Shipping, Piracy And Safety During Sailing

By: Tejeshwar Singh Rana, 2nd Officer, Shell shipping-London, UK & Associate Editor-ICN 

Merchant Navy plays a very important role to keep a country and the world running by transporting men and material.

I being a seafarer will share my own experience when the ship I sailed on met with a piracy attack is West Africa near Nigeria. The ship was trading in Nigeria region trading for oil products. Nowadays Asia, Mid-East, East Africa and West African region are most affected by piracy attacks.

Once during sailing my ship was attacked by five boats with pirates on them, I was on bridge, from where the ship is navigated. It was 20:45 pm at night when I observed the boats from bridge and saw a person trying to put a ladder on the ship’s railing so that the pirates could easily board the ship.

The weather was rough, on seeing them I immediately put on the general alarm and manoeuvred the ship from left to right. We did not have armed guards. After the manoeuvring, the pirates did not succeed in boarding the ship; they started firing on the ship. There were five boats with pirates who fired upon us for 1 hour. Luckily after an hour the firing stopped and pirates stopped chasing us. Till next day morning captain of the ship and all the officers were in doubt if a pirates have succeeded to board the ship. Next day morning ship staff conducted a search operation of the ship for a pirate presence. After the search it was confirmed that no pirate is present on ship, what was found was a ship bag full of bullets shells all around.

The International Maritime Organisation (IMO), The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), BIMCO, The Oil Companies International Maritime Forum (OCIMF), The International Association of Independent Tanker Owners (INTERTANKO), and International Shipping Federation (ISF) welcome the recent decrease in the number of attempted and successful attacks against ships by Somali-based pirates operating in the Gulf of Aden and western Indian Ocean.

The decrease may be attributed to combination of factors, including the presence of naval forces disrupting pirate operations, implementation of self protection measures on board merchant ships and better situational awareness of where the threats are coupled with more effective actions ashore in Somalia by the Somali authorities and international community.

The above mentioned organisations remain convinced that the only long-term solution to piracy is to established effective government and implements the rules of law ashore in Somalia and West-Africa. However, until that is achieved, there can be no room for complacency; any reduction in the level of protection of merchant ships could lead to a resurgence of pirate activities. Piracy must continue to be suppressed through the visible presence of and robust action by the world’s navies, consistent with international law.

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