone on the net can see it.

The analyst next sets the view type by choosing either the Saved Inquiry which means the view would sit idle in the dashboard and only provide results upon initiation by the analyst; or the Preliminary Worklist which provides results immediately upon logging into iBench; or Lookout tasking which provides a workflow capability to automatically send the results of the query into files or forward the results to email accounts.

Once the administrative data is set the analyst then constructs the view by adding constraints.

Navigating back to the dashboard the analyst refreshes their inbox where all Preliminary Worklists reside.  The inbox holds both the intensive folders which everyone on the net has access to and the “my vessel of interest” folder which only the logged on analyst can see. The analyst can easily add vessels to either of these folders by checking the icons found in the grid.

The analyst chooses the “Iran Ships in Med” view and we immediately find out that there are indeed four vessels in the Med that are either owned, operated, or managed by an Iranian entity.  To further investigate, the analyst chooses a vessel and navigates to the vessel detail page.

The vessel detail page provides ship characteristics as found in IHS Fairplay’s database to include ownership and management entity details.  As we can see, despite having its name changed and being reflagged, iBench flags the vessel “CAMELIA” because of the Iranian entities involved with it.

On the vessel detail page the analyst can also see the vessel’s position history and this is the page that the analyst can drill down into the rule set to see what has flagged this vessel as red, such as flag of convenience or being on a watchlist.  The vessel detail page is also where the analyst would find the vessel history such as name or flag, it’s movement history, and flag state inspection results.

It is this ability to get to the correct information quickly that makes GreenLine’s iBench suite of tools ideal for those analysts involved in monitoring the Maritime Domain.  Our experts and technology are a formidable team that is proven, cost effective, and efficient in solving nations and agencies maritime awareness issues.  For more information please visit our web site or contact us at



One thought on “Hiding in Plain Sight

  1. Great article by WSJ’s Claudia Rosette at

    Posted by scottsuhy | August 29, 2011, 9:45 am

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