The threat to maritime trade from Somali pirates continues, and ship operators should stay vigilant and adhere to best management practices, according to private maritime security company Sea Marshals Ltd, which counsels against complacency at this time.
Latest security industry intelligence points to a likely upsurge in pirate attacks, particularly given recent releases of hijacked vessels and a reduction in attack success rates.
Thomas Jakobsson, Chief of Operations for U.K. headquartered Sea Marshals Ltd, said, “Private maritime security companies are expecting the pirate attack groups to renew their activity in the coming months as they try to acquire more vessels.
Sea Marshals advises all its clients of the need to robustly comply with BMP4 as applicable to their vessel, particularly the reporting requirements and vessel hardening measures. Sea Marshals’ own Standard Operating Procedures are built around all relevant BMP4 recommendations. In addition, the company places huge emphasis on training its personnel in the rules on use of force and the implementation of non-violent measures at all times.
Yet there are still instances of ships not complying with BMP. In fact the Maritime Security Center, Horn of Africa (MSCHOA) monitors vessels’ adherence with BMP4 and reports instances of non-compliance on a monthly basis.
Steve Collins, Sea Marshals’ Operations Manager, said, “Much is being made of the recent decrease in attacks, availability of naval forces in the region and armed guards proving an effective deterrent, and rightly so. But we are now seeing this translate to a potentially worrying lack of vigilance and due care by vessels in the High Risk Area. Even with these procedures being advised and our Team Leaders trying to enforce them, we have documented instances of Masters refusing to follow them. Our teams cannot override the Master’s wishes without being seen to be disrespectful, breaching our acknowledgment of SOLAS and IMO recommendations and, of course, without losing the trust and working relationship with the Master and crew that is vital to a safe transit.”
Any such non-compliance is also a breach of Sea Marshals’ own Standard Operating Procedures. Mr. Collins said security operatives on any non-compliant vessel will adapt and report as best they can during the transit but the company will take such a breach seriously and may refuse to embark the vessel in future unless procedures are implemented correctly.