Worldwide there are approximately 3,000 merchant ports and the work of the Harbour Master can vary widely from country to country and from port to port even within the same country.
IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim has expressed his deep concern about the escalation in the number and severity of attacks on ships and crew in the Gulf of Guinea region. He insisted on the need for all stakeholders to work together to restore security and reduce the threats to the safety and security of crews and vessels operating in the region. This was reported by IMO on 15 February.
The urgency of the situation has been underlined by the attack on the container ship Mozart on 23 January 2021, which resulted in a fatality and the kidnapping of 15 seafarers.
In a circular letter (No. 4382, issued 10 February1), the Secretary-General said that IMO has been taking action to enhance the coordination of initiatives among stakeholders, including facilitating meetings with representatives of the industry, the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and the Interregional Coordination Centre for the Implementation of Regional Strategy for Maritime Safety and Security in Central and West Africa (ICC).
The Secretary-General also highlighted that ships need to implement the IMO endorsed Best Management Practices (BMP) for West Africa (WA) to avoid, deter, delay and report attacks. The BMP cover risk assessment, ship protection measures and reporting.
The BMP can be downloaded here:
IMO intends to convene a maritime security working group focusing on the Gulf of Guinea at the next session of the Maritime Safety Committee, MSC 103, scheduled to take place in May 2021. This will provide an opportunity for Member States and international organizations to discuss further collaboration and possible action to address the existing problems.
IMO continues to provide technical assistance to Member States in the region regarding the implementation of maritime security measures. The Organization is currently working with the Interregional Coordination Centre (ICC) to assist with the implementation of the Yaoundé Code of Conduct (YCC), a regional code aimed at enhancing maritime security and addressing piracy, armed robbery against ships, illegal fishing and other illicit maritime activity.
The IMO West and Central Africa Maritime Security Trust Fund enables the Organization's maritime security capacity-building programme to assist Gulf of Guinea coastal States as well as regional centres under the framework of the Yaoundé Code of Conduct.
A comprehensive list of recommendations and guidance adopted/approved by the Maritime Safety Committee on the prevention and response to acts of piracy and armed robbery against ships can be found in the Guidance on piracy section of IMO’s maritime security webpage to be found here:
Image shown here provided by Inter-Regional Coordination Center (ICC) Yaoundé, Cameroon.
It relates to an attempted attack on 7 February 2021, when the Oil/Chemical tanker mv Sea Phantom was boarded by suspected pirates on the high seas off Sao Tome & Principe.
Following coordination between the Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea navies, response units were dispatched. As a helicopter from Equatorial Guinea arrived on scene, at least eight people that had managed to board the vessel fled the ship.
The Cameroonian patrol boat Dipikar also arrived on scene to assist. Fortunately, the crew was found uninjured in the tanker's intact citadel. The vessel has since been escorted to the port of Malabo, in Equatorial Guinea.
IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim has welcomed the World Health Organization’s decision to name seafarers as one of the groups of transportation workers that should be prioritised for Covid-19 vaccination in instances of limited supplies. This was reported on 22 July.
Updated guidance for Stage II of its vaccine roadmap from the WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) states: ‘Seafarers and air crews who work on vessels that carry goods and no passengers, with special attention to seafarers who are stranded at sea and prevented from crossing international borders for crew change due to travel restrictions.’
IMO Secretary General Lim commented: ‘I am glad to see that the WHO recognises the importance of vaccinating seafarers on cargo ships.
‘These individuals are responsible for transporting over 80% of all goods around the world, including food, medicine and vaccine supplies – and have continued to do so despite extremely challenging circumstances. Seafarers will play a key role in the global recovery, and barriers to international travel and crew change must be removed.’
On 28 September 2019, a cargo tank containing styrene monomer on board the Cayman Islands registered chemical tanker Stolt Groenland ruptured causing an explosion and fire. The tanker was moored alongside a general cargo berth in Ulsan, Republic of Korea and the Singapore registered chemical tanker Bow Dalian was moored outboard. Ignition of the styrene monomer vapour resulted in a fireball, which reached the road bridge above. Both vessels were damaged, and two crew suffered minor injuries. Fifteen emergency responders were injured during the fire-fighting, which lasted for over six hours.
Rupture of the styrene monomer tank resulted from a runaway polymerisation that was initiated by elevated temperatures caused by heat transfer from other chemical cargoes. Elevated temperatures caused the inhibitor, added to prevent the chemical’s polymerisation during the voyage, to deplete more rapidly than expected. Although the styrene monomer had not been stowed directly adjacent to heated cargo, the potential for heat transfer through intermediate tanks was not fully appreciated or assessed.