The warning came through a new Merchant Marine Notice in light of the recent attack incidents and the events during the last six months of 2020. To remind, a total of 4 incidents occurred in the Gulf of Mexico in the first 15 days of April 2020 alone.
Therefore, the Administration strongly recommends to all Shipowners, Operators and Captains of Panama Flag vessels to:
- Follow the relevant guidance provided by BMP5 and the Global Counter-Piracy Guidance;
- Undertake a new ship and voyage specific threat assessment before entering any region where there has been an incident, or if the threat level has changed;
- Hold full and vigilant bridge watches; and strict communications with all vessels coming close.
Additionally, we want to remind all Panama Flag vessels transiting the Bay of Campeche, Gulf of Mexico and state of Tabasco, in the Republic of Mexico, to follow the PIRACY Merchant Marine Circulars procedures and recommendations. Also, all Panama Flag vessels under the SOLAS V/19 regulation must comply with LRIT and AIS requirements.
In addition, the Notice urges all shipowners, operators, Company Security Officers (CSO) and Ship Security Officers to verify that the LRIT System and the AIS work properly at all times, in order to send continuous positions of the vessels.
All Panama Flag vessels transiting in these areas are to be expected to comply in accordance with the international requirements related to position reporting. If not, the Panama Maritime Authority may penalize breaches to such provisions according to the national legislation, if they fail to formally report through LRIT and AIS to our Administration at proper times.