Piracy in the English Channel

The important thing about standing around a log fire in a village pub is to remember to rotate your position, or you will soon catch the whiff of singed winter coat. The Griffin‘s Head in Chillenden has a belter of a log fire, which is just as well because outside it is a freezing mid-winter Kent afternoon.

 

My other friend Nigel*, who spends his working life on board ships and has risen to something very senior in the British merchant navy, is telling me that even shipping in the English Channel has to take the threat of piracy seriously.

 

As he tells it, vessel hijacking is nothing new, but has only recently been in the headlines because it has started affecting the oil trade, particularly out of the Arab Gulf and off Nigeria. He and his UK-based crew have been having regular training for years in how to behave in the event of a hijacking nearer to the Kent coast, and most interestingly what to do when the security forces storm the ship to retake it.

 

I’m still trying to puzzle out what he explained to me about keeping records of the crew’s shoe sizes, so that after the decks have been sprayed with gunfire, the bodies can be identified by their shoes. I don’t find that altogether very encouraging.

 

*not the oft-quoted Nigel Davis who writes Chemical Insight

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