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Frontline fears Seafarers speak of serving in piracy hotspots 24-25

A touch of class We meet some of this year’s new officer trainees 29

NL nieuws Twee pagina’s met nieuws uit Nederland 32-33

Volume 44 | Number 03 | March 2011 | £3.35

€3.50 Inside

FEquality move The UK is forced to act to outlaw pay discrimination against foreign crews —page 3

FUnion savings Nautilus launches a great new range of membership benefits to save you money —page 2

South Korean special forces killed eight pirates when they recaptured the chemical tanker Samho Jewelry in the Indian Ocean Picture: Reuters

FSafety alert Nautilus has warned MPs that UK government spending cuts will hit safety at sea — page 19

Industry calls for action as pirates torture crews

Union takes part in Foreign Office discussions as naval forces warn of ‘manifestations of systematic violence’ P

Nautilus has met UK government ministers and naval commanders

to discuss a disturbing deteriora- tion in piracy attacks — with warnings that seafarers are now being abused and tortured while being held hostage.

The Union joined shipowner

representatives in talks at the For- eign Office last month over the growing threats posed by the escalation of risk, with the pirates’ use of captured merchant vessels as ‘mother ships’ extending their range throughout the Indian Ocean.

General secretary Mark Dick- inson commented: ‘The threat posed by piracy has deteriorated to a drastic point, with changes in the scope and nature of the attacks, together with the increas- ingly serious abuse of seafarers, taking things to a level at which

radical solutions are required. ‘Our members want effective action to deter the pirates, and they are fed up with the “softly- softly”

approach,’ he added.

‘Exclusion zones and blockades of pirate bases should be looked at, and determined action to prevent any escalation in the use of motherships is an option that should be explored — but with caution regarding the crews of those vessels. ‘If governments do not act

now, the shipowners and the sea- farers will be forced to seriously consider whether it is safe to pro- ceed into these high-risk areas without a substantive increase in military support being deployed,’ he pointed out.

‘There is an urgent need to provide guidelines on the use of armed private security services, to regulate those providing this

service and to make sure that sea- farers are not exposed to legal or other challenges should armed guards be carried,’ Mr Dickinson added.

Shipowners have also demanded tougher action by the military forces in response to the more aggressive tactics adopted by the pirates. Chamber of Ship- ping president Jan Kopernicki warned last month that piracy had become ‘an industrialised activity’.

He told guests at the Cham-

ber’s annual dinner: ‘The current mother ship menace, the execu- tion of seafarers and the increased aggression of attacks will only be subdued by focussed military action in the next two to three months.

‘This in turn means that politi-

cians need to give their military, whether in the UK or elsewhere,

the freedom to take more explicit measures. The unofficial arming of merchant ships has not pre- vented the development of the current situation, nor will it — or a legalised version of it — provide the solution.

‘This is a military problem and

now needs enhanced military responses,’ he added, ‘and the industry fully understands the risks and difficulties involved.’ The expansion of the pirates’ fleet of mother ships has not only extended their area of operation, but also puts an end to the way in which the monsoon season usu- ally limits their time at sea. Concern has increased follow- ing reports from naval com- manders of growing evidence that pirates are abusing and threatening hostage seafarers. The crew of a South Korean ship held captive by Somali

pirates for a week before it was stormed by commandos said they had been beaten while being held hostage. The ship’s master was shot in the stomach during the operation to free the crew. And Major General Buster

Howes, operation commander of the EU Naval Force, told reporters last month that Somali pirates have begun systematically using hostages as human shields and torturing them.

He told of cases in which

pirates have tied hostages upside- down and dragged them in the sea, locked them in freezers, beaten them and used plastic ties around their genitals. Maj Gen Howes said the

pirates have dragged seafarers onto the deck of their ships and beaten them in view of naval forces as a means of making war ships back off.

He said the attacks have become more ruthless because the pirates are having to raise their stakes to hijack ships in the presence of naval forces. The defensive measures adopted by many merchant ships — includ- ing the use of citadels —have also increased levels of violence. Labour MP John Spellar, the

deputy opposition spokesman on foreign affairs, warned the House of Commons that ‘we are now close to a tipping point on that vital trade route’ and said the rules of engagement for the naval forces should be revised to reflect this. Nautilus has also issued a joint call with the Dutch shipowners for armed guards to be allowed on national-flagged ships, in line with the recommendations of a recent report to the government. gFull reports—pages 22-23.

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