Widening piracy threat

The pirate attacks in recent weeks off Togo and Benin are a reminder of the threat to shipping around the west coast of Africa and of the need for precautions in this region.  Relatively low-level criminal attacks seeking to steal cash and valuable equipment have escalated to incidents of attempted ship hijack and theft of cargoes.

The Club has previously issued specific loss prevention bulletins (No. 763 and No. 623) on the threat from west African piracy.  These are in the Maritime Security and Piracy section of our Knowledge & Developments area, together with advice on Indian Ocean threats. 

The focus of recent attacks off west Africa on product / chemical carriers highlights the vulnerability of low freeboard ships and exemplifies the similarity of tactics to those employed by Somali pirates.

Such threats are just as dangerous to ship’s crews as those more publicised incidents off the Somali coast. In an earlier incident, a Member ship was subjected to two hours of constant attack.  Her master undertook a variety of evasive manoeuvres and very bravely attempted to counter the approach of the attackers despite heavy machine gun fire.

Many of the precautions compiled in materials to counter the threat from Somali pirates are equally applicable to this situation.  The main collated source of advice is the Best Management Practices (BMP4) booklet which can be downloaded from the Maritime Security and Piracy section of the website.

The International Maritime Bureau’s Piracy Reporting Centre collates reports of such incidents and provides regular advice.  It is one of a number of links provided on the Maritime Security links page of this website.

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