Maintain anti-piracy naval force, IUMI delegates urge

Conferences, Seminars, Forums, Health and Safety, Military, Piracy and Terrorism, Safety and Security — By on September 20, 2016 at 6:00 PM
Helle Hammer

Helle Hammer

Maintain anti-piracy naval force, IUMI delegates urge

By James Brewer

A renewed call for the international community to maintain a vigorous stance against maritime piracy has been made at the 2016 annual conference of the International Union of Marine Insurance.

Helle Hammer, chair of the IUMI political forum, said that there had been progress in the last couple of years in fending off the threat in waters off Africa, where the European Union and Nato have deployed warships, and some shipping companies have contracted armed guards to sail on voyages.

Ms Hammer said: “The industry is sending a very clear message: we certainly do need a naval force.”

A vote taken among the IUMI audience showed that many underwriters favoured continued strong deterrance. The shipowners back that position too, said Ms Hammer, who is managing director of Cefor, the Nordic marine insurance association.

The naval mandate expires at the end of 2016, and Ms Hammer said: “Withdrawing naval forces is going to invite that situation [of a series of audacious attacks some years ago] again and will send the wrong message to criminal gangs in Somalia.”

Piracy and armed robbery at sea fell in 2016 to its lowest levels since 1995, despite a surge in kidnappings off West Africa, according to a report released in July by the International Chamber of Commerce’s International Maritime Bureau .
The IMB global piracy report showed 98 incidents in the first half of 2016, compared with 134 for the corresponding period in 2015. When piracy was at its highest, in 2010 and 2003, IMB recorded 445 attacks a year.
In the first half of 2016, IMB recorded 72 vessels boarded, five hijackings, and a further 12 attempted attacks. Nine ships were fired upon. Sixty-four crew were taken hostage on board, down from 250 in the same period last year.
At the time, Capt Pottengal Mukundan, director of IMB, said: “Ships need to stay vigilant, maintain security and report all attacks, as the threat of piracy remains, particularly off Somalia and in the Gulf of Guinea.”
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