An attack that occurred in Nigerian waters on Tuesday against Maltese-flagged tanker Kalamos has raised new concerns about the capability of local security agencies and could lead to further calls for changes to maritime security legislation in the region., says private maritime security company NYA International.
The vessel was targeted by 14 well-armed gunmen aboard two speedboats between 21:20 and 22:00 UTC, approximately 20NM off the coast of Akwa Ibom State. One crew member died and another was wounded as eight pirates boarded the vessel and kidnapped three other crew members.
This latest incident continues a disturbing new trend in the modus operandi of pirate cells operating in Nigeria. Since the beginning of 2015, there has been a high level of violence against targeted vessels, with three armed forces personnel and one police officer killed in separate incidents.
NYA says the latest attack raises new concerns over the capability of the Nigerian Navy and Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA). Currently the NN operates as the near sole authority in respect to maritime protection. In the light of this latest incident companies are likely to continue lobbying for changes to legislation pertaining to maritime security; specifically pushing for authorisation of armed Private Maritime Security Companies (PMSCs).
NYA has issued the vessel security advice for the Gulf of Guinea:
Ensure contingency plans are understood and rehearsed, emergency contact details are up-to-date, and have prepared messages for emergency use.
Implement the advice outlined in BMP4 and NATO Interim Guidelines against piracy in the Gulf of Guinea (GoG), such as compiling a rigorous risk assessment, crew training and preparation, vessel hardening, and maintaining elevated vigilance throughout. Brief all personnel on their duties prior to arrival in the region.
Evidence suggests attacks are intelligence-led with particular products such as gasoil or gasoline targeted in well-organised attacks. Communications should be kept to a minimum, with close attention paid to organising rendezvous points or waiting positions.
A moving ship is a more effective deterrent; even if told to drift prior to loading, steaming is advised.
Fences, 360-razor wire and other hardening measures, if correctly deployed, can significantly increase the difficulty of access. Ensure this is planned and conducted prior to arrival in the GoG.
Do not approach the port until you have to, and where possible maintain a safe distance 200NM off the coast. Prior to entering the GoG ensure increased watch routine is established, with regular changeovers of watches to ensure crew members remain alert.
For email correspondence to agents, charterers, chandlers etc it is strongly recommended that address lists be controlled and that information within the email is concise, containing the minimum that is legally required in order to fulfil requirements or contractual obligations.