The long-standing Best Management Practices document (BMP4) has been reviewed and revised by the supporting shipping interests. It has been the shipping industry’s primary guidance for deterring piracy since August 2011 and contributed to stabilising the situation in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean.
It is clear to observers that whilst the Somalian situation has been largely contained since 2013, none of the underlying causes have been removed. Elsewhere, in the Gulf of Guinea and South Asia, piracy incidents continue to occur, and crews need to remain vigilant as a first defence.
Much has changed since BMP 1 was first introduced in 2009 and the newly released revision drew on the experience accumulated since then and was aimed at producing enhanced and user-friendly guidance.
Released in June 2018, BMP5 has five fundamental requirements:
1. Understand the threat - maritime threats are dynamic and obtaining current threat information is critical for risk assessment and decision making.
2. Conduct risk assessments - companies must conduct risk assessments and identify ship protection measures.
3. Implement ship protection measures - such as ship hardening, crew training, enhanced lookout and follow flag state and military guidance.
4. Report - to the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO), register with the Maritime Security Centre Horn of Africa (MSCHOA). Report incidents and suspicious activity to UKMTO and send distress signals if attacked.
5. Cooperate - with other shipping and military forces, with law enforcement to preserve evidence and with welfare providers.
At the same time, a global counter piracy guidance document was produced which draws on military advice, with an aide memoire detailing six additional basic rules for safe transit: DO NOT be alone, DO NOT be detected, DO NOT be surprised, DO NOT be vulnerable, DO NOT be boarded, DO NOT be controlled.
In addition, the Gulf of Guinea guidance was updated. Whilst none of these are bespoke underwriting tools in themselves, they are supported by insurers who consider them to be forms of risk mitigation if used by owners and masters.
Another new and welcome development has been the launch of a new industry website for companies and mariners seeking guidance on a wide range of maritime security issues.