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BMP4 – Best Management Practices for Protection against Somalia based piracy. A guide from SAMI

By • Sep 5th, 2011 • Category: Piracy

BMP4 – Best Management Practices for Protection against Somalia based piracy.

A guide from SAMI – www.seasecurity.org

An overview of the latest advice and of how it differs from past BMPs can be downloaded from the SAMI website

This podcast is sponsored by iDirect. iDirect is the platform of choice for maritime VSAT connectivity helping to keep ships and their crews safe at sea. You can find out more at idirectmaritime.com

iDirect

Thank you for downloading this podcast from Coracle Online and SAMI, the Security Association for the Maritime Industry. This podcast gives a review of BMP4, Best Management Practices for Protection against Somalia based piracy.

This podcast is sponsored by iDirect. iDirect is the platform of choice for maritime VSAT connectivity helping to keep ships and their crews safe at sea. You can find out more at idirectmaritime.com

With the launch of the very latest Best Management Practices (BMP4), you could be forgiven for thinking we are closer to knowing how to keep vessels safe from pirates.

As news emerges over confusion about gun laws, and as pirates begin to adopt bold new strategies, carrying new weapons and a renewed zeal for violence, perhaps we are as far away as ever?

In the face of the threat posed by pirates to commercial shipping a range of “Best Management Practices” (BMP) has been produced by the Shipping Industry in consultation with the combined naval forces – EUNAVFOR, the NATO Shipping Centre and the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO)

The BMPs are essentially targeted at the operational staff onboard ship, and so contain a wealth of guidance and instruction on the best ways of either keeping clear of pirates or keeping any pirates which are encountered away from the ship.

The guidance is based on lessons learned and experience, so they are regularly updated and revised. The latest version, BMP4, has recently been released online with hardcopies in the form of a pocket-sized booklet, which includes illustrations and a small chart of the region, to follow soon. You can find a link in the shownotes [above]

The shipping industry and partner organisations are working hard to ensure that as many shipping companies as possible distribute it to their vessels and personnel. So that BMPs can be followed and implemented as a tool for counter piracy by those Masters and crews during transit through the High Risk Areas.

With guidance on issues such as passage planning, reporting, establishing ship protection measures, as well as using private security guards and establishing citadels onboard, the BMPs should be read and understood by all Masters and senior officers prior to transiting High Risk Areas

The practices which BMP stresses are in the main fairly common sense ones, and relatively straightforward to implement. Still however too many vessels do not adequately adopt or follow the guidance. Following BMPs makes ships safer, and they are less likely to be attacked and if they are, then they are far better equipped to deal with the pirates.

The BMPs have been overhauled significantly, and now cover a wider geographical area, with “the Somali Basin” added to the Coast of Somalia and Arabian Sea areas.

The key element of the advice is that if pirates are unable to board a ship they cannot hijack it. This basic premise underlines the BMPs – and there are a range of new sections and new features, such as ballistic protection and citadels. The advice also covers the widening range of pirates and their increased use of motherships.

There are now three Fundamental Requirements of BMP. In essence these consist of:
+ Register at MSCHOA – In addition to the usual bounding areas, the Straits of Hormuz are now included
+ Report to UKMTO – UKMTO acts as the primary point of contact for merchant vessels and liaison with military forces in the region and it is the primary point of contact during an attack. For this reason UKMTO should be made aware that the vessel is transiting the High Risk Area
+ Implement Ship Protection Measures (SPMs) – These are the most basic measures likely to be effective at reducing the risk of
piracy attack.

The issue of registering and reporting is stressed time and again and really is the main thrust of the guidance. For too long, too many vessels have been passing through these dangerous waters without letting the naval/military forces know. This is simply no good for anyone (save for the pirates), and so it is vital to report.

Perhaps not unsurprisingly BMP4 does now feature a section dedicated to the use of private maritime security contractors – both armed and unarmed. BMP4 states, “…use of unarmed Private Maritime Security Contractors is a matter for individual Ship Operators following their own voyage risk assessment. The deployment onboard is subject to the national laws of the Flag State. The use of experienced and competent unarmed Private Maritime Security Contractors can be a valuable addition to BMP.”

There is an additional examination on the use of armed Private Maritime Security Contractors. “The use, or not, of armed Private Maritime Security Contractors onboard merchant vessels is a matter for individual ship operators to decide following their own voyage risk assessment and approval of respective Flag States. Subject to risk analysis, careful planning and agreements, the provision of Military Vessel Protection Detachments (VPDs) deployed to protect vulnerable shipping is the recommended option when considering armed guards.”This advice does not constitute a recommendation nor endorsement of the general use of armed Private Maritime Security Contractors.

While the use of private security is in vogue at the moment, so too is the use of citadels. However not many companies or masters actually know what they really are, or of how to set them up. The guidance is clear…they don’t know because it is very complicated and beyond the scope of their knowledge. As such BMP4 stresses that expert input is required in establishing a citadel. It also stresses the criteria under which naval/military forces may launch a rescue if the crew are all inside a citadel.

One very subtle addition to BMP4 is an alignment between anti-piracy and the shipboard International Ship and Port Facility (ISPS) Code provisions. All too often the “hard” security of anti-piracy has not meshed well with the “softer” risk management approach of the ISPS Code. Finally this document brings into the focus the roles of the Company and Ship Security Officers, the Ship Security Plan and the security measures onboard.

There are elements of the new guidance which appear rather clunky, and this reflects the fact that an ever increasing array of organisations is involved in its production. With a guide written by “committee” there is always a chance that politics comes into play – and it can be seen here in parts.