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Coalition forces issue Special Advisory on security in Gulf of Aden

Coalition forces issue Special Advisory on security in Gulf of Aden

Dubai: Responding to criticism of their lack of intervention to stem piracy, US-led coalition forces policing the newly created Maritime Security Patrol Area (MSPA) in the Gulf of Aden have released the following statement regarding best practices for shipowners in the region, reported courtesy of the regional Office of Kanoo Shipping Agencies:

"1. On 22 August, Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) directed the establishment of a Maritime Security Patrol Area (MSPA) in the Gulf of Aden. The MSPA was established in support of the International Maritime Organization's (IMO) ongoing efforts to ensure the safety of ships and mariners at sea. The MSPA is a geographic area in the Gulf of Aden utilized by CMF and positioned to maximize deployment of available forces in areas of increased de-stabilizing activity. Coalition forces patrol the MSPA on a routine basis. The MSPA is not marked or defined by visual navigational means, nor is it intended to be a dedicated traffic separation scheme.  Coalition vessels patrolling the MSPA provide a measure of deterrence to de-stabilizing activity through their presence. However, the MSPA cannot guarantee a ship's safety, so masters are recommended to employ best practices described below to make their vessels less vulnerable to attack when operating in the gulf of aden.
 
2. Since the establishment of the MSPA, coalition forces have had some success in deterring attacks on merchant shipping. Nevertheless, coalition responsibilities extend over 2.4 million square miles of open sea, making it impossible to provide continuous coverage everywhere in the Gulf of Aden. Despite the presence of coalition forces in the region, destabilizing activity has continued and a number of commercial and civilian ships have been successfully attacked and seized. A far greater number of attacks have been thwarted through defensive and protective measures taken by commercial and civilian ships prior to entering and during transit through the area.  The following self-protective measures have proven to be effective:
 
2.a. Demonstrate a willingness to defend yourself. Do not present an attractive target for attack and do not surrender immediately at the first sign of a threat.


2.b. Employ speed and maneuver to avoid attack.  Conduct transit of high threat areas at maximum sustainable speed at all times.
Maintain a full visual and radar watch throughout transit. Provide extra lookouts if possible, especially during daylight hours. Avoid transiting near small boats whenever possible. Actively watch for developing rules of the road situations and take early action to increase cpas. Maneuver aggressively if under attack. Maneuver to remove any lee from either side of ship (sea state dependent). If engineering or other technical problems cause reduced speed, immediately activate defensive measures to reduce vulnerability.


2.c. Adopt passive defense measures. Take all precautions detailed for speed and maneuver. Take defensive precautions prior to entering high threat areas, including rigging fire hoses, and raising outboard equipment and/or positioning inboard. Consider other non-lethal measures such as focused sonic devices.


2.d. Active defensive measures should be considered, including employment of professional security teams.


2.e. If a ship comes under attack, report immediately to ukmto, broadcast attacks immediately on all available radio circuits, adjust speed and maneuver, and activate all available defensive measures. Do not immediately surrender upon approach of suspected pirate boats. Attacks have been thwarted in several cases where defensive measures were used, and the vessels became difficult targets.


2.f. Additional guidance regarding practices recommended for mariners operating in vicinity of high risk areas have been published in international maritime organization (IMO) revised MSC circ. 622 and 623. These documents can be accessed via imo website at the following internet address: http://imo.org/safety/mainframe.asp?topic_id=1147 


3. In order to facilitate mspa effectiveness and enable the cooperative effort of coalition forces, operators of maritime vessels and other maritime interests should continue to utilize recommended transit area in Gulf of Aden and follow recommendations for defensive measures to maximum extent practical. Establishment of MSPA and adherence to these recommendations does not eliminate all risk of criminal activity. Extreme caution and vigilance should continue to be exercised to reduce vulnerability."  [25/09/08]

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