Monday, April 18, 2011

Ocean Freight Heads Gather In UAE To Prevent Piracy As Emirates Stump Up $1.4 Million

Meanwhile However Attacks Continue Unabated
Shipping News Feature

UAE – SOMALIA – WORLDWIDE – The United Arab Emirates has revealed the amount of funds they are to make available to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Trust Fund for the purpose of countering the threat of piracy. The Emirates have promised $1.4million at the commencement today of the anti piracy conference being attended by over fifty countries. The threat to freight and passenger vessel’s is seen as a very real threat to the Arab states’ credibility as an ocean borne global trade hub.

The conference is a joint initiative between the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs headed by the Minister His Highness Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan and international port and maritime service group DP World represented by its chairman His Excellency Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem and it is liberally adorned with the great and the good from the entire ocean shipping industry including the COO of Maersk Line, the Chairman of the World Shipping Council and representatives from BIMCO, NOL, INTERTANKO, the IMB, the IMO and more meaning over 90% of the world’s shipping interests are represented.

The theme of the conference is "Global Challenge, Regional Responses: Forging a Common Approach to Maritime Piracy" and hopefully the entire situation will be fully reviewed, and more importantly, new initiatives introduced, not only to fight the existing threat, but to deal with the root causes of the problem In the first place.

There is a general feeling amongst the international community that the original problems of poverty and deprivation in regions like Somalia have never been properly resolved but that now that original conundrum has been superseded by the development of a new criminal industry. What compounds the problem is the lack of a consistent international policy capable of imposing punitive measures. A quick search of our site news sector (just type pirate) will show numerous incidents in which, having apparently been caught in the act of plotting piracy, miscreants were released for lack of prima facie evidence by the more civil authorities.

With as many as 800 mariners imprisoned by the pirate gangs as we write it is obvious something needs to be done urgently to wrest control of the Gulf of Aden and surrounding seas from the criminal gangs. The mainstream media give little or no publicity to the fate of international crews trapped by the gangs, a BBC report this morning referred to the conference and mentioned only the British couple who were stupid enough to take a private yacht into pirate infested waters despite ample warnings rather than the countless incidents against freighters, container ships and oil tankers.

In February United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said at the launch of the International Maritime Organization (IMO)’s action plan to promote the 2011 IMO World Maritime Day theme: “Piracy: orchestrating the response” that the situation was completely unacceptable and that an urgent and coordinated response was required. Principally the UN view seems to be that more naval power in the region is required immediately.

Since our last pirate update on the 28th March attacks have continued unabated, the UAE-flagged and Kuwaiti-owned MV Zirku was seized 250 nautical miles south east of Salalah that day as well a vessel from the EU Navfor task force apprehending eleven pirates who attacked a fishing vessel with weapons including an RPG. In that case the Spanish warship, SMS Canarias, passed the pirates onto the Seychelles authorities, despite all weapons having been jettisoned overboard before the arrests.

On the 3rd April another Spanish warship, the SPS Infanta Elena, stopped a whaler with two suspected pirates aboard believed to have carried out an attack on a merchant vessel earlier in the day assisted by two skiffs. In this case any weapons had been thrown overboard before the ship was taken into custody and, as there was no sign of any accomplices the vessel was freed, this despite significant numbers of fuel barrels, as well as other suspected pirate-related paraphernalia, all of which were seized.

Early on the 6th April, the EU Navfor Finnish warship FNS Pohjanmaa fired on a dhow which was spotted as its crew threw weapons over the side after an unsuccessful attack on a merchant vessel the previous day. The eighteen suspected pirates were detained for questioning whilst their fate was decided.

The Antigua & Barbuda flagged and German owned general cargo ship Susan K was on its way to Port Sudan from Mumbai when it was attacked and seized by around ten pirates early on the 8th April just 35 nautical miles from the Omani coast. This despite the fact that the vessel had been registered with MSC(HOA) and was reporting to UKMTO.

And so it goes on, the use of more seaworthy, often previously captured, vessels as Mother ships for the pirate attack skiffs has meant the season for the trade has been extended into months when such attacks had been impossible in previous years. It is to be hoped that this latest conference will not just be a talking shop but will see firm and effective action to stop this evil trade which costs not only an estimated $12 billion per annum, but innocent lives as well.

Photo :- Finnish marines arrest eighteen suspected pirates earlier this month.