Heightened security should be implemented on all merchant ships transiting the Suez Canal and the Mediterranean, a UK Maritime security company has warned.
This warning came after reports that the containership ‘Cosco Asia’, was attacked last Saturday while transiting the Canal. Egyptian officials said that they had foiled the attack, which was aimed at disrupting shipping in the Canal.
Gerry Northwood, COO at GoAGT, said: “The reported attack on the ‘Cosco Asia’ shows an increased risk and that immediate and sustained heightened security needs to be implemented on board merchant vessels using the Suez Canal, as well as major maritime choke points such as the Straits of Gibraltar and the Straits of Bab el Mandeb.”
“An unarmed security adviser should be considered for all vessels transiting the Mediterranean prior to embarking armed guards in high risk areas. They can assist crews in identifying potential threats and are able to assist the Masters and their crews communicating and gathering intelligence. When deemed necessary, armed guards can be put on board.
“In our view, there is now an increased risk of an attack on merchant shipping. Masters need to have a plan, train for it with their crews and have sufficient experience on board to gain valuable minutes in mustering and safeguarding crew.
“Just because a vessel has left Port Said at the end of the Canal and there has been no incident, does not mean that vigilance should be decreased. In our view there is an increasing risk of attack in the Mediterranean between the Canal and the Straits of Gibraltar.
“It is almost inevitable that there will be an attack in the future and the Masters of vessels and their crews need to have their wits about them,” he stressed.