Pirates and journalists tracking seafarer social media posts, warns Norwegian Hull Club

The Norwegian Hull Club has warned seafarers to be careful about what they post into social media as the information could be hijacked by both pirates and journalists.

“[N]ot everyone fully understands how social media works and that traditional media and journalists use it as a source for information,” the insurance firm noted in a release.

“We are currently awaiting helicopter evacuation away from this unit – anchor chains punctured one of the legs in the heavy weather tonight. Home, sweet home!”

Norwegian Hull Club found the above statement on the Facebook profile of a crewmember onboard one of its member’s units. The unit was in distress and needed full evacuation.

A master working for another client was informed by his company that one of their vessels was hijacked. On his open Facebook profile he discussed detailed information about the hijacked crewmembers onboard with another colleague.

“We know that pirates are using social media actively in their communication and information gathering,” the club stated.

The club has made the following social media checklist to consider before posting anything online.

Ask yourself:
• Will I be OK with my superior seeing this?
• Will I be OK with the Ship Owner seeing this?
• Will I be OK with a client seeing this?
• Will I be OK with a journalist seeing this?
• Do I know how open my social media profile is? Am I familiar with the default Facebook settings?
• Do I know all my Facebook friends? Do I know the intentions of my high school class mates from 20 years back?
• Is my post in compliance with the company media policy? Am I the nominated media spokesperson?


Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.


  1. I have a lot of respect for the Norwegian Hull Club, and their warning is a timely one – seafarers do put a lot of sensitive operational information in their social media postings, and very often owners and charterers are unaware of this.

    However, expecting seafarers to ask themselves the very reasonable list of questions posted in the article is asking rather a lot of people. The social media are driven by human curiousity and the human wish to spead a good rumour!

    I have two modest suggestions – one is that the Master and Chief Engineer should make a point of telling their subordinates what the Company expects, and make it clear that “breaching the rules” will have adverse career consequences.

    The other is that we must just get used to the idea that secrets are becoming impossible to keep. It has been routine for charterers to use the Internet vessel tracking services which run off the AIS data broadcast by ships, comnparing this with what the ship “officially” tells them, for quite a while. Owners should start to assume that their Class Society and their Underwriters will know exactly what is wrong with a ship just as soon as they do, if not sooner.

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