Ship crew constantly on alert for pirate attacks


Afraid of being the next target, captains and sailors are taking their own precautionary measures to ensure that they do not become the next victims of pirates.

B. Pravin, who has been a sailor for six years, said that crewmen had to be constantly on the alert for any attacks by pirates.

“Although piracy in Malaysian waters is not rampant, most ships are prepared to fend off such attacks,” said Pravin, 28.

“Usually we are not allowed to keep firearms on board our vessels so we arm ourselves using the strong gush of water from our fire hoses,” he said when contacted.

Pravin said that fire hoses were placed in strategic spots throughout the vessel and the main valve was always turned on.

“In case of an attack, we use the strong force of the water to prevent pirates from climbing onto the ship,” he said, adding that pirates who targeted local ships usually travelled in smaller boats and attacked during the wee hours of the morning.

“The robbers usually aim for the captain as he always has some petty cash with him,” he said.

Other precautionary measures include prohibiting crewmen from leaving their quarters after 11pm and also watering down the decks to make it difficult for pirates to climb up, he said.

Pravin, however, said that most of the pirates would leave once they had taken the petty cash and other items such as handphones and watches from the crewmen.

“Recently, I noticed that several vessels have been installed with barbwire. This is usually done on ships off the waters of Africa where piracy is a common occurrence,” he said.

However, shipping operations executive, R. Prabhakaran, 55, said that it was usually the smaller vessels that were targeted by pirates.

“Bigger vessels normally have armed guards as the cargo can be valued up to the billions,” he said, adding that crewmen from smaller vessels usually armed themselves with parang in case they are attacked.

“Of course, according to procedures, they have to declare if they have firearms on board their vessels,” he said, adding that piracy activities had declined in the last few years.


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