Attacks have been increasing off Cotonou
Over the months of May and June 2011 attacks have been increasing off Cotonou, where vessels (especially tankers) have been reported hijacked for a few days.
The hijacked vessels are forced to rendezvous with other local barges upon which cargo is stolen.
As a reminder to members, the current security advisory for the Gulf of Guinea ishereby reproduced in BIMCO’s security news.
Introduction – the threats
The Gulf of Guinea and the surrounding ports and waterways suffer from a substantial amount of maritime criminal activity, ranging from illegal fishing to piracy and militant activity against commercial assets. Piracy and maritime militant activity is particularly prevalent in the waters off Nigeria and in the Niger Delta. It ranges from simple boarding and robbery – especially in the waters off Lagos and within its ports – to attacks on ships and offshore facilities and the hijacking of vessels for ransom – most notable in the area near the Niger Delta.
Robbers/pirates in the area sometimes wears uniforms.
The behaviour of the robbers/pirates is often very violent towards the crew, because the purpose of the crime is to rob the valuables of the ship and crew, and normally not to hold the crew for ransom. However, instances have occurred where members of crew have been taken ashore and have been held for ransom.
Best management practises
Before entering the Gulf of Guinea and surrounding ports it is recommended that a number of factors are considered. The so-called “Best Management Practises to deter piracy off the Coast of Somalia and in the Arabian Sea” (BMP3) offer guidance on the hardening of the ship, crew preparation and rehearsals, and actions if robbers get onboard (see link below). The guidance is equally applicable to the Gulf of Guinea and surrounding ports, and BIMCO strongly recommends that the guidance is followed also there.
When in port, security measures equivalent to Security Level 2 of the ISPS Code should be implemented.
The attacks in the Gulf of Guinea and surrounding ports have normally occurred either alongside or close to the coast/in confined waters where ships have been anchored or underway at low speeds, e.g. when loitering awaiting berthing place or pilot. BIMCO therefore recommends that calling on ports the region is only done on a case by case basis following a thorough Risk Assessment. Any waiting for berthing place should be done clear of the Joint War Committee’s listed area for Hull, War, Strikes, Terrorism and Related Perils, and preferably at distances greater than 60 nautical miles from the coast. Furthermore, BIMCO recommends that any navigation inside the danger area is done in accordance with the aforementioned BMP3, e.g. that transit for port is conducted at as high speed as safety permits.
Actions if robbers on board
If robbers manage to get on board it is recommended to show no sign of resistance. As previously mentioned these robbers are known to be violent, so it is of utmost importance to act submissively and compliant if/when robbers get on board.
Before entering the Gulf of Guinea area or calling on any of the surrounding ports BIMCO recommends that risks are assessed using Automated Voyage Risk Assessment tool (AVRA). More information regarding AVRA can be found here: https://avramaritime.com/Public/