The Norwegian Maritime Authority is advising shipowners from that country to increase security for their ships off the Angola coast, including in offshore oil fields, because of piracy concerns there, the Norwegian Shipowners’ Association said Thursday.¬†
The maritime recent authority’s move follows the pirate seizure on the MT Kerala in late January off Luanda, said Haakon Svane, NSA’s director of contingency planning.
The MT Kerala is a Greek-owned, Liberian-flagged 75,000 DWT tanker. The Nigerian Navy intercepted the tanker on January 31, four days after it was seized by pirates from that country, according to Nigerian press reports. The Angolan government initially denied the MT Kerala was attacked by pirates and the incident remains under investigation by Interpol, Nigeria and Angola.
NMA has suggested that Norwegian-registered vessels implement International Ship and Port Facility Security Code 2-type (ISPS 2-type) measures as a precaution to prevent pirate attacks off Angola. Such precautions would mean increased situational awareness both day and night, operational planning suited to mitigate risk, conducting security and anti-piracy exercises and drills and increased lookouts.
“ISPS 2 is not a formal NMA requirement off Angola,” Svane said. “But NMA has advised to use ISPS 2 type measures there, to prepare ships physically if the pirates try to board vessels, and improve crew awareness to avoid that such incidents occur.”
Most Nigerian pirate attacks and robberies take place in the Gulf of Guinea off Nigeria, Benin and Togo.
“Off those three countries ISPS 2 is a formal NMA requirement, Svane said. “However, the southward expansion of piracy calls for security precautions while operating off Angola, including in the offshore oil fields,” he added.
Preparing ships against pirate attacks will not have any significant impacts on shipowners economically, but would mainly mean increasing situational awareness and operational planning to mitigate risk, he said.
“Reportedly, MT Kerala was unprepared and unprotected when attacked,” Svane said. “There have been speculations as to the nature of the attack, and we make our own assessments.”
While he said it was the role of law enforcement authorities from Interpol, coastal nations and flag states to investigate who attacked the MT Kerala, the NSA believes “precautionary security measures in this area are now required,” he said. “This is based on our assumption that Nigerian pirates took part in the MT Kerala incident.
“We believe it is important for shipping to take precautionary security measures as far south and west as the pirates have demonstrated an ability to operate” Svane said.
–Shubhlakshmi Shukla, email@example.com –Edited by Richard Rubin, firstname.lastname@example.org