Safety Guidelines When Passing Through or Near Pirate Waters

by | Friday, August 1, 2014 |

Piracy is a real and serious threat in multiple areas around the world. Mariners traveling abroad are urged to use extreme caution when entering known pirate waters. Read on for more information about the best safety practices when traversing dangerous pirate waters.

Avoid Pirate Waters if Possible

The best and most effective safety measures are, of course, to avoid areas that are known for episodes of pirate attacks. Areas of piracy include areas around South East Asia and the Indian sub continent, Africa and the Red Sea, South and Central America, and the Caribbean, according to ICC Commercial Crime Services.

Naval patrols are ongoing in an attempt to deter pirate activity, but the area of these waters is vast and many pirate vessels are small enough to escape detection. If possible, avoid these areas. But if you must enter areas of known pirate waters, keep the following safety guidelines in mind.

If You Must Travel in Pirate Waters, Remember These Safety Tips

Again, avoiding pirate waters and staying informed of new pirate attacks is the best method for remaining safe while at sea. However, if you must travel through areas known for piracy, keep the following safety guidelines in mind, as adapted from the Best Management Practices for Protection against Somalia Based Piracy (BMP4).

  • Report and register your transit with official maritime organizations. The BMP4 recommends reporting to the UKMTO and registering with the MSCHOA. Look up other official agencies when traveling in pirate waters. Also use your AIS and keep it turned on.
  • Avoid detection by only using navigation lights. Also check reports of recent pirate activity to be aware of where pirates are currently operating.
  • Post lookouts and use radar to detect pirates. This can help you prepare as much in advance as possible if pirates are targeting the vessel.
  • Make sure you're prepared for an attack if you're traversing pirate waters. This includes using razor wire to keep pirates off the vessel and using water, foam, etc. to repel them.
  • Designate a safe muster point. This is the area where crew gathers in the event of an attack, which is usually lower in the vessel. Those who are not required to be on the bridge will head to this location and should provide protection from small arms weapons.
  • Increase your speed and maneuver the vessel to prevent the pirates from boarding your vessel. The BMP4 contains information about avoiding the pirates if they are in pursuit of your vessel.
  • Make sure your crew knows how to handle a pirate attack situation. Always practice your procedures and run drills regularly so you're prepared in the event of an attack.

Finally, refer to the full text of the Best Management Practices for Protection against Somalia Based Piracy for more detailed information and recommendations. The guide includes information about what a typical pirate attack consists of, how to protect the ship, planning for the event, and what to do if the pirates take control of the vessel despite your best efforts to prevent it.

Traveling in new waters can be a wonderful experience for maritime workers. But traveling in pirate waters carries risks of which all workers should be aware. Stay up to date on the latest pirate activity and recommendations from official organizations about handling pirate attacks, or hopefully avoiding them altogether.

And keep following the Marine Education Textbooks blog for more topics of interests to maritime workers, including those pertaining to piracy and more.

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