Written evidence from the Chamber of Shipping|
1. The international threat to innocent merchant
ships and their crews from "piracy" has long been a
key concern of the Chamber, although the majority of incidents
prior to 2007 concerned robbery often with associated violence
and the use of force, in ports and the territorial seas of third
states. Since then, the rise in Somali piracy and the hijacking
of major international trading merchant ships has represented
an unprecedented development and escalation of the piracy threatwith
increased frequency of attacks, successful hijackings and has
led to the emergence of a Somali "business model" of
holding ships and crews for ransom. These factors constitute a
unique international piracy phenomenon which is proving very difficult
2. UK government action, including early ministerial
responses, on the Somali problem was positive and prompt. A clear
FCO lead was established from the start and good cross-departmental
dialogue and co-ordination of policy have been a notable feature,
as have close liaison with industry and very strong civil/military
3. The UKboth as an island and a maritime
trading nation is exposed to the risks of piracy owing
to the high levels of essential imports of all types which transit
the High Risk Area through the Gulf of Aden and across the Indian
Ocean. In March 2011, an impact study jointly commissioned by
the Chamber and the Oil Companies International Marine Forum (OCIMF)
to quantify the economic impacts of Somali piracy highlighted
the UK's particular dependence and exposure to piracy and a copy
has been sent to the Committee secretariat as background.
4. The shipping industry believes the conduct
of Operation Atalanta has been methodical and determinedand
its leadership and several innovations inspired. The EUNAVFOR's
Maritime Security Centre Horn Of Africa (MSCHOA) web-based reporting
and FEXWEB military communication links are examples of this.
The industry has placed on record in different fora on several
occasions its appreciation for what has been delivered and achieved
by the military.
5. Regrettably, however, threat levels have not
been reduced and the success of military operations in one area;
the Gulf of Aden, have in recent months caused the piracy threat
to be displaced and dispersed over a wider area. So for trade
and merchant shipping there is now no longer a "safe way"
through the Indian Ocean. At the same time there have been worrying
developments in pirate tactics and an increasing use of violence.
6. The industry accepts there are no easy or
short-term solutions to the threat currently posed by Somali pirates.
We are engaged in many strands of activity. The most obvious objectives
vessel self-protection measures by implementation of Best Management
Rules of Engagement and take action against "mother ships",
from which skiffs operate, which have facilitated the spread of
pirate attacks away from Somalia.
civil/military operational links and information flow including,
threat, positional and incident reporting.
the concerns and confidence of seafarers and to reduce the risks
to which they are exposed.
for the maintenance of Operation Atalanta, and other coalition
jurisdictional efforts and encourage UK prosecutions.
international, regional and national capacity-building.
7. Chamber links were quickly established in
December 2008 with the headquarters of EUNAVFOR and Operation
Atalanta in Northwood and remain very strong. We support the location
of the headquarters close to the shipping industry in London.
Operational command has changed regularly and substantial time
and effort has been involved in ensuring that the operational
commanders are fully briefed on the industry aspects of counter-piracy.
8. In addition, since 2008 Merchant Navy Liaison
Officers (MNLOs) have been seconded from UK and other companies
to work in the headquarters, alongside their military colleagues.
This successful initiative provides vital commercial and operational
advice and has been replicated in UK Maritime Trade Operations
(MTO) Dubai where a second MNLO is now stationed.
9. The Chamber has responded to the piracy threat
through the UK's Shipping Defence Advisory Committee (SDAC), a
joint industry/governmental committee established in 1937 and
which has continued to provide a structure for the delivery of
military/civil co-operation since then. The role of SDAC was recognised
in the National Security Strategy (NSS) published in October 2010
and it continues to manage joined-up national inputs and responses
on the Somali problem very effectively. The SDAC is co-chaired
by the Chairman of the Chamber's Defence and Security Committee
(currently Dr Grahaeme Henderson, Vice-President Shell Shipping)
and Rear Admiral Philip Jones, Assistant Chief of Naval Staff.
10. In addition, the Chamber has maintained engagement
with relevant NATO and UN bodies including CMF and SHADE in Bahrain,
the UN Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia, the Djibouti
Code of Conduct and, most importantly, the International Maritime
Organisation (IMO) - both through the FCO and through international
shipping associations such as the International Chamber of Shipping
(ICS) and the Oil Companies International Marine Forum (OCIMF).
11. Operationally, the industry-led Best Management
Practices (BMPs) have proved to be effective in preventing successful
attacks, but non-compliance with BMPs by a proportion of the world's
fleet continues to be a serious problem. On almost every occasion,
EUNAVFOR records show that captured vessels are not complying
with the agreed reporting and self-protection requirements.
12. The Chamber has strongly advocated the prosecution
of captured pirates but has recognised the legal complexities.
The repeated images of pirates being released without trial by
naval forces, including by the Royal Navy, causes understandable
derision. Were sufficient "British interests" present
in a piracy incident in the future, the Chamber would want to
see pirates either fast-tracked for prosecution in East Africa
or prosecuted in UK.
13. In the meantime, the industry will continue
to assist the jurisdictional processes, which are being followed
in Kenya and the Seychelles although the available capacity in
those countries is understood to be extremely limited.
14. An additional and unwelcome development for
shipping companies in 2010 concerned US legislative actions to
curtail piracy by means of an Executive Order signed by US President
on 13 April, which has the potential to block payments to certain
individuals on the grounds that they may be contributing to the
conflict in Somalia; the order included the names of a few known
pirates. The Chamber met at that time with the International Chamber
of Shipping, Lloyds' Market Association, the International Group
P & I Clubs and London marine hull and cargo insurers and
dialogue established with the US authorities. This group remains
very concerned that any attempt to prohibit the payment of ransoms
would further endanger the seafarers held captive and any prohibition
would serve only to drive ransom payments underground. The Chamber
welcomed the UK Government's opposition to the ban and considers
it essential that the Government should continue to support the
industry's position. The situation is being carefully monitored
with FCO and the insurance industry. No direct links are thought
to exist between pirates or pirate groups and terrorist organisations
and the industry believes military counter-piracy operations are
distinct and should remain separate from anti-terrorist operations.
15. We are not aware of any geographical spread
or contagion of Somali piracy beyond the groups based and operating
from Somalia. Were the Somali model to be replicated in another
sea area, governments would need to act decisively to prevent
the "model" taking root elsewhere.
16. In 2006 the Chamber made a submission to
the Transport Committee inquiry into piracy which stated: "The
principal responsibility for addressing the piracy and armed robbery
problem lies with the state in whose territory such criminals
operate and are based... a range of responses is required including
inter-governmental arrangements to combat international crime
and piracy on the high seas and a co-ordinated approach by UK
Government." The same can be said to apply to the Somali
problem and so our dialogue with both the military and FCO in
the last 12 months has increasingly focused on possible shore-based
initiatives and capacity-building measures in Somalia.
17. The industry has been approached several
times with a suggestion that a financial contribution be made
to Somali trust funds. The Chamber participates in a dialogue
on capacity-building but views this as being principally an issue
18. The outbreak of criminality and maritime
lawlessness that have developed off Somalia since 2008 and proven
a challenge to the EU military operation Operation Atalanta and
we have to acknowledge that despite a major military operation
the piracy threat has not been reduced or contained. The current
threat has been dispersed to areas where the weather conditions
have permitted pirate attacks to be launched from small skiffs,
firstly to the north and east of the north Indian Ocean, and south
into the Mozambique Channel. In recent weeks and with the return
of the SW monsoon the threat has now reverted to the more sheltered
waters of the Gulf of Aden, including the Bab al Mandeb straits.
19. The timescale of returning this vitally important
but immense sea area to normality is stretching into the distance
and it is increasingly difficult to see what single military solution
can now be applied. The Chamber is convinced of the need for the
shipping industry to persevere and continue to improve:
self-protection measures by implementation of industry-agreed
Best Management Practices (BMPs) Version 3 and subsequent versions
which have repeatedly proven to be the first and best form of
quantitative and qualitative aspects of civil/military operational
links, to deliver faster information flow including, threat, positional
and incident reporting processes.
to address the concerns and confidence of seafarers and the risks
to which they are exposed, including the aftercare of those involved
in hijack situations.
liaison by the provision of Merchant Navy Liaison Officers (MNLOs)
to assist their military colleagues.
20. Governmental action is required to:
Rules of Engagement and take action against mother ships.
the supply of Vessel Protection Detachments (VPDs) of military
personnel to vulnerable UK interest ships.
UK command of, and units to, Operation Atalanta and to other coalition
jurisdictional efforts and encourage UK prosecutions of incidents
involving UK interest.
UK legislation to allow private maritime security companies to
provide Privately Contracted Armed Security Personnel (PCASP)
to UK ships and companies when required by owners of the most
vulnerable ships. And to provide a robust national accreditation
structure to ensure all such companies and personnel act at all
times in accordance with the law.
international, regional and national capacity-building.
20 June 2011
1 The Chamber of Shipping is the trade association
for the UK shipping industry with 137 members; it represents 917
ships of 27 million gross tonnes. Back