There is good news on the piracy front as a pirate attack is foiled through the use of a ‘Citadel Room’. Here is the story as found on Fairplay Shipping News:

Beluga crew evades pirates

THE GERMAN multipurpose ship Beluga Fortune has resumed its voyage to South Africa after a failed hijacking attempt by Somali pirates.

The pirates boarded the 12,744dwt vessel about 1,200 n-miles off Kenya on 24 October, but were unable to navigate the ship towards the African coast, the ship’s owner Beluga said. The engine and bunker feed systems had been shut down by the ship’s 16 Filipino, Russian and German crew members, who were hiding in a citadel room.

The attackers fled yesterday when the British frigate Monrose arrived at the scene.

Beluga managing partner Niels Stolberg lauded the crew for its “cool-headed” behaviour and for undertaking professional safety measures.

“We are very proud of our team aboard the ship. It confirms our strategic view that investments into safety are good investments,” he said. – Fairplay

As you can imagine, a ‘Citadel Room’ is a secure hiding place for the crew. This space gives naval forces the time needed to get to the scene of the attack. As the old saying goes, when seconds count, the police are only minutes away. Traditionally naval forces have declined to intervene once pirates have boarded a ship out of concern for harming crew members in any action to retake the vessel. This has been a problem because it was almost impossible for naval forces to respond in time given that it only takes a couple of minutes for pirates to board vessels and help is often at least 30 minutes away. However, when the pirates fail to capture crew members, they are left exposed to attack by the next passing naval force. And in this case all it took was the appearance of a naval vessel, and the inability to navigate the vessel, to convince the pirates to abandon their catch.

Merchant ships have a guide they can use to prepare for transiting pirate-infested waters. It is called the Best Management Practices 3.

Best Management Practices 3 (BMP3) is now available for the public in booklets and on www.mschoa.org. It represents a real step change; the booklet will significantly encourage wider adoption of self protection measures by ships transiting the High Risk Areas and ultimately help reduce the number of pirated ships off the coast of Somalia.

The purpose of the Industry Best Management Practices (BMP) is to assist ships to avoid, deter or delay piracy attacks off the coast of Somalia, the Gulf of Aden (GoA) and the Arabian Sea. Experience, supported by data collected by Counter Piracy Forces, shows that the application of the recommendations contained within this booklet can and will make a significant difference in preventing a ship becoming a victim of piracy.

BMP has become fully recognized as the standard for guidance and protection for shipping from piracy off the coast of Somalia across the Global Maritime Community. 25,000 copies of the booklet will be published and the intentions of Industry are to make the booklet freely available and ensure wide and effective distribution of this booklet is achieved so that the booklet will become standard documentation on the bridge of all Merchant Ships. Where possible, this booklet should be read with reference to the Maritime Security Centre – Horn of Africa website (www.mschoa.org), which provides additional and updated advice. As intelligence has been gathered and lessons learned evaluated, industry has been able to update and revise this guidance, which has been harmonised and coordinated by all concerned parties during the revision process. – EU NAVFOR Somalia

You can view the manual here: http://www.mschoa.org/bmp3/Documents/BMP3%20Final_low.pdf

The guide comments on Citadels as follows:

(ii) Citadel Guidelines:
A Citadel is a designated pre-planned area purpose built into the ship where, in the event of imminent boarding by pirates, all crew will seek protection. A Citadel is designed and constructed to resist a determined pirate trying to gain entry. Such a space would probably have, but not be limited to, its own self-contained air-conditioning, emergency rations, water supply, good external communications, emergency shut-down capability for the main and auxiliary engines,
and remotely operated CCTV cameras.

A Citadel is to provide longer term protection of the crew.

Ship Operators and Masters are strongly advised to check directly with MSCHOA regarding the use of Citadels (see contact details in Annex A).

The whole concept of the Citadel approach is lost if any crew member is left outside before it is secured.

The ability to communicate is very important as the crew needs to be able to confirm that they are all in a secured space and that anyone a potential boarding party encounters can safely be assumed to be hostile.

The guide is negative on the use of defensive force such as weapons and pyrotechnics, which I disagree with (As noted here ‘Armed Merchant Ship Crews Will Not Escalate The Pirate Problem‘ and here ‘On Defending Unarmed Merchant Ships Against Pirates‘), but otherwise it is a good guide and resource for vessels transiting the area to reduce their risk of being taken over by pirates.




Posted by FFry in Piracy
Tags: , ,

You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

  • Ken Lee-Doyle

    A very interesting report, thank you. My grandfather was a ships master.

2014 Information Domination Essay Contest