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Trinidad/Grenada: Piracy - Armed Robbery en route from Trinidad to Grenada

By Sue Richards last modified Apr 19, 2010 12:16 PM

Published: 2010-04-19 12:16:59
Topics: Piracy Reports 2009
Countries: Grenada , Trinidad & Tobago

Official press release from the Marine and Yachting Association of Grenada (MAYAG).

ARMED ROBBERY ON BOARD THE YACHT “TRITON” MIDWAY BETWEEN TRINIDAD AND GRENADA
21 DECEMBER 2009

Grenada, West Indies, 8 January 2010
On 21 December 2009 the yacht Triton, a Panamanian registered sloop 56’ in length with 3 German nationals on board, was en route from Trinidad to Grenada. At around 12 noon approximately 40 miles north of Trinidad (position 11.27N 61.52W) they were approached from the south by a pirogue type motor boat which fired shots at the yacht and commanded it to stop. The pirogue contained seven or eight Spanish speaking men who appeared to be armed with rifles. Four or five of these men boarded Triton and tied up the captain, Robert Keinzle, placing a towel over his head.

The men then stripped the yacht of a wide range of items: electronics, cash, clothing, food, alcohol amongst items taken. During this time the yacht drifted with sails up while the pirogue circled. After at least 30 minutes on board the men loaded the pirogue and departed in a south westerly direction. The crew of Triton were unharmed. Triton continued towards Grenada arriving at 6pm that evening and alerted the authorities (being unable to do so before due to the theft of the yacht’s hand held VHF and destruction of the installed VHF and single sideband radio).

The Grenada Coastguard initially took statements from Triton’s crew, followed by officers from CID and Forensic departments who took photographs and other evidence details. The crew were assisted by members of the yachting industry in Grenada to rehabilitate themselves after their ordeal. From the description of the perpetrators given it is most likely that they are Venezuelan nationals.

The following actions are currently planned or already have been enacted by the Governments of Trinidad and Grenada as well as the marine associations of each country - Yacht Services Association of Trinidad and Tobago (YSATT), and Marine and Yachting Association of Grenada (MAYAG) and individual members of the marine industry:

  1. MAYAG alerted members of the Government of Grenada on the same day the incident occurred and communication of the incident was made to the Foreign Ministry of the Government of Venezuela. It is hoped such communications will continue and the Government of Venezuela will assist with eradicating the problem of piracy off its shores.
  2. MAYAG reported the incident to the Cruiser Safety & Security Net and YSATT and broadcast information on the daily Grenada VHF Cruiser Net to alert the yachting community.
  3. YSATT is also meeting members of the Trinidad Government through the Yacht Steering Committee with the same intention of commencement of diplomatic efforts to improve security.
  4. YSATT initiated a meeting with the Trinidad Coastguard who conduct regular patrols along the north coast of Trinidad. These patrols will now extend further offshore. Currently the Trinidad Coastguard has 3 Fast Patrol Craft (FPC) to conduct operations. Three more are currently under construction and are due to be delivered later in 2010. A large Coastguard vessel with a helicopter is also under construction.
  5. The Commander of the Grenada Coastguard is expected to visit Trinidad, week commencing 11th January 2010, and will take the opportunity to follow up on this particular incident and also discuss with his Trinidadian counterparts ways of strengthening existing operational arrangements and approaches for any future responses.
  6. A security net system will be put in place between Trinidad and Grenada using both islands’ radio resources – North Post Radio in Trinidad (70 mile VHF transmission capability) and Island Water World in Grenada (yacht chandlery with 70 mile transmitter located on one of highest points of island, service only available during shop opening hours). The oil rig stationed almost exactly midway and on the rhumb line between Grenada and Trinidad will also accept and relay security messages on channel 16 twenty four hours a day. A call sign for the rig is currently being sought.
  7. The addition of a mobile phone repeater station on the oil rig to allow continuous mobile phone coverage between Grenada and Trinidad. This proposal is under consideration.
  8. The development of a “float plan” for the Trinidad – Grenada passage where vessels give advance notice of arrival so that an alert can be issued in the case of non arrival at the destination.
  9. The use of a powerful radar station located on the north coast of Trinidad to track boats transiting between the two islands. This station can also be used to track the small type of “cigarette” or pirogue boat commonly used in piracy and drug running.
  10. Upgrading of communications at the Grenada Coastguard including the addition of a more powerful VHF transmitter/ receiver.
  11. Increase in the patrols performed by the Grenada Coastguard.
  12. Improving communication between the security forces of Trinidad and Grenada. Trinidad’s security forces have helicopter capability and can reach an incident 30 miles offshore in about 30 minutes.
  13. The possibility of yachts travelling in convoy between Trinidad and Grenada will be investigated.
  14. Development of a regional “anti piracy” strategy by the Caribbean Marine Association to be accepted and initiated by government and private sector and adopted throughout the Caribbean.

Currently incidents of piracy are very small in number and limited to very specific areas such as the coast of Venezuela. It is hoped that the steps taken above will ensure that piracy levels remain or reduce to zero – the only acceptable level.

For more information contact:
MAYAG : James Pascall, Tel: + 1 473 439 1000,[email protected]
YSATT: Gina Carvallo, Tel: +1 868 634 4938, [email protected]

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