IMB Warns of Horn of Africa Piracy Perils; Lloyd’s Reaction

June 20, 2007

The ICC International Maritime Bureau (IMB) has issued an alert to all sea traffic off the Horn of Africa. “Heavily armed pirates are subjecting vessels to violent attacks while in international waters,” said a bulletin on the IMB web site – The bulletin warned that the “Eastern and North-eastern coasts [of Somalia] are high-risk areas for attacks and hijackings. Ships not making scheduled calls to ports in Somalia should keep as far away as possible from the Somali coast, ideally, more than 200 nautical miles.”

The bulletin noted a recent attack by pirates on the “general purpose vessel, MV IBN Younus,” which was “chased for nearly an hour by pirates using machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades. The vessel managed to escape, but not without having the accommodation block destroyed by fire from the grenade attack.” MV IBN Younus was making its way from Durban to United Arab Emirates when attacked in the Indian Ocean.

Another bulletin noted that a second attack reportedly took place at a similar distance from the Somali coast involving two South Korean owned fishing vessels. The pirates took 30 people hostage from the two boats, while a third managed to escape.

An article on the Lloyd’s web site ( notes that this “spike in piracy activity runs counter to the IMB statistics for 2005-2006 which demonstrated a decline in acts of piracy in the region. From 35 attacks in 2005, the number of reported attacks in Somali waters decreased to 10 in 2006. This includes five actual hijackings of vessels and five attempted attacks. In 2007, there have already been nine confirmed attacks on vessels off the Somali coast, six of which have included hijackings.”

Lloyd’s indicated that “despite recent developments, underwriters have long been aware of the situation.” A spokeswoman for the Lloyd’s Market Association, which represents underwriters in the Lloyd’s market, noted: “Somalia has been on the lists for both the market’s Joint Hull and Joint Cargo Committees for a considerable period of time. In terms of the cargo committee, Somalia is on the highest possible risk grade, but this decision came even before the recent events.”

She added: “The underwriters in the market will use their individual judgment on risks and will work with their clients to offer coverage when and wherever possible. The decision as to whether to accept a risk or the premium charged for that risk is down to the individual underwriter.”

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