Saturday, January 28, 2012

A 1 in 300 risk

There's been an interesting argument going on in the English courts over the last few months. It's a debate that focuses on the risk of a ship being attacked by pirates whilst going around the Horn of Africa. And the risk, both shipping companies and the courts agree, is actually only 1 voyage out of every 300 transits a ship does.

That is, one transit out of every 300 is at risk.

And allegedly because of this risk, the EU has continued Operation Atalanta to the end of 2012 and is considering expanding its powers so that Atalanta forces can now legally go on Somali land. The USA has just announced that it is expanding its presence in the Gulf of Aden with a floating SEAL base.

Somali piracy is seen as a huge threat and money continues to be poured into stopping the 'pirates' but little is done to stop the IUU fishing boats or the dumping of toxic wastes. It continues.

The details of the actual court case have received minimal coverage in the mainstream press, however it is covered in legal websites and journals. The case involved a Panama flag-flying ship, Triton Lark. The ship was charted by a Hong Kong company, Pacific Basin, to carry a load of Potash from Hamburg to China via the Suez Canal from its disponent owner - the Norwegian firm 'Bulkhandling Handymax' (The real ship owner is Triton Navigation B.V., an Amsterdam company part of the Japanese multi-national Sumitomo Group).

Because of the risk of piracy, the Norwegian firm refused to sail through the Suez Canal and therefore costs of the voyage increased. Pacific Basin then sued for those costs to be covered; both sides agreed that the actual risk is only one in 300 transits. The matter has been referred back to the arbitrators.