Ship owners call for coordinated international sea patrols

  • 8 June 2004

Ship owners gathered at the ICC 35th World Congress today called for coordinated naval patrols among South East Asian governments to counter the growing threat of piracy.

Alan Chan, whose vessel Petro Ranger was hijacked in 1999 in the South China Sea said vessel attacks in South East Asia arose from a serious lack of resources on the part of the Indonesian government which made it impossible for the Indonesian Navy and Police to effectively patrol their extensive coastline.

He said that the situation was not likely to change in the short term and therefore there was a continuing risk to shipping in Indonesian waters, which includes the Malacca Straits – still the most dangerous waters in the world.

He called for an integrated approach to South East Asian regional security which involved not only the littoral states, but also trading nations who benefited from the use of this major international seaway.

“We must find a mechanism which allows for effective maritime law enforcement and which does not stop at the limits of a nation’s territorial waters,” he said. “The pirate boats certainly do not.”

Mr Chan was speaking at the World Congress session: “The spreading scourge of piracy”, chaired by Mr Hans Bjontegard, Chairman of the Board of the ICC Commercial Crime Services.

The session discussed the ease with which hijacked vessels change their identity and called for registries to tighten up procedures and be subject to an independent audit.

Chris Horrocks of the International Chamber of Shipping and John Bainbridge of the International Transport Workers Federation reiterated the long held industry view that arming merchant crews in response to such attacks was inappropriate.

Captain Pottengal Mukundan of the International Maritime Bureau, which runs the Piracy Reporting Centre in Kuala Lumpur, said the responsibility of keeping coastal waters safe must remain with the coastal state.

“There are numerous recent examples of countries who prioritised this crime, allocated resources and the attacks have promptly reduced,” he said.

Captain Andrew Mitchell of Lloyds Register said the ISPS Code would help develop a culture of maritime security, but warned that with the deadline for implementation of the code only weeks away, many ports and vessels would not be ready, which could lead to vessels being delayed upon arrival in many ports.