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Venezuela: Security Risk to Vessels Visiting Jose Terminal on the Rise

Security related incidents experienced by vessels visiting Jose Terminal, in Venezuela, have been on the rise over the recent period.

There were three attempted vessel boardings, and six actual boardings of bulk carriers and product tankers anchored in the vicinity of the terminal in 2018, according to the data from the International Maritime Bureau.

“Mostly the robbers were armed with knives, although on one occasion guns were reportedly sighted. Not all of the actual boardings were successful, with the robbers often making a prompt escape when realising the crew were aware of their presence. In one case, however, an Able Seaman was threatened with a knife and tied to a railing on the forecastle before his shipmates were able to free him,” the West of England P&I Club said in an advisory.

As informed, on a separate occasion, a vessel was boarded by alleged government personnel, who reportedly found a small plastic bag containing white powder during an inspection, which proved to be cocaine.

“The inspectors then attempted to reach a cash settlement with the Master to make the problem go away. This was resisted, and the inspectors eventually left the vessel with only their plastic bag allegedly containing drugs,” the club informed.

The club recommended crews of vessels visiting the terminal to be on alert to the possible improper conduct on the part of alleged government officials. In such instances, the said personnel should provide identification documents which should be closely inspected and all activities should be closely followed by the crew.

Due to the robbery risk at the anchorages, crew members should always remain vigilant, amid reports that the anchor chain and the poop deck are favoured means of boarding for robbers in this area.

The club listed the following pieces of advice to crews aimed at thwarting boarding attempts:

  • Maintain a good visual and radar watch for approaching small craft.
  • Consider supplying the vessel with a pair of night vision binoculars.
  • Illuminate areas over the side, so far as possible.
  • If fitted, use searchlights to illuminate suspect craft, if not fitted, consider using the Aldis Lamp for this purpose.
  • Illuminate the main deck and all other possible points of access when at anchor, and so far as is safe and practicable when navigating in the area.
  • Keep pilot ladders and accommodation ladders stowed and secured at deck level when not in use.
  • Fit substantial hawse pipe covers when at anchor and consider continuously running the anchor wash.
  • So far as manning levels and compliance with STCW hours of rest regulations allow; have roving personnel on deck in contact with the bridge.
  • Securely lock all stores and accesses, whilst always allowing easy escape for personnel from inside working and living spaces.