Anti-Piracy Measures

What measures do captains and operators take against piracy? Do they switch off AIS so pirates can’t see them coming?

Great question, @sinan-ansen ! Captains and operators do indeed take several measures to prevent and mitigate the risk of piracy. While switching off the AIS (Automatic Identification System) can be one of those strategies, it’s important to note that doing so is not always legal, as the AIS helps in collision avoidance and is required by maritime law for certain vessels.

Other measures taken against piracy include:

  1. Following Best Management Practices (BMP): These are a set of guidelines developed by the shipping industry to help ships avoid, deter, and delay piracy attacks. They include measures like maintaining a good lookout, using radar, and keeping a safe distance from the coast.
  2. Implementing Ship Security Plans: These plans, required by the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code, outline the security measures and procedures to be followed on board a vessel, including dealing with piracy threats.
  3. Maintaining a low profile: Ships can reduce the risk of being targeted by pirates by minimizing visible signs of high-value cargo, keeping lights to a minimum at night, and maintaining radio silence when possible.
  4. Speed and maneuverability: A ship that is faster and more maneuverable is less likely to be boarded by pirates. As such, captains often maintain a high speed in high-risk areas and may take evasive maneuvers if they suspect an approaching vessel is a pirate skiff.
  5. Installing physical barriers: Many vessels have installed barriers, such as razor wire or electric fencing, around the perimeter of the ship to deter pirates from attempting to board.
  6. Employing security teams: Some ships opt to have armed or unarmed security personnel on board to deter and respond to potential piracy threats.
  7. Coordination with naval forces: In high-risk areas, ships may coordinate their movements with naval forces patrolling the region, who can provide assistance in case of a piracy attack.

It’s important to remember that each situation is unique, and captains and operators need to assess the risks and choose the most appropriate measures for their specific circumstances.

Before entering the pirate zone, guards are taken to the ships. These guards are armed and can use their weapons in any threat. Ships often enter the high-risk pirate zone in convoys and are escort by a navy ship. Extra navigational precautions are taken on the bridge as well. Extra lookout sailors keep watch on the bridge. They expand their radar range to detect the threat early. If any ship enters the radar, the course and speed of this ship are constantly followed. When it is understood that there is a dangerous situation, the ship calls for help with the mf/hf transmitter.

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I know that some vessel tracking/ship management software have piracy warning features integrated within them. I came across one while examining a popular ship tracking solution - Stratum Five.

Within Statum Five they provide comprehensive piracy updates, continuously aggregating data from widely-acknowledged sources such as NATO, IMB, UKMTO and other reputable sources. They automatically scan and retrieve available piracy updates every 3 minutes! They also provide reports that can be filtered by severity, region and timestamp.