Several shipping organisations have pooled knowledge and experience to produce a best practice manual for tankers and other vessels entering and working in the pirate-infested waters of West Africa
A new publication will help mariners detect, deter and delay external threats to their safety. Best Management Practices to Enhance Maritime Security for Vessels & Mariners Operating Off the Coast of West Africa including the Gulf of Guinea (BMP WA) consolidates and enhances existing guidance for specific threats in this region.
The publication is timely. There was a surge in piracy attacks in the region towards the end of 2019. In early December 2019, 19 seafarers were kidnapped from the VLCC Nave Constellation 100 nautical miles south of Bonny Island, Nigeria. In the last week of 2019, three ships were targeted and repelled pirates including BW Lokoja and Suezmax tanker Istanbul. On 30 December 2019, three vessels, Vinalines Mighty, Happy Lady and Drogba were attacked.
In the case of the 2007-built, 22,600 dwt Handysize dry bulk carrier Vinalines Mighty, maritime security firm Dryad Global said three pirates boarded the ship but the crew were unharmed. Happy Lady, a 2013-built 51,900 dwt chemical/product tanker, was boarded by pirates who took eight crew members hostage and wounded one. Five Greek nationals, two Filipino nationals and one Ukranian have reportedly been kidnapped. The incident took place at Limboh Anchorage, Cameroon.
The 2015-built, 63,500 Ultramax dry bulk carrier Drogba was attacked in Bight of Bonny, Gulf of Guinea, while en route from Lagos to Harcourt, Nigeria. Pirates encountered an armed team of Nigerian Navy personnel on board and fled. The vessel reached Harcourt the same day.
The publication is free to download. Printed copies of the publication will be available later in the year.
Industry organisations welcomed the publication.
“Due to the regrettable lack of efficient law enforcement especially in eastern Gulf of Guinea, this consolidated antipiracy guidance is a must-read for seafarers operating within reach of Nigerian pirates,” said BIMCO secretary general and chief executive officer Angus Frew.
ICS secretary general Guy Platten said, “It is unacceptable that pirate attacks in the Gulf of Guinea continue to threaten the lives of our seafarers, especially at a time when we are also having to fend off the threat from Covid-19. This publication shows the shipping industry’s firm commitment to the safety and welfare of the men and women who move world trade, and ending the blight of piracy in the region once and for all.”
“The safety of seafarers is our top priority. Seafarers need our support and with this publication, supplemented by adequate training, we hope seafarers should feel and be safer. Their feedback would also be much welcome for the industry to improve the offered guidance,” said Intercargo secretary general Dr Kostas G Gkonis.
Intertanko managing director Katharina Stanzel said, “Insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea continues to blight the lives of seafarers working in the region. This new best practice manual, tailored specifically for local conditions, provides guidance and advice to mitigate the threat. While it is just one small part of a solution, the key remains in the hands of the region.”
“This publication offers practical mitigation measures to keep seafarers and vessels safe, a must read for all,” said OCIMF director Rob Drysdale.
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