WA piracy will remain a headache for ship owners in 2014

Nigeria will remain a serious piracy hot-spot in 2014, as the country still resists the allowing of non-Nigerian armed guards on board vessels plying its waters.

WA piracy will remain a headache for ship owners in 2014; AIG offers special insurance package to deal with hijackings

Nigeria will remain a serious piracy hot-spot in 2014, as the country still resists the allowing of non-Nigerian armed guards on board vessels plying its waters. This according to Mr.Alex Kemp, Managing Director with NYA International, a specialist crisis prevention and response consultancy, who spoke with Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide. As such, one of the world’s leading insurance groups, American International Group Inc. (AIG) is tailoring its offerings to provide a full solution package to handle piracy incidents.

The company recently presented in a special event in Athens, its offering, dubbed Maritime Kidnap & Ransom (K&R), a piracy insurance programme for the maritime market. The programme becomes active once there’s been a piracy hijacing. The insurance company has partnered with NYA International to provide with advice and support in hostage and ransom negotiations, coverage for the ransom, legal liability and a series of other coverages, related with costs during a piracy hostage situation.

Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide has interviewed both Mr. Jon Gregory, Head of Special Risk, Global Financial Lines with AIG, as well as Mr. Alex Kemp, Managing Director with NYA International.

Lately, Somalia has taken a back stage when it comes to making Piracy headlines. Instead, we’ve seen the emergence of other piracy “hot-spots” like Guinea and West Africa in general. Why has this occurred?

(Alex Kemp) Somali piracy is currently being disrupted by a multitude of factors, including increased use of armed guards, international coalition naval activity and the application of BMP4 measures. However, pirates continue to conduct probing operations. Pirates seem to understand they cannot defeat the PMSCs, but are regularly scoping out vessels to assess their levels of security and vigilance. Piracy is unlikely to return to 2009 levels in the short to medium term, however, it is highly conceivable that an unguarded vessel could be taken; in this scenario a significant vessel would be held for a protracted period of time and be subject to a high ransom demand.

The situation in West Africa is very different – acts of piracy are conducted by trained, experienced and well-armed militants. This is nothing new however, it has been ongoing for many years, mostly in the form of bulk cargo attacks and bunker (extended duration cargo) theft and occasionally a crew kidnap – 2013 has seen a significant rise in targeted crew kidnappings. Generally speaking, they start as a piracy incident and end in a land based K&R scenario (7 crew were taken in 2012 compared to over 35 in the last 12 months).

Which will be the prevailing trend in maritime piracy incidents moving forward in 2014? Which areas will continue to cause the most problems? 

(AK) Continued counter-piracy operations from the international community and continued efforts to stabilize Somalia bodes well. However there is a risk of complacency and/or cost cutting measure amongst elements of the shipping community, and it is possible that another hijack will occur at some point.

Nigeria will continue to resist the use of foreign (i.e. non-Nigerian armed guards) making safeguarding vessels in its waters difficult.  If the Islamist threat in the country continues/increases then international (US) pressure will become overwhelming for Nigeria. If not then piracy attacks will continue – particularly the targeting of high profile crew members for kidnap and ransom.

Still, the general trend is towards a decline of maritime hijackings? Why has this occurred and do you believe this will continue to be the case in 2014 as well?

(AK) In terms of trends: In East Africa, yes this trend is likely to continue, though it is not unlikely that a success attack will happen again at some point. Activity in West Africa is unlikely to decline in the foreseeable future.

Do you believe that hired guards are the answer to the problem, at least for the time being? After all, they’ve proven to be rather effective, essentially negating the risk of a hijacking, since until now no vessel with hired guards has been successfully hijacked.

(AK) The use of armed guards, alongside other measures, has proved to be extremely effective in East Africa. However the same solution is not an option in West Africa, where the use of overseas armed guard teams is not permitted.

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Source: hellenicshippingnews.com

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