‘I don’t like it, it’s too quiet’ is a well-worn phrase in action movies. It is usually spoken by a minor character in a film just before an attack begins, out of which the minor character may or may not emerge unscathed.
It is true that the HRA has enjoyed a relatively quiet summer. This is partly due to the monsoon season and, as highlighted in my previous news item ‘Armed Guards are making the difference’, the effective use of armed guards.
However, how long will this last?
It would be tempting for the shipping industry to ‘drop its guard’. The use of armed guards has obviously paid dividends perhaps we can sit back and ease off on the use of such an additional cost?
We have seen a number of vessels deciding to skirt around the edge of the HRA unarmed rather than to sail through it with armed protection. The West Coast of India is one route which is being used on a regular basis by unarmed vessels.
A word of caution: perhaps this is the time to step up the use of armed guards rather than to relax it? As the minor character in the films highlights perhaps the current situation is too quiet?
Are the pirates beaten? I don’t think so. Are they likely to give up? Probably not, and maybe the current lull is actually a sign that they intend to return to their activities with renewed vigor? This size of the prize is too large, and the sums of money involved too great, for them to simply give up.
We as an industry are proud of the fact that no commercial vessel carrying an armed team has yet been taken, and it is a credit to all those involved that this is still the case. But, any concerted campaign by the pirates may test this resolve.
The HRA may already be extended to cater for the expanded activities of pirates and it could only be a matter of time before they regularly enter previously ‘safe’ waters such as those off the coast of India?
Not only would any unarmed vessel be vulnerable. There still appear to be vessels carrying inferior weapons to those used by the pirates such as shotguns.
The moral of the story is that now more than ever the shipping industry needs to be vigilant. If we are to keep the pirates at bay then we need to continue with significant levels of armed security on commercial vessels, and they need to be properly equipped with effective weaponry.
Let us hope that ‘I don’t like it, it’s too quiet’ proves to be a cliche, but just in case?………..
Spirit Security Services Ltd.