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Last week, we received from the UK two email items related to the issue of piracy that reminded us of the following stanza from a centuries-old English nursery rhyme:

Rain, rain go away,
Come again another day.
Little Johnny wants to play;
Rain, rain, go to Spain,
Never show your face again!

Much as shipowners and seafarers wish that piracy would go away and not just go to another place, the problem is not transient like rain; it will most probably stick around for a long time, particularly in the Gulf of Aden.  Fortunately, some things are being done by the global maritime community to try to contain what has become a modern-day scourge.

The first email was a news release from the Hellenic War Risks, a Bermuda-based P&I club servicing members of the Greek shipping community, issued by its PR agents in London. It’s actually a mixture of good and bad tidings, the good being that the Club’s general premium rates for 2010 will remain unchanged from this year. Moreover, the Club will continue to offer optional insurance for hire lost as a result of war risk damage. And from 1st January 2010, members will have the option of extended loss of hire insurance that covers hire lost if a ship is seized by pirates, even if the ship has not been damaged.

The bad news is that the Club’s Additional Premium (AP) area is being broadened from 1st January 2010. In the Indian Ocean, the zone will extend to longitude 65°E south of latitude 15°N, with the southern boundary running along 11°S and 12°S. In February this year, the AP zone was extended 600 miles from the eastern coast of Somalia but attacks have been taking place much farther from land. The Club noted that one entered ship was attacked more than 1,000 miles away from the Somali coast and two others, more than 700 miles into the Indian Ocean.

The second email, from Active Communications International (ACI), provided us with some promotional materials for the Maritime Piracy & Security Conference that takes place from 9th to 10th February 2010 in Dubai, UAE. The forum coincides with ACI’s 3rd Bunker Fuel Management Conference scheduled for the same dates in the same venue. We did not hesitate for a moment when ACI invited Marine Cafe Blog to be a media partner for these twin events. ACI conferences are known for their mindfully formatted programmes and fine roster of speakers, neither of which is compromised for the sake of pleasing certain groups or individuals in the host country. That kind of professionalism isn’t very common amongst maritime conference organisers.

This is the first time ACI has put together an event that deals with piracy. If anything, it’s an indicator of how serious the problem has become – and how seriously it is being taken. The Dubai conference should serve as a platform from which new collective action can be launched by governments, ship owners and operators, manning agents and consultancy firms. Amongst the speakers are Commander Stein Olav Hagalid (NCAGS/NSC Branch head, NATO Northwood); Capt Duncan McKelvie (Area Marine Representative, NYK Line); Commander Neil Parsonage (Director, UK Maritime Trade Operations, Dubai) and Ej Hogendoorn (Director, Horn of Africa Project, International Crisis Group). Hearing the views of these gentlemen plus sightseeing and shopping in one of world’s greatest maritime cities – what better reason to hie off to Dubai this February? ~Barista Uno

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