Friday 19 April, 2019

Update: T&T Coast Guard steps up patrols after piracy attack

Update April 15, 2019, 3:50 pm: 

The Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard (TTCG) said it will be stepping up patrols around the waters of Trinidad and Tobago, after a report in which eight men, alleged to be Venezuelan, fired shots at a yacht off Trinidad's north coast.

President of the Yacht Service Association of Trinidad and Tobago (YSATT), Tommy Johnson, told LoopTT that he met with the Coast Guard on Monday to address the situation.

The incident took place around 10:30 am on April 14, 2019, north-east of Trinidad's Hibiscus platform. 

He said the Coast Guard said they have been patrolling the area.

“We had a meeting today with the Coast Guard and they said they have been undertaking regular patrols. They said however that they will be stepping up their patrols in those areas."

"They also have a good relationship with the Venezuela Coast Guard (Guardia Nacional) and they will be stepping up their communication with them."

Johnson said all yacht owners travelling in and out of Trinidad and Tobago are urged to contact the Coast Guard and submit a float plan with their coordinates. 

Johnson said reports of these incidents have been infrequent and it was important to correct any miscommunication circulating online. 

Prior to this, he said the last reported piracy attack was in 2015.

He said Trinidad and Tobago's yachting industry is fragile and is dependent on yachties visiting these shores to keep their industry alive. 

"The yachting industry right now is picking itself back up...up the islands they’ve been saying that Trinidad and Tobago has a lot of crime and they’ve been stopping yachties from coming down here. The members (of the local yachting community) are small businesses...so it makes life tough for them if these reports continue," he said. 

Johnson said all yachties are able to contact North Post Radio which is in constant communication with the Coast Guard. 

"They’re very proactive so they would be the first point of communication in terms of security," he said. 

Johnson said although he has no other information on the incident, he said it is possible that robbery may not have been the primary reason for the attackers to be there. 

"People are saying that they were lying in wait, but logically, it's difficult to 'lay in wait' so far from shore and stocked with guns...it is possible that this might have been a by-product of some other illicit activity going on. 

"They shot at the boat and then left, so it seems as if they might have been there for another purpose. They’re in the middle of the ocean halfway between Trinidad and Tobago and Grenada...it doesn't seem as if they would go that far just to rob someone," he said.

Johnson said the elderly couple who were attacked were defenceless and had no weapons, so if the men were determined to rob them, they could have.

He is urging all yacht owners to also travel in a convoy if possible.

In emergencies, persons can also contact the TTCG's headquarters at Staubles Bay, Chaguaramas on 1-868-634-8824.

 

Original story: 

The Yacht Services Association of Trinidad and Tobago (YSATT) said it was scheduled to meet with the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard (TTCG) on Monday after a piracy attack was reported over the weekend.

YSATT president Tommy Johnson said in a social media post on Sunday that the attack took place north-east of the Hibiscus platform around 10:30 am on Sunday morning. 

(Photo showing the location of the Hibiscus Platform off Trinidad's north coast.)

Johnson said the incident involved eight men, allegedly of Venezuelan nationality, who attempted to board the vessel. 

Shots were fired, but no one was injured as the vessel evaded its attackers. 

The statement is as follows:

"About 10.30 today April 14th, Sylph, a 55 ft Beneteau sail boat positioned about 15 nm NE of the Hibiscus oil platform was approached by a group of 8 Venezuelans in an attempted piracy attack. The Yacht refused to stop and in heavy seas and high wind took an evasive zig zag course preventing them from boarding."

"Due to the fact that they were unable to board they abandoned their plans and left but fired several shots at the sailboat. No one on board was injured , the boat suffered several bullet holes."

"Sylph is now in Port Louis Grenada meeting with the Coast Guard and officials."

"TTCG is in contact with the Grenada CG and will be meeting With YSATT tomorrow (Monday). As further details become available we will keep everyone informed."

The YSATT is urging all yachting members to file a float plan with the TTCG and to alert the North Post Radio station if travelling in or out of Trinidad. 

"Meanwhile : Please FILE A FLOAT PLAN with the TTCG and call North Post Radio station if you are traveling in or out of Trinidad. Travel in a convoy if possible," the group said. 

In emergencies persons can contact the TTCG's headquarters at Staubles Bay, Chaguaramas on 1-868-634-8824.

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