A new threat to seamen in Nigeria. Meet Mr Alex Davies.
If a legal battle to reclaim the stolen gasoil cargo from Anuket Emerald is successful, it will be the first time this has happened and may signal a new way to cope with piracy in West Africa, according to Stephenson Harwood partner in marine insurance and international trade Alex Davies.
The pirates seized the cargo documents, disabled the communications and the name of the vessel was partly painted out so it read Rald. After the discharge of the gasoil, this hijack could easily have followed the same pattern as those before it. However, the second officer, who was brought up from the mess to assist with navigation, caught a glimpse of the ship-to-ship transfer vessel and noted it had an orange hull with a round funnel.
Intelligence firm Gray Page pinpointed one such vessel that had discharged a gasoil cargo at a jetty in Lagos. The documents submitted to the jetty showed it had loaded from a vessel named Ralb. Nigerian authorities were alerted and they seized the cargo.
Mr Davies said there were things shipowners could be doing to aid detection in the future.
“Swift identification of the vessel is key so it can be arrested prior to discharge. In this case, we were extremely lucky the second officer had a glimpse of the STS vessel and that its characteristics were distinctive.”
Solutions include a small hidden GPS transmitter with a dedicated power source and an embedded time camera proving the identification of the bandit vessel.
These would need to be fitted without the knowledge of the crew, as there is a risk that pirates will torture seafarers until they reveal the location of any devices.
Gray Page has recently attended a vessel in dry dock that was having this kit fitted.
Mr Davies said this was evidence that owners were becoming more aware of these options.
Lloyd’s List recently revealed the Economic Council of West African States has provisionally agreed to allow foreign private maritime security companies to operate in its territorial waters.
However, from his experience in the area, Mr Davies said this move would be “completely irrelevant as the small product tankers that are being targeted will not employ armed guards”.
“The answer here is to cut the revenue stream,” he said.
“Our experience with Anuket Emerald proves armed guards are not the answer. I am bemused why more operators are not fitting this equipment already.”
Mr Alex Davies and the likes of him, including Gray Page firm, doom sailors to tortures, because Nigerian pirates, who are no fools, will take a note of a new device and surely, they’ll do their best to locate and destroy it. I don’t think pirates will believe the crew has no idea where the device is hidden, at the very least the crew may pinpoint most suitable spots for it. Stolen cargo is worth millions, enough dough for criminals to start doing things they’ve never been doin before, like setting ablaze superstructure or the whole vessel, just to get rid of video and transmitter. Pirates don’t care what happens to the crew, and why should they care more than Mr Davies, his partners and the likes of them, who don’t give a damn for seamen.
Anuket Emerald hijack news:
British tanker Anuket Emerald was hijacked by pirates and released 5 days later
Friday, August 24, 2012British tanker Anuket Emerald was hijacked by pirates and released 5 days later, presumably part of vessel’s cargo was stolen. Anuket Emerald was declared unreported in Gulf of Guinea, last known position 05.50N 001.14E at around 18:00 UTC August 18 2012, near the Ghana sea border. AIS signal disappeared simultaneously from several AIS websites. Vessel was declared as unreported, all vessels in the area advised to search and report if tanker is spotted. Vessel was en route from Cotonou Benin, to Lome offshore facilities. Crew was 18 of Russian and Filipino nationalities. Norbulk latest press-release: At 2048(UK time) on 23/08/2012, Norbulk received a satellite communication message from the vessel Anuket Emerald. Subsequent verbal correspondence between the vessel Master and Norbulk Operations personnel confirmed all 18 persons on board safe and well.