• ITVI.USA
    15,415.310
    54.710
    0.4%
  • OTLT.USA
    2.761
    -0.007
    -0.3%
  • OTRI.USA
    21.110
    -0.300
    -1.4%
  • OTVI.USA
    15,387.520
    55.710
    0.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    3.300
    0.000
    0%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    3.140
    0.190
    6.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.590
    0.150
    10.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    3.330
    0.020
    0.6%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    2.170
    0.020
    0.9%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    4.080
    0.130
    3.3%
  • WAIT.USA
    125.000
    -1.000
    -0.8%
  • ITVI.USA
    15,415.310
    54.710
    0.4%
  • OTLT.USA
    2.761
    -0.007
    -0.3%
  • OTRI.USA
    21.110
    -0.300
    -1.4%
  • OTVI.USA
    15,387.520
    55.710
    0.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    3.300
    0.000
    0%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    3.140
    0.190
    6.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.590
    0.150
    10.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    3.330
    0.020
    0.6%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    2.170
    0.020
    0.9%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    4.080
    0.130
    3.3%
  • WAIT.USA
    125.000
    -1.000
    -0.8%
American Shipper

Plans to disable pirate “motherships” discussed

Plans to disable pirate “motherships” discussed

Plans to disable pirate “motherships” discussed

   With frustration over Somalia piracy increasing, shipping executives are discussing whether naval forces should disable vessels as they are hijacked to prevent them from being used as 'mother ships' from which attacks can be launched further offshore.

   'One idea is to use floating nets to disable the propeller because that way you can easily recover the vessel as soon as the pirates are off the ship,' said Spyros Polemis, chairman of the International Chamber of Shipping, speaking at Shipping 2011, the annual conference of the Connecticut Maritime Association. 'They have other thoughts, but I can not disclose everything.'

   But some voices cautioned against the tactic.

Polemis

   Clay Maitland, managing partner of International Registries Inc., which administers the Marshall Islands ship registry, said disabling mother ships could tempt pirates to take reprisals against seafarers.

   If the industry is going to remain 'seafarer-centric' then 'our options in dealing with the pirates are distinctly limited,' Maitland said.

   But Polemis said, 'we have to take some risk, we really do have to do something.'

Maitland

   While there is a risk that pirates may harm crews if ships are disabled, Polemis said it would be 'really against their own interest. Because if the warship is nearby, and they can see the warship, and the warship disables the vessel, what is the pirate going to do? If they are going to harm the crew, then the Navy is going to go on board the ship and kill the pirates. They are risking their own lives I think the likelihood is they will go aboard their boats and leave.'

LoBiondo

   Rep. Frank LoBiondo, R-N.J., who spoke to the conference, also expressed frustration over the lack of progress in ending piracy.

   'I don't want to oversimplify the situation, but we have a crisis on our hands, and so far we have not had the will to do it. I'm not saying it is as simple as certain people making a decision that we are finally going to deal with it, but it comes close to that. We have technology, we have abilities that we are not utilizing.

   'These are not disadvantaged youth ' These are very bad people who are torturing and killing. These are very bad people who are disrupting world commerce. It is costing tens of billions of dollars,' LoBiondo said.

   'My question to my colleagues and those who have the ability to make decisions is: 'What will it take to wake up and move us off the dime. Will it take a cruise ship? Will it take a supersized tanker or a whole crew being wiped out? What will it take before we say enough is enough?'

   Cyrus Mody, manager of the International Maritime Bureau in London, said while he is not yet aware of navies disabling mother ships, he said the Indian navy has launched attacks against several ships and large fishing boats, including the Vega-5 on March 14, capturing 61 pirates.

   Polemis said larger and larger vessels are being used as mother ships, including the Irene SL, a supertanker carrying $200 million in oil. Disabling them at sea would not only prevent them from launching attacks further out at sea, but from bringing ships back to Somalia and seeking ransoms, thereby starving the pirates of cash. He did not think trying to disable ships already anchored close to Somalia is a good idea because of the hostages that pirates hold.

   The large ships are providing stable platforms for pirates to launch attacks further out at sea and through the monsoon season. Mody said already 92 attacks have been launched against ships this year and 15 captured compared with 219 attacks and 49 captured in 2010. IMB says owners of 28 ships are now negotiating their release with pirates holding 576 hostages.

   He said treatment of hostages is worsening. There are more reports of physical violence against seafarers and psychological mistreatment such as mock executions, and he said many seafarers are subjected to conditions of 'deplorable hygiene' and insufficient water and rations.

   Several speakers lamented the low profile of the shipping industry and its inability of the industry to attract greater interest from the general media.

   Suggestions were made that Johnny Depp, the star of the Pirates of Caribbean movies, or Tom Hanks, who reportedly has been signed to play the role of Richard Phillips, the captain of the Maersk Alabama, would be good spokesman to raise the public’s awareness of the piracy crisis.

   Tom Timlen, Asia liaison officer of BIMCO, addresses the plight of hostages of piracy in his 'On Second Thought '' column in the April issue of American Shipper, available next week.    ' Chris Dupin

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