PIRACY: Dockwise Appeals to Dutch Government for Help

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Dockwise urges the Netherlands government to allow for better protection on its vessels to counteract piracy in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean. As the ability of governments to offer military protection is limited, the ability for ship owners to employ additional private protection is of the utmost importance. Despite several appeals, private protection onboard Dutch vessels could meet with legal impediments. Other nations do allow for such added protection measures. Dockwise eventually may be forced to have its vessels sail under a different flag if restrictions are not eased imminently.

On the growing piracy problem André Goedée, Dockwise's CEO, comments: "As an oil and gas service provider, our vessels - which as a consequence of their specific nature have been labeled by experts to be very vulnerable to pirate attacks - have to enter pirate-infested waters most months of the year. At this point we are not allowed to protect our employees adequately against pirates, while other nations do allow for added security measures. Our clients, too, request added security measures for their employees and cargoes on-board. In the interest of our employees and because of the increasing pressure from the industry itself, we may be forced to seek other alternatives - such as bringing the vessels under a different jurisdiction and flag - if regulations are not adapted quickly. We would regret having to take such a decision, but we are left with no choice should the Dutch government remain idle."

Dockwise has directed attention to the piracy problem through various channels in the recent past. Territorial protection by means of patrolling naval vessels or having military personnel onboard for personal and object protection are desired solutions. However, in view of the size of the area and the sheer number of vessels that pass through it, the navy cannot be expected to respond to each distress call in time. Unlike in other nations, Dutch law does not allow for armed private security companies to be contracted. The protection of vessels by means of armed escort vessels - contracted by the cargo's owner - in some isolated cases can be a solution, but many cargo owners are unable or not prepared to contract private security companies.

Although it is clear that a long term sustainable solution to the piracy problem necessitates a much wider and structural approach including international engagement of people and authorities in the relevant areas, the improvement of prosecution and imprisonment of pirates, coordinated attacks on mothervessels and many other measures, a  solution for the dangerous problems that ships face this very moment is required in the very short term. Dockwise makes an urgent appeal to the Dutch government to pro-actively seek an effective solution to the problem of vessel protection, including the ability to contract adequate private security. Dutch vessels must be able to offer the same level of security to employees and clients as those vessels that sail under flags of other nations.

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