Since 1 February 2009, MSCHOA (www.mschoa.org) has established the Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor (IRTC). Military assets (Naval and Air) will be strategically deployed within the area to best provide protection and support to merchant ships.
Masters using the IRTC are not relieved of their obligation and should continue to maintain a strict 24 hour lookout using all available means to get an early warning of an approaching threat. Some vessels have been attacked/hijacked in the corridor.
Masters are also advised to maintain a listening watch on CH 16, CH 8 and CH 72 in order to hear the Maritime Advisory Calls from the warships in the area who will make general security broadcasts and in turn also listen to merchant ships calling them.
Monitor and keep clear of all small boat, dhows, fishing vessels if possible. A 24hour visual and radar watch must be maintained at all times while transiting these waters. Early sightings / detection and most importantly accurate assessment, keeping in mind the warnings and alerts for the area will allow Masters and PCASP to make informed decisions for evasive actions, increasing speed, requesting assistance as well as engaging the pirates. Adhere to the latest BMP recommendations
Implement Ship Protection Measures
The Ship Protection Measures described in BMP are the most basic that are likely to be effective. Owners may wish to consider making alterations to the vessel beyond the scope of this booklet, and/or provide additional equipment such as the Easi Chock suite of security devices, and/or manpower as a means of further reducing the risk of piracy attack.
This also applies if pirates do board the vessel, the superstructure security needs to be able to withstand a concerted attempt by any unwanted aggressor, current improvised devices generally these devices are not tested or checked as routine to confirm they are fit for purpose, please refer to the videos on this site for some examples of current improvised devices.
In summary with a better understanding of the treat a well-structured Ships Security Plan, implementation of robust hardening measures and a crew that are drilled and trained will significantly reduce the risk from pirates and robbers.
Having a Citadel does not guarantee a Naval/Military force response. There are currently 3 requirements prior to any Naval/Military force intervention;
- All of crew, security teams and personnel on board embarked for passage must be secured in the Citadel.
- The crew of the ship must have self-contained, independent, two way external communications. Sole reliance on VHF communications is insufficient.
- The pirates must be denied access to propulsion.
Additionally, there are other factors which determine the ability of the Naval/Military forces to respond, even if the conditions above are satisfied.
Private Maritime Security Companies (PMSC)
The deployment of Armed Security Teams is highly successful in combating piracy as part of a layered defensive strategy, but owners and operators are to exercise "due diligence" in checking that their chosen security company is operating with valid permits and licences. This means that owners and operators should check carefully the security company named in the weapons’ ”End User Certificate” (which lists the serial numbers of the weapons to be used and which owners and operators should insist on seeing). PMSCs are required to provide certificates that match the name of the security company stated in GUARDCON, or any other contract employed for the transit covered.