Abandoning Ships

According to officers speaking at a recent piracy conference, crew members are increasingly demanding to leave vessels about to transit the Indian Ocean if the owner has not put a security detachment on board.

On vessels which are thought to be most at threat of attack, officers are making the very difficult decision to leave the ship, rather than face the dangers of the High Risk Area.

Working on slow vessels with low freeboard makes many officers fearful, and some believe that owners are hesitating to spend money on hiring private security as many risk assessments are being conducted too late, and with pre-determined outcomes.

Speaking at a conference organised by the World Maritime University in Malmo, one officer spoke of one hard pressed owner which in essence “gambled” with its crew’s security. The company, which was believed to be short of money, was reliant on the vessel reaching its destination to secure income but was not willing to spend on security.

International Maritime Organization (IMO) secretary-general Efthimios Mitropoulos has spoken in the past on the potential refusal of crews to transit the region amongst his “four worse-case scenarios of escalating piracy”. It seems perhaps his fears are well founded.

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