An Unarmed Approach to Piracy

By Kevin Reeder
Monday, September 30, 2013
Jeppesen PiracyUpdate is based on intelligence from recognized and authoritative sources on global sea piracy. PiracyUpdate helps seafarers and the marine industry identify, understand and manage the risks associated with piracy on the high seas.

Technology might allow some ships to leave the guns at home. That doesn’t mean they will be defenseless.

The changing seascape of global piracy indicates that the technology to share and integrate information may prove to be as important for safe navigation as military support. Modern piracy is here to stay. And it’s no longer confined to the Gulf of Aden. The latest hotspot is West Africa, where the oil-rich Gulf of Guinea is seeing a spike in the number of attacks. Vulnerable areas include the waters off Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Benin, Togo, Cameroon and Lagos.

A Paradigm \Shift in Global Piracy
According to Arild Nodland, CEO at Bergen Risk Solutions (BRS), global piracy is changing. Somali piracy might still be the foremost threat in the minds of shipowners and operators, but a glance at the incident map will show it becoming less common. According to Nodland, the decline in Somali piracy has been achieved by containment and deterrence tactics.
With piracy moving from Somalia to the Gulf of Guinea and further offshore, the pirates’ strategies are changing. “Nigerian pirates are using motherships. They are using some of the same methods as the Somalian pirates,” said Nodland.
Not only is there a change in the pirates’ modus operandi, but also in their choice of targets, with kidnappings taking a backseat role. Recently, there has been a rise in the number of oil-product tanker hijackings, according to Nodland. Rather than kidnapping people, pirates hijack a tanker, steal the fuel cargo, transfer it onto a local tanker and get away with it. “It’s an enormously lucrative trade,” Nodland said.
But it’s not just Africa that’s at risk. Piracy is global. In recent years countries from India and Indonesia to Peru and the Philippines have seen vessel hijackings and armed robbery in their waters. Besides costing the shipping industry billions each year, piracy today puts the lives and wellbeing of thousands of seafarers at risk. Piracy is all about armed robbery, assault, murder and even torture.
Armed guards onboard ships have proven to be an effective measure against piracy. But what about complementary e-navigation based solutions that can help seafarers to avoid confrontation entirely?

E-Navigation to Combat the Piracy Threat
Research and the use of data can go a long way towards avoiding the scourge of the seas.
For Nodland, getting information out of Nigeria is a challenge, because “the oil companies and government tend to keep a lid on things. But we have an excellent network in the country that enables us to provide good data on maritime security,” he adds.
BRS uses Jeppesen’s Piracy Update software to help customers identify, understand and manage the risks associated with crime at sea. It is based on intelligence from recognized and authoritative sources on global sea piracy. BRS gathers, verifies and uploads this information five times a day during the week and once on weekends.
Piracy Update is used by mariners aboard vessels, as well as by owners, operators and insurers ashore. Several national navies use it too. Another feature of the software is the inclusion of weather information. This is important because pirates can’t operate in certain weather conditions.
 “The challenge is not lack of information but too much of it,” says Nodland. “So one needs a system that can process then disseminate what is timely and relevant. Piracy Update’s filtering function allows us to select incidents and time frames that are relevant to our customers’ requirements.”
BRS uses Piracy Update every day to locate high-risk areas and to communicate this knowledge to customers.
“We use it when producing risk assessments for clients with a long-term outlook, such as drilling and seismic operators – and we use it to assist clients with a much shorter term requirement, for example ships in transit in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean,” said Nodland.

Piracy Update in Action
One example where Piracy Update helped provide valuable insight to lawyers, insurers, the owner, charterers and other parties involved, was when 14 hijackers armed with AK-47s and knives approached a 73,400-dwt Greek oil tanker on October 6, 2012. The vessel was in the region to carry out two ship-to-ship transfers off Abidjan. It had 30,000 tons of gas oil on board. Before the second operation took place, the ship switched off all lights and sailed directly south without explanation. A total of 24 Greek and Filipino crew were on board the vessel. The vessel was forced to steam southeast and then northeast towards Nigeria. Three days later the ship met a waiting vessel and the hijackers offloaded 2,600 metric tons of gasoline. The vessel was released some 50 NM east of Lagos on October 9.
“Piracy Update quickly established a good overview of the geographical situation and also immediately showed us that this was an atypical attack, as it was carried out 350 nautical miles west of the pirates’ usual hunting grounds,” says Nodland. “That made us uncertain at first; but when we used Piracy Update to compare this hijacking with what we knew about similar incidents, in terms of the modus operandi, type of ship being hijacked and cargo carried, we were soon able to tell the client what had happened, what the risks were to their vessel, cargo and crew, and what was likely to happen next.”
“When we plotted distances and calculated the ship’s speed from the point she was hijacked to where the pirates were likely to take her, we could also provide the owners with a rough timeframe for how long the hijacking was going to last,” said Nodland.
Piracy Update is delivered by Jeppesen and integrated with its other products — electronic navigation charts, ports database, weather and wave forecasts — allowing Nodland’s team to quickly plan a safe seaborne medical evacuation, which was thankfully unnecessary. That said; Nodland emphasizes, “It is not a miracle tool. It cannot tell you where the pirates will take a hijacked ship, for example. So we rely on good intelligence analysts and experienced area specialists as well.” Piracy Update may not be a miracle, but it does provide a sound technology that supports a non-military approach to combating modern piracy.
 


(As published in the 3Q edition of Maritime Professional - www.maritimeprofessional.com)
 

Maritime Reporter July 2014 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

Technology

Smart-Ship 'Quantum of the Seas' Readies

Tech-savvy modern travelers will be wowed by Royal Caribbean International's newest ship, 'Quantum of the Seas', which incorporates unprecedented levels of technology

Port of Long Beach Chooses APS Crane OCR System

APS Technology Group, a member of the ABB Group and a leading provider of optical character recognition (OCR) and process automation technology solutions for marine and intermodal container terminals,

Wood Group Kenny Wins 2 Contracts from Petrobras

Wood Group Kenny (WGK) has won two contracts with a total value of over $2 million with Brazilian operator Petrobras. In the first, WGK has begun a conceptual

Navigation

Pine Galaxy Expected to Arrive in San Francisco Today

The disabled mixed-products tanker Pine Galaxy is expected to arrive in San Francisco Wednesday morning. The ship is being towed by commercial tug to San Francisco Bay.

SevenCs Debuts Aviation Module for ECDIS Kernel

The new 5.18 version of the EC 2007 software development kit (SDK) from SevenCs is available for both Windows and Linux applications, updated to now include support

GPS Satellites Launched, Stray Off Course

Following an announcement made by Arianespace on the anomalies of the orbit injection of the Galileo satellites, the teams of industries and agencies involved in

Education/Training

Crane Operator Alert: Certification Requirement

Although OSHA Stakeholders have voted to extend the final deadline in four different meetings, the deadline has not been officially extended by US Government agency OSHA as of yet,

Last Call for Netherlands Marine Propulsion Course

The Marine Propulsion Course this autumn is almost sold out. In this course you will be trained to understand the specific characteristics of ships, engines, transmission systems,

Webb Institute Selects Crowley Scholarship Recipients

Webb Institute, a four-year college specializing in naval architecture and marine engineering, announced the 2014-2015 recipients of Crowley Maritime Corp.’s Thomas B.

Maritime Security

RN Warship Intercepts Caribean Drug Smugglers

Royal Navy warship HMS Argyll has seized £21 million worth of cocaine after a 12-hour pursuit across the Caribbean, informs the Ministry of Defence. Sailors then

USCG Small Boat Fires Warning Shot at Iranian Vessel

A U.S. Coast Guard boat operating in international waters in the Arabian Gulf fired on an Iranian dhow in what U.S. military officials described as a defensive

US, China Officials Meet After Navy Jet Intercept

U.S. and Chinese military officials will hold talks on rules of behavior at the Pentagon on Tuesday and Wednesday, a U.S. official said, days after the United States

Maritime Safety

Pariah Containership Banned from Australian Ports

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) informs that it has issued a direction to the container ship 'Vega Auriga' (IMO 9347786) that prohibits the ship

Anchorage Area Obstruction in Freeport

Brazos Pilots Association in Freeport, Texas, advise that a 600-700' long wire is presenting a hazard to vessels in the north Freeport general anchorage. According to advice from the Association,

Pine Galaxy Expected to Arrive in San Francisco Today

The disabled mixed-products tanker Pine Galaxy is expected to arrive in San Francisco Wednesday morning. The ship is being towed by commercial tug to San Francisco Bay.

 
 
Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Maritime Contracts Maritime Security Navigation Port Authority Salvage Ship Simulators Shipbuilding / Vessel Construction Sonar Winch
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | terms and conditions | contributors | top maritime news | about us | copyright | maritime magazines
maritime security news | shipbuilding news | maritime industry | shipping news | maritime reporting | workboats news | ship design | maritime business

Time taken: 0.2523 sec (4 req/sec)