Security alert for ships operating in the Gulf Of Guinea

Overview

Joint-industry alert on piracy in the Gulf of Guinea

The following alert should be read by all members operating ships in the Gulf of Guinea (GoG).

Joint-industry alert on piracy in the Gulf of Guinea

Two tankers have been hijacked in the last three weeks in the Gulf of Guinea. This, coupled with the number of attacks and kidnappings of seafarers in this region has alarmed the international shipping industry. The Round Table of Shipping Associations and OCIMF, are working with the region and navies to address the security considerations. However, in response to this increased threat of hijack and kidnap in the Gulf of Guinea the international shipping industry reminds all shipowners and managers, and the seafarers operating in the area, that they have a responsibility to ensure that their ships are adequately protected. This means full compliance with the Guidelines for Owners, Operators and Masters for protection against piracy in the Gulf of Guinea region (Version 2, June 2016).

This regional guidance is to be read in conjunction with the 4th edition of the Best Management Practices for Protection against Somalia Based Piracy as amended (BMP4).

Ships operating in the area are also strongly urged to report to the Maritime Domain Awareness for Trade – Gulf of Guinea (MDAT-GoG). The centre is jointly operated by the French and UK navies.  Operational position reporting data is not shared with the region and is a secure and trusted agency. However, this centre does liaise directly with the navies in the region in the event of an attack. If a ship does not report to the centre then there is likely to be a delay in the response from the regional navy. The reporting details are shown on Admiralty Maritime Security Chart Q6114.  Alerts and warnings will be received from MDAT-GoG from the following:

watchkeepers@mdat-gog.org
Emergency Tel: +33(0) 298 22 88 88

As a minimum, CSOs and Masters of ships operating in the area should plan according to the following:

  • Rendezvous - where possible, to avoid waiting and slow steaming. Consider offering several alternative rendezvous points and advise rendezvous points at the last minute. If waiting, keep well off the coast (up to 200nm). Do not give away waiting positions. Do not drift and keep engines ready for immediate manoeuvres.
  • Ships should proceed within the 200nm range at full speed.
  • Anchoring - where practicable, a prolonged stay at anchorage is to be avoided.
  • Minimise use of VHF and use email or secure satellite telephone instead. Where possible only answer known or legitimate callers on the VHF, bearing in mind that imposters are likely and may even appear in uniform.
  • The greatest risk of piracy is at night and this needs to be factored into all planning. Where possible, operations should start and end during daylight hours.
  • The use of privately contracted armed security providers (PCASP) on board is banned in Nigerian waters. 
  • Nigerian Naval armed guards can protect merchant ships utilising patrol boats to escort ships in the region.
  • If using an armed escort, due diligence on the company providing this service must be conducted to ensure strict adherence to the MOU issued by the Nigerian Navy and NIMASA.
  • Shipowners and managers must have a means of verification that hardening measures are available and in place on vessels prior to entering the GoG area.
  • Spot checks for verification at ports within the GoG area is an additional option to consider.

The international shipping community remains alert to the insecurity and will continue to work with regional partners to achieve safe and secure shipping.

Ends

Philip Tinsley
By Philip Tinsley
in Copenhagen, DK

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