Pirates Thwarted By ‘Self-Help’ Practices

Best-Management Practices and other “self-help” measures were successfully used to resist around half of the reported piracy attacks against bulk carriers in the six months between November 2010 and April this year.

Of the 43 reported attacks against bulk carriers in this period, at least 19 can be identified as being repelled due to adherence to BMP, according to Intercargo in its bulk-sector analysis report this week.

“The vaunted adaptability of the pirates needs to be put within the context of a sector playing its part in meeting the challenge through self-help measures as well,” said Intercargo.

Those measures include training to undertake evasive manoeuvring, and protective procedures such as barbed wire.

Citadels have been used by crew in six cases during the period and armed guards have been influential in thwarting at least two attacks.

However, despite the success of BMP and self-help measures, some bulk carriers opted not to draw on them.

“We still find it staggering that some ships, albeit not as many as popularly imagined, are reported by EU Navfor as failing to fully implement BMP,” said Intercargo’s report.

“Bulk carriers have a lower incidence of this than their market share… but unless and until we have full compliance with BMP, we are missing an opportunity to defeat pirates.”

There is also, apparently, a link between poor performing shipping companies and an increased risk of being attacked by pirates.

Of the 38 bulk carriers seized since 2008, the average performance measurement, a tool used by Intercargo to measure performance and deficiencies, was below the benchmark. This suggests a “correlation between a quality culture and a propensity to be seized”, said Intercargo.

Also, nearly one third of all bulk carriers seized since 2008 have the origin or destination of their cargoes in countries in the Middle East and North Africa — areas that have seen civil and political unrest this year.

“Piracy has significant potential to destabilise entire regions,” said Intercargo.

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