That they faced an ‘a typical’ hijacking was the first thing data from Jeppesen’s Piracy Update showed a crisis team dealing with a recent incident off the Ivory Coast.
Arild Nodland, CEO of Norway’s Bergen Risk Solutions (BRS) said, “Piracy Update reporting and maps were used to provide a common operating picture to lawyers, insurers, the owner, charterers and other parties during the hijacking of a Greek tanker off Abijan in October.
“The Piracy Update quickly established an overview of the geographical situation and showed us that the attack was 350 nautical miles west of the pirates’ usual hunting grounds,” added Nodland, whose company advises on security and geopolitical risk.
“That made us uncertain at first, but when we compared this hijacking with what we knew about similar incidents in terms of modus operandi, type of ship being hijacked and cargo carried, we could tell the client what had happened, what the risks were to their vessel, cargo and crew, and what was likely to happen.”
The tanker was hijacked on Saturday 6 October and released on the Tuesday some 50 nautical miles east of Lagos. The incident followed the classic pattern of Nigerian pirate hijackings with part of the cargo stolen and the vessel returned after a few days.
After completing one of two ship-to-ship transfers of its gasoil cargo, the tanker’s lights were switched off and it sailed away without warning.
Armed men had reportedly approached the ship in speedboats. They cut communication to prevent contact with the shore.
Once the owners realized their ship had gone missing, they mobilized their Emergency Response Team and contacted their insurers, the ship’s flag state and specialist legal team, which contacted BRS.
The IMB Piracy Reporting Centre in Kuala Lumpur was also notified, along with the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre in Lagos and the navies of Togo, Benin and Nigeria. The French and US navies were also contacted in case they had ships nearby.
“The challenge in a crisis like this is usually not a lack of information but too much. So you need a system that can process and disseminate what is timely and relevant, said Nodland.
“All intelligence we gathered was relayed with the extensive use of maps, including the ship’s position, course and speed whenever we got whiff of where she was. We also called ships close to the hijacked tanker and eventually found one that had her on the radar.
“As the Piracy Update is integrated with other Jeppesen products – electronic navigation charts, ports database, weather and wave forecasts – we were also able to quickly plan a safe and secure seaborne medical evacuation.”
None of the 24 crew was physically harmed, however, but previous Nigerian hijackings have resulted in violence and even murder.
Source: Maritime Connector