Today it was confirmed a Union Maritime tanker has been hijacked by pirates. ARX Maritime’s COO has written an article in response to the news…
ARX Maritime COO, Steve Regis:
“Imagine for a moment, being on board a ship thousands of miles away from your home and you suddenly realise that you are being attacked by a gang of pirates.
Fast forward thirty minutes and you are bound and gagged, stuffed on to a speeding boat heading towards a foreign land to be held a hostage.
How do you feel? How would your family react to the news?
Being attacked by pirates is one of the most terrifying experiences that a seafarer can go through. In my previous career as an armed guard I have seen for myself the look of fear in a Captain’s eyes during an attack. I managed to stop the attack. Some seafarers are not as fortunate. Falling in to that category are the 22 crew members of the Union Maritime MT Barrett that was hijacked and kidnapped on the 9th February.
The latest report from the IMB shows a noticeable reduction in acts of piracy, which is great news, however there is still more that we can and should do.
Best Management Practices (BMP4) offers guidance which is a great start but should only be treated as the ‘absolute basics’ of how to prepare for and prevent a hijacking. I genuinely believe that we should do everything that we can to keep our seafarers safe, and this was the inspiration behind developing our anti-boarding barrier system, the ABaC. From my experience as a former Royal Marine Commando and my five years at sea as an armed guard, I know that razor wire isn’t enough. I wanted to design something that would be considerably more effective.
I thought that if we could prevent a hooked ladder or climbing pole from being attached to the vessel then we can significantly increase the survivability against a hijacking. And this is what we have done, and we are proud to be protecting companies such as BP, BW and Maran Gas.
Piracy is reducing, but it’s not dead. In fact, many industry experts have predicted a rapid recurrence of Somali piracy. Vigilance both ashore and aboard should never wean, the threat should always be taken seriously and I believe that all hardening measure that can be taken within budgets should be taken. Most Company Security Officers (CSO’s) have no direct military or security experience because they are usually mariners, so naturally there will be questions they have outside of the BMP 4 guidance and that’s fine, just ask someone who has.
The fate of the 22 crew members of the Barrett is unknown.”