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Loss Prevention Circular No. 06-05
Ship alert: Piracy and hijackings off the coast of Somalia

 

Introduction

Members and clients may have seen several articles in the press relating to a recent spate of hijackings off the coast of Somalia .  The pattern which seems to be emerging involves ships transiting the coast of Somalia receiving mayday signals and/or sighting distress flares.  The ships deviate from their course to investigate and respond to the call, and typically find a small craft apparently experiencing difficulties.  However, speedboats loaded with armed men then emerge from the “casualty” and surround the vessel.  The pirates take control of the vessel, order it to proceed into Somali waters and demand a ransom.  They are well organised and appear to be familiar with ship communications.

 

The problem is exacerbated by the little assistance available from law enforcement agencies in Somalia to fight against piracy. Although foreign naval ships operating in the area are aware of the problem, once the hijacking has taken place it is normally difficult for foreign naval vessel to intervene in Somali waters. 

 

Recommendation

Ships transiting the coast of Somalia are advised that any “Mayday” signal and/or other distress call should be treated with extreme caution.  The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) suggests that the Master try to contact one of the foreign naval ships operating in the area before instigating any action, inform the foreign naval vessel of the situation and ask if they would be able to investigate and/or assist. Furthermore, the International Chamber of Commerce’s Commercial Crime Services recommends that ships not making scheduled calls to ports in Somalia should stay away from the coast.

 

A weekly piracy report is issued by the International Chamber of Commerce’s Commercial Crime Services and can be found on their website at http://www.icc-ccs.org/prc/piracyreport.php.