In Denmark, Marstal Navigation School is setting up an anti piracy training
scenario using the POLARIS Ship's Bridge Simulator. The objective of the course
is to show the generic characteristics of piracy to give ship-owners, captains and
crews tools for a tactical approach to sailing through piracy waters.
Somali pirates in small boats were able to hijack the MV Faina, a Belize flagged cargo ship owned and operated by 'Kaalbye Shipping Ukraine'. The
ship is carrying a cargo of Ukrainian T-72 tanks and related equipment. It had
no on board security when it was attacked on Sept. 28 and was forced to proceed
to an anchorage off the Somali Coast. Photo Courtesy of U.S. Navy.
The anti piracy training is based on research and knowledge of the company Risk
Intelligence, providing intelligence on pirates' behaviour, strengths and weaknesses,
risk analyses and recommended lines of defence/actions.
"Once the crew know how to react the simulator is an excellent tool to practice
drills to secure the crew's safety, communicate with the international naval forces
and other evasive and defensive measures" says Bjorn Kay at Marstal Navigation School.
70 methods to avoid pirate attacks
According to Bjorn Kay there are up to 70 different methods to avoid pirates
from boarding the vessel, none of which involve armed security staff on board. "Our
opinion is that simulators can be used for research to qualify standards and best
practices," he says.
The use of simulators
The simulator training is set up with merchant ships as 'own ships' and attack
vessels (skiffs, dhows, etc) as 'target ships', using the facilities of the KONGSBERG
Ship's Bridge Simulator to define parameters such as weather, wind conditions, sea
state and different attack patterns.
The use of functionalities in the simulator like AIS/ECDIS and communication
systems are essential to perform a good training scenario.
Identifying suspect vessels
The Bridge watch/crew/lookout and procedures are included in the training course,
with particular emphasis on differentiating between normal and suspect activities
typical for the sailing area. "The lookout has access to systems like AIS, ECDIS/maps,
radar and news and information provided by the international naval coalition, but
the visual bridge watch is equally important" claims Kay. "In Somalia for example,
suspect vessels to pay attention to are small fast craft, fishing vessels, and dhows
with a lot of crew or towing 2-3 smaller vessels. Here vessels to be monitored closely
on the radar are e.g. ships that behave in an irregular, fashion, laying still close
to transit corridors, where there is no reason to anchor or fish and one should
also keep a close watch on vessels not sending AIS signals".
Another important part of the training at Marstal will be the psychological aspects
before and after the attack. At the end of a training session, the school will put
emphasis on analysing the exercise in a debrief session.
"The principles behind the training can also be used to train navy vessels patrolling
the waters by offering structured information about pirate modus operandi and behaviour
from the area, thereby making the military presence more efficient and offering
better protections for the merchant fleet" concludes Bjorn Kay.