Details Emerge of Viral Video Showing Shipboard Security Team Firing at Approaching Pirates
By gCaptain Staff On May 9, 2012
A screen grab from the video taken aboard the M/V Avocet
The private security firm who saw a video go viral of one of their shipboard teams defending themselves against an approaching pirate skiff has been identified, according to Bloomberg News.
The video, which emerged in early April on the community-driven video website Liveleak.com, depicts an english-speaking private security team aboard a commercial vessel firing a barrage of “warning shots” at an approaching pirate skiff. Since its release, many have wondered the circumstances surrounding the incident, the vessel it was taken aboard, and the security firm behind the video that has so far gone unidentified.
Well today, Bloomberg News has found just who is behind the video and additional details about the attack, including an interview with the security firms President. According to the report, the video was shot by the team leader of four man private security detail aboard the M/V Avocet while transiting “near the center” of the Arabian Sea on March 25, 2011. Additionally, the security team shown has been identified as part of the Virginia, VA-based security firm, Trident Group, who was hired by the ship owners.
The M/V Avocet is a 53,462 dwt bulker owned by New York-based Eagle Bulk Shipping Inc., described as the largest U.S.-based owner of Handymax dry bulk vessels.
Although the video was largely welcomed by viewers, critics say the video has painted private shipboard security teams and ship owners who hire them in a bad light. The video has also left many wondering about the rules of engagement on the high seas and whether or not the heavy fire shown in the video was warranted.
But President of Trident Group, Thomas Rothrauff, defended the teams actions to Bloomberg, saying his company is “absolutely” satisfied its operating procedures were legal and “full compliance with rules for use of force were in place.” In the report, Rothrauff even noted that at least some of the boats’ occupants were probably killed or injured although there is no way for him to know for sure.
“We’re not in the business of counting injuries,” Rothrauff added.
Rothrauff goes on to say that the particular attack shown in the video was the second attack on the vessel in 72-hours by pirates operating from a nearby mothership. He also says that the pirates in the video were returning fire however it is hard to see in the video.
The report adds that all of Tridents Group’s operations on shot on video and the video is technically owned by the hiring company, which in this case Eagle Bulk Shipping Inc.. No word on who is responsible for the release of the video.
The original video of the attack can been seen HERE.
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IMB Piracy Reporting Center Report: West Africa Piracy on the Rise, Somali Piracy Threat Still High
By gCaptain Staff On April 23, 2012
A list of West African pirate activity as reported on the IMB's Piracy Reporting Centre's Live Piracy Map
One hundred and two incidents of piracy and armed robbery were reported in the first quarter of 2012, with dangerously increasing numbers in West African waters, according to the latest figures collected and released today by International Maritime Bureau’s (IMB) piracy reporting center.
So far in 2012, a total of 11 vessels have been reported hijacked worldwide, with 212 crew members taken hostage and four crew killed, the report states. The report adds that a further 45 vessels were boarded, with 32 attempted attacks and 14 vessels fired upon – the latter all attributed to either Somali or Nigerian (West Africa) pirates.
West Africa Piracy
The IMB says that it received ten reports of piracy from the waters off Nigeria in the beginning of 2012, the same number reported in Nigeria for all of 2011. An attack in neighboring Benin has also been attributed to Nigerian pirates. The reports from the region include the hijackings of one product and one chemical tanker, between which 42 crewmembers were taken hostage.
“Nigerian piracy is increasing in incidence and extending in range,” said Pottengal Mukundan, Director of the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre, which has been monitoring piracy worldwide since 1991. “At least six of the 11 reported incidents in Nigeria occurred at distances greater than 70 nautical miles from the coast, which suggests that fishing vessels are being used as motherships to attack shipping further afield.”
Two crew members were killed when armed pirates boarded their bulk carrier 110 nautical miles off Lagos, Nigeria and attacks in Nigerian coastal waters have further resulted in at least three crew kidnapped from their anchored vessel.
“While the number of reported incidents in Nigeria is still less than Somalia, and hijacked vessels are under control of the pirates for days rather than months, the level of violence against crew is dangerously high,” added Mr Mukundan.
Threat still high in Somalia despite fewer incidents
IMB says that Somalia continues to dominate worldwide piracy figures with 43 attacks, including the hijacking of nine vessels and the taking hostage of 144 crew. Four dhows and a fishing vessel, softer targets that make for ideal motherships, were among the highjacked vessels. Somali pirates were also responsible for the hijacking of a Panamax bulk carrier at the end of March.
But while the number of 2012 incidents and hijackings are less than reports for the same period in 2011 (97 incidents, 16 hijackings), the IMB says it is unlikely that the threat of Somali piracy will diminish in the short to medium term unless further actions are taken.
The report attributes the reduction in overall attacks to the disruptive actions and pre-emptive strikes by the navies in the region, which disrupted numerous pirate action groups, emphasizing the importance of the navies in both deterring and combating Somali piracy.
The application of Best Management Practices and the increasing use of privately contracted armed security personnel (PCASP) also contributed to the decrease in the hijackings. In the incidents reported to the Piracy Reporting Centre, more vessels with PCASP have been reported in the first quarter than those not armed.
Until a comprehensive legal framework is in place, however, owners and Masters should follow the International Maritime Organization and industry guidelines on the carriage of PCASP.
“The EU announcement to expand their anti-piracy mission to target pirates ashore is another welcome move that could further threaten the Somali piracy model,” Mr Mukundan said.
As of 31 March 2012, suspected Somali pirates still held 15 vessels with 253 crew members as hostages, with an additional 49 crew members being held hostage on land.
Increased attacks in IndonesiaElsewhere, there has been a noticeable increase in the number of armed robbery
Nexus further comments:Though the validity of the video has not yet been verified (as no security firm has come forward to accept responsibility for the incident), the video is troubling on a number of levels.
Life is precious, and great care needs to be given by any security firm hired to provide defense. Threat identification, proper Use of Force (UoF) understanding and incident de-escalation need to be paramount components of every security guard’s training.
The Use of Force model is the cornerstone of any security firm. Nexus is thus calling on all security firms working in the maritime arena to review their Use of Force policies. In support of this, Nexus is proudly showcasing their cornerstone UoF policies to clarify any concerns.
Further, Nexus is calling on SAMI to conduct a through review of the incident to ensure that only the highest standards of service are being rendered through the association, and if needed, sanction the firm in the video. Security associations must ensure that firms are held accountable for their actions (and public statements) to ensure governance is not merely a paper tiger.
1. Does the security company protect any vessels from their own flag state?
2. Where is their insurance valid?
3. How do they export their weapons?4. Has the security firm changed names recently?
5. What was their stance on armed details just a year ago?
6. What flag-states have cleared the firm for work?
7. What weapons do they utilize?
8. Do they retreat to the citadel when the bullets start to fly?9. What P&I clubs have vetted them?
10. Finally, and most important, ask for prior CSO’s from firms they have covered and contact them.Nexus also notes some excellent resources on the use of force thanks to the United States Coast Guard and US Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC). These resources govern the Nexus use of force policy and ensure the highest standards of preservation of life on the high seas.
“Most importantly to me, I would like to personally thank the all mariners, including my brother Michael, who all regularly transiting these dangerous pirate waters,” said Doherty. “These mariners endure such threats – as noted in the video – to ensure humanitarian aid and world commerce continue to get where they’re needed – despite the great risk to themselves in doing so.”
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