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Services ó Ship Protection / Anti-Piracy

Ship piracy incidents are increasing across the world, particularly off the coast of Africa.  Pirates have become more and more brazen in their attacks, targeting larger ships at greater distances from shore than ever before.  Ships and their crews typically transit pirate-infested waters with little, if any, protection against an increasingly sophisticated enemy.

The Piracy Problem

Modern pirates usually attack in small speedboats, using automatic weapons and rocket propelled grenades to force a vessel to stop.  They then use ropes and ladders to climb a ship's hull and seize the crew.  Once they take control of a ship, pirates typically demand a substantial ransom to release the vessel.  British Foreign Secretary David Miliband stated that "payments for hostage-taking are only an encouragement to further hostage taking" and urged the international community to stand firm against the "scourge" of hostage-taking.  Unfortunately, the world's military forces and law enforcement agencies lack the ability to effectively patrol the vast expanse of pirate-infested waters.  For this reason, governments are now urging shipowners to take proactive steps to protect their vessels from pirates.  According to the commander of the U.S. Fifth Fleet, based in Bahrain, "shipping companies have to understand that naval forces cannot be everywhere.  Self-protection measures are the best way to protect their vessels."  

However, ship crews are hired for their navigational or engineering training and experience, and are not trained for, or experienced in, resisting armed attacks on their vessels.  In fact, arming a shipís crew and expecting it to provide effective resistance to such attacks could expose them to even greater danger.  Further, an armed resistance unit has to be trained and experienced in recognizing innocuous vessels whose actions could be misconstrued as aggressive, to avoid the kind of mistake that could result in harm to innocent parties.

Shiprotek Anti-Piracy Services

VessEx Shiprotek is a service providing a highly skilled and trained team, armed with the latest and most effective weaponry, to escort ships through dangerous waters.  A Shiprotek team can board a client's vessel at an agreed upon location, anywhere in the world, ride with the ship during the ship's voyage through a troubled area, and disembark the vessel at a convenient port after the transit through the high-risk area.  During the transit, our personnel will:

  • train the ship's crew in proven techniques to deter a pirate attack, 
  • assess the ship's security situation, including the identification of spaces to be used by the crew in the event of an emergency,
  • implement procedures for minimizing the ship's risk to a pirate attack, including the use of minimal lighting (safe navigation lights only) while transiting unsafe areas, 
  • conduct response drills during the early stages of the transit,
  • maintain a 24/7 watch on the stern of the vessel, and
  • establish communications protocols between the Shiprotek team and the crew

Upon the identification of a genuine threat from a civilian vessel, the VessEx Shiprotek team will first attempt to contact the vessel by radio to warn it to keep its distance or otherwise present evidence of peaceful intentions. If such assurances are not forthcoming, and the vessel continues its approach, the team will use high-powered binoculars, scopes, and/or night-vision goggles to determine the vessel's intentions. 

At the moment that a threat is identified, the shipís crew will commence emergency radio communications with law enforcement and military authorities. The engine-room crew will be instructed to secure fuel supply and other systems in preparation for a possible RPG strike in the engine room. The entire crew will be instructed to take cover as appropriate to the situation and watch-keeping requirements. The shipís master will maintain full emergency speed. 

If the team leader determines that the intentions of an approaching vessel are aggressive and illegal, the team will use every effort to deter the attack by non-lethal means. The teamís primary aim at this point is to keep the threat vessel beyond effective RPG range (approx. 300 meters). If the threat vessel(s) continues its approach, the team will take measures to repel the attack and will coordinate with the vessel's crew in implementing anti-boarding measures. If the attackers succeed in disabling the shipís propulsive machinery, the shipís crew will concentrate on keeping the vessel afloat and stabilized while the VessEx Shiprotek team will concentrate on preventing the pirates from boarding the vessel until naval, coast guard, or air assistance can arrive. 

Experience has indicated that, when presented with armed resistance, most pirates will break off the attack and decide to seek easier prey.

Somali pirates

Area of recent Somali pirate attacks

Book cover of Seized

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