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Piracy Update: Caribbean

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In 2015, the Maritime Assistance Center (MAC) recorded a total of 508 incidents worldwide of which 20 involved yachts (excluding General Security Warnings). Although maritime incidents in the Caribbean are not as frequent as they are in other regions, such as Southeast Asia, incidents involving yachts occur much more frequently here than elsewhere.

Most incidents involving yachts are robberies. The robbers are usually armed with guns and knives with the goal of stealing easily carried items with the least confrontation. Their willingness to engage in a conflict once detected is minimal. Intruders usually make a quick escape once they are spotted, but there have been exceptions to this pattern, where crew members have been attacked, beaten and/or tied up.

In February 2016, the MAC recorded one incident involving a yacht. On 26 February, the superyacht GENE MACHINE detected six Cuban migrants about 30nm off Miami along the USA coast. The yacht was en route from Florida to St. Thomas when it encountered the migrants on a raft. The yacht’s crew provided water to the six Cuban’s and waited until the US Coast Guard arrived.

Maritime Incident Report Caribbean Sea

In 2015 the MAC recorded a total of 37 incidents in the Caribbean, of which 14 involved yachts (excluding General Security Warnings). Most of the time, several thieves (4-6) armed with knives and guns board the yacht to steal easily carried valuables, sometimes invloving a minor struggle with crew members, but usually without major injuries. However, there is limited information on cases involving yachts due to a general reluctance to report such incidents.

Cyber Crime Against Yachts in the Caribbean

Last year the Caribbean Safety and Security Net (CSSN) recorded numerous incidents where internet scammers intercepted marina reservations and bookings communications and also hacked a marina's website. The scammers would send emails to cruisers asking for payment via wire transfer in order to  secure a reservation. In addition, the perpetrators were able to add their fake email addresses to an online directory listing for marinas.

Please be aware that these scammers are still active and their fake email has yet to be removed from the directory listing for the marina. It is therefore important only to use reputable sources. According to CSSN, the following steps were initiated to prevent incidents like the one above from occurring again:

1. The email address for one of the marina(s), and their website is now more secure. Free email accounts are no longer used and emails now use their registered domain name – such as [email protected]

2. However, reservations are still taken by email – but it is an email attached to their website domain name which is less vulnerable to hacker attacks.

3. The marina’s website now clearly accepts credit cards and does not offer a bank wire transfer option.

Risk Mitigation

Vessels are advised to remain vigilant and to continue maintaining adequate anti-piracy / robbery watch and measures while in ports in the Caribbean. Early detection of potential robbers will most likely deter them from boarding. The MAC noted an incident on 12 October 2015 where a yacht was approached by a skiff with four men near position 14 18 02 N, 082 26 10 W, East of Nicaragua. The yacht’s crew displayed weapons and the skiff backed away.

Securewest Intelligence
Securewest is seeing an increase in threat assessments being commissioned for port and land, in additional to maritime based threat assessments, which we believe is due to an increase in incidents being reported. Securewest intelligence officers and analysts provide a number of services which owners and captains find invaluable including Threat Assessments and SSAS Monitoring, to ensure complete peace of mind before and during a cruise.

Securewest Notes
This is a service provided by Securewest International’s Intelligence Section. Additional information regarding this or any other location is available directly from Securewest International via email, phone, or fax via a permanently manned 24 hour Maritime Assistance Center. Reports are updated as needed and provided to clients when requested.

To provide the best service possible we ask that clients report all security situations or attack information and all information received is treated as sensitive. Incident information forwarded as an alert remains anonymous so we can alert industry assets of security threats.

For further information, to discuss the report or to find out more about Securewest’s services please contact:

Wayne Britton Email: [email protected]
Website: www.securewest.com

*Image credit: wikimedia commons CC BY 3.0


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