Theft from vessel at anchor

What happened?

A vessel was boarded by thieves whilst at anchor at Callao, Peru.  This was not noticed by the crew until they went forward to anchor stations to weigh anchor, at about 0445 hrs local time.  The anchoring crew found the door to the forward mooring area was secured from the other side.  The crew forced open the door by removing hinge bolts, first ascertaining that the intruders were no longer present.

The effectively secured access door to the mooring space restricted the intruders to the forepeak of the vessel.  Following checks, it was found that mooring ropes were missing from the bosun store. 

The vessel managed to weigh anchor and complete further operations without any delay.

What went wrong?  What were the causes?

  • It was assumed that the intruders most likely boarding and leaving was via anchor chain and by dislodging a poorly fitted hawse pipe cover. Other boarding possibilities, e.g. ladder and rope and grapnel, appear difficult in this incident;
  • The vessel confirmed maintaining anti-piracy watch, however, as watchkeepers monitored from the upper deck, it was inadequate for all parts of the vessel;
  • Such thieves commonly use small, silent and unlit wooden boats, which are difficult to spot on the radar.

What actions were taken?  What lessons were learned?

  • Securing of hawse covering was upgraded to thwart such attempts;
Hawse pipe cover securing (before)
Hawse pipe cover securing (after)
Hawse pipe cover securing (after)
  • Vessel security patrol arrangement was amended to include precautions and routines for forepeak surveillance;
  • Reinforced bosun store skylight and door securing arrangements;
  • Ensured mooring spaces are maintained clear of all items that may be used as tools by thieves;
  • Stowed all loose mooring ropes, heaving lines and messengers inside bosun store at piracy prone anchorages/waiting areas;
  • Be seen to display vigilance, e.g. flashing high beam torches over-side, use of Aldis lamp or search lamp sweeps and security patrol blowing whistles.