On 18th June 2022 at 21:30 local time, a jack-up drilling rig was boarded by five persons in the Bay of Campeche, in the southern part of the Gulf of Mexico. One of the perpetrators was seen to be carrying a weapon, believed to be a handgun. The rig activated its ship security alert system (SSAS) and Securewest’s Maritime Assistance Centre (MAC) immediately began coordinating with the company security officer (CSO). Initially the rig reported that five of its crew members were unaccounted for. It later transpired that they had been forced at gunpoint to help offload stolen self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) equipment before the robbers made their escape. The Mexican Navy were contacted and deployed to the scene. All crew were later reported as safe.
This is a fantastic example of how an effective and well-rehearsed SSAS procedure is vitally important when dealing with a security incident of this nature. The crew and company staff responded excellently to the threat and our professional, experienced team were able to support them by relaying crucial information to the relevant authorities ashore.
In a similar attack earlier this year, on 21st May 2022, at 23:00 local time a group of five armed persons boarded the offshore support vessel, CREST TARASCO, and again stole breathing apparatus sets, as well as communication equipment and tools. Reports from local media indicated that the gang boarded the vessel nine nautical miles southwest of the Hokchi oil and gas field and, once successfully onboard, fired shots in the air. The Mexican Navy were notified and fortunately no injuries were reported.
According to recent analysis by the non-profit investigative organisation Insight Crime, this surge in piracy has sparked calls for Mexico to provide more security in the Gulf of Mexico. The International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) has written to the Ministry of the Navy, demanding regular ship and helicopter patrols and new special surveillance zones with permanent video monitoring and radar. The letter even asked whether extra Navy bases could be built to help stop the pirates. They also requested that all ships and platforms should have video surveillance and recording systems.
Insight Crime went on to say that despite these attacks, little proactive response has been seen from the government or the companies involved. According to a report by Oceans Beyond Piracy, this is due to a range of factors, including fears of financial liability, poor safety records and shipping delays.
In 2019, the Mexican government announced a new naval base and surveillance station would be opened in Dos Bocas, a port in the state of Tabasco. According to a report by World Maritime University, response times are still slow – at least two hours or more.
Finally, the think tank warned that the threat posed by pirates has escalated to the point that the United States and Panama have now issued warnings to ships to increase security conditions when sailing in the Gulf of Mexico or to avoid the area if possible.
To find out more about Securewest’s SSAS management and monitoring services, a no obligation quotation, demonstration and free trial contact our team firstname.lastname@example.org.