3.1 Prior to transiting the High Risk Area, ship operators and Masters should carry out a thorough Risk Assessment to assess the likelihood and consequences of piracy attacks to the vessel, based on the latest available information (see Annex A for useful contacts, including MSCHOA, NATO Shipping Centre, UKMTO and US NCAGs). The output of this Risk Assessment should identify measures for prevention, mitigation and recovery, which will mean combining statutory regulations with supplementary measures to combat piracy. It is important that the Risk Assessment is ship and voyage specific, and not generic. Factors to be considered in the Risk Assessment should include, but may not be limited to, the following:
3.2 Crew Safety:
The primary consideration should be to ensure the safety of the crew. Care should be taken, when formulating measures to prevent illegal boarding and external access to the accommodation, that crew members will not be trapped inside and should be able to escape in the event of another type of emergency, such as, for example fire.
Careful consideration should be given to the location of a Safe Muster Point or Citadel. (See section 8.13).
Consideration should also be given to the ballistic protection afforded to the crew who may be required to remain on the bridge during a pirate attack, recognising that pirates increasingly fire at the bridge of a vessel to try to force it to stop. (See section 8.3).
It is likely that pirates will try to board the ship being attacked at the lowest point above the waterline, making it easier for them to climb onboard. These points are often on either quarter or at the vessel’s stern.
Experience suggests that vessels with a minimum freeboard that is greater than 8 metres have a much greater chance of successfully escaping a piracy attempt than those with less.
A large freeboard will provide little or no protection if the construction of the ship provides access to pirates seeking to climb onboard, and thus further protective measures should be considered.
A large freeboard alone may not be enough to deter a pirate attack.
One of the most effective ways to defeat a pirate attack is by using speed to try to outrun the attackers and/or make it difficult to board.
To date, there have been no reported attacks where pirates have boarded a ship that has been proceeding at over 18 knots. It is possible however that pirate tactics and techniques may develop to enable them to board faster moving ships.
Ships are recommended to proceed at Full Sea Speed, or at least 18 knots where they are capable of greater speed, throughout their transit of the High Risk Area.
It is very important to increase to maximum safe speed immediately after identifying any suspicious vessel and as quickly as possible in order to try to open the CPA (Closest Point of Approach) from any possible attackers and/or make the vessel more difficult to board.
If a vessel is part of a ‘Group Transit’ (see section 7.9 for further details of Group Transits) within the Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor (IRTC), speed may be required to be adjusted.
It is recommended that reference should be made to the MSCHOA, NATO Shipping Centre and US NCAGs websites for the latest threat guidance regarding pirate attack speed capability.
3.5 Sea State:
Pirates mount their attacks from very small craft (skiffs), even where they are supported by larger vessels or ‘Motherships’, which tends to limit their operations to moderate sea states.
It is likely to be more difficult to operate small craft effectively in sea state 3 and above.