Practical measures to more effectively deal with the Somali piracy problem were considered last week in London at a workshop co-hosted by the international shipping organization BIMCO and maritime security company, Maritime & Underwater Security Consultants (MUSC).
Attended by experts from the shipping industry, governments, the International Maritime Organization, security specialists, insurance and law, the workshop focussed upon ways of co-ordinating the approach to the problem. The aim was to continue to identify best practices on the Gulf of Aden and around the Horn of Africa in order to reduce the threat and manage hostage events better. The region has seen over 100 attacks on merchant ships, and more than 40 ships seized during 2008.
Better co-ordination between stakeholders, BIMCO has suggested, will improve countermeasures, increase the flow of information between them and enable more meaningful advice to be given to owners and masters of ships likely to transit areas vulnerable to attack. The workshop provided an opportunity to share experiences, discuss what strategies were working and what might be improved and harden up common ideas on best practice to counter the piracy menace.
Among the specific areas discussed were the improvement of training and drills for ships’ personnel and the provision of a better information system and legal guidance to ship operators and shipmasters. Defensive and military tactics were discussed, with suggestions for improvement to further reduce the number of attacks. The workshop also discussed strategies to be adopted in the event of the seizure of a ship, to improve and better co-ordinate negotiation methods, and mitigate the ordeal for the seized crew and the seafarers’ families.
BIMCO is an independent international shipping association, with a membership composed of ship owners,managers, brokers, agents and many other stakeholders with vested interests in the shipping industry. The association acts on behalf of its global membership to promote higher standards and greater harmony in regulatory matters.