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ICS assures ship owners of safety on Pirate infested waters

By Godwin Oritse with agency reports

The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) has said that it is still possible for commercial ships to transit pirate-affected areas, despite warnings that vessels should avoid the Indian Ocean, except in exceptional circumstances.

Tony Mason, Secretary General of Ship Operator Association ICS, said it was still safe to sail through the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden if the right precautions were taken.

He said: “We are seriously concerned about the piracy problem, and we would like to see some more naval resources.

“But we think the most important thing is that ships continue to follow the agreed best management practices, adopt the passive defensive measures that have been agreed within the industry and report their whereabouts to the relevant navies.

“We also recommend that each ship carries out its own assessment.

“Some smaller, slower ships may wish to avoid the Indian Ocean, but taking the proper precautions and risk assessments should still mean the majority of ships can safely transit that area.” he added.

Mason said there had been a resurgence in the number of incidents of piracy over the last six weeks because the monsoon season had come to an end.

He added that pirates were also travelling further into the Indian Ocean for prey because the navies had done a good job at patrolling the Gulf of Aden.

Therefore they were heading into areas where it was harder for navies to patrol.

Last week, the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) warned that shipowners should no longer send ships through areas affected by piracy because of the risk to seafarers.

In a motion adopted by its fair practice committee, the ITF said flag states and shipowners that had not taken anti_piracy measures in the Indian Ocean should act before it became “impossible for seafarers to pass through the ever-widening danger area”.

The ITF said: “Save in exceptional circumstances, ships should not transit the area. Risk of attack is now so great that putting seafarers in harm’s way amounts to a breach of the shipowner’s duty of care.”

Meanwhile, a study published by shipowner body Bimco has revealed the cost of sending ships around the Cape of
Good Hope instead of through the Indian Ocean and Suez Canal.

It found a post-panamax container ship would cost an extra US$2.4m a year by sailing round the Cape.


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