Hong Kong ship owners blast lack of piracy protection in Gulf of Aden
The Hong Kong Shipowners Association on Friday disparaged the efforts of the coalition meant to provide protection against piracy in the Gulf of Aden, saying a lack of coordination and political will has prevented the military forces in the Gulf from keeping the water safe for merchant ships.
“We are deeply shocked by the significant increase in coordinated and violent attacks in the Gulf of Aden against innocent merchant ships, by pirates operating out of Somalia,” HKSOA said in a statement.
In recent months, a spate of attacks by pirates off the Somalian coast against cargo vessels — mostly bulk carriers and tankers — has caught the attention of the shipping community. It even prompted one carrier, Malaysia’ MISC Berhad, to halt all vessel activity in the Gulf of Aden.
The association blamed the lack of cohesion among protective forces. “The underlying problem is that many of the military forces have not been given clear instructions or 'rules of engagement' by their governments, presumably due to a lack of political will,' HKSOA said.
“The Hong Kong Shipowners Association therefore strongly welcomes the mandate for protective maritime military action provided in UN Security Council Resolution 1816, adopted on 2 June, which permits states co-operating with Somalia’s transitional federal government, for a period of six months, to enter the country’s territorial waters and use ‘all necessary means’ to repress acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea, in a manner consistent with relevant provisions of international law. Although a handful of governments have provided a warship presence in the region, there sadly seems to be a demonstrable lack of political will to make a real difference and eradicate this literally murderous activity by pirates in the area. Seafarers are still being routinely kidnapped and held for ransom, after their ships have been subjected to violent armed attack. Indeed, the level and intensity of attacks against ships appears to have increased, with 21 crewmembers of a Korean bulk carrier reported kidnapped this week.”
HKSOA, which helped the International Maritime Organization bring the Somali piracy issue to the attention to the UN, said the lack of protection is “hard to believe.”
“The lack of an effective military response by naval forces in the region is not only disturbing, but is also hard to believe given the military hardware controlled by Coalition Task Force in vicinity of the Gulf of Aden,” the association said. “Intelligence efforts have identified pirate 'mother ships' which, as a matter of urgency, need to be intercepted so that perpetrators of these attacks can be brought to justice. The industry has therefore suggested that the international community must find ways to deploy the required level of military effort needed to re-establish stability in these waters. Apart from the serious threat to the lives of seafarers, including citizens of those nations represented by the coalition, the Gulf of Aden is at the entrance to one of the world's most strategically important international waterways.
“We believe that the safe and secure passage of merchant ships should be a vital priority for all governments engaged in international trade.” ' Simon Heaney