13 Steps to protect the vessel against the Piracy
As maritime organisations continue to bring in newer regulations and guidelines to protect ship from pirates, seafarers are also required to stay extremely cautious and vigilant when their ship enters a piracy sensitive area.
Here are the top 13 steps to ensure your ship can escape a pirate attack:
- Keep Yourself Updated with the Latest Happenings of the High Risk Areas
Get all the latest available information on piracy sensitive areas your ship is about to enter. Based on this information, carry out a thorough risk assessment of the vessel to assess the likelihood and consequences of piracy attacks.
The ship’s master is also required to prepare an Emergency Communication Plan to Include All Emergency Contact Numbers and prepared messages which should be ready or permanently displayed near all external communication systems. All important warnings and information on high risk areas should be carefully reviewed.
- Ship Security Plan
It is the duty of the SSO and Master to review the SSP on a regular basis under the ISPS code. SSP shall be implemented by exercising and briefing well ahead of ship passing high risk areas.
- Take all Measures for Crew Safety
The safety of the ship’s crew is of prime importance. Ensure all measures are taken to prevent illegal boarding and external access to the ship’s accommodation area. The location of the muster station and citadel should be such that they are easily and quickly accessible by the ship’s crew. Care should also be taken to ensure that the crew members are not trapped inside and are able to escape in other emergency situations like fire.
- Check Ship’s Freeboard
As usually seen, pirates try to board the ship using the lowest point above the waterline as it is easy for them to climb. On the basis of past experience, it is said that the ships having a minimum freeboard greater than 8 meters have better chances of escaping a piracy attempt. However, it is to note that a large freeboard would not be of any help if the ship has easy access points to climb the ship. Special protective measures must be provided to these access points.
- Prepare to Keep Ship’s Speed as high as possible
Ship’s speed is considered one of the most effective ways to prevent a pirate attack. As it is difficult for pirates to board at high speeds, ships are recommended to proceed at full speed during their transit through high risk area.
Note: Usually a pirate attack is carried out using small crafts which are supported by bigger vessels (mother ships). This tends to restrict their operations to moderate sea state. Sea state 3 and above are difficult to operate small crafts.
- Keep Non-Lethal Weapons Ready
Keep all the non-lethal weapons handy and ensure they are in proper working condition. Crew members must know how to operate non-lethal weapons during emergency situations.
- Check Fire Pumps and Engines
Check all fire pumps are working properly as they will be required to run fire hoses during pirate attacks. Also ensure that the engines are working properly as the ship will be required to transit at full speed through the high risk zone.
- Brief Crew and Conduct Drill
Before entering high risk zone the ship’s crew should be properly briefed on the preparations taken and piracy drill should also be conducted. All personnel should know their duties and must be familiar with piracy alarms and necessary response for the same.
- Secure Doors and Hatches
Doors and hatches providing access to bridge accommodation and machinery spaces should be properly secured to prevent pirates from them. If required additional means must to taken to properly secure doors and hatches for additional protection.
Prior to entering high risk areas, procedures for controlling access to accommodation, machinery spaces and store rooms should be set out and practiced.
- Controlled and Restricted Entry
It is important to secure different entry points in the ship, as it will be practically not possible to shut all for few entry/ exit points are required for watch and other important ship operations to continue. It must be ensured that any emergency exit cannot be opened by outside and if pirates do gain access to the upper deck of a vessel they will be tenacious in their efforts to gain access to the accommodation section and in particular, the bridge.
- Use Physical Barriers
Use physical barriers such as razor wires along the periphery of the ship to prevent pirates from boarding. Also keep water cannons, ballast / fire pumps, and fire hoses ready. Use all kind of barriers that are available to prevent pirates from boarding the ship.
- Check Ship’s AIS system, radar, and other important navigation equipment
Ensure that the ship’s AIS system, other important navigation equipment and SSAS are working properly. It is recommended to keep the ship’s AIS system ON while transiting the high risk zone. Ship Security Alert System (SSAS) should be checked prior entering the HRA.
- Keep Communication ON
Communication is an important aspect to tackle any emergency operation, especially in piracy related situations. It is important that all the crew members keep an active communication throughout.
The relevant contact information that should be available on the bridge.
The above mentioned points are some of the most important things that should be checked before the ship enters piracy zone. However, the precautions to be taken should also include factors such as type of ship, route, weather conditions etc.