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Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Somali Pirates: Shipping Company Threatens to Change Flags Unless Allowed to Put "Private Protection" on Ships

Dockwise Heavy Lift Vessel
What do shipping companies do when facing legal restrictions on their ships that don't allow them the freedom to look out after their own interests? Why, they change the flag under which they sail to one with fewer restrictions.

That's exactly what is going on here with a threat from a Dutch shipping outfit as announced in a press release: Dockwise Requests more Leeway from Netherlands Government to Counteract Pirates:
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 is most noted for its fleet of "heavy lift" ships used to transport everything from oil rigs to damaged ships.

UPDATE: On a somewhat related note, Maersk Shipping announced last month an increased "risk surcharge" due to Somali pirates:
Reflecting higher costs stemming from a jump in piracy off the Somali coast, A.P. Moller-Maersk AS raised its emergency-risk surcharge. Maersk's container-freight division increased the fee on each 40-foot container shipped through risky waters to $200–$500 from $100–$400, to pass on some of the company's rising costs to customers, said Erik Rabjerg Nielsen, the division's head of daily operations. Customers typically pay about $3,000 total to ship a container from Asia to the U.S. He estimated that Maersk's antipiracy costs will rise to $200 million this year from $100 million last year as ships are forced to sail faster and longer to prevent hijackings and crews receive doubled salaries as compensation for the added work.
Piracy has an effect.

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