Dirección del CHAT

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viernes, 3 de mayo de 2013


THE GULF of Guinea has presented security challenges for many years, unfortunately the scale, range and frequency of these challenges is increasing.

The high risk area for shipping encompasses the Gulf of Guinea, the Bight of Benin ant the Bight of Bonny. This includes the territorial waters of Togo, Benin and Nigeria.

In the past few months, industry has seen an increase in attacks on vessels, which have included theft of cargo and ship’s possessions, and more recently the unfortunate death of a crew member during an attack.

With an increase in the capabilities of pirate groups off the Gulf of Guinea and limited security in the West African seas, attacks are likely to grow.

West Coast Africa   - Gulf of Guinea


West Africa is a very different environment to the Indian Ocean. Unlike East Africa, armed security can only be provided by the national armed forces of each country in their own territorial waters.

Any armed security personnel inside of these countries’ territorial waters must be serving members of the National Armed Forces.

The West African criminal gangs are more sophisticated than the Somali pirates. They have better vessel and cargo intelligence, access to weaponry, knowledge of shipping operations, links into black markets and corrupt government officials.

Thus, one obvious strategy is to try to limit knowledge of the cargo to be carried and most vulnerable operating locations, such as STS locations and anchorages. In some cases, the actions of the crew have increase vessel vulnerability, for example by illegally selling ROB (bunkers or lubricants remaining on-board) or cargo – usually petroleum products – at sea. As such, communications with third parties and exchange of operational information should be kept to the minimum required for safe operations. Shipboard planning must focus on compliance with vessel hardening training.


Vessels operating in West Africa are often required to spend lengthy periods either drifting or anchorages.

A stationary vessel is an easy target for pirates. Vessel hardening techniques used to protect moving vessels in the Indian Ocean are not likely to prove effective for stationary vessel it may be more appropriate to think about the type of defenses a land facility would require to make it secure from attack by armed gangs. Water spray around the stern and upper deck will help discourage boarding attempts.

Pirates have boarded via Yokohama fenders on vessels engaged in STS operations or even via anchor chains and hawse pipes.

When at anchor, hawse pipe covers must be properly secured and you should consider keeping the anchor washer running.

Keep AIS data to a minimum, especially regarding cargo information – recent vessel attacks have been directed on vessels where cargo can be easily sold on such as gas oil and gasoline.


Implement the advice outline in BMP and the V.Ships GOC (Gulf of Guinea) procedures. Ensure a risk assessment is carried out, training drills are held, vessel is hardened and a high level of vigilance is maintained throughout. Brief all personnel on their duties prior to arrival in the HRA and make sure people know procedures to be followed for use of the citadel.

Where local armed personnel are used – maintain control. Just like East Africa, rules on the use of force still apply. A large number of attacks and robberies take place around the Nigerian ports and Terminals; therefore it is advisable to retain the security until the vessel departs the 150NM point.

Not all navies in the Gulf of Guinea have the resources to fight piracy far out at sea, so criminal gangs shift to other areas. The Nigerian navy must be commended however on its reactions to a number of incidents where their presence was instrumental in rescuing vessels.


In an encouraging development, a Security Co-ordination Centre will be established in Ghana over the coming months. OCIMF have been involved in the development of this project and this maritime Trade Information Sharing Centre will cover the whole Gulf of Guinea. This will be similar to the information sharing and early warning system in the Indian Ocean and will make a big difference to ship and crew safety.

Industry will continue to lobby for greater capacity building amongst regional navies to provide sufficient resources to effectively patrol the vast geographical area. 



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