Frontline: Military “Only Solution” To Piracy

A more
aggressive military approach is the only answer to an escalation of piracy off Somalia,
the world’s biggest oil tanker company said Friday.

    “I
think that’s the only solution,” Martin Jensen, acting chief executive
officer of Oslo-based Frontline, told AFP.

    He said
Frontline, which has 80 tankers, is considering whether to divert its ships
from Somalia and the
treacherous Gulf of Aden, “if there’s no
quick international force or situation being applied”.

    Jensen,
whose company has an office in Singapore,
said Frontline was holding serious internal talks about whether to avoid the Gulf of Aden but the matter would have to be discussed
with owners of the cargo.

    “The
main consideration, that’s the safety of the crew and the ship,” he said.

    But Jensen
added that piracy was not a problem that one company could solve alone, and his
preference was for a military approach .

    “It
doesn’t solve anything by diverting,” he said.

    Last
weekend pirates seized their biggest prize so far, the Saudi Arabian oil tanker
Sirius Star. It was loaded with two million barrels of oil when they attacked
it hundreds of miles (kilometres) off the coast of Kenya.

    The pirates
have demanded a ransom of 25 million dollars, while more than a dozen other
vessels are being held in Somali waters by pirates.

    In the face
of their audacity, Russia‘s
NATO envoy, Dmitry Rogozin, called for a land military force to confront the
pirates on their home turf.

    NATO sent
four warships into the Gulf of Aden last month on anti-piracy duties and to
escort aid vessels, while a European Union anti-piracy operation off the coast
of Somalia
is to begin on December 8.

    But the
world’s navies are struggling to find the right deterrent and any use of force
might have little effect, experts say.

    Jensen said
his ships travelled near pirate-infested Somalia every week and one of them,
the Front Voyager, recently had a narrow escape.

    “A
pirate boat approached but before they got too close the ship was able to get
naval assistance,” he said, adding that the problem was escalating.

    One of the
world’s biggest shipping lines, Denmark‘s
A.P. Moeller-Maersk, said Thursday it would divert some of its vessels around
the tip of South Africa to
avoid pirates in the Gulf of Aden.

    In a
statement, it said ships that are too slow — or with decks low enough for
pirates to scramble aboard — would “seek alternative routing” around
the Cape of Good Hope and Madagascar.

    Alternatively,
they could join a naval convoy through the Gulf of Aden,
if one were available.

    Norwegian
shipping company Odfjell said on Monday it, too, would choose the longer, more
expensive but also safer route around the Cape of Good
Hope
.

    Jensen said
the southern route was about 40 percent longer, “so of course that would
be quite a cost”.

    One of the
world’s largest container shipping firms, Neptune Orient Lines, said it was
“closely monitoring events” in the Gulf of Aden
but was not planning to reroute ships.

    “The
relative risk of attack is lower for fast high-decked container ships than it
is for slower low-decked vessels such as bulk carriers or tankers,” said
NOL spokesman Paul Barrett.

    He said
Singapore-based NOL has comprehensive.

 

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