WEST AFRICA CONCEPT OF OPERATIONS
West Africa Maritime Security presents a set of circumstances that are totally unique to the area. Piracy and armed robbery in the Gulf of Guinea region is an established criminal activity and is of increasing concern to the maritime sector, with attacks becoming more widespread and violent, including the increase in kidnapping for ransom.
Pirates in West Africa, particularly in the Gulf of Guinea, are flexible in their operations so it is difficult to predict a precise area where a ship might fall victim to piracy. Attacks and armed robbery have occurred from as far south as Angola and north as Sierra Leone but it is generally accepted that the area off the coasts of Ghana, Nigeria, Togo, Cameroon and Benin can be regarded as an area in which counter-piracy management practices should be considered by vessel operators.
Off the coast of Nigeria, local regulations dictate that private armed security guards cannot be embarked on client vessels and Nigerian Navy (NN) personnel can be embarked on Merchant vessels only in very special circumstances and specific locations so this is rarely done. The only viable option, therefore, is to use escort vessels approved by the Nigerian Navy. The NN only allow companies holding a MOU with the NN to operate these escort vessels. There have been cases of some security companies trying to circumvent local regulations and the NN have come down very hard on some shipping and security companies. In a Circular (NHQ 011/113/OPS/VOL.XVII/41 Dated 6th May 2016), the NN said:
“It has been observed that NN Operations Bases now deployed armed personnel onboard merchant vessels which do not belong to Private Maritime Security Companies that have an MoU with the NN. This practice is unacceptable as it runs counter to extant SOPs in the NN. I am therefore directed to request AAs to arrest this ugly trend as henceforth, defaulters will be sanctioned”
To view the Circular, click here – Restriction of Navy on Marchant vessel
Associated Risks operations ensure that ALL Services provided meet the requirements of the Circular, and all other local regulations, ensuring all voyages proceed as planned. In keeping with the local regulations, AR are able to provide the following services:
- Escort Vessels Service as approved by the Nigerian Navy
- Intelligence Support Services detailing latest regional threats and analysis
- Nigerian Navy personnel placed on board the client vessel (only when specifically authorised by the Nigerian Navy. Please ask for further details)
WEST AFRICA – THE THREAT
The International Maritime Bureau reported the Gulf of Guinea as the most dangerous sea for the first quarter of 2016 following numerous acts of piracy, kidnapping and armed robbery. With Nigeria and Ivory Coast accounting for two of the three hijackings recorded globally, and a total of 28 hostages taken in just this year, the Gulf of Guinea dominates world piracy in terms of numbers and severity. Additionally, the region saw 16 crew kidnapped from chemical and product tankers in four separate incidents. Ten attacks were reported off Nigeria alone, all involving guns.
The increasing tempo of piracy in the Nigerian coastal waters is a serious security threat to the Nigerian marine business. The piracy activities are on the increase and fast gaining notoriety comparable to other hot spots around the world. The prevailing threats at the time of writing are:
- Violent acts of piracy, committed by multiple personnel and fast craft
- Attacks which are tactically well-planned and coordinated for maximum impact
- Kidnapping/Hostage taking
- Heavily armed attackers with various arms and munitions
WEST AFRICA ESCORT SERVICES
As previously mentioned, local regulations dictate that the only option for protecting your vessel in this high-risk area is the use of Nigerian Navy (NN) approved escort vessels. These vessels are operated by companies that are wholly Nigerian-owned and, as such, do not have the same experience that Associated Risks have from operating in other high-risk regions. This can result in very slow responses to client requests.
Associated Risks have conducted diligent checks of the Nigerian sub-contractors operating the escort vessels and have selected just a few that have a proven track record of reliability and professionalism. More importantly, they have the necessary approval from the Nigerian Navy. Our own in-country Director has over some considerable time developed a close working relationship with these selected suppliers and has worked with them to foster a better understanding of your needs.
The advantage of using Associated Risks is that we have a local presence but we also are more aware of the wider maritime security domain (from our many years of operating in the HRA and Southeast Asia) and can provide you with the 24/7 fast response enjoyed by our clients in the other high-risk regions.
Associated Risks will provide an escort boat to meet your vessel at a prescribed RV point at a certain distance from its destination in Nigeria (usually around 20-50nm but can be up to 200nm if the threat dictates). The escort boat then escorts the vessel to its destination, waits whilst cargo operations are completed, and then escorts the vessel from destination back out to open ocean.
For tankers loading at offshore terminals, these offshore terminals have their own security systems in place and other security measures (e.g. armed guards) are not allowed within the designated security zone. In this case the escort vessel will wait outside the security zone whilst the vessel completes cargo operations and then continues to provide security until the vessel departs the area.
Once again, be aware that the Nigerian Navy have come down extremely hard on shipping companies trying to save money by hiring non-approved security providers. As an ISO 28007 (security of the supply chain) certified company, Associated Risks must comply with all local, IMO and international regulations to maintain their certification, ensuring that your vessel operations continue unhindered.
WEST AFRICA INTELLIGENCE SUPPORT SERVICES
Associated Risks supply a system designed to assist clients in identifying, assessing and mitigating key risks in the maritime environment. AR piracy alerts are reliable, accurate and rapid, allowing clients to receive up to the minute intelligence from one of the largest maritime networks in the world. Should a particular threat potentially be deemed a risk to your transiting vessel, our operations teams will provide you with immediate advice.
Our range of Intelligence Support Services include:
- Incident updates: near real-time updates of maritime security incidents delivered via email alerts.
- Master’s Brief: a pre-transit Master’s brief. The brief is based on a detailed questionnaire focused on the preparedness of vessel, master and crew ahead of operating in West Africa.
- Route Risk Reports: detailed route risk reports to suit your specific requirements. Once we are in receipt of the vessels way points our operations team will assess each element of the proposed route.
- Advisories: concise circulars providing warnings of imminent events and trends that pose a security or operational risk to your operation.
- Analysis: in-depth strategic reports assessing key trends and issues by region, theme and sector.
- Background information: detailed information providing a summary of maritime risks in locations (territorial waters and ports).
- Vessel Tracking: All vessels can be tracked and monitored 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week, by our experienced watch keepers.
Call us now on +60 12 287 7435 (Malaysia) or contact us to speak with one of our experts. We can provide you with a free, no-obligation quotation.