It has been observed that some Masters are mistakenly choosing to phone their Company Security Officer (CSO) first in the event of a piracy incident. In view of security practices in other fields, this is not a surprising course of action, but when it comes to Somali-based piracy, alerting the CSO first can hamper the navies’ possibilities to defend the ship and crew against the attack.
One of the fundamental requirements of BMP4 states that UKMTO is the primary point of contact for merchant vessels during piracy incidents in the High Risk Area (HRA). This guidance is very prudent and aims to avoid unnecessary delay and possible inaccurate or incomplete information reaching military commanders.
Consequently, CSOs should ensure the ships’ Standing Operational Procedures in the HRA reinforces the BMP4 recommendation that UKMTO’s should be telephoned at +971 50 552 3215 in the event of any piracy activity (this telephone is manned 24/7). UKMTO will then make every effort to contact the CSO as a matter of priority with any information received, whilst ensuring that the relevant information reaches the military commanders with the minimum of delay.