New maritime anti-piracy guidance has been created for seafarers operating off West Africa amid increased attacks in what are already extraordinary global conditions for cargo and container crew keyworkers.
The guidance comes in the wake of six piracy attempts in the region in since the beginning of 2020, including five off the coast of Africa in March, which have been reported to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) Piracy Reporting Centre.
The IMB urges all masters to report any piracy attempts and to follow company and ship specific procedures.
The new free downloadable Best Management Practice (BMP) West Africa publication consolidates and enhances existing guidance for specific threats with practical measures to help seafarers deter and delay external threats to their safety in this region.
ICS secretary general Guy Platten said: 'It is unacceptable that pirate attacks in the Gulf of Guinea continue to threaten the lives of our seafarers, especially at a time when we are also having to fend off the threat from Covid-19. This publication shows the shipping industry's firm commitment to the safety and welfare of the men and women who move world trade, and ending the blight of piracy in the region once and for all.'
As well as advice on how to respond in an attack, it includes recommendations on the ship protection plan and vessel hardening plan, which the guide says should be the responsibility of the company security officer for drawing up with the master and ship security officer reviewing it before entering a known risk area.
The document includes recommendations for enhanced bridge security, and watchkeeping vigilance precautions.
Masters and officers should also practice different manoeuvring to familiarise themselves with the ship's handling capabilities. Such action can defer even prolonged attack, it says.
The publication was developed by BIMCO, INTERCARGO, INTERTANKO, ICS & OCIM.
BIMCO Secretary general and CEO Angus Frew commented: 'Due to the regrettable lack of efficient law enforcement especially in Eastern Gulf of Guinea, this consolidated antipiracy guidance is a must-read for seafarers operating within reach of Nigerian pirates'.
INTERCARGO secretary general Dr Kostas Gkonis added: 'The safety of seafarers is our top priority. Seafarers need our support and with this publication, supplemented by adequate training, we hope seafarers should feel and be safer. Their feedback would also be much welcome for the industry to improve the offered guidance.'
Nautilus members who are experiencing difficulties related to the coronavirus outbreak are advised to contact their industrial organiser for assistance. In an emergency members can also contact the Nautilus 24/7 helpline.