BIMCO, the International Chamber of Shipping, INTERCARGO, INTERTANKO and the International Transport Workers’ Federation have issued a joint statement expressing their outrage that Somali pirates have executed, apparently in cold blood, a seafarer on the merchant ship Beluga Nomination which had been attacked and hijacked by armed pirates on 22 January in the Indian Ocean, 390 nautical miles north of the Seychelles. Three seafarers were reportedly taken aside for ‘punishment’ after an attempt by the Seychelles coastguard to free the hostage crew resulted in the death of a pirate.
“The international shipping industry is truly disturbed at reports that pirates have been torturing seafarers physically and mentally, often in the most barbaric ways,” the statement read, “including hanging them over the ship’s side by ropes around their ankles with their heads under water and even subjecting them to the horrendous practice of keelhauling.” The grouping urged governments to empower their naval forces to take fast and robust action against pirates, and the vessels under their control, before passing ships are boarded and hijacked. The statement concluded with a sobering look at ships having to mull alternative routes to deliver cargoes. “This latest particularly atrocious action appears to represent a fundamental shift in the behaviour of Somali pirates. The cold-blooded murder of an innocent seafarer means that ship owners and their crews will be re-evaluating their current determination to ensure that this vital trade route remains open – over 40% of the world’s seaborne oil passes through the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea. The shipping industry will be looking at all possible options, including alternative routes, which could have a dramatic effect on transport costs and delivery times – piracy is already estimated to cost the global economy between $7-12 billion per year.”