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February 2011

News Letter - 28th February 2011


We note that Informa is reporting a “private navy” is being organised by insurance firms in London to combat piracy in the Arabian Sea. While this may not be the answer we are relieved to see someone finally taking action. The motivation is money or cost not the protection of the lives of seafarers but as long as it results in them being in less jeopardy while they work we consider the motivation to be relatively unimportant.

They have come up with the catchy name Convoy Escort Programme (CEP) – kind of reminds one of WWII – and they hope to have it operating by the summer. All this is in a bid to reduce the costs of insuring vessels and their cargo. It is estimated that approximately US$27.5 million would be needed to purchase 18 second-hand vessels.

Insurance brokers and underwriters have gotten together on this and the Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO) has agreed to help facilitate the programme. It will be interesting to see how this initiative is received both within and without the industry. We are confident we can predict the reaction of the majority of the world’s seafarers! 

The intention is that ship-owners buy the armed escort service, packaged with seven days of war-risk cover. In doing so, the ship-owner will not need to pay the normal higher premium required to transit high-risk pirate areas.

It has been reported that each insurance-funded vessel will carry eight armed security personnel, four crew and inflatable speedboats. The programme would allow any vessel looking for protection when transiting the Gulf of Aden to do so through its Lloyd’s of London broker.

With attacks on vessels in the area escalating and navies operating a capture and release policy we cant help but approve of this initiative. Perhaps these “sections” can teach the sea terrorist some real world lessons about bringing death and destruction to others. Lets see what the IMO makes of all this. Considering their record don’t be surprised if they disapprove despite the proven ineffectiveness of their measures to date.

Meanwhile the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) said that seafarers should prepare to avoid the Gulf of Aden, off the Somali coast, the Arabian Sea and the wider Indian Ocean. The ITF has described the situation thusly: “All the Arabian Gulf and most of the Indian Ocean are now effectively lawless. Yet there is a way that control can be regained: by actively going after pirates, stopping them and prosecuting them. Not this ludicrous situation of taking away their guns and setting them free to strike again. If we daily allow a few thousand thugs to rack up the danger and violence then we will soon reach a point where there is no alternative but to stop putting people and ships within their reach – with all the effects that could have on world trade and oil and food prices.”
What the general public needs to grasp is that avoiding trade routes across the Indian Ocean would have a significant effect on transport costs and delivery times, and this would have to be passed on to them as the consumers. 

Re-routing a liner service often means adding another ship to the service to maintain the schedule. On a Europe - Far East route, re-routing around the Cape of Good Hope would increase the costs by and estimated US$89 million a year ($74.4 million in fuel and $14.6 million in charter expenses).

The ITF has also backed the need to neutralise the threat of the captured, hostage-crewed mother-ships that allow pirates to roam the Indian Ocean unmolested. It recommended the carrying of military guards on ships, and recognised the use of private armed guards, subject to certain conditions.

The ITF considers the risk of passing through the affected area and the knowledge of the inhuman manner in which captured seafarers to amount to a breach of their duty of care to seafarers and has also called on ship owners to join it in avoiding going through the area. It has gone so far to say that should a seafarer be killed in a pirate attack while transiting the high risk area, it could amount to corporate manslaughter.

According to the ITF took they took this step after considering the increasing number and range of Somali pirate attacks, and by their now routine use of extreme violence and death threats against the 800 mariners they are currently holding hostage. The global union federation has 201 maritime trade union members and represents 720,000 seafarers worldwide.


One of our correspondents took part in a survey about knife crime in the UK the other day. We present a transcript of the survey for your entertainment. The survey went something like this:

Interviewer: You have heard about knife crime increase in the U.K.?
Answer: Yes!

Interviewer: Have you seen the images shown in newspapers and T.V. etc?
Answer: Yes

Interviewer: Where did you see then?
Answer: TV and newspapers!

Interviewer: What do you think of the campaign?
Answer: waste of time and money

Interviewer: Do you think it will reduce this sort of crime?
Answer: no

Interviewer: What effect do you think the campaign will have?
Answer: increase knife crime.

Interviewer: Why do you think it will increase this type of crime?
Answer: suggestion is the second most persuasive form of selling next to peer pressure. The people who see these types of images are the low mentality / low intelligence / f----d up people who are liable to use knives. They will think this is great and more people will use knives in the way that intelligent and well brought up kids will find abhorrent.

Interviewer: What would be your solution?
Answer: you don’t want to hear my solution, I am sure but here it is - anyone found carrying an illegal knife should be locked up and the key thrown away and their family must feed them in prison. Anyone that uses a knife and hurts a person should be hanged!

Interviewer: Do you think deterrents work?
Answer: of course they do – if you make them severe enough! You don’t get many murders in Saudi – because they execute murderers. You don’t get much rape in Saudi because they execute rapists. You don’t get many thieves – because they cut their hands off. Deterrents work, believe me – provided they are real deterrents and not the ‘crap’ you get in this country which are called deterrents.

Final comment: You see – I told you that you would not like my solution – I left the guy then – probably speechless!

IDEX – International Defence Exhibition: Abu Dhabi February 20th – 24th

We visited IDEX in Abu Dhabi last week and are working on a searchlight feature on our visit. However of direct relevance to this newsletter a Polish company called Intermet was there and had a new take on barbed / razor wire security systems for ships. The system is called Protector Fleet and consists of modules 3 metre in width that can be attached to the ships side at points of low freeboard in areas of risk. When deployed they release a barbed tape that forms a curtain. They can be released and retracted remotely and when retracted are light enough to be handled by two crewmembers. If you are interested mail Carmania and we will put you in touch.