Search

Stories

Seafarer receives support from ISWAN after piracy attack

July 22, 2019
B7 Vinod
© Vinod

ISWAN’s Regional Programme provides humanitarian support to seafarers and their families in South East Asia, South Asia and Nigeria, including those affected by piracy incidents worldwide. The latest report from the International Maritime Bureau revealed that the seas around West Africa remain the world’s most dangerous for piracy. This seafarer recounted his traumatising experience of a pirate attack in the Gulf of Guinea to ISWAN.

Six months ago, an Indian seafarer was working as an Electro Technical Officer on a small offshore vessel when it was attacked by pirates. The incident occurred in broad daylight, when the ship was heading towards a port in Nigeria. The seafarer, who was in his cabin at the time, was shocked to hear bullets being fired from the starboard side of the ship. He never thought that he would face such an attack but then he saw the other officers knocking on the doors of the cabins and alerting the crew to gather in the citadel. He recalled closing the doors of the accommodation and joining the rest of the crew, including the Master, in rushing immediately to the citadel.

Luckily, the ship had CCTV installed at various locations and the crew could see the pirates, who had boarded the vessel using a ladder. The pirates tried their best to break the door of the citadel but were thankfully unsuccessful. However, they proceeded to ransack the entire ship, damaging the equipment on the bridge and looting all the personal belongings of the crew members, including their laptops, mobile phones and clothes.

The pirates searched and looted the crew's cabins, damaging the doors and breaking the locks to get inside

The entire horrific ordeal went on for around seven to eight hours. The crew tried to contact naval forces without much success, but they were finally able to contact the private security team of an oil major who came to their rescue. The seafarer said: ‘The pirates were shouting very loudly and we could hear their voices as they could not get hold of us. They looked very violent and were carrying latest sophisticated weapons with them’. The pirates were not ready to leave the ship, and even when they saw security personnel boat closing in, the seafarer could see them on the CCTV footage trying to break into the citadel until the last minute.

The seafarer and the other crew members were frightened and traumatised by this incident, and the seafarer made up his mind that he would not sail again in that region. At the time of writing, he is sailing on another vessel away from piracy-infested waters. ISWAN’s Maritime Piracy Humanitarian Response Programme, part of our Regional Programme in India, provided the seafarer with emotional support after his ordeal. The seafarer told ISWAN that seafarers must be vigilant when transiting through areas affected by piracy, and agreed that they should have pre-departure briefings and trainings on piracy preparedness to ensure they are equipped for incidents like this.

If you are a seafarer sailing through the Gulf of Guinea region, make sure you follow your company’s procedures and industry best practice for your own safety. If you or a family member have been affected by piracy and need assistance or support, you can contact our free, confidential, 24-hour helpline, SeafarerHelp, at any time – all our contact details can be found at www.seafarerhelp.org. Make a note of our details or save them on your phone in case you ever need our help or support.

Support our work for seafarers' welfare by donating today

Donate

Stay up to date with ISWAN's monthly email newsletter