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Dryad’s Chief Operating Officer reflects on a busy year in a complex world

Dryad's Chief Operating Officer Reflects On A Busy Year In A Complex World

Where did the year go? Supporting our clients in a complex, chaotic, and sometimes dangerous world, has made the time fly by. From concerns regarding the impact of terrorist actions, to weather-related losses and the continued presence of maritime crime, our clients have looked to us to help them improve their awareness and reduce their risks in many aspects of their operations in short, to help them deal with uncertainty at sea and ashore. The year has been dominated by terrorist acts. France, Tunisia, USA, Mali, Lebanon, Turkey, Egypt, Syria, Libya, Iraq, Yemen, Nigeria and many others. Far too many to list and far too much associated tragedy. We have seen cruise ship passengers and holidaymakers killed at the Bardo Museum in Tunis and on the beach in Sousse, a Russian passenger plane brought down with 224 people on board and many other atrocities across the globe, including the alleged, ISIS-inspired mass shooting in California. Some incidents grab the attention of the international media more than others, but the list of countries affected across the world is a very long one, affecting many nationalities, religions and cultures. Given the above, it comes as no surprise that our clients, both commercial and leisure, have concerns about the impact of terrorism and civil war on their safe, global operation in ports and on transits. Our regular reporting has covered all of the hot spots throughout the year; from civil war in Yemen, Syria and Libya, to the very recent and unusual armed attack against a vessel in the Sulu Sea. Whether we are providing advice on operating oil tankers in Libya, container ships transiting the Indian Ocean or advising superyachts on security threats in the Caribbean, our remit is necessarily broad and deep.

One area that has attracted more attention in 2015 is the Mediterranean Sea. From concerns regarding ISIS in Libya to the war in Syria and mass seaborne migration to Europe from both of these countries, terrorist acts against Egyptian naval vessels or concerns over the security of the Suez Canal The Med has attracted a lot of media attention in 2015. As promised in our last Newsletter, we produced a free Special Advisory on the Mediterranean to provide an overview of the regional security situation by exploring a number of areas that impact, or could impact upon, vessels and their crews. This very popular report followed an earlier advisory where we analysed what, if anything, lay behind the sensational media reporting that suggested that ISIS in Libya would target superyachts in the Central Mediterranean. If you want an insight into this important region and haven t yet downloaded your copy, I encourage you to do so. The year hasn t been all bad news on the security front, with the first step in de-escalation within the Indian Ocean reflecting the diminished risk from Somali piracy. In October, BIMCO announced that the co-sponsors of Best Management Practice for Protection against Somalia based Piracy, version 4 (BMP4), had agreed to a revision of the High Risk Area. This change came into force officially on 1 December, and came as a welcome step to us here at Dryad, given the drop in Somali pirate activity we have seen over the last three years. It should, however, be remembered that the HRA has not been removed, but reduced; a reflection of the lack of long-range pirate activity in recent years. There is no less a need to remain vigilant and take the appropriate risk mitigation measures when transiting in and around this region.

If this caution needed any reinforcement, the hijacking of the Iranian fishing vessel, Muhammidi, last month, gives some pause for thought. The vessel was reportedly hijacked over 200 nautical miles off the Somali coast (still within the revised HRA). During the vessel s detention and after a gun battle close in shore, that claimed the lives of several pirates, the dhow was boarded by a coalition warship who afforded assistance. There are far too many inconsistencies in the report of this event to take it all at face value, including the range at which the vessel was reportedly taken, but it does serve as a timely reminder of the potential threat. With the above incident and other instances of the detention of Iranian fishing vessels, the question of whether illegal fishing in the Indian Ocean could ignite a resurgence in full scale Somali piracy, if not addressed, is something we are being asked here in Dryad. Our Head of Operations, Mike Edey, has written a thought-provoking blog, which I urge you to read, that gives his opinion on the subject. Whatever the level of threat in the HRA, the key to proper risk mitigation lies in conducting a proper risk assessment. Not every transit requires the provision of armed guards, but some do and whether or not this is judged to be a necessary step really depends upon a proper, professional assessment of the specific threats and overall risk. Taking this first and critical step will help you to decide the level of protection you require, whether that is intelligence routing and monitoring or the provision of embarked security teams. My only plea is that you get your advice from objective and credible sources, and, beware of those who talk up the threat for business purposes I m afraid that we ve seen far too much of this in 2015.

Other good news is the positive environmental flavour to the year, beginning with the January implementation of a number of Emission Control Areas (ECA) and ending with the Paris summit on climate change. The first of these events was entirely focused on shipping, whilst the latter made little reference to the shipping or aviation industries a subject of some debate, although the ECA implementation points to positive steps in the right direction. The introduction of the ECAs had resulted in a number of pessimistic financial projections on the increased costs of lower sulphur fuel, but another feature of 2015 the significant reduction in the price of oil and associated bunker fuel costs seems to have mitigated this risk to some extent. In Dryad, we have continued to help clients keep down their operating costs, improve profit margins and reduce their carbon footprints by optimising their routing and avoiding bad weather a service that has provided both safety and economic benefits. As 2016 approaches, we are looking forward to enriching our services in this field with new and innovative ways of delivering our vessel management services that promise to bring further savings and, importantly, safety at extremely attractive prices. On safety, if we needed reminding of the dangers to be found at sea, the tragic losses of the Eastern Star in the Yangtze River, with over 400 people on board, and the loss of El Faro with all hands in Hurricane Jaoquin, serve as reminders of the environmental threats of operating at sea. There are far too many losses resulting from the natural forces of nature and it s easy to forget that the scale of these far outweigh any maritime terrorism or crime threats. We have also seen far too much misery at sea with desperate people attempting to flee conflict and improve their lives in dangerous sea crossings. The good news here is that the international community, is putting more of an effort into rescuing those in peril on the sea something that the shipping industry is also heavily involved in and for which they, and all rescue craft, deserve much credit.

So as you can see, we ve had a particularly busy year in Dryad just keeping on top of the complex world we live in and supporting our clients as they trade and move around it. We have travelled lots and attended many conferences and events; Malta, Norway, Denmark, USA, Crete, India, Japan, Hong Kong, to name a few. We ve been fortunate to feature in the UK Chamber of Shipping s Maritime Nation documentary, launched at London International Shipping Week (LISW), along with other UK-based maritime companies. And we have been privileged to speak at a wide variety of events, from advising the cruise ship industry on maritime security to making a contribution to the wellbeing of seafarers at HR and Crew Conferences, as well as technical-related conferences where we have demonstrated our human-centric, operational approach to dealing with uncertainty at sea. Back in our HQ, we have also been busy developing new capabilities to meet the expressed needs of our clients. In our last newsletter I told you that we were working on an exciting risk product to support our commercial and superyacht/leisure clients. At the time, I was under oath to say nothing more, in case I got into hot water with our Head of Marketing. Now, I m pleased to say that the secret is out and that we have been engaged in developing our own, maritime-focused, Country Risk Map a tool that will help our clients to build their awareness and find clarity in a chaotic world.

All that remains for me is to say that I hope you enjoy this latest edition of our newsletter. We are very fortunate to have an interested and wide-ranging readership and we would be delighted to hear any feedback or comments you have about this foreword or the articles below. If you do have any feedback to share, or any questions that you would like to ask, please feel free to contact me at: [email protected][1]

We at Dryad wish you all very happy holiday period as well as a safe and prosperous New Year!

Ian Millen

P.S. Don t forget to look out for our more detailed maritime crime figures for 2015, coming out in January.
Source: Dryad Maritime


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Curt Miller bringing up-tempo, attacking offense to Sun

MOHEGAN New Connecticut Sun coach Curt Miller is known for his offensive wizardry.

I get a lot more credit on the offensive side of the ball than I do on the defensive side, but I think I coach defense. The offense has brought a lot of notoriety to our program, Miller said. It s the reason why Brian Agler sought Miller out when he took over the Los Angeles Sparks last season and was creating a new coaching staff when his assistant, Jenny Boucek, took over as head coach in Seattle.

His offense that he ran at college, which he will bring a lot of that here, has a lot to do with spacing, a lot of pick-and-roll, a lot of movement, Agler said. He likes mobile post players, likes guards who can put the ball on the floor and be creative. The ball is going move, there will be a lot of 3-point shots. Miller credits former San Antonio guard Becky Hammon for that.

When Miller left Syracuse University to become the associate head coach at Colorado State, Hammon was the star in the backcourt.

To this day, I believe I wouldn t have become a head coach without the success at Colorado State, so I still still credit her for allowing me to become a head coach, Miller said. Obviously, when you have someone with Hammon s talent, you want the ball in her hands as much as possible. At Colorado State, Miller devised a pro-style, ball-screen offense. It s something he has taken with him from Colorado State to Bowling Green (where he had 258 career victories), to Indiana and Los Angeles, and now Mohegan Sun Arena.

We want to play an attacking style of offense. We want to be up-tempo, which is also fan friendly. I will bring an exciting style to the Connecticut Sun, Miller said.

Miller also said he s a big proponent of the 3-point shot and will look to develop that aspect of Connecticut s arsenal. All of that was music to the ears of both Sun CEO Mitchell Etess and general manager Chris Sienko. They found a coach with a personality who comes in with an agenda to build from within, and in a way that should improve attendance. In Etess and Sienko, Miller saw management willing to give its coaches time to develop. Anne Donovan s situation was consistently discussed, but in the end, it was Donovan s decision with some player input that led to her resignation.

I did my own investigation and realized what an incredible opportunity this was, especially with their commitment to coaches there have only been two. Security is not at a premium in the WNBA, so to know that they have stuck by coaches for a significant period of time was important to me, Miller said.

Page 2 of 3 – There is a little pressure.

The Sun haven t been to the playoffs for the last three seasons the only WNBA team to harbor that distinction. He said he is passionate about the game, fiery on the sidelines, and believes that one thing is necessary for success in the league: communication with the players. It s a lesson that he said he has learned from Agler over the last year and something he planned to start with the current Sun roster as soon as possible, likely including a trip to Turkey where many of the Connecticut players are right now.

I think the pieces are in place and we can make a run, Miller said. Last year, they had great win streaks, but also had extended losing streaks. We have to find some consistency and shorten those losing streaks. He likes what he has seen from Kelsey Bone and is big fan of Alex Bentley, having watched her play in the Big Ten for Penn State. Plus, he is hoping Chiney Ogwumike returns completely healthy after spending 2015 on the bench, serving as a public relations person for the Sun.

I like the youthful roster, Miller said. They are young, excited and hungry to prove themselves in the league and there are some veterans sprinkled in who can serve as mentors to the younger players.

The one ingredient possibly missing is the player he builds his offense around that dynamic point guard.

If you know anything about my background, my system has always worked the best when we have a great point guard. I ve coached a lot of tremendous leaders at that position, two All-Americans at Bowling Green, back to the Becky Hammon days. I had one of the best freshman point guards in the country at Indiana before we left. With the way we want to play, the point guard is very, very important, Miller said. Bentley can be and was in college, but seems to be just as comfortable at the two. There is, of course, UConn senior Moriah Jefferson, who might be available when the Sun make the third pick in the 2016 WNBA draft, provided San Antonio doesn t scoff her up with the second pick as many project. Miller also doesn t seem to harbor the UConn-phobia that has pervaded over the Sun. Before he interviewed for the job, he spoke with Huskies coach Geno Auriemma prior to UConn s game with Ohio State, even asking the legend to put in a good word for him if he was asked.

He was.

Page 3 of 3 – When you look at the success that Coach Auriemma has had, it s hard not to let him say a few things and listen, Sienko said. I know my place regardless of his being a collegiate program and us being a professional one, I m still learning as I go. I never want to think I have all the answers. He is a great resource as is Chris Dailey and others associated with his staff. Miller plans to utilize that UConn staff as much as he can. As soon as his son graduates from college, Miller said he is considering moving east from his home in Indiana. If that happens, he said he wants to be a sponge, to hang around with Auriemma and his staff and learn the methodology behind UConn s success. It s not a bad place to start.

Couple charged in wealthy Texan’s death in Mexico

San Diego Back in late April, a wealthy Texas man was finalizing the purchase of a condominium in Palacio del Mar, an upscale coastal development in Mexico, where he planned to retire.

Within just a few days, Jake Clyde Merendino made several trips across the border between San Diego County and Baja California, each time with his romantic partner, a younger man he had met online two years earlier.

Couple Charged In Wealthy Texan's Death In Mexico Jay Merendino and his mother in an undated photo. / Courtesy family photo

Jay Merendino and his mother in an undated photo. / Courtesy family photo

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On May 2, Merendino s body was found in a ravine off the highway between Rosarito and Ensenada. He had been stabbed multiple times, and his throat was slashed. And now his former lover a man who has since claimed to be the sole heir to the victim s estate is facing federal charges stemming from Merendino s death. David Enrique Meza, 25, and his girlfriend Taylor Marie Langston, 20, pleaded not guilty to those charges Thursday at their first appearance in San Diego federal court. They were arrested a day earlier in Imperial Beach.

Meza is charged with foreign domestic violence resulting in murder and conspiracy to obstruct justice in the slaying of Merendino, 51. The pair had been in a romantic relationship since 2013, according to the federal indictment unsealed Wednesday. At the same time, Meza was also in a long-term relationship with Langston, who faces charges of conspiracy, obstruction of justice and making a false statement to a federal officer. They have a 6-month-old child. Merendino s death occurred a day after he had closed escrow on the $300,000 a luxury oceanfront condo in Baja California, according to the U.S. Attorney s Office. Shortly after the killing, Meza produced a handwritten will on hotel letterhead that appeared to name him as the sole heir to Merendino s fortune.

It is currently being contested in a Texas court. After accepting the defendants pleas, U.S. Magistrate Judge William Gallo scheduled a detention hearing for Meza to be held Monday morning. Prosecutors contend that Meza is a flight risk. The judge set a $50,000 bond for Langston, and ordered her to be placed on GPS monitoring if she is released from custody. Langston would also be subject to a 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew, and she would be restricted from traveling outside San Diego County, the judge said.

When arguing the bond amount, a defense attorney noted that Langston has no criminal history and is not accused in this case of directly committing a violent act. Assistant U.S. Attorney Alexandra Foster told the judge that the issue is not just that Langston is accused of obstruction and lying to federal officers, it s that she s accused of lying to officers specifically about a murder. According to court documents, Merendino and Meza traveled to Mexico on April 29, so Merendino could complete the purchase on the condo. They crossed back into the U.S. that same day at 2:45 p.m. and checked into the Hercor Hotel in Chula Vista.

Prosecutors presume that both men crossed back into Mexico at least two more times because there is evidence they traveled back to the U.S. in Merendino s Range Rover the afternoon of April 30 and again that night shortly after 11:30 p.m., with Merendino in his Range Rover followed by Meza in a rental car. (Only crossings into the U.S. were recorded on border cameras in the case, not in the other direction.)

On May 1, they checked out of the Hercor Hotel, returned the rental car and went back to Mexico with Merendino in the SUV and Meza on his motorcycle, which authorities have said was a Christmas gift from the victim. Because the condo was not move-in ready, the men rented a room at nearby Bobby s by the Sea. About 7 p.m., Merendino went to the lobby to open a bottle of wine. Then, at about 10:30 p.m., a motorcycle was heard leaving the hotel parking lot, and Meza was seen on a border camera entering the U.S. about 11 p.m.

Around 1 a.m. the next morning, Merendino was seen leaving the hotel. He told a security guard he was going to help a friend stranded on the road, prosecutors said. That evening, Meza returned to the hotel with Langston, who was pregnant at the time, and picked up several of Merendino s personal items from the hotel room. Mexican officials told the FBI that Merendino s cellphone, iPad, laptop computer and $15,000 diamond-studded Rolex watch were missing. They were not found in the hotel room or in Merendino s condo, according to court documents.

The iPad was found later in the apartment Meza and Langston shared in Grant Hill. Less than two weeks after Merendino was killed, Meza and Langston were seen at a UPS office in San Diego, sending a copy of a will purportedly handwritten by Merendino in December 2014 to the victim s friend in Boston. The friend, who is also an attorney, told authorities she had drawn up Merendino s will in 1998, when they both lived in Texas.

In the courtroom Thursday, the prosecutor said Langston a 2013 Chula Vista High graduate told the FBI that on the night of the killing, she and Meza visited a friend in Tijuana. She said they sat at the friend s dinner table for four hours without eating, drinking or watching TV, and then they returned home. The friend told investigators he hadn t seen Meza or Langston in more than a year, but that he received a call from Meza days after the killing asking him to provide an alibi. The prosecutor said Meza told the FBI agents in a June 4 interview that he went to Mexico with the victim that weekend in May, intending to rob him but he got cold feet.

Langston s mother, grandparents, aunt and cousin were in the courtroom Thursday. Some of them held hands and appeared to comfort one another during the hearing. They declined to speak to reporters afterward. If convicted, Meza faces life in prison, the prosecutor said. He has a restraining order against him, stemming from a 2014 domestic violence case. The prosecutor explained that the terms of the order do not require Meza and Langston to stay away from one another, but he is not to hit her.

Langston faces up to 20 years in custody if convicted in the federal case.