It has long been suspected, but even the very highest eschelons of shipping now recognise, that too few vessels are applying best industry management practice to protect themselves.
According to IMO secretary general Efthimios Mitropoulos, and based on NATO statistics, less than 40% of vessels transiting the piracy danger areas in the Gulf of Aden, off Somalia and the Indian Ocean are complying with BMP guidelines.
Over 60% of ships sailing either in complete ignorance or with only a fleeting regard of the ways in which they can protect themselves. This is not good enough – and it simply does not make sense! Why are these officers and companies so blithely ignoring the “best” ways to safeguard themselves? Why is the PR campaign, the outreach, the engagement failing? Who is to blame?
Industry reports suggested that this figure could be as low as 20%, and it would appear that the status of BMPs as guidelines is the problem. If flag States were to make the BMPs mandatory that could alter the picture, many experts believe.
There is a role too for time charterers – if they insisted on vessels complying with BMP by way of inserting a clause in the charterparty then that too would boost the numbers of vessels actively protecting themselves.
It seems crazy, but until shipping is forced to act in its own best interest then lip service is the best we can expect, with continuation of attacks the most likely outcome.