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DGS issues Security Advisory for vessels calling or transiting Gulf of Guinea

Drawing attention to the increased activity of piracy and armed robbery in the Gulf of Guinea, the Directorate General of Shipping has issued an ‘NT Wing Piracy Circular 1 of 2018, dated 21 February 2018, urging all the vessels calling the ports or transiting the Gulf of Guinea to be vigilant. The circular also points out the difference between the Somali pirates and the pirates from West Africa Region. ‘It is gathered that unlike pirates from Somalia who are after ransom, pirates in the West Africa Region in the past have resorted to part /full cargo sale and/or ransom’ says the circular.

The Circular proceeds to give details of piracy incidents and robbery as reported by IMB Piracy Reporting Centre (IMB-PRC) and the list is exhaustive which goes to establish the fact that there is increased activity of piracy and robbery in the Gulf of Guinea.

The Circular provides valuable information to all the stakeholders. ‘The Maritime Domain Awareness for Trade – Gulf of Guinea (MDAT-GoG). GoG provides a 24-hour manned service of military experts. It is a service operated by the French and UK navies from centres in Brest, France, and in Portsmouth, England and aims to develop, maintain and share details of the maritime domain picture of the waters off Africa’s western seaboard. The MDAT-GoG administers a Voluntary Reporting Area (VRA) scheme under which merchant vessels are encouraged to report position information while operating in the VRA. The MDAT-GoG receives reports, shares important updates and provides guidance on vessel operating patterns, security risks with the Gulf of Guinea maritime community. All vessels are encouraged to report to the MDAT-GoG using the existing reporting formats as per the current edition of the UK Maritime Security Chart Q6114 (Annexure - I).

 MDAT-GoG can be contacted via email at watchkeepers@mdat-gog.org or telephone at +33(0)2 98 22 88 88. It may be, however, noted that MDAT-GoG does not coordinate responses to vessels under attack.’

And to continue the circular till the end:

Although piracy in the Gulf of Guinea region in many ways differs from that of Somalia based piracy, most of the sections in the Best Management Practices developed by industry to help protect against Somalia based piracy is also valid in the Gulf of Guinea region. ‘Guidelines for Owners, Operators and Masters for protection against piracy in the Gulf of Guinea region’ (Version 2, June 2016) has been developed by BIMCO, ICS, INTERCARGO and INTERTANKO, and supported by the NATO Shipping Centre (Annexure - II).

These Guidelines aim to bridge the gap between the advice currently found in ‘Best Management Practices for Protection against Somalia Based Piracy’ (BMP) and the prevailing situation in the Gulf of Guinea region. These guidelines should, therefore, be read in conjunction with BMP and make reference to BMP, wherever relevant. The Best Management Practice Ver 4: (dated 18 Aug 2011) is available at the following link;

https://www.icc-ccs.org/images/stories/pdfs/bmp4.pdf.

 The International Association of Dry Cargo Shipowners (Intercargo) has issued a joint industry alert on 14 February 2018 in response to the increasing threat of hijack and kidnap in the Gulf of Guinea (Annexure - III). 12. All CSO and Masters of vessels are advised to be extra cautious and to take necessary precautionary measures when navigating this area and are required to comply with the aforesaid guidelines and practices (Annexure - I to III & BMP). Additionally, vessels are advised to remain vigilant and maintain strict anti-piracy watch and measures in these areas.



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