ICC Recommendations with regard to Piracy in the Indian Ocean (2010)
Publication date : 26/01/2010
ICC views with grave concern the rising incidents of vessels hijacked in the Indian Ocean since 1 September 2009 by Somali pirates.
The attacks so far out to sea are unprecedented. The attacks affect the trade routes from the Arabian Gulf to the Cape of Good Hope used by many large vulnerable vessels as well as the trade routes into neighbouring Kenya and Tanzania. This area accounts for over 60% of all sea traffic in the Northern Indian Ocean. This is an extraterritorial crime against crew and vessels which needs to be resolved as soon as possible. Coalition naval operations in the Gulf of Aden have had a significant effect. Thanks to the excellent efforts of the navies there were no hijackings in the Gulf of Aden from 8 July to 28 December, 2009, when a product tanker was unfortunately taken.
The Indian Ocean presents different challenges. The navies in the area must bring
these incidences under control. The vast sea area of the Indian Ocean cannot easily be monitored or patrolled by naval vessels operating off the Horn of Africa. The options for responding to this crime in this area are few.
According to the ICC International Maritime Bureau (IMB), since October, there have been 33 attacks of which 13 vessels were successfully hijacked in the Northern Indian Ocean. Rocket propelled grenades are fired at the accommodation and bridge of a vessel to force it to slow down or stop. A loaded Very Large Crude Carrier (VLCC) was hijacked on 29 November 2009 and another one was fired upon. Large bulk carriers and a container vessel were also among those hijacked. The dangers of pirates firing indiscriminately at a laden VLCC cannot be overstated.
Many of these attacks have taken place around 1000 nautical miles from Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia. These attacks could not have taken place without the pirates’ use of motherships – vessels that travel deep sea and launch smaller attack skiffs in the vicinity of the target vessel. In a high risk piracy area where, due to the size of the area at risk, only a few response options are available, taking robust actions against the motherships is a tactical priority.
ICC finds it unacceptable that such violent activities continue to cause disruption to international trade, and more importantly threaten the lives of thousands of seafarers on a daily basis. The protection of shipping from piracy – regardless of flag, or the nationality of the crew – is a clear and legitimate responsibility for governments under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.