February 11 - Following the terrible hijacking of its ship, Beluga Nomination, Beluga Shipping has confirmed that it is deploying private security guards aboard some of its ships off the Somali coast and rerouting other vessels.
"Private security personnel will be contracted in order to improve the protection of our seafaring colleagues," said Niels Stolberg, president and CEO of Beluga Shipping, adding: "The investments in these additional security measures and the re-routing of some of our vessels around the Cape of Good Hope in a bid to avoid the most dangerous waters around the Horn of Africa create extra costs in the two-figure-million range only until April 2011, yet they are accepted as part of one's responsibility for the lives of seafarers, operating in civil merchant shipping and in order to provide at least some security."
Speaking about the recent meeting between ship owners and German government officials on the subject of piracy, Stolberg said: "Unfortunately the anti-piracy meeting which was held in Berlin on January 31 did not deliver any relevant results yet."
Stolberg added: "Quite a while ago already we have presented our idea of a new concept to the Federal Government of Germany in Berlin in line with the German Shipowners' Association. According to this concept which has been modified since, it is planned that three onshore bases manned with qualified security personnel are set up. From these posts the armed security forces could be sent to an offshore destination in a kind of "shuttle service" where they meet a merchant vessel, embark this vulnerable unit and escort on board before disembarking at the other end of the risk area.
"The German Shipowners' Association does support this recommendation which is modelled on the pilot relocation system and is now under consideration by the Federal Ministry of Defence. Generally, for a procedure of such kind forces of the federal police or marine soldiers would be considered. If a vessel is sailing under non-German flag a similar solution should be applied in cooperation with other states as well. As ship owner we are more than ready to contribute financially to such a systematic approach which promotes the security of civil merchant shipping. Additionally, an effective security performance by the German federal police or marine forces aboard our fleet would of course be a convincing reason to have more vessels sailing under German flag. Hence, we do require a swift decision by the Federal Government. Since this is a question of saving human lives and undoubtedly the pirates are more professional, more organised and not least more aggressive and violence-prone than ever before."
The measures reported here and the comments made by Stolberg follow the January 22 hijacking of Beluga Nomination - the third Beluga ship to be hijacked by Somali pirates - and the tragic death of three crew members