Purpose of this Merchant Ship notice is to bring to the attention
of all masters, crew, shipowners, managers and agents, the risk
of piracy on high seas and armed robbery against ships while at
anchor, in port or while underway through the waters of a coastal
state. This notice is more importantly meant to serve as a guide
in dealing with such acts of violence.
Piracy* is an offence committed on the high seas or in a place
outside the jurisdiction of any State. As per provisions of the
United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas(UNCLOS), a pirate
who has been apprehended on the high seas is to be dealt with
under the laws of the flag State of his captors.
Within territorial waters, jurisdiction over armed robbers or
pirates rests solely with the Coastal State.
* 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
(c) any act inciting or of intentionally facilitating an act described
in sub-paragraph (a) or (b)."
2. METHODOLOGY OF A PECULIAR
A ship at anchor or a ship underway at slow speed in coastal waters
and with no visible activity on decks is usually a soft target
for a potential pirate attack. Raiders almost certainly use the
cover of darkness. Small boats generally fitted with high-speed
outboard engines are used. The attempt is not to alarm the crew.
However, if confronted, they would take a crewmember hostage and
threaten him either to gain information or to intimidate and gain
control over the master or other crewmembers or to gain access
to the crews' quarters. Communication equipment may be destroyed
to prevent or delay the alarm being raised. Crews' accommodation
may be raided for portable personal possessions. The Master's
safe may be opened and any cash stolen. Easily accessible containers
on deck may be forced open. There is also some evidence of selective
opening of containers or holds with high value cargoes, implying
prior knowledge of the cargo manifest. The attackers may also
steal any movable ship's stores. There is some evidence where
pirates have been recognized as ex-employees of shore based cleaning
or other contractors who have earlier worked on the ship during
her last calls to ports. Recent evidence indicates that it is
not safe to assume that they are not carrying firearms.
3. AREAS OF INCREASED PIRATE
Piracy attempts have been reported in following areas :
a. South East Asian waters, Malacca Straits and more specifically
b. South China and sea and Philippines waters.
c. There have also been attacks outside the areas stated above
but these attacks have been few in number.
4. GUIDANCE IN PREPARING AN ANTI-PIRACY PLAN
These guidelines are purely recommendatory in nature.
The Anti-Attack Plan
The plan should be ship specific & prepared while taking in
account the level of risk that may be encountered. Some of the
factors that merit consideration would be, number of crew available
and their capabilities & training, design of the ship in the
respect to ability to establish secure areas, availability of
surveillance and detection equipment onboard etc. A typical plan
would consist of following key points.
- Be vigilant
- Reduce opportunities for theft
- Establish secure area(s)
- Prepare and exercise anti-attack plans
- Report all incidents to the coastal and flag state authorities
5. FOLLOWING IS THE LIST OF
MEASURES THAT WOULD REDUCE THE RISK OF A PIRATE ATTACK.
· If there is possibility of delay in berthing, avoid anchoring
by reducing speed or staying away from the approaches to the port.
· Restrict access points.
· Mobilize all available detection / surveillance equipment.
· Ensure anti-piracy watches.
· Maintain a strict gangway watch while in port. Lift up
the gangway after the day's work is completed.
· Ensure seaside areas are also watched in port.
· If possible, photograph all persons boarding the vessel
in port or at anchorage. This would deter possible attackers and
also assist in identification of attackers.
· Limit the circulation of cargo manifests.
· Bridge watches could be doubled when passing through
suspected areas. Ensure 'blind spots' on decks, especially towards
the stern, are identified and due care is taken while keeping
· Consider installing yacht radar at the stern to monitor
low profile fast moving craft.
· It would be useful to draft and store a 'standard message'
for pirate attack for immediate use in an emergency. A special
code for 'piracy/armed robbery attack' is now available for use
on Digital Selective Calling (DSC) equipment. Where practicable
and appropriate, DSC equipment should be modified to incorporate
· Exercise caution when transmitting cargo/ship's schedule
related information on VHF.
· Secrete a VHF transceiver on the ship to allow contact
to be established with the shore authorities if the main communications
equipment is put out of action, during a pirate attack.
· Use 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 may be
left 'ON' if possible.
· Securing doors that provide access to, 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.
· Consider installing closed-circuit television (CCTV)
coverage of the main access points to the ships secure areas,
the corridors approaching the entrances to key areas and the bridge.
· 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.
· Emergency alarm signals including the ship's whistle
should be repeatedly sounded if suspicious movements of small
crafts is observed near the ship.
· Distress flares should only be used when the master considers
that the actions of attackers are placing his ship in imminent
· Masters should consider "riding off" attackers
craft by heavy wheel movements, always subject to safe sea room
· The use of water hoses should also be considered. Water
pressures of 80 lb per square inch and above have deterred and
repulsed attackers. Further, the attempt could be to damage the
engine etc. of the pirate's boat. A number of spare fire hoses
could be rigged and tied down ready to be pressurised at short
notice if a potential attack is detected.
· The use of firearms is not advised on board Merchant
ships to fight off the pirates.
6. IF ATTACKERS BOARD THE VESSEL
There is no substitute to early detection of potential attacks
and this first line of defence must be strengthened utilizing
all available resources available. In an unfortunate instance
where attackers have indeed managed to board the vessel, following
should be adhered to, in as much as possible under the circumstances.
· Securing the greatest level of safety for those on board
· Seeking to ensure that the crew remain in control of
the navigation of the vessel;
· Securing the earliest possible departure of the attackers
from the vessel.
· Crewmembers 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.
· There will be many circumstances when compliance with
the attackers' demands will be the only safe alternative and when
resistance or obstruction of any kind could be both futile and
· It should be remembered that attackers are in fact almost
always short of time. Masters are advised to exploit this weakness.
7. ACTION AFTER AN ATTACK
· If crew have apprehended an attacker, he should be placed
in secure confinement and well cared for. Arrangements should
be made to transfer him to the custody of law enforcement officers
of a coastal State at the earliest possible opportunity. Any evidence
relating to his activities should also be handed over to the authorities
who take him into custody.
· 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 signal should also be sent to the ship's
maritime administration as per the statutory requirements.
· Any CCTV or other recordings of the incident should be
secured. If practicable, areas that have been damaged should be
secured and remain untouched by crewmembers pending possible forensic
examination by the law enforcement agencies of a coastal State.
· Crewmembers who came in 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 of stolen goods including a description
of any personal possessions or equipment damaged/stolen should
· Reports to the RCC, coastal State and the ships maritime
administration should also be made if an attack has been unsuccessful.
8. REPORTING A 'PIRATE ATTACK'
· Make report to designated Coastal authorities and also
to flag administration. Designated Coastal authority for the purpose
of reporting of a pirate/armed robbery in an around Indian Ports
is the nearest port authority. Flag administration for Indian
Ships is the Directorate General of Shipping,
'Jahaz Bhavan', Walchand Hirachand Marg, Mumbai 400 001, Tel:
91-22-2613651-4, Fax:91-22-2613655, Email:firstname.lastname@example.org,
· The International
Maritime Organization (IMO) recommends in MSC Circular 623/Rev.3
dt. 29.05.02 that reports concerning attacks by pirates or armed
robbers should be made to the relevant Rescue Co-ordination Centre
(RCC) for the area. Information on RCCs may be found in the Search
and Rescue Section of volume 5 of the Admiralty List of Radio
RCC on Indian Coast is attached in Appendix-2.
· If suspicious movements
are identified which may result in an imminent attack, the ship
is advised to contact the relevant RCC. 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 on a VHF working
frequency following an announcement on VHF Channel 16, and/or
transmission of a DSC call on VHF Channel 70 using the "safety"
priority. All such messages shall be preceded by the safety signal
· When, in his opinion, there is conclusive evidence that
the safety of his ship is threatened, the master should immediately
contact the relevant RCC and, if considered appropriate, authorize
broadcast of an "Urgency Message" on VHF Channel 16,
2182 kHz, or any other radio communications service he considers
appropriate; e.g. 500 kHz, INMARSAT, etc. and/or a DSC call on
VHF Channel 70 and/or 2187.5 kHz 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".
· Should an attack occur and, in the opinion of the master,
the ship or crew are in grave and imminent danger requiring immediate
assistance, he should immediately authorize the broadcast of a
"Distress message", using the radio communication systems
most appropriate for the area taking into account its GMDSS designation;
i.e. A1, A2, A3 or A4. To minimize delay, if using a ship earth
station, ships should ensure the coast earth station associated
with the RCC is used.
9. STANDARD MESSAGE FORMATS
The standard formats for :
· initial messages - piracy attack alert, and
· piracy attack/sighting/suspicious act reports which were
agreed by the IMO Sub-Committee on Radio communications in January
1993, are set out in
10. PIRACY REPORTING CENTRE ON INDIAN COAST
As per Appendix-2.
11. This issues with the approval
of Nautical Advisor to the Govt. of India
(Capt. Harish. Khatri)