‘Best Management Practices’ is misnamed says Colonel Richard Spencer, Chief of Staff of EU NAVFOR Operational Headquarters. The curse of minimum standards that infests much of the maritime industry applies to anti-piracy measures.
Many maritime security experts may sneer at the BMP as “like taking a knife to a gunfight” but when properly implemented it is proving more effective than anyone would have expected.
In the last five days seven vessels transiting in the Somali Basin escaped pirating thanks to BMP.
On the morning of Friday 19 November, the Master of the MV NYK Altair reported his vessel was being attacked by two skiffs using Rocket Propelled Grenades,RPGs, about 700 nautical miles East from Socotra Island. The container ship increased speed, took evasive manoeuvers and succeeded in evading the attack.
Also on Friday, in the afternoon, the MV Vega Libra was attacked some 750 nautical miles East from Socotra Island. The bulk carrier says it received hits from three RPGs and AK47 fire. Despite the suspected pirates’ perseverance, the MV Vega Libra continued evasive action, zigzagging, during the pirate attack. After more than an hour, the Pirate Action Group eventually abandoned its attack.
On the following morning, Saturday 20 November, the MV Graceful Madonna’s Master stated the vessel was being chased by a skiff about 750 nautical miles North East of Port Victoria, Seychelles. After 30 minutes and small arms fire at the vessel, the Pirate Action Group aborted its attack, disrupted by the vessel’s self-protection measures.
A few hours later on the same day, the MV Northern Promotion reported being under attack, approximately 300 nautical miles North East of Socotra Island. The merchant vessel increased speed to 22 knots, making it impossible for the pirates to board the vessel.
On the evening of Sunday 21 November, the MV Front Alfa reported it was under attack also 300 nautical miles North East of Socotra Island. Another merchant vessel in the vicinity of the products tanker reported seeing the vessel applying self protection measures and the suspected pirates aborted their attack.
The next day, Monday 22 November, the MV Sea Spirit, a crude-oil tanker, reported that two skiffs were suspiciously closing on the vessel, approximately 330 nautical miles North from Port Victoria. The Captain later reported he was under attack by five skiffs, using RPGs and small arms. The merchant vessel increased speed and undertook evasive manoeuvers, which discouraged the Pirate Action Group.
Early morning, Tuesday 23 November, the MV Carmencita reported it was being attacked by two skiffs approximately 250 nautical miles North East of Socotra Island. The Master of the bulk carrier got prepared to muster all non-essential personnel in a safe room and activated self-protection measures. The suspected pirates eventually abandoned their attack.
Says EUNAVFOR: “Despite damage to some of the vessels, all ships that had been under attack over this period reported they were safe and continuing their respective voyages. These seven vessels are the witnesses to the success of the scrupulous implementation of BMPs”.
Colonel Richard Spencer, Chief of Staff of EU NAVFOR Operational Headquarters says: “The Best Management Practices booklet should perhaps not be called ‘Best’ Management Practice but ‘Minimum’ Management Practice: self protection measures and ongoing vigilance remain, today, the most effective measures against piracy”