Somali pirates are officially getting bolder, and the shipping industry is freaking out.They have hijacked two oil tankers in the past two days alone.
INTERTANKO’s Joe Angelo told Reuters: “The piracy situation is now spinning out of control. If piracy in the Indian Ocean is left unabated, it will strangle… crucial shipping lanes with the potential to severely disrupt oil flows to the US and the rest of the world.”
For anyone sailing around Africa, we’ve provided highlights from INTERTANKO “Practical Measures To Avoid, Deter Or Delay Piracy Attacks.”
Once an attack is underway and pirates are firing weaponry at the vessel, it is difficult and dangerous to observe whether the pirates have managed to gain access to the vessel.
The use of CCTV coverage allows a degree of monitoring of the progress of the attack from a less exposed position.
Sounding the ship's alarms/whistle serves to inform the vessel's crew that a piracy attack has commenced and, importantly, demonstrates to any potential attacker that the ship is aware of the attack and is reacting to it.
Pirates generally board vessels with little in the way of equipment other than personal weaponry.
It is important to try to deny pirates the use of ship's tools or equipment that may be used to gain entry into the superstructure of the vessel.
Tools and equipment that may be of use to the pirates should be stored in a secure location.
Pirates typically use ladders and grappling hooks with rope attached to board vessels underway, so physical barriers can be used to make this difficult.
Coating gunwhales and other potentially vulnerable structures with 'anti-climb' paint may be considered.
It is recommended that warning signs of the electrified fence or barrier are displayed -- inward facing in English/language of the crew, outward facing in Somali.
The use of water spray and/or foam monitors has been found to be effective in detering or delaying pirates attempting to board a vessel.
It is recommended that hoses and foam monitors (delivering water) should be fixed in position to cover likely pirate access routes.
Well constructed dummies placed at strategic locations around the vessel can give an impression of greater numbers of people on watch.
Ensure that there are sufficient binoculars for the enhanced bridge team. Consider using night vision optics, if available.
If a potential attack is detected early, the ability to outrun the attackers will defeat the attack before it develops. It is therefore recommended that vessels proceed at full sea speed.
Note: The small boats used by the pirates can be vulnerable to stern wash.
To date, there have been no reported successful attacks at speeds over 16 knots.
Standard Ship's Message Format:
1. Ship's name and callsign, IMO number, Inmarsat IDs (plus ocean region code) and MMSI
2. Ship's position (and time of position UTC)
3. Nature of event
Do not use firearms, even if available.
Do not use flash photography, which may be mistaken for muzzle flashes by the pirates or by any military forces sent to assist.
Do not use flares or other pyrotechnics as weapons against pirates.
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