Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Libya - Current Situation For Ocean Freight

Bombings and Blockade Continues
Shipping News Feature

LIBYA – The situation for sea borne cargo is obviously somewhat confused at the moment but some facts are arriving regarding the current state of ports in the region. Freight vessels are arriving, apparently without hindrance, into Benghazi harbour, principally carrying supplies for the local populace who are largely opposed to the current government.

The story in Tripoli, and indeed any other ports in the region controlled by Muammar al-Qaḏḏāfī are completely blockaded by the UN coalition with vessels unable to sail. Due to the confused situation with air strikes still regularly destroying key military assets and facilities in Tripoli harbour it is unsure if the ban on sailing applies to general cargo vessels or only Libyan naval craft.

What is certain is that no vessel venturing to sail through local waters is likely to pass unimpeded as coalition forces appear to be in complete control of the area offshore. Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the NATO secretary general, caused a storm when he criticised French reticence to pass control of the military situation to the organisation but succeeded in getting agreement that NATO will in future police the oceans in an arms embargo after strong support from many nations.

Many of the new members of NATO including the Baltic States, Romania, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic appeared enthusiastic to exercise their right to support the blockade and Rasmussen issued a statement indicating that vessels in the area are likely to be stopped and searched saying:

“NATO will conduct operations to monitor, report and, if needed, interdict vessels suspected of carrying illegal arms or mercenaries. This will be done in close co-ordination with commercial shipping and regional organisations."

Photo:- Benghazi Harbour in more peaceful times.