Nautilus International has written to the UK foreign secretary Boris Johnson seeking assurances over the protection for merchant shipping off the coast of Somalia following confirmation of the first hijacking in the area since 2012.
The EU Naval Force (EU Navfor) said it had received confirmation from the master of the Comoros-flagged tanker Aris 13 that the vessel and its eight crew were being held captive by armed pirates in an anchorage off the north coast of Puntland.
In a letter to Mr Johnson, Nautilus general secretary Mark Dickinson said the incident was extremely worrying. It was known that Somali pirates had retained the capability to resume attacks on shipping, he pointed out, and this had been demonstrated late last year when the UK-flagged chemical tanker CPO Korea managed to thwart an attack 330nm off the country’s coast.
Mr Dickinson warned the foreign secretary of the need to maintain the EU Navfor presence in the face of evidence showing the continuing potential risk to shipping in the Indian Ocean and Red Sea and asked him to comment on reports that the diversion of EU Navfor assets to the Mediterranean in response to the migrant crisis may have been a factor in the successful attack on Aris 13.
‘Nautilus continues to be concerned about the UK’s long-term commitment towards EU Navfor in the context of the Brexit result and the protection of UK ships and UK seafarers in the light of the UK’s planned withdrawal from the European Union,’ Mr Dickinson added. ‘A great deal of emphasis is being placed upon the UK’s future trading relationships and as 95% of our international trade is by sea, the security and safety of merchant ships and their crews is of paramount importance.’
Wednesday, March 15, 2017