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November 2010

News Letter - 6th November 2010


It would seem that the S.W. monsoon season has come to an end a little early this year with criminal attacks on shipping increasing significantly over the last two months - well before the usual anticipated season's end of October / November. As recently as the 30th October a vessel in the region of 65 degrees east X 12 degrees north was hijacked along with its crew. At this position it is obvious that mother ships are involved. If one looks at a chart it is interesting to note this would be an area of the Indian Ocean where vessels coming through the Suez Canal and those rounding the Cape of Good Hope to and from India and the Arabian Gulf would pass through. So these criminals (referred to by the glorified name of pirates!) are learning and pushing out the boundaries of their operations. It has now reached the situation whereby the entire Indian Ocean has become a high risk area. What are a mere 20 patrolling warships going to achieve in more than one million square miles of ocean??

Many authoritative voices have forecast the pirate situation will significantly deteriorate (improve from the pirates viewpoint!) this season. It would seem their forecasts are already proving to be accurate. However the world, and that means politicians do not seem to care since it is 'only seamen who are being incarcerated' It would be a different storey if it were 200 passengers on an aeroplane being hijacked though!

Without more resolve by world leaders and more 'hardware' on the ground this pirate problem in the Indian Ocean will continue to deteriorate. How can we rely on the IMO - which is the UN - which has never shown any resolve to solve any serious crisis in its history, to solve this problem? We have the laughable (if it wasn't a serious matter) situation where significant numbers of pirates have been captured by the various naval forces while attempting to hijack ships and subsequently released. Some pirates have been released in this manner several times! What sort of deterrent is this? Only the Russian forces (and we suspect the Chinese) are showing the resolve to deal effectively with such 'vermin'. If I were sailing in such waters I would only feel real comfort in a convoy with these latter two forces. The Russians start their convoy rendezvous well east of most others and they put several heavily armed commandos on each vessel - they mean business which is a great comfort factor to the crews who have to sail these waters.

All we hear from IMO and other 'do gooders' is don't put armed guards on the vessels because it might lead to a fire fight and people will get killed! Well I have news for the likes of these people and organisations - seamen are already being hurt and killed and if we do not tackle the problem in as ruthless a manner as these thugs operate the situation will only get worse and more seamen will be killed. This is a serious crisis and not 'a game of cricket'. As we said in a previous Newsletter we should be metering out 18th century justice with 21st century efficiency (only the Russians and maybe the Chinese appear to be following this course). We should not be considering 21st century civil rights in solving an 18th century problem. Pirates and their likes should have no civil rights (they do not display any civil rights to the seamen they incarcerate) - the sooner the Western World applies this philosophy then the better the chance of solving the problem!
Although shipping at present is in the 'doldrums' earnings wise the industry is still desperately short of qualified and reliable seamen - it is at crisis levels and has been for some time. Everyone knows we have to recruit and train more people. How on earth can we successfully recruit young people to the industry with the present level of salaries and the constant threat to your life and freedom while politicians and world organisations at large refuse to face up to their responsibilities and 'fix' this serious problem. They say the solution is very difficult but in reality it is simple - its made difficult in their eyes because none of them have the resolve to do what is necessary - despite more and more people at the 'sharp end' of the problem clamouring for more positive actions against these criminals and terrorists. Yes terrorists - because it is not only Somalis who are the pirates. Watch the Russian video - details given in last Newsletter - and you will see the pirates are people from the leading nations that feed Al Qaida!

Just today the mainstream media have picked up on the Somali pirate issue again and are reporting that the pirates have received a total of $12.3m (£7.6m) in ransom money to release two ships. They are believed to have been paid a record $9.5m (£5.8m) for Samho Dream, a South Korean oil tanker, and nearly $2.8m (£1.7m) for the Golden Blessing, a Singaporean flagged ship.


We attended Seatrade ME Maritime at the Dubai World Trade Centre on October 26th to 28th. We’d like to thank and congratulate Seatrade for organising another very successful event. The exhibition was well attended both by exhibitors and visitors and the conference sessions we were able to join were very interesting with the usual high calibre of speakers and panellists.

We were there with the IMarEST and spend most of our time on their stand. We were busy with visitors most of the time and feel it was a successful event from the point of view of IMarEST. We managed a bit of a workaround of the exhibition floor on the last day and it was great to see so many old friends again and meet some new ones. We regret if you attended SMEM and we didn’t get to meet, but as usual with these events the challenge is seeing everyone one wishes to over the time given. Hopefully we will catch up with you at the next event.