The Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO), and other major shipping groups including the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), INTERCARGO, INTERTANKO and the Oil Companies International Marine Forum (OCIMF), have warned that as the dry season approaches and sea conditions abate, an increase in attacks in the Gulf of Guinea will be on the increase and as such, maritime security risks to vessels operating in the Gulf of Guinea require renewed attention.
“Masters and crews need to be extra vigilant and ensure all security measures are taken,” the groups said in a joint statement on Thursday.
The shipping groups asked ship masters to ensure compliance with flag state requirements and guidance as part of measures to ensure the safety of all vessels and afford best protection to global trade.
“It should be noted that the Nigerian Navy arrests any ship found to have switched off their AIS. A decision to switch off AIS should therefore be based on concerns over safety and/or security and recorded in the vessel’s logbook to inform subsequent legal proceedings,” the groups said, adding that a Master should immediately report any incidence in the region to the Maritime Domain Awareness for Trade in the Gulf of Guinea (MDAT-GOG).
“If voyage plans permit, wait at distance offshore and transit at high speed to arrive at any rendezvous point ‘just in time’ including STS and/or offshore terminals.
Attacks have previously occurred 200nm from the coast and the past location of attacks should be considered. Whilst waiting offshore, engines must be ready for immediate manoeuvre.
Some vessels tender a virtual Notice of Readiness (NOR) whilst staying safely offshore, both tendering a virtual NOR and waiting offshore are accepted practice for many vessels operating in the GoG.
CSO’s and Masters should note, pirate gangs also attack in harbour and on loading installations. In addition to COVID-19 restrictions, crew should only leave the vessel if necessary, during their duties. Gangway staff should be briefed and instructed to keep a good look out for suspicious activity.
MDAT-GOG will share information of vessels being attacked with the navies operating in the region. Questions regarding information sharing can be directed to MDAT-GOG,” the groups added.