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RT Chairmen take action on key shipping issues

The Chairmen of the Round Table of international shipping associations, given the current gravity of a number of pressing issues, urgently called a meeting to discuss piracy off Somalia’s coasts, the detained officers from the Hebei Spirit, and mutual recognition in the draft EU Regulation on common rules and standards.



The RT Associations are sending a letter to all Heads of State of Governments providing naval support in the Gulf of Aden and off Somalia’s coasts, and also to any Governments considered as having a strong strategic interest. Copies are being sent to the UN Secretary General, the Presidency and incoming Presidency of the EU, the NATO Secretary General and the members of the UN Security Council.


The letter stresses the extreme urgency of this situation. It emphasises that commercial shipping cannot be expected to take on the responsibility of keeping this vital international trade lane open, and cannot be expected to continue to expose crews, ships and their cargoes unless there is greater political will and effective military intervention to support and protect them. It is totally unrealistic to expect merchant ships to be equipped with defensive measures to protect seafarers and ships from increasingly determined and sophisticated attacks from pirates. The shipping industry calls on the full, active and wholehearted support of Governments, including the provision of naval and other military units.


The letter goes on to stress that for these naval units to have maximum effectiveness they need to be coordinated under a single command; they need to have clear rules of engagement and to be prepared to intercept and investigate all suspicious craft - in particular the so-called motherships;  they need to be prepared to neutralise the pirates’ ability to launch  attacks on merchant shipping.


The shipping industry would also support other military action to suppress these threats to world commerce.


Hebei Spirit

The RT Associations are taking a full page in the Korean Times to publish an open letter  to the President of the Korean Republic. The letter expresses their concerns about the process in Korea’s courts over the legal appeal against this summer’s verdict which found the two officers from the Hebei Spirit completely innocent.


The letter, which has the full backing of the world’s shipping operators, stresses that anything other than a reconfirmation of the earlier innocent verdict may well prove detrimental to Korea’s national reputation, to its status as a shipping nation, to its shipyards who rely on business from international ship owners, and to its industry whose raw materials are delivered by the international shipping fleet. 


Mutual recognition

The RT Associations have noted the development of the draft EU Regulation on Common Rules and Standards on Ship Inspection and Survey Organisations [2005/0237B(COD)]  and wish to record their concern over two important aspects.


The RT Chairmen are concerned that the requirement for the mutual recognition by EU-recognised organisations of certificates for materials, equipment and components places an unacceptable reliance by the leading classification society on certificates issued by other bodies, over which they have no control. Such requirements could potentially jeopardise the safety of ships and their crews.


They note that the EU has tabled a joint submission (MSC 84/22/13) to the IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) with the application of a regionally-developed Regulation on the procedures and standards of classification societies. While they applaud any initiative directed at the harmonisation, and  the improvement, of standards, they believe that these aims are best achieved through the development of an effective international code – as recognised by the MSC itself - rather than through the adoption of a patchwork of regional regulations.


IMO Bravery Award

On a different note, the RT Chairmen extend their heartfelt congratulations to Mr Rodolfo Fonseca da Silva Rigueira as the winner of the 2008 IMO Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea. They also salute all the other worthy recipients of certificates and letters of commendation in recognition of meritorious services rendered.


Furthermore, the Chairmen also put on record the appreciation of the entire shipping industry for the many other unsung acts of bravery at sea, which go unrewarded or unrecognised each year, but which unite the shipping fraternity in the spirit of service and self-sacrifice.


3 December, 2008


Note for editors:

The Round Table of international shipping associations (RT) is an informal grouping of: shipping industry associations whose mission is to work together to serve, represent and advance the international shipping industry, with a vision of .a responsible and respected international shipping industry meeting the expectations of its stakeholders. By acting in concert to avoid duplication on issues of consensus, the combined effort of the Round Table can exceed the sum of the individual efforts.

RT members are: BIMCO, ICS/ISF (International Chamber of Shipping/International Shipping Federation), INTERCARGO (International Association of Dry Cargo Shipowners), INTERTANKO (International Association of Independent Tanker Owners).



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