MSC.1-Circ.1334 - Guidance to shipowners and ship operators, shipmasters and crews on preventing and suppressing acts... (Secretariat)

MSC.1/Circ.1334 23 June 2009

Guidance to shipowners and ship operators, shipmasters and crews on preventing and suppressing acts of piracy and armed robbery against ships
1 The Maritime Safety Committee, at its eighty-sixth session (27 May to 5 June 2009), approved a revised MSC/Circ.623/Rev.3 (Guidance to shipowners and ship operators, shipmasters and crews for preventing and suppressing acts of piracy and armed robbery against ships) as given at annex.
2 The revision was carried out on the basis of the outcome of the comprehensive review of the guidance provided by the Organization for preventing and suppressing piracy and armed robbery against ships; and took into account the work of the correspondence group on the review and updating of MSC/Circ.622/Rev.1, MSC/Circ.623/Rev.3 and resolution A.922(22), established by MSC 84.
3 Member Governments and organizations in consultative status with IMO are recommended to bring this circular to the attention of shipowners, ship operators, shipping companies, shipmasters and crews and all other parties concerned.
4 This circular revokes MSC/Circ.623/Rev.3.

Introduction 1 This circular aims at bringing to the attention of shipowners, companies, ship operators masters and crews the precautions to be taken to reduce the risks of piracy on the high seas and armed robbery against ships at anchor, off ports or when underway through a coastal State’s territorial waters. It outlines steps that should be taken to reduce the risk of such attacks, possible responses to them and the vital need to report attacks, both successful and unsuccessful, to the authorities of the relevant coastal State and to the ships’ own maritime Administration. Such reports are to be made as soon as possible, to enable necessary action to be taken. 2 It is important to bear in mind that shipowners, companies, ship operators, masters and crews can and should take measures to protect themselves and their ships from pirates and armed robbers. While security forces can often advise on these measures, and flag States are required to take such measures as are necessary to ensure that owners and masters accept their responsibility, ultimately it is the responsibility of shipowners, companies, ship operators, masters and ship operators to take seamanlike precautions when their ships navigate in areas where the threat of piracy and armed robbery exists. Planning should give consideration to the crew’s welfare during and after a period of captivity by pirates or armed robbers. Before operating in waters where attacks have been known to occur, it is imperative for shipowners, companies, ship operator and masters concerned to gather accurate information on the situation in the area. To this end the information on attacks and attempted attacks gathered, analysed and distributed by the IMO, IMB’s Piracy Reporting Centre 1 The term “company” is defined in SOLAS regulations IX/1 and XI-2/1. ∗ The following definition of piracy is contained in Article 101 of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) (article 101):
“Piracy consists of any of the following acts:
(a) any illegal acts of violence or detention, or any act of depredation, committed for private ends by the crew or the passengers of a private ship or a private aircraft, and directed: (i) on the high seas, against another ship or aircraft, or against persons or property on board such ship or aircraft; (ii) against a ship, aircraft, persons or property in a place outside the jurisdiction of any State; (b) any act of voluntary participation in the operation of a ship or of an aircraft with knowledge of facts making it a pirate ship or aircraft; (c) any act inciting or of intentionally facilitating an act described in subparagraph (a) or (b).” ** The Subregional meeting on piracy and armed robbery against ships in the Western Indian Ocean, Gulf of Aden and Red Sea area, held in Dar es Salaam, United Republic of Tanzania, from 14 to 18 April 2008, agreed to modify this definition. Consistent with the ReCAAP Agreement, the “private ends” motive has been added to the definition. The formulation “within internal waters, archipelagic waters and territorial sea” replaced “within a State’s jurisdiction”. The new formulation reflects the views of France, supported by other States participating in the meeting, that the definition for armed robbery against ships should not be applicable to acts committed seaward of the territorial sea. The new definition reads: “Armed robbery against ships” means any unlawful act of violence or detention or any act of depredation, or threat thereof, other than an act of piracy, committed for private ends and directed against a ship or against persons or property on board such a ship, within a State’s internal waters, archipelagic waters and territorial sea.
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and the ReCAAP Information Sharing Centre (ReCAAP ISC)2, the Maritime Security Centre, Horn of Africa, Governments and others is vital information, upon which precautionary measures should be based. 3 These recommendations have been culled from a number of sources. Where conflicting advice has been apparent, the reason for choosing the recommended course has been stated. The pirates’/robbers’ objective 4 In addition to the hijacking of ships and the holding of the crew hostage, and the theft of cargo, other targets of the attackers include cash in the ship’s safe, crew possessions and any portable ship’s equipment. When there has been evidence of tampering with containers, it may be an indication that the raiders may initially have gained access when the ship was berthed in port and then gone over the side, with what they could carry. The application of the ISPS Code is an important precautionary measure and a thorough checking of ships’ compartments and securing them before leaving ports is therefore strongly encouraged. Reducing the temptation for piracy and armed robbery Cash in the ship’s safe 5 The belief that large sums of cash are carried in the master’s safe attracts attackers. In some cases this belief has been justified and sums have been stolen. While carrying cash may sometimes be necessary to meet operational needs and crew requirements and to overcome exchange control restrictions in some States, it acts as a magnet for attackers and they will intimidate and take hostage the master or crew members until the locations have been revealed. Shipowners should consider ways of eliminating the need to carry large sums of cash on board a ship. When this need arises because of exchange control restrictions imposed by States, the matter should be referred to the ship’s maritime Administration to consider if representations should be made to encourage a more flexible approach as part of the international response to eliminate attacks by pirates and armed robbers. Discretion by masters and members of the crew 6 Masters should bear in mind the possibility that attackers are monitoring ship-to-shore communications and using intercepted information to select their targets. Masters should however also be aware that switching off AIS in high-risk areas reduces ability of the supporting naval vessels to track and trace vessels which may require assistance. Caution should also be exercised when transmitting information on cargo or valuables on board by radio in areas where attacks occur. 7 It is up to the master’s professional judgement to decide whether the AIS system should be switched off, in order for the ship not to be detected, when entering areas where piracy is an imminent threat, however the master should balance the risk of attack against the need to maintain the safety of navigation and, in particular, the requirements of COLREG Rule 7 on Risk of collision, and should act in accordance with the guidance in resolutions A.917(22) and A.956(23). The master should also be aware that other ships operating in high-risk areas may have taken a decision to
2 The Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP) is a Government-to-Government Agreement that addresses the incidence of piracy and armed robbery against ships in Asia. The status of ReCAAP ISC is an IGO. Further details may be found at
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switch off the AIS system. In the event of an attack, masters should ensure to the extent feasible that AIS is turned on again and transmitting to enable security forces to locate the vessel. 8 Members of the crew going ashore in ports in affected areas should be advised not to discuss the voyage or cargo particulars with persons unconnected with the ship’s business. Smaller crews 9 The smaller crew numbers now found on board ships also favour the attacker. A small crew engaged in ensuring the safe navigation of their ship through congested or confined waters will have the additional onerous task of maintaining high levels of security surveillance for prolonged periods. Shipowners may wish to consider enhancing security watches if their ship is in waters or at anchor off ports, where attacks occur. Shipowners may wish to consider providing appropriate surveillance and detection equipment to aid their crews and protect their ships. Recommended practices 10 The recommended practices outlined below are based on reports of incidents, advice published by commercial organizations and measures developed to enhance ship security. The extent to which the recommendations are followed or applied are matters solely for the owners or masters of ships operating in areas where attacks occur. The shipping industry would also benefit from consulting other existing recommendations, including those given by the ReCAAP ISC3, the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre, BIMCO, ICS and other industry bodies. 11 Given that the masters are often required to follow multiple reporting procedures in these difficult circumstances, it is necessary to simplify these procedures as far as operationally feasible. It is therefore recommended that in the event of an occurrence masters should report all actual or attempted attacks of piracy and armed robbery or threats thereof, to: (i) the nearest RCC or regional piracy focal point where applicable (e.g., ReCAAP ISC in the Asian region4), (ii) the flag State, and (iii) the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre5. 12 The recommended actions are defined as phases related to any voyage in a piracy and armed robbery threat area. The phases define the main stages in all situations of pre-piracy or armed robbery, attempted piracy or armed robbery and confirmed piracy or armed robbery. Depending on the development of any one situation, they may or may not materialize. A list of phases is given in Appendix 3.
3 The ReCAAP ISC collates and analyses information concerning piracy and armed robbery against ships, and publishes regular reports which identify patterns and trends, highlight good practices and recommend preventive measures. 4 See Appendices 1 and 2 to this circular regarding the information-sharing and incident-reporting processes generally and in the Asian region. 5 The IMB Piracy Reporting Centre is manned 24 hours a day and set up to receive and promulgate reports of attacks or attempted attacks worldwide.
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The pre-piracy/armed robbery phase 13 Written procedures on how to prevent or suppress attacks of pirates and armed robbers should be found either in the ship’s Safety Management System or in the ship security plan.
14 The entry into force of the ISPS Code and the ISM Code have made security assessments and risk assessments an integral part of the safety and security precautions. Measures to prevent and suppress piracy and armed robbery against ships should be part of either the emergency response procedures in the safety management system, or as a situation that requires increased alertness, should become a part of the procedures in the ship security plan.
15 All ships operating in waters or ports where attacks occur should carry out a security assessment as a preparation for development of measures to prevent attacks of pirates or armed robbers against ships and on how to react should an attack occur. This should be included as a part of the emergency response procedures in the safety management system or a part of the procedures in the ship security plan. The security assessment should take into account the basic parameters of the operation including:
.1 the risks that may be faced including any information given on characteristics of piracy or armed robbery in the specific area;
.2 the ship’s actual size, freeboard, maximum speed, and the type of cargo;
.3 the number of crew members available, their proficiency and training;
.4 the ability to establish secure areas on board ship; and
.5 the equipment on board, including any surveillance and detection equipment that has been provided. 16 The ship security plan∗ or emergency response procedures should be prepared based on the risk assessment, detailing predetermined responses to address increases and decreases in threat levels.
The measures should, inter alia, cover:
.1 the need for enhanced surveillance and the use of lighting, surveillance and detection equipment;
.2 controlling of access to the ship and the restricted areas on the ships by ships’ personnel, passengers, visitors, etc.;
.3 prevention of unauthorized intrusion by active and passive devices and measures, such as netting, wire, electric fencing, long-range acoustic devices, as well as the use, when appropriate, of security personnel on vessels transiting high-risk areas, and taking other measures to make it more difficult for pirates to board vessels. The safety of onboard personnel should always be taken into account when installing passive devices on board and awareness information should be provided; ∗ Guidance can be found in the ISPS Code.
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.4 monitoring the security of the ship;
.5 crew responses, if a potential attack is detected or an attack is underway;
.6 the radio alarm procedures to be followed; and .7 the reports to be made after an attack or an attempted attack. Ship security plans or emergency response procedures should ensure that masters and crews are made fully aware of the risks involved during attacks by pirates or armed robbers. In particular, they should address the dangers that may arise if a crew adopts an aggressive response to an attack. Early detection of a possible attack may often be the most effective deterrent. Aggressive responses, once an attack is underway and, in particular, once the attackers have boarded the ship, could significantly increase the risk to the ship and those on board. 17 In accordance with the ship security plan, all doors allowing access to the bridge, engine-room, steering gear compartments, officers’ cabins and crew accommodation should be secured and controlled in affected areas and should be regularly inspected. The use of surveillance equipment to monitor the areas as well as regular patrolling can be of merit. The intention should be to establish secure areas which attackers will find difficult to penetrate. Securing by locking or other means of controlling access to unattended spaces adjoining areas could also prove useful. 18 The shipowner, company, operator and master should bear in mind, the seafarer’s need for shore leave and access to shore-based welfare facilities and medical care. 19 It is important that any response to an incident is well planned and executed, and those involved should be as familiar as possible with a ship environment. Therefore, those responsible within the security forces for responding to acts of piracy and armed robbery against ships, whether at sea or in port, should be trained in the general layout and features of the types of ships most likely to be encountered and shipowners in consultation with the flag State should cooperate with the security forces in providing access to their ships to allow the necessary onboard familiarization. Routeing and delaying anchoring 20 If at all possible, ships should be routed away from areas where attacks are known to have taken place and, in particular, seek to avoid bottlenecks. When deciding on a ship’s route the company should take into consideration the type of ship, the size and maximum speed as well as the freeboard and the dangerous nature of the cargo. If convoys are offered such a measure should also be considered to avoid serious attacks on ships at sea. If ships are approaching ports where attacks have taken place on ships at anchor, rather than ships underway, and it is known that the ship will have to anchor off port for some time, consideration should be given to delaying anchoring by longer routeing to remain well off shore or other methods by which the period during which the ship will be at risk is reduced. Contact with port authorities should ensure that berthing priorities are not affected. Charter party agreements should recognize that ships may need to delay arrival at ports where attacks occur either when no berth is available for the ship or offshore loading or unloading will be delayed for a protracted period.
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Practise the implementation of the ship security plan 21 Prior to entering an area, where attacks have occurred, the ship’s crew should have practised the procedures set down in the ship security plan. Alarm signals and procedures should have been thoroughly practised and training and drills carried out. If instructions are to be given over the ship’s address systems or personal radios, they must be clearly understood by those who may not have fully mastered the language in which the instructions will be given.
22 In order to ensure higher vigilance upon entering the area where attacks occur, additional specific security briefings should be given to all ship personnel on the threats of piracy, re-emphasizing the procedures for reporting suspicious persons, objects or activities. Full or partial searches of the ship should be carried out regularly while in the area with heightened threat of attack.
23 It cannot be emphasized enough that all possible access points to the ship and any key and secure areas on it must be secured or controlled in port, at anchor and when underway in affected areas. Crews should be trained in the use of any additional surveillance or detection equipment installed on the ship. Planning and training must be on the basis that an attack will take place and not in the belief that with some luck it will not happen. Indications to attackers that the ship has an alert and trained crew implementing a ship security plan will help to deter them from attacking the ship.
Precautions at anchor or in port
24 In areas where attacks occur, the ships’ masters should exercise vigilance when their ships are preparing to anchor or while at anchor. Furthermore, it is important to limit, record and control those who are allowed access to a ship when in port or at anchor. Photographing those who board the ship can be a useful deterrent or assist the identification of attackers who may have had access to the ship prior to their attack. Given that attackers may use knowledge of cargo manifests to select their targets, every effort should be made to limit the circulation of documents which give information on the cargoes on board or their location on the ship. Similar precautions should be taken in regard to the circulation of information on crew members’ personal valuables and ship’s equipment, as these items are also targeted by attackers.
25 Prior to leaving port, the ship should be thoroughly searched and all doors or access points secured or controlled. This is particularly important in the case of the bridge, engine-room, steering space and other vulnerable areas. Doors and access points should be regularly checked thereafter. The means of controlling doors or access points which would need to be used in the event of an emergency on board will need careful consideration. Ship or crew safety should not be compromised. Searches on board for intruders should be conducted in such a way that the safety of the crew performing these duties is not compromised.
26 Security guards employed in port or at anchorage on different ships should be in communication with each other and the port authorities during their watch. The responsibility for vetting such guards lies with the security personnel companies, which themselves should be vetted by the appropriate authorities.
Watchkeeping and vigilance
27 Maintaining vigilance is essential. All too often the first indication of an attack has been when the attackers appear on the bridge or in the master’s cabin. Advance warning of a possible
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attack will give the opportunity to sound alarms, alert other ships and the coastal authorities, illuminate the suspect craft, undertake evasive manoeuvring or initiate other response procedures. Signs that the ship is aware it is being approached can deter attackers.
28 When ships are in, or approaching areas of known risk of piracy or armed robbery, bridge watches and look-outs should be augmented, bearing in mind that many attacks are mounted from astern. Additional watches on the stern or covering radar “blind spots” should be considered. Companies should consider investing in low-light binoculars for bridge staff and look-outs. Radar should be constantly manned but it may be difficult to detect low profile fast moving craft on ship’s radars. A yacht radar mounted on the stern may provide additional radar cover capable of detecting small craft approaching from astern when the ship is underway. Use of an appropriately positioned yacht radar when the ship is at anchor may also provide warning of the close approach of small craft.
29 It is particularly important to maintain a radar and visual watch for craft which may be trailing the ship when underway but which could close in quickly when mounting an attack. Small craft which appear to be matching the speed of the ship on a parallel or following course should always be treated with suspicion. When a suspect craft has been noticed, it is important that an effective all-round watch is maintained for fear the first craft is a decoy with the intention to board the ship from a second craft while attention is focused on the first.
30 In addition to the use of overt means of transmitting alerts, the ship security alert system could be used in the event of a piracy or armed robbery attack. It should, however, be borne in mind that certain non-disclosure issues prevail with regards to the configuration and locations of the system.
31 Companies owning or operating ships that frequently visit areas where attacks occur should consider the purchase and use of more sophisticated visual and electronic devices in order to augment both radar and visual watch capability against attackers’ craft at night, thereby improving the prospects of obtaining an early warning of a possible attack. In particular, the provision of night vision devices, small radars to cover the blind stern arcs, closed circuit television and physical devices, such as barbed wire, may be considered. In certain circumstances non-lethal weapons such as acoustic devices, may also be appropriate. Infrared detection and alerting equipment may also be utilized.
Communications procedures
32 The master should ensure that an authorized person responsible for communications is on duty at all time when the ship is in, or approaching, areas where attacks occur. It should be ensured that ship-shore communication methods are tested and report intervals agreed prior to entering the high-risk area. The frequency of reporting should be maintained.
33 Shipowners should report attacks and attempted attacks to any national, regional or subregional reporting systems made available by Governments, including those run by security forces.
34 Where possible, ships raising alerts should specify that an act of “piracy/armed robbery” is in progress, in line with other distress categories such as “sinking” or “on fire”. This could have a potential to improve the alerting process and speed of response.
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35 Prior to entering areas where attacks have occurred and where the GMDSS installation on board does not have facility for automatically updating the “ship position” data from an associated electronic navigation aid, it is strongly recommended to enter the ship’s position at regular intervals into the appropriate communications equipment manually. It is recommended that owners initiate the GMDSS INMARSAT “C” alarm programme before entering affected areas for use when appropriate.
36 When entering waters where piracy or armed robbery activities have been reported – especially if the AIS is turned off for security reasons – the ship should routinely transmit its position to the shipping company at given intervals, thereby giving the shipping company a first notice that something is amiss if the transmissions are interrupted. Masters should act in accordance with the guidance in resolution A.917(22) on Guidelines for the onboard operational use of shipborne automatic identification systems (AIS) and resolution A.956(23) on Amendments to the guidelines for the onboard operational use of shipborne automatic identification systems (AIS) (resolution A.917(22)) concerning the turning off of AIS. In the event of an attack, masters should ensure to the extent feasible that AIS is turned on and transmitting to enable security forces to locate the vessel.
Radio watchkeeping and responses
37 A constant radio watch should be maintained with the appropriate shore or naval authorities when in areas where attacks have occurred. Continuous watch should also be maintained on all distress and safety frequencies channels or frequencies which could have been determined by local authorities for certain areas. Ships should also ensure all maritime safety information broadcasts for the area monitored. As it is anticipated that INMARSAT’s enhanced group calling system (EGC) will normally be used for such broadcasts using the SafetyNET service, owners should ensure a suitably configured EGC receiver is continuously available when in, or approaching areas where there is risk of attack. Owners should also consider fitting a dedicated receiver for this purpose, i.e. one that is not incorporated into a Ship Earth Station used for commercial purposes to ensure no urgent broadcasts are missed.
38 IMO recommends in MSC.1/Circ.1333 that Governments should arrange for RCCs to be able to pass reports of attacks to the appropriate security forces. As for the reports from the ship, see paragraphs 11, and 39 to 44, below.
39 If suspicious movements are identified which may result in an imminent attack, the ship is advised to contact the relevant RCC, the flag State or other relevant information centres such as the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre or the ReCAAP ISC. Where the master believes these movements could constitute a direct danger to navigation, consideration should be given to broadcasting an “All stations (CQ)” “danger message” as a warning to other ships in the vicinity as well as advising the appropriate RCC. A danger message should be transmitted in plain language using the “safety” priority. All such measures shall be preceded by the safety signal (Sécurité)6.
40 When, in his/her opinion, there is conclusive evidence that the safety of the ship is threatened, the master should immediately contact the relevant RCC or, in certain areas, with the radio stations which could have been recommended by local authorities, and if considered appropriate, authorize broadcast of an “All Stations” “Urgent Message” any radiocommunications 6 Specific guidance in respect of waters off the coast of Somalia has been issued as MSC.1/Circ.1332 and also MSC.1/Circ.1302.
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service he/she considers appropriate or which could have been recommended by local authorities, e.g., INMARSAT, etc. All such messages shall be preceded by the appropriate Urgency signal (PAN PAN) and/or a DSC call using the “all ships urgency” category. If the Urgency signal has been used and an attack does not, in fact, develop, the ship should cancel the message as soon as it knows that action is no longer necessary. This message of cancellation should likewise be addressed to “all stations”.
41 Should an attack occur and, in the opinion of the master, the ship or crew are in grave and imminent danger requiring immediate assistance, the master should immediately authorize the broadcasting of a distress message, preceded by the appropriate distress alerts (MAYDAY, DSC, etc.), using all available radiocommunications systems. To minimize delays, if using a ship earth station, ships should ensure the coast earth station associated with the RCC is used. For ships subject to the ISPS Code, a distress signal should also be sent to the flag State using the most expeditious means for example the ships security alert system. All ships should however report the attack to the flag State to help the investigation of incidents involving ships entitled to fly their flag.
42 The ship may be able to send a covert piracy alert to an RCC. However, as pirates may be on board the ship and within audible range of the communication equipment, when the RCC sends an acknowledgement of receipt and attempts to establish communication, they could be alerted to the fact that a piracy alert has been transmitted. This knowledge may serve to further endanger the lives of the crew on board the ship. RCCs and others should, therefore, be aware of the danger of unwillingly alerting the pirates that a distress alert or other communication has been transmitted by the ship.
43 Masters should bear in mind that the distress signal is provided for use only in case of imminent danger and its use for less urgent purposes might result in insufficient attention being paid to calls from ships really in need of immediate assistance. Care and discretion must be employed in its use, to prevent its devaluation in the future. Where the transmission of the Distress signal is not fully justified, use should be made of the Urgency signal. The Urgency signal has priority over all communications other than distress.
Standard ships’ message formats
44 The standard ships’ message formats given in Appendix 4 should be used for all piracy/armed robbery initial and follow-up alert reports.
45 Ships should use the maximum lighting available consistent with safe navigation, having regard in particular to the provisions of Rule 20(b) of the 1972 Collision Regulations. Bow and overside lights should be left on if it can be done without endangering navigation. Ships must not keep on deck lights when underway, as it may lead other ships to assume the ship is at anchor. Wide beam floods could illuminate the area astern of the ship. Signal projector lights can be used systematically to probe for suspect craft using the radar guidance if possible. So far as is practicable crew members on duty outside the ship’s secure areas when in port or at anchor should avail themselves of shadow and avoid being silhouetted by deck lights as this may make them targets for seizure by approaching attackers.
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46 Based on specific information on acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea in specific regions, ships may consider travelling blacked out except for mandatory navigation lights. This may prevent attackers establishing points of reference when approaching a ship. In addition, turning on the ship’s lights as attackers approach could alert them that they have been seen, dazzle them and encourage them to desist. It is difficult, however, to maintain full blackout on a merchant ship. The effectiveness of this approach will ultimately depend in part on the level of moonlight, but primarily on the vigilance of the ship’s crew. While suddenly turning on the ship’s light may alarm or dazzle attackers, it could also place the crew at a disadvantage at a crucial point through temporary loss of their night vision. Secure areas 47 In accordance with the ship security plan, all doors allowing access to the bridge, engine-room, steering gear compartments, officers’ cabins and crew accommodation should be secured and controlled at all times and should be regularly inspected. The intention should be to establish secure areas which attackers will find difficult to penetrate. Consideration should be given to the installation of special access control systems to the ship’s secure areas. Ports, scuttles and windows which could provide access to such secure areas should be securely closed and should have laminated glass, if possible. Deadlights should be shut and clipped tightly. The internal doors within secure areas which give immediate access to key areas such as the bridge, radio room, engine- room and master’s cabin should be strengthened and have special access control systems and automatic alarms. 48 Securing doors providing access to, and egress from, secure or key areas may give rise to concern over safety in the event of an accident. In any situation where there is a conflict between safety and security, the safety requirements should be paramount. Nevertheless, attempts should be made to incorporate appropriate safety provisions while allowing accesses and exits to be secured or controlled. 49 Owners may wish to consider providing closed-circuit television (CCTV) coverage and recording of the main access points to the ship’s secure areas, the corridors approaching the entrances to key areas and the bridge. The allocation of additional personnel to guarding and patrolling of restricted areas can be a useful preventive measure. 50 To prevent seizure of individual crew members by attackers – seizure and threatening a crew member is one of the more common means of attackers gaining control over a ship – all crew members not engaged on essential outside duties should remain within a secure area during the hours of darkness. Those whose duties necessarily involve working outside such areas at night should remain in regular communication with the bridge, it may be the first indication of an attack if the watchkeeper does not report in, if manning permits work in pairs, make irregular rounds on the deck and should have practised using alternative routes to return to a secure area in the event of an attack. Crew members who fear they may not be able to return to a secure area during an attack should select places in advance in which they can take temporary refuge. 51 There should be designated muster areas within the ship’s secure areas where the crew can muster during an attack and communicate their location and numbers to the bridge.
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Alarms 52 Alarm signals, including the ship’s whistle, should be sounded on the approach of attackers. Alarms and signs of response can discourage attackers. Alarm signals or announcements which provide an indication at the point at which the attacker may board, or have boarded, may help crew members in exposed locations select the most appropriate route to return to a secure area. Announcements made by the crew should be made in the working language of the ship.
53 The crew initial familiarization checklist should specifically state the various alarms used on board the vessel, the response and muster station to each of these alarms. The alarms and alarm signals should be standardized throughout the fleet and not be specific.
Use of distress flares
54 The only flares authorized for carriage on board ship are intended for use if the ship is in distress and is in need of immediate assistance. As with the unwarranted use of the distress signal on the radio (see paragraph 43 above), use of distress flares simply to alert shipping rather than to indicate that the ship is in grave and imminent danger may reduce their effect in the situations in which they are intended to be used and responded to. Radio transmissions should be used to alert shipping of the risk of attacks rather than distress flares. Distress flares should only be used when the master considers that the attackers’ actions are putting his/her ship in imminent danger.
Use of defensive measures
55 Experiences show that robust actions from the ship which is approached by pirates may discourage the attackers. Outrunning attacks may be an appropriate preventive manoeuvre. If the situation permits, the speed should be increased and maintained at the maximum level. Provided that navigational safety allows, masters should also consider “riding off” attackers’ craft by heavy wheel movements and turning into wind so as to remove any lee from either side of the ship. Heavy wheel movements should only be used when attackers are alongside and boarding is imminent. The effect of the bow wave and wash may deter would-be attackers and make it difficult for them to attach poles or grappling irons to the ship. Manoeuvres of this kind should not be used in confined or congested waters or close inshore or by ships constrained by their draught in the confined deep water routes found, for example, in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore.
Use of passive and non-lethal devices
56 The use of passive and non-lethal measures such as netting, wire, electric fencing, and long-range acoustic devices may be appropriate preventive measures to deter attackers and delay boarding.
57 The use of water hoses should also be considered though they may be difficult to train if evasive manoeuvring is also taking place. Water pressures of 80 lb per square inch and above have deterred and repulsed attackers. Not only does the attacker have to fight against the jet of water but the flow may swamp his/her boat and damage engines and electrical systems. Special fittings for training hoses could be considered which would also provide protection for the hose operator. A number of spare fire hoses could be rigged and tied down to be pressurized at short notice if a potential attack is detected.
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58 Employing evasive manoeuvres and hoses must rest on a determination to successfully deter attackers or to delay their boarding to allow all crew members to gain the sanctuary of secure areas. Continued heavy wheel movements with attackers on board may lessen their confidence that they will be able to return safely to their craft and may persuade them to disembark quickly. However, responses of this kind could lead to reprisals by the attackers if they seize crew members and should not be engaged in unless the master is convinced he can use them to advantage and without risk to those on board. They should not be used if the attackers have already seized crew members.
Firearms 59 With respect to the carriage of firearms on board, masters, shipowners and companies should be aware that ships entering the territorial sea and/or ports of a State are subject to that State’s legislation. It should be borne in mind that importation of firearms is subject to port and coastal State regulations. It should also be borne in mind that carrying firearms may pose an even greater danger if the ship is carrying flammable cargo or similar types of dangerous goods.
Non-arming of seafarers
60 The carrying and use of firearms by seafarers for personal protection or for the protection of a ship is strongly discouraged. Seafarers are civilians and the use of firearms requires special training and aptitudes and the risk of accidents with firearms carried on board ship is great. Carriage of arms on board ship may encourage attackers to carry firearms or even more dangerous weapons, thereby escalating an already dangerous situation. Any firearm on board may itself become an attractive target for an attacker.
61 It should also be borne in mind that shooting at suspected pirates may impose a legal risk for the master, shipowner or company, such as collateral damages. In some jurisdictions, killing a national may have unforeseen consequences even for a person who believes he or she has acted in self defence. Also the differing customs or security requirements for the carriage and importation of firearms should be considered, as taking a small handgun into the territory of some countries may be considered an offence.
Use of unarmed security personnel
62 The use of unarmed security personnel is a matter for individual shipowners, companies, and ship operators to decide. The use of unarmed security personnel to provide security advice and an enhanced lookout capability could be considered.
Use of privately contracted armed security personnel
63 If armed security personnel are allowed on board, the master, shipowner, operator and company should take into account the possible escalation of violence and other risks. However, the use of privately contracted armed security personnel on board merchant ships and fishing vessels is a matter for flag State to determine in consultation with shipowners, operators and companies. Masters, shipowners, operators and companies should contact the flag State and seek clarity of the national policy with respect to the carriage of armed security personnel. All legal requirements of flag, port and coastal States should be met.
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Military teams or law enforcement officers duly authorized by Government
64 The use of military teams or law enforcement officers duly authorized by the Government of the flag State to carry firearms for the security of merchant ships or fishing vessels is a matter for the flag State to authorize in consultation with shipowners, operators and companies. The carriage of such teams may be required or recommended when the ship is transiting or operating in areas if high risk. Due to rules of engagement defined by their Government, or in coalition with other Governments, boarding conditions should be defined by the States involved, including the flag State. The shipowner, operator and company should always consult the flag State prior to embarking such teams.
The phases of suspected or attempted piracy/armed robbery attack
Suspected piracy/armed robbery vessel detected 65 Early detection of suspected attacks must be the first line of defence. If the vigilance and surveillance has been successful, a pirate/armed robbery vessel will be detected early. This is the stage at which the security forces of the nearest littoral or coastal State must be informed through the RCC, using the ships’ message format contained in Appendix 4. The ship’s crew should be warned and, if not already in their defensive positions, they should move to them. Appropriate passive and active measures, such as evasive manoeuvres and hoses should be vigorously employed as detailed in the preparation phase or in the ship’s security plan.
66 Shipowners, company, ship operator and master should be aware of any UN Security Council, IMO or any other UN resolutions on piracy and armed robbery against ships and any recommendations therein relevant to the shipowner, operator, master and crew when operating in areas where piracy or armed robbery against ships occur.
Being certain that piracy/armed robbery will be attempted
67 If not already in touch with the security forces of the littoral coastal State, efforts should be made to establish contact. Crew preparations should be completed and, where a local rule of the road allows ships under attack to do so, a combination of sound and light signals should be made to warn other ships in the vicinity that an attack is about to take place. Vigorous manoeuvring should be continued and maximum speed should be sustained if navigation conditions permit. Nothing in these guidelines should be read as limiting the master’s authority to take action deemed necessary by the master to protect the lives of passengers and crew.
Pirate/armed robbery vessel in proximity to, or in contact with, own ship
68 Vigorous use of hoses in the boarding area should be continued. It may be possible to cast off grappling hooks and poles, provided the ship’s crews are not put to unnecessary danger.
69 While giving due consideration to safety of crew, vessel and environment it is recommended that masters should not slow down and stop, as far as practicable, when pursued by or fired upon by pirates/armed robbers intending to board and hijack the vessel. Where the pirates/armed robbers operate from a mother ship, masters should consider steering away from the mother ship thus increasing the distance between the attacking craft and the mother ship.
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Pirates/armed robbers start to board ship
70 Timing during this phase will be critical and as soon as it is appreciated that a boarding is inevitable all crew should be ordered to seek their secure positions and activate any systems for raising the alarm including the ship security alert system.
Pirates/armed robbers have succeeded in entering ship
71 Early detection of potential attacks must be the first line of defence, action to prevent the attackers actually boarding the second, but there will be incidents when attackers succeed in boarding a ship. The majority of pirates and armed robbers are opportunists seeking an easy target and time may not be on their side, particularly if the crews are aware they are on board and are raising the alarm. However, the attackers may seek to compensate for the pressure of time they face by escalating their threats or the violence they employ. When attackers are on board the actions of the master and crew should be aimed at:
.1 securing the greatest level of safety for those on board the ship;
.2 seeking to ensure that the crew remain in control of the navigation of the ship; and
.3 securing the earliest possible departure of the attackers from the ship.
72 The options available to the master and crew will depend on the extent to which the attackers have secured control of the ship, e.g., by having gained access to the bridge or engine-room, or by seizing crew members who they can threaten, to force the master or crew to comply with their wishes. However, even if the crew are all safely within secure areas, the master will always have to consider the risk to the ship the attackers could cause outside those areas, e.g., by using firebombs to start fires on a tanker or chemical carrier.
73 If the master is certain that all his/her crew are within secure areas and that the attackers cannot gain access or by their actions outside the secure areas they do not place the entire ship at imminent risk, then he/she may consider undertaking evasive manoeuvres of the type referred to above to encourage the attackers to return to their craft.
74 The possibility of a sortie by a well-organized crew has, in the past, successfully persuaded attackers to leave a ship but the use of this tactic is only appropriate if it can be undertaken at no risk to the crew. For an action like this to be attempted the master must have clear knowledge of where the attackers are on the ship, that they are not carrying firearms or other potentially lethal weapons and that the number of crew involved significantly outnumbers the attackers they will face. If a sortie party can use water hoses, they stand an increased chance of success. The intention should be to encourage the attackers back to their craft. Crew members should not seek to come between the attackers and their craft nor should they seek to capture attackers as to do so may increase the resistance the attackers offer which will, in turn, increase the risk faced by members of the sortie party. Once outside the secure area, the sortie party should always stay together. Pursuit of an individual attacker by a lone crew member may be attractive but if it results in the crew member being isolated and seized by the attackers, the advantage turns to the attackers. Crew members should operate together and remain in constant communication with the bridge and should be recalled if their line of withdrawal to a secure area is threatened.
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75 If the crew do apprehend an attacker, he/she should be placed in secure confinement and well cared for. Arrangements should be made to transfer him/her to the custody of officers of the security forces of a coastal State at the earliest possible opportunity. Any evidence relating to these activities should also be handed over to the authorities who take him/her into custody.
The pirates/armed robbers begin to gain control and take one or more of the ship’s crew into their custody
76 If the attackers have gained control of the engine-room or bridge, have seized crew members or can pose an imminent threat to the safety of a ship, the master or officer in charge should remain calm and, if possible, seek to negotiate with the attackers with the intention of maintaining the crew’s control over the navigation of the ship, the safe return of any hostages they may hold and the early departure of the attackers from the ship. There will be many circumstances when compliance with the attackers’ demands will be the only safe alternative and resistance or obstruction of any kind could be both futile and dangerous. An extract from United Nations Guidance on surviving as a hostage is given in Appendix 4.
77 In the event of attackers gaining temporary control of the ship, crew members should, if it is safe and practicable, leave Close Circuit Television (CCTV) records running.
78 As there have been occasions when entire crews have been locked up, consideration should be given to secreting equipment within areas in which the crew could be detained to facilitate their early escape.
79 In the event of hijacking a ship, the shipping company should seek expert advice and assistance from professionals to the effect of the safe return of the crew, as handling these situations have shown to be time-consuming and stressful for all parties involved.
The pirates/armed robbers have stolen property/money, etc.
80 At this stage it is essential that the pirates/armed robbers are assured that they have been given everything they demand and a strong reassurance that nothing has been secreted may persuade the pirates/armed robbers to leave.
The pirates/armed robbers start to disembark from the ship
81 If the crew are in their secure positions, it would be unwise of them to leave this security until it is confirmed that the pirates/armed robbers have left the ship.
The pirates/armed robbers have disembarked from the ship
82 A pre-arranged signal on the ship’s siren will alert the crew to the “all clear”. The company Security Officer should be informed accordingly.
Action after an attack and reporting incidents
83 Immediately after securing the safety of the ship and crew a post attack report (Follow-up report, as shown in Ships’ message formats in Appendix 5) should be made to the relevant RCC and, through them, to the security forces of the coastal State concerned. As well as information on the identity and location of the ship, any injuries to crew members or damage to the ship should be
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reported, as should the direction in which the attackers departed together with brief details of their numbers and, if possible, a description of their craft. If the crew have apprehended an attacker, that should also be reported in this report.
84 If an attack has resulted in the death of, or serious injury to, any person on board the ship or serious damage to the ship itself, an immediate report should also be sent to the ship’s maritime Administration. In any event a report of an attack is vital if follow-up action is to be taken by the ship’s maritime Administration. The shipowner, companies, ship operators, shipmasters and crew should cooperate with the investigators and provide the requested information.
85 Any CCTV or other recording of the incident should be secured. If practicable, areas that have been damaged or rifled should be secured and remain untouched by crew members pending possible forensic examination by the security forces of a coastal State. Crew members who came into contact with the attackers should be asked to prepare an individual report on their experience noting, in particular, any distinguishing features which could help subsequent identification of the attackers. A full inventory, including a description of any personal possessions or equipment taken, with serial numbers when known, should also be prepared.
86 As soon as possible after the incident, a fuller report should be transmitted to the authorities of the coastal State in whose waters the attack occurred or, if on the high seas, to the authorities of the nearest coastal State. Due and serious consideration should be given to complying with any request made by the competent authorities of the coastal State to allow officers of the security forces to board the ship, take statements from crew members and undertake forensic and other investigations. Copies of any CCTV recordings, photographs, etc., should be provided if they are available.
87 Ships should take the necessary precautions, and implement the necessary procedures to ensure rapid reporting of any case of attack or attempted attack to the authorities in the relevant coastal States to enhance the possibility of security forces apprehending the attackers.
88 Any report transmitted to a coastal State should also be transmitted to the ship’s maritime Administration at the earliest opportunity. A complete report of the incident, including details of any follow-up action that was taken or difficulties that may have been experienced, should eventually be submitted to the ship’s maritime Administration. The report received by maritime Administrations may be used in any diplomatic approaches made by the flag State to the Government of the coastal State in which the incident occurred. This will also provide the basis for the report to IMO.
89 The format required for reports to IMO through maritime Administrations or international organizations is attached at Appendix 6. Indeed, at present the lack of adequate and accurate reporting of attacks is directly affecting the ability to secure governmental and international action. Reports may also contribute to future refining and updating any advice that might be issued to ships.
90 Reports to the RCC, coastal State and the ship’s maritime Administration should also be made if an attack has been unsuccessful.
91 Using RCCs, as recommended by IMO in MSC/Circ.1073, will eliminate communication difficulties.
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On leaving piracy/armed robbery high-risk/high-probability areas
92 On leaving piracy/armed robbery threat areas, shipmasters should make certain that those spaces that need to be unlocked for safety reasons are unlocked, unrig hoses and revert to normal watchkeeping/lighting. However, though ships may be operating outside high-risk/high-probability areas, ship masters may, at their discretion, have ready their anti-piracy/robbery measures in view that the pirates/robbers may attack outside these areas.
Post-incident follow-up
93 A debriefing should be conducted by the owner/master, SSO and CSO to learn from the attack and identify areas of improvement. The debriefing should be conducted immediately after the incident so that the events are fresh and should involve the entire crew.
94 The shipowner should be aware that the seafarer may suffer from trauma or similar condition after being victimized under an attack from pirates or armed robbers. The shipowner should offer advice from professionals if the seafarer wishes such assistance. An important first step in reducing the risk from trauma is for masters to debrief crew immediately after the attack or release of a vessel in order to get crew to confront their experiences. An important second step is for counselling professionals to debrief crew as soon as possible after the attack or release of the vessel in order to assist the crew to manage their experiences.
* * *
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Flow diagram for attacks in coastal waters
Victim ship
RCC of the coastal State
Security forces of the coastal State
RCC of adjacent coastal State
Security forces of adjacent coastal State
Owner or Operator
Flag State
RPC of IMB Kuala Lumpur
Ships and owners
Notes: Radio/GMDSS Fastest means, not radio Follow-up by letter, fax, email or telex
Follow-up reports
Warning - Routine
Immediate reports
Immediate and follow-up reports
Piracy/armed robbery warning messages
Immediate reports
Coastal State
IMO Members
Broadcast to ships
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Flow Diagram for Reporting Incidents in Asia
Legend: Radio/GMDSS : Fastest means : Follow-up comms :
Victim Ship
Owner / Operator
Flag State
Coastal States
Security Forces of the coastal States
RCC of adjacent coastal States
Security Forces of adjacent coastal States
Immediate & Follow-up reports
Broadcast to ships
Warning - Routine
Follow-up Reports
Immediate Reports
Immediate Reports
ReCAAP Focal Points
Immediate Reports
RCC of the coastal States
IMO Members
Ships & Shipowners
Immediate reports Follow-up reports Processes reports ReCAAP Focal Points
Piracy/armed robbery Warning messages
1. In the Asian region, the RCCs of some ReCAAP Contracting Parties are also their ReCAAP Focal Points (FPs). These Focal Points also disseminate incident information internally to their respective RCCs, maritime authorities and law enforcement agencies as appropriate. 2. Coastal States (in the context of this addendum)refer only to those who are Contracting Parties to the ReCAAP. 3. The incident reporting process in Asia does notchange other reporting processes for incidents already in practice.
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Phase Phase Symbol Description
A Approaching a piracy/armed robbery threat area (1 hour prior to entering)
B Entering a piracy/armed robbery threat area
C Inside a piracy/armed robbery threat area, but no suspect piracy/armed robbery vessel detected
D Inside a piracy/armed robbery threat area: suspect piracy/armed robbery vessel detected
E Certainty that piracy/armed robbery will be attempted
F Pirate/armed robbery vessel in proximity to, or in contact with, own ship
G Pirates/armed robbers start attempts to enter ship
H Pirates/armed robbers have succeeded in entering ship
I Pirates/armed robbers have one or more of the ship’s personnel in their control/custody
J The pirates/armed robbers have gained access to the bridge or the master’s office
K The pirates/armed robbers have stolen property/money, etc.
L The pirates/armed robbers start to disembark
M The pirates/armed robbers have disembarked
N The pirate/armed robbery vessel is no longer in contact with the ship
O Own ship leaves the piracy/armed robbery threat area
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Over the past few years the number of seafarers who have been kidnapped or taken hostage has increased substantially. Every hostage or kidnap situation is different. There are no strict rules of behaviour; however, there are a number of steps which you can take to minimize the effects of detention and enhance your ability to cope and to see the incident through to a successful release.
Survival considerations
These techniques have been successfully employed by others who have been taken hostage:
• No one can tell an individual whether he or she should resist or not if taken hostage/kidnapped. This decision must be made by each person’s own assessment of the circumstances. Resisting the attempt may be extremely risky. You may be injured if you attempt to resist armed individuals. It is possible that you will immediately be blindfolded and drugged.
• Being taken hostage is probably one of the most devastating experiences a seafarer can undergo. The first 15 to 45 minutes of a hostage situation are the most dangerous. Follow the instructions of your captors. They are in a highly emotional state, regardless of whether they are psychologically unstable or caught in an untenable situation. They are in a fight or flight reactive state and could strike out. Your job is to survive. After the initial shock wears off, your captors are able to better recognize their position. Be certain you can explain everything on your person.
• Immediately after you have been taken, pause, take a deep breath and try to relax. Fear of death or injury is a normal reaction to this situation. Recognizing your reactions may help you adapt more effectively. A hostage usually experiences greatest anxiety in the hours following the incident. This anxiety will begin to decline when the person realized he/she is still alive – at least for now – and a certain routine sets in. Feelings of depression and helplessness will continue throughout captivity and most hostages will feel deeply humiliated by what they undergo during captivity. Most hostages, however, will quickly adapt to the situation. Remember your responsibility is to survive.
• Do not be a hero; do not talk back or act “tough”. Accept your situation. Any action on your part could bring a violent reaction from your captors. Past experiences show that those who react aggressively place themselves at greater risk than those who behave passively.
• Keep a low profile. Avoid appearing to study your abductors, although, to the extent possible, you should make mental notes about their mannerisms, clothes and apparent rank structure. This may help the authorities after your release.
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• Be cooperative and obey hostage-takers’ demands without appearing either servile or antagonistic. Be conscious of your body language as well as your speech. Respond simply if you are asked questions by the hijackers. Do not say or do anything to arouse the hostility or suspicious of your captors. Do not be argumentative. Act neutral and be a good listener to your captors. Do not speak unless spoken to and then only when necessary. Be cautious about making suggestions to your captors, as you may be held responsible if something you suggest goes wrong.
• Anticipate isolation and possible efforts by the hostage-takers to disorient you. Your watch may be taken away so you are unable to determine whether it is night or day. Nevertheless, try to maintain a routine.
• Try to appear uninterested as to what is going on around you. Sleep, read a book, etc. When so occupied, you will be less influenced by what is going on around you, and hijackers do not bother people who are not a threat to them.
• Try to keep cool by focusing your mind on pleasant scenes or memories or prayers. Try to recall the plots of movies or books. This will keep you mentally active. You must try to think positively. Try to maintain a sense of humour. It will lessen anxiety.
• Ask for anything you need or want (medicines, books, paper). All they can say is no.
• Build rapport with your captors. Find areas of mutual interest which emphasize personal rather than political interests. An excellent topic of discussion is family and children. If you speak their language, use it – it will enhance communications and rapport.
• Bear in mind that hostages often develop a positive attitude towards their captors. This is known as “Stockholm Syndrome”, after an incident involving hostages at a Swedish bank. In addition, as the hostage identifies with his/her captors, a negative attitude towards those on the outside may develop.
• You may be asked to sign notes verifying that you are alive or you may be asked to write a “confession” that you or the organization have been involved in nefarious activities. The decision to sign these is an individual one based on the situation. Some hostages refuse to sign unless the language of the note is changed. This may help bolster your morale and make your feel less helpless. It can also serve to command a certain degree of respect from the captors.
• Exercise daily. Develop a daily physical fitness programme and stick to it. Exercises will keep your mind off the incident and will keep your body stimulated. If possible, stay well-groomed and clean.
• As a result of the hostage situation, you may have difficulty retaining fluids and may experience a loss of appetite and weight. Try to drink water and eat even if you are not hungry. It is important to maintain your strength.
• Do not make threats against hostage-takers or give any indication that you would testify against them. If hostage-takers are attempting to conceal their identity, give no indication that you recognize them.
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• Try to think of persuasive reasons why hostage-takers should not harm you. Encourage them to let authorities know your whereabouts and condition. Suggest ways in which you may benefit your captors in negotiations that would free you. It is important that your abductors view you as a person worthy of compassion and mercy. Never beg, plead or cry. You must gain your captors’ respect as well as sympathy.
• If you end up serving as a negotiator between hostage-takers and authorities, make sure the messages are conveyed accurately. Be prepared to speak on the radio or telephone.
• Escape only if you are sure you will be successful. If you are caught, your captors may use violence to teach you and others a lesson.
• At every opportunity, emphasize that, as a seafarer you are neutral and not involved in politics.
• If there is a rescue attempt by force, drop quickly to the floor and seek cover. Keep your hands over your head. When appropriate, identify yourself. In many cases, former hostages feel bitter about the treatment they receive after their release. Most hostages feel a strong need to tell their story in detail. If assistance in this regard is not provided, request a post-traumatic stress debriefing. Bear in mind that the emotional problems of a former hostage do not appear immediately. Sometimes they appear months later. Whatever happens, readjustment after the incident is a slow process requiring patience and understanding. As soon as the hostage realizes that he or she is a normal person having a normal reaction to an abnormal situation, the healing process can begin.
• Be patient.
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Report 1 - Initial message - Piracy/armed robbery attack alert 1 Ship’s name and, callsign, IMO number, INMARSAT IDs (plus ocean region code) and MMSI MAYDAY/DISTRESS ALERT (see note) URGENCY SIGNAL PIRACY/ARMED ROBBERY ATTACK 2 Ship’s position (and time of position UTC) Latitude Longitude Course Speed KTS 3 Nature of event Note: It is expected that this message will be a Distress Message because the ship or persons will be in grave or imminent danger when under attack. Where this is not the case, the word MAYDAY/DISTRESS ALERT is to be omitted. Use of distress priority (3) in the INMARSAT system will not require MAYDAY/ DISTRESS ALERT to be included. Report 2 - Follow-up report - Piracy/armed robbery attack alert 1 Ship’s name and, callsign, IMO number 2 Reference initial PIRACY/ARMED ROBBERY ALERT 3 Position of incident Latitude Longitude Name of the area 4 Details of incident, e.g.: While sailing, at anchor or at berth? Method of attack Description/number of suspect craft Number and brief description of pirates/robbers What kind of weapons did the pirates/robbers carry ? Any other information (e.g., language spoken) Injuries to crew and passengers Damage to ship (Which part of the ship was attacked?) Brief details of stolen property/cargo Action taken by the master and crew
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Was incident reported to the coastal authority and to whom? Action taken by the Coastal State
5 Last observed movements of pirate/suspect craft, e.g.: Date/time/course/position/speed
6 Assistance required
7 Preferred communications with reporting ship, e.g.: Appropriate Coast Radio Station HF/MF/VHF INMARSAT IDs (plus ocean region code) MMSI
8 Date/time of report (UTC)
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2* Ship’s name and IMO number Type of ship Flag Gross tonnage 3 Date and time 4 Latitude Longitude Name of the area** While sailing, at anchor or at berth? 5 Method of attack Description/number of suspect craft Number and brief description of pirates/robbers What kind of weapons did the pirates/robbers carry ? Any other information (e.g., language spoken) 6 Injuries to crew and passengers Damage to ship (Which part of the ship was attacked?) Brief details of stolen property/cargo 7 Action taken by the master and crew 8 Was incident reported to the coastal authority and to whom? 9 Reporting State or international organization 10 Action taken by the coastal State
* Corresponding to the column numbers in the annex to the IMO monthly circulars
** The following definition of piracy is contained in article 101 of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS):
“Piracy consists of any of the following acts: (a) any illegal acts of violence or detention, or any act of depredation, committed for private ends by the crew or the passengers of a private ship or a private aircraft, and directed: (i) on the high seas, against another ship or aircraft, or against persons or property on board such ship or aircraft; (ii) against a ship, aircraft, persons or property in a place outside the jurisdiction of any State; (b) any act of voluntary participation in the operation of a ship or of an aircraft with knowledge of facts making it a pirate ship or aircraft; (c) any act inciting or of intentionally facilitating an act described in subparagraph (a) or (b).”
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1 Watch over the ship and the cargo
It is the duty of every Master to take care of the cargo and take precautionary measures for the complete safety of the ship, as well as that of the activities carried out on board by the crew or other persons employed on board. All crew members should co-operate in the vigilance, in their own interests, communicating any suspicious activity to the Officer of the Watch.
2 Illuminate the ship and its side
Keep the ship illuminated, particularly, the outer side and the whole length of the deck, using high powered floodlights. Bad visibility impedes the action of the watchmen, constituting a favourable factor for unlawful activities. Do not forget what is recommended in rules 2 and 30 of the COLREG.
3 Establish communication for outside support
Whenever possible, install a telephone line with easy access for the watchman or crew member on duty. Ask for assistance by the telephone.
Remember also the list of stations which will be on permanent watch on VHF - channel 16. These stations can forward the request for assistance to the competent authorities.
4 Control of accesses to the cargo and to living quarters
The Master’s cabin is one of the main objectives of the assailants who are looking for money and the master keys to other living quarters, to steal the crew’s personal effects of value and nautical equipment from the bridge. The cabins and other living quarters should be kept locked whenever their occupants are absent.
Normally cargo will only be the object of robbery or theft if the criminals have advance knowledge of the contents, through information collected by unscrupulous persons who have access to the bill of lading. Attempt to stow the containers with valuable cargo in a manner to obstruct their doors. Isolate the means of access to the ship and also the accesses to the internal areas, creating a sole way of entry and exit by the gangway, guaranteeing its control by the watchman posted there.
5 Keep the portholes closed
Open portholes can be an easy access to clever criminals: close them with the clips in place always when you leave. Try also to keep the accesses to internal areas locked, guaranteeing the entry and exit by the gangway watchman.
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6 Do not leave valuables exposed
Try to reduce the opportunities of robbery by putting all portable equipment which is not in use to its place of storage. Valuables left exposed tempt opportunistic thieves, keep them in safe place under lock and key.
7 Keep the gangways raised
At anchorages and in port, make the access difficult by keeping the gangways and rope ladders raised. In port, only leave the gangway to the dockside down.
8 In case of an assault
I - do not hesitate to sound the ship’s general alarm in case of a threat of assault;
II - try to keep adequate lighting to permanently dazzle the opponents, in case of an attempt by strangers to climb the ship’s side;
III - raise the alarm, by VHF - channel 16, to the ships in the area and to the permanent watch system of the authorities ashore (cite the existing structure in the port). The efficiency of assistance by the security forces depends on an early alarm;
IV - sound the alarm with intermittent blasts on the siren and use visual alarms with floodlights and signalling rockets;
V - if appropriate, to protect the lives of those onboard, use measures to repel the boarding by employing powerful floodlights for dazzling the aggressors or using jets of water or signalling rockets against the areas of boarding; and
VI - do not attempt any heroic acts.
9 Keep the contracted watchmen under the control of the officer of the watch
Demand a good watchman service. Make them identify all persons that enter and leave the ship. Recommend that the crew co-operate with the control. Do not allow the watchman to leave the gangway, unless he is relieved by another watchman or a crew member.
10 Communicate to the police any occurrence relating to robbery, theft or assault
Occurrences involving assault or robbery should be communicated to the Security forces, for the pertinent legal steps to be taken.
This information will make possible the study of measures to be adopted for the prevention and combat of these crimes, contributing to guaranteeing the safety of the crew and the ship.
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