In light of an upward trend of attacks against ships in the Gulf of Guinea and as the approaching dry season is expected to bring an increase in attacks, BIMCO, the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), INTERCARGO, INTERTANKO and OCIMF have jointly issued an alert with security advice for vessels operating in the region.
The alert, entitled ‘Increased Security Threats for vessels operating in the Gulf of Guinea’, leverages knowledge from BMP West Africa and UKHO Security Chart Q6114/SHOM Chart 8801CSD.
The publication also follows release of the IMB global piracy report last week, which identified a 40% increase in the number of crew kidnappings in the area for the first nine months of 2020. Of the 85 seafarers kidnapped from their vessels and held for ransom, 80 were taken in the Gulf of Guinea – in 14 attacks reported off Nigeria, Benin, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and Ghana.
Therefore, to ensure the safety of all vessels and afford best protection to global trade, the associations underline the following is vital:
- Comply with Flag State Requirements and Guidance.
- CSOs and Masters apply the recommendations within BMP West Africa.
- The citadel is equipped with a satellite telephone (BMP WA Page 22).
- Masters familiarise themselves with BMP WA Section 7 (Ships Under Attack).
- Masters register with MDAT-GOG when entering the West African VRA (Ref A & B) and if operating inside the VRA, report daily.
- Any significant changes to ETAs should be reflected in Line 6 (Other important Info) of the Daily/Transit Position Report to MDAT-GOG (BMP WA Annex D).
- The AIS Policy is clearly defined (BMP WA Page 13). It should be noted the Nigerian Navy arrests any ship found to have switched off their AIS. A decision to switch off AIS should therefore be based on concerns over safety and/or security and recorded in the vessel’s logbook to inform subsequent legal proceedings. CSOs ensure all contact numbers for MDAT-GOG are correct – email@example.com and Emergency Tel: +33(0) 298 22 88 88
- Information is protected (BMP WA Page 11).
- In the event of any incident or being concerned, Masters should call MDAT-GOG immediately.
- If Voyage Plans permit, wait at distance offshore and transit at high speed to arrive at any rendezvous point ‘Just in Time’ including STS and/or Offshore Terminals.
- Attacks have previously occurred 200Nm from the coast and the past location of attacks should be considered. Whilst waiting offshore, engines must be ready for immediate manoeuvre.
- Some vessels tender a virtual Notice of Readiness (NOR) whilst staying safely offshore, both tendering a virtual NOR and waiting offshore are accepted practice for many vessels operating in the GoG (BMP WA Page 13).
CSOs and Masters should note, pirate gangs also attack in harbour and on loading installations. In addition to Covid-19 restrictions, crew should only leave the vessel if necessary, during their duties. Gangway staff should be briefed and instructed to keep a good look out for suspicious activity,
…the alert stresses.