Too many ships today are still unprepared for transit through pirates waters, came the worrying verdict from the IQPC Counter-Piracy and Ship Security conference.
Too many ships today are still unprepared for transit through pirates waters, came the worrying verdict from the IQPC Counter-Piracy and Ship Security conference held in Dubai last week.
Joanna Edwards of conference organiser IQPC and author Steven Jones. Despite the internet containing vast amounts of maritime security information, it was stressed that for many vessels trading within the "underbelly" of the industry, piracy guidance is not being promulgated effectively, leaving crews unaware of how best to protect themselves.
It was also stressed that despite most companies taking security seriously, there are many vessels which do not receive the necessary support from their companies ashore and are unprepared for the threat they face and of the means to mitigate the security risks in the area.
Maritime security author, Steven Jones, addressed the conference with a presentation entitled "Making Security Work", highlighting the oft neglected and overlooked elements of security management at sea. Throughout the conference it became increasingly clear that information and security intelligence are key elements to enable vessels to react effectively to the piracy threats they are faced with. It is all too easy to forget that even today there are those working at sea who neither have access to the internet nor to the best management practices it can provide.
The stark message that crews are in danger prompted direct action to help give those heading from the Gulf into the piracy hotspots of the Gulf of Aden and Somali Basin better protection. Steven felt that a more straightforward solution is needed to help disconnected seafarers access the information that could one day save their lives. In collaboration with publisher Shiptalk Ltd and Conference organiser IQPC, arrangements were made for a donation of 50 copies of a pocket guide "Surviving a Piracy Attack" to be delivered to the Reverend Stephen Millar of the Dubai Mission to Seafarers.
Steven Jones said he felt compelled to act. "This small gesture can hopefully have a positive effect on those receiving the guide and will not only raise awareness but get them thinking about the risks they face and how they can best deal with them."
Surviving a Piracy Attack provides information in three separate sections: before, during and after an attack. "Before" assesses how best to avoid attack, including routing and transit information. "During" looks at how to defend a vessel, including advice on using the ship as a defensive weapon and how to best organise and manage the defence. If the worst does happen, and the vessel is taken, the guide features advice on how to cope with captivity and how to remain clearheaded and calm. There is also a translation section to help seafarers communicate with their captors.
Once the pirates leave, the trouble is not necessarily over. The "After" section provides advice on getting the vessel safely away from the trouble zone and also covers aftercare of personnel, with advice on post traumatic stress disorder and of how to "close out" the incident to ensure lessons are learned and those who have suffered can best move on after their ordeal.
This is not a guide about piracy. It is a manual to help keep people alive and in a positive mental state if they are unfortunate enough to suffer a pirate attack and find themselves in a hostage situation.
Captain Thomas Brown of Seacurus, the company which sponsored the guide, voiced his support of this donation. "We often speak in broad terms about shipping and all too easily forget those who perhaps work without the full support of their companies. We hope that the information in this guide now manages to get onto such vessels and allows the crew to understand the actions they need to take, and the means of protecting themselves."
Steven Jones added, "It"s great that such conferences are able to lead to tangible positive responses. We can all talk so much, but it is often harder to act".
"Surviving A Piracy Attack" by Steven Jones, ISBN: 978 0 9556513 9 7, is published by Shiptalk Publishing, and costs £12.99 for individual copies, with significant bulk order discounts available.