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Somalia: Piracy

Volume 503: debated on Wednesday 13 January 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps his Department has taken to assist UK-registered vessels following the most recent hijacking in waters around the coast of Somalia. (310416)

The MOD has been working comprehensively with Government Departments and international coalitions to find ways to support shipping transiting through the Gulf of Aden, focusing in particular on minimising the risk of pirate attack on merchant shipping. This includes the offer of group transits to vulnerable vessels using the internationally recognised transit corridor, protected by international forces, and the provision of planning advice and support to mariners by the Royal Navy manned UK Maritime Trade Operations office.

The UK Government endorse the advice prepared by the contact group on piracy off the coast of Somalia, and endorsed by the International Maritime Organisation, which provides specific advice to global shipping on how to prevent, deter and delay acts of piracy off the Horn of Africa, notably through inexpensive and simple self-protection measures, as well as through advice on course and speed.

The Shipping Defence Advisory Committee, jointly chaired by industry and the MOD and supported by other Government Departments is proving to be a good forum for liaison and a two-way mechanism for providing advice. The shipping industry is also providing liaison officers to the EU counter-piracy operation Atalanta headquarters at Northwood.

The Maritime Security Centre Horn of Africa website (, created and maintained by the EU operation, contains general advice to shipping companies. We encourage all UK shipping to register with this website and transit through the internationally recognised transit corridor in addition to adhering to the latest maritime advisories in force throughout the piracy threat region.