The author has produced a concise but comprehensive guide to surviving piracy attacks. As a risk management approach, the book strongly features those methods of reducing risk to an acceptable level, without involving considerable cost overheads, by awareness and observation.
NAME: Surviving A Piracy Attack – What You Need To Know
CLASSIFICATION: Book Reviews
AUTHOR: Steven Jones
PUBLISHER: Shiptalk Security Guides
BINDING: Soft back
PRICE: GB £12.99
GENRE: Non fiction
SUBJECT: Piracy protection, Gulf of Aden, Indian Ocean, Java Straights, Atlantic, North Sea, marine theft, hostage, portage, naval patrol
DESCRIPTION: The author has produced a concise but comprehensive guide to surviving piracy attacks. As a risk management approach, the book strongly features those methods of reducing risk to an acceptable level, without involving considerable cost overheads, by awareness and observation. Piracy is still seen as a romanticized practice associated with the 17th and 18th Centuries but is a cruel and ruthless criminal activity, as old as seafaring, that never went away. A large part of the duties of the Royal Navy was anti-piracy patrols that were so effective that piracy ceased to be a major criminal industry by the 19th Century along the trade routes of Empire. That control continued into the 20th Century, with Royal Navy warships and patrol vessels based from ports around the world. Other navies also mounted effective anti-piracy patrols to protect their own trading interests and the four frigates built by the newly independent United States were most frequently employed against pirates, including those operating in the Mediterranean, USS Constitution surviving as a commissioned warship exhibited in Boston, MA, today. However, pockets of piracy survived and periodically expanded, mainly in the Seas of South Asia, where small craft preyed on other small craft. The only way to combat piracy is by strong naval patrols in affected areas, with aerial surveillance. It is a mutual exercise in risk management with pirates ceasing to operate in areas where the probability of capture and prosecution is high. Until the risks are contained, escorted convoys greatly reduce risk but there will always be vessels that have to sail independently and face risk alone. This book covers the self-help that owners can employ to reduce risk. Specifically the author has addressed commercial shipping risk in the major pirate hot-spot of the Gulf of Aden and the East African Coast, but the principles of the guide can be applied to any vessel in any waters. Even with modern communications and information technology, we do not know the full extent of piracy. Vessels, even large and well-equipped merchant vessels, disappear. Some may have sunk after a catastrophic structural or equipment failure, or as a result of freak conditions, but at least a proportion will have been taken by pirates, before an alarm can be given and with the total lost of life aboard. Even European waters are not immune to acts of piracy, but it is a relatively rare event and mostly applies to moored vessels, rather than attacks at sea. A solo sailor attempting the first vertical circumnavigation by sea was shadowed by pirates off the coast of Brazil and was lucky to evade them in the night, his pump-action shotgun providing little defence against attack. Piracy in the Caribbean and along the coasts of Central and South America continues to be a risk particularly to smaller craft, some of which are taken to be used for the transport of drugs. In the Gulf of Aden, captives are treated reasonably well and used to secure ransom, but many pirates find it much easier to kill and dump the crew especially small crews of smaller private vessels. Even the pirate hot-spot of the Gulf of Aden and Western Indian Ocean shows that pirates can operate far offshore and against the smallest yachts to the largest merchant ships. As naval activity increases against pirates they are more likely to operate further from shore and in new areas with lower naval anti-piracy activity. The author has shown how awareness and simple risk reduction can be highly affective to reduce piracy risk, to aid captives while they are held by pirates and when they have been released. He also covers the traditional difficulty in risk reduction by showing that some risk measures can conflict where defence against criminal risk has to recognize the needs of risk reduction measures to ensure safety from other threats such as sinking or fire. He has concentrated on risk reduction aboard larger commercial vessels where it is practical to establish citadels and employ high pressure fire hoses. Smaller craft raise additional concerns because their structure does not lend itself well to this approach, the hull and superstructure are less resistant to smalls arms fire, and the deck may be similar or lower than that of the attacking vessels. Here only anti-boarding nets could be used and even this may not be a practical measure. The author has started with advice to secure effective insurance and this should include consideration of specific hostage insurance. By reading this book and using its guidance, risk can be significantly reduced in any size vessel at remarkably little additional cost. Much of the advice is simple common sense and good practice seamanship but this is true of all reliable risk management guidance where the real risk enemy is complacency and a lack of care in following normal good practice. Every crew should mount effective watch by sight, radar and radio. Observing vessels on converging paths is something every watch keeper should do, and even the smallest vessel can carry effective radio, radar and EPIRB equipment. However, it is a sad fact that even common sense advice is still a novelty to some sailors and ships often fall to pirates or some over risk because of a lack of observation and awareness. This is a book that every sailor should read.