What are Risk Assessment Prior to HRA or High Risk Area Transit ? |

What are Risk Assessment Prior to HRA or High Risk Area Transit ?

Prior to transiting the High Risk Area, ship operators and Masters should carry out a thorough Risk Assessment to assess the likelihood and consequences of piracy attacks to the vessel, based on the latest available information (see Annex A for useful contacts, including MSCHOA, NATO Shipping Centre, UKMTO and MARLO).

The output of this Risk Assessment should identify measures for prevention, mitigation and recovery, which will mean combining statutory regulations with supplementary measures to combat piracy.

It is important that the Risk Assessment is ship and voyage specific, and not generic.
  1. Crew Safety :

 The primary consideration should be to ensure the safety of the crew. Care should be taken, when formulating measures to prevent illegal boarding and external access to the accommodation, that crew members will not be trapped inside and should be able to escape in the event of another type of emergency, such as, for example fire. Careful consideration should be given to the location of a Safe Muster Point or Citadel.

  1. Freeboard:

 It is likely that pirates will try to board the ship being attacked at the lowest point above the waterline, making it easier for them to climb onboard. These points are often on either quarter or at the vessel’s stern. Experience suggests that vessels with a minimum freeboard that is greater than 8 metres have a much greater chance of successfully escaping a piracy attempt than those with less.

A large freeboard will provide little or no protection if the construction of the ship provides access to pirates seeking to climb onboard, and thus further protective measures should be considered. A large freeboard alone may not be enough to deter a pirate attack.

  1. Speed:

One of the most effective ways to defeat a pirate attack is by using speed to try to outrun the attackers and/or make it difficult to board. To date, there have been no reported attacks where pirates have boarded a ship that has been proceeding at over 18 knots. It is possible however that pirate tactics and techniques may develop to enable them to board faster moving ships.

  1. Sea State:

 Pirates mount their attacks from very small craft (skiffs), even where they are supported by larger vessels or ‘Motherships’, which tends to limit their operations to moderate sea states. It is likely to be more difficult to operate small craft effectively in sea state 3 and above.

5. Watchkeeping and Enhanced Vigilance.

 Prior to entering the High Risk Area, it is recommended that preparations are made to support the requirement for increased vigilance by:

  • Providing additional lookouts for each Watch. Additional
  • lookouts should be fully briefed.
  • Considering a shorter rotation of the Watch period in order to maximise alertness of the lookouts.
  • Ensuring that there are sufficient binoculars for the enhanced
  • Bridge Team, preferably anti glare.
  • Considering use of night vision optics.
  • Maintaining a careful Radar Watch.


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