Dec 222010

Somali pirates cheer Whitehall bean-counters

Revisions in best management practices make an important point, and one that MAC has made before: Saferooms are not the first line of defence, they are the last. Bimco has alerted its members to the revised advice on citadels and MAC thanks Bimco for forwarding the details.

Note in particular the rules of engagement of military forces:

Piracy – Advice on the use of citadels has been revised by the shipping industry and military organisations

This text has been agreed by CMF, EUNAVFOR, NATO, UKMTO and the industry organisation signatories of BMP3.

If CITADELS are to be employed, it is strongly recommended that they must be seen as complementary to, rather than a replacement for, all other self-protection measures set out in BMP 3. It is the responsibility of owners, operators and masters to decide and implement their policy in relation to the use of citadels. The most effective counter-piracy tactic is to ensure through passive defensive measures that the pirates do not board the ship in the first place.

CITADELS have become a focus of discussion as a result of their successful use on recent occasions. However, there has been a mis-perception on the part of some in the Shipping Industry that the occupation of CITADELS will result in a military response to release the sea-farers. As a consequence of this mis-perception, and with support from Industry organisations, further guidance and advice relating to these expectations are provided below.

The use of a CITADEL DOES NOT guarantee a military response. Before owners, operators and masters commit to a policy that recommends the use of a citadel, it is important to understand the criteria that military forces will apply before a boarding to free the ship can be considered1:

  • 100% of the crew must be secured in the CITADEL.
  • The Crew of the ship must have self-contained, independent, 2-way external communications. Sole reliance on VHF communications is insufficient.
  • The pirates must be denied access to propulsion.

The following points should also be taken into consideration when preparing CITADELS:

  • All emergency equipment in the CITADEL should be fully and regularly tested for functionality.
  • The communications system should have a power supply for a minimum of 3 days, based on a continuous open line2.
  • A full list of emergency contact numbers including UKMTO should be held inside the CITADEL.
  • At least 3 days of food and water provisions for all the crew should be available in the CITADEL.
  • Medical supplies, including medication for the treatment of physical trauma, and sanitation should be made available.

1. [BIMCO’s underlining].
2. Consider satellite communications / satellite e-mail.

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