Team Tankers International has pointed to a regional increase in piracy as a reason behind its adoption of additional ‘ship-hardening’ measures. The Bermuda-based tanker owner – whose parent company and majority shareholder is Norway’s Eitzen Chemical ASA – said recent hijackings in West Africa prompted the group to contract Easi-Chock to install security devices onboard its fleet.
Team Tankers International chief of operations Kate Chaston said “We are seeing an increase in attacks in southeast Asia and West Africa as demonstrated by the second recent hijacking off the coast of Benin, and therefore ensuring crew welfare is an essential concern.”
A recently released report on piracy statistics from the ReCAAP Information Sharing Centre (ISC) showed that incidents of piracy and armed robbery in Asia had dropped by more than half from a spike in December 2017 of 16, to seven reported events in January 2018.
Overall, the 180 incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships reported in 2017 represented a 22-year low, according to an annual report from the International Chamber of Commerce Commercial Crime Services division (ICC-CCS). However, both reports listed specific trouble spots.
The ICC’s International Maritime Bureau director Pottengal Mukundan said “Although the number of attacks is down this year in comparison with last year, the Gulf of Guinea and the waters around Nigeria remain a threat to seafarers.”
Over a period of a few weeks in late January and early February 2018, two tanker vessels and their crews were taken hostage off the coast of Nigerian neighbour Benin in the Gulf of Guinea. The ReCAAP ISC report reiterated its late-2016 advisory for vessels to avoid the Sulu and Celebes Seas off the Philippines coast based on crew abductions taking place in the region as recently as 2017.
In a statement from Team Tankers, Easi-Chock founder Wayne Harrison, who founded the security company after surviving an encounter with pirates, said his experience led him to believe that following BNP4 guidelines did not provide adequate protection for vessels’ crews.
Sea News, February 14