In an effort to protect vessels from piracy attacks at Douala anchorage, the Government of Cameroon has decided to supply armed guards, free of charge, that will stay onboard a vessel for the duration of its stay at the anchorage.
The effect of piracy on crew and their safety continues to be a cause for concern and transiting West African waters remains particularly difficult. In the first half of 2019, 73% of all kidnappings at sea, and 92% of hostage-takings took place in the Gulf of Guinea. While reports from previous years have shown that most attacks have occurred outside Cameroon waters, the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre has recorded three cases of piracy at Douala anchorage so far in 2019, all involving abduction of crew members.
In an effort to enhance the security for ships calling at Douala Port, the Government of Cameroon has decided to place armed security teams onboard all vessels for the duration of their stay at Douala anchorage (pilot station). The following announcement was made by the Douala Port Authority on 22 August 2019:
According to Gard’s local correspondent in the region, BUDD Group, the new arrangement will reduce the administrative delays incurred when completing an application for government armed guards on board. In the past, the presence of armed guards on board had to be authorized by the Ministry of Defence and the Presidency of the Republic. Vessels requiring the presence of armed guards on board were obliged to authorise their agent to complete the formalities. The process was slow and vessels rarely had the time to complete it.
We recommend ship operators to notify their Masters and crews of the new security arrangements at Douala anchorage. It is important to emphasise that there should be no additional costs associated with any armed guards entering the vessel and that they must collaborate with the security team for the success of the operation.
The correspondent states that security alongside in Douala Port is generally satisfactory but highlights the risk of stowaways. For more information about the infrastructure and activities in Douala port, please see the correspondent’s newsletter “Port Profile: Douala, Cameroon” of 6 September 2019.
We are grateful to BUDD Group for providing this information.
Warning to stay alert in the Gulf of Guinea
The IMB Piracy Reporting Centre is urging seafarers in the Gulf of Guinea region to “remain vigilant and report all suspicious activity to regional response centres and the IMB”. It emphasises that early detection of an approaching suspicious craft is key to prevent boarding and allows time to raise the alarm and retreat into a citadel, if needed.
We therefore take this opportunity to once again advise ship operators and their masters to continue to exercise caution when operating in the Gulf of Guinea and to:
Further information is also available from the shipping industry's Maritime Global Security Website: www.maritimeglobalsecurity.org.