Maersk has confirmed reports that it paid for a Tanzanian naval patrol vessel to escort a product tanker in Somali waters as a one-off anti-piracy precaution in December 2008, but is at pains to deny that the practice is regular, foreign media reports. However, such an action retains the status of “an option” if the company felt it necessary again at any point in the future, he added.

The company said that it felt at the time that 2006-built, 29,031-dwt Brigit Maersk needed an escort, because it was very near the position of Maersk Regensburg, another Maersk Tankers vessel, which had been attacked.

“It was due to call Mombasa, but nofollowing the attack on Maersk Regensburg, it was sent in a waiting position off the Seychelles. To ensure the safety of the crew, vessel and its cargo of vegetable oil, it was sent south of Madagascar,” it said in a statement.

“Maersk Tankers, via a private Danish security enterprise, contracted with the Tanzanian navy for an escort. Payment was an amount equal to the fuel and food consumed on the vessel during the escort which all in all took five days. Maersk Tankers assured itself of the legality of the contract and naturally consulted and informed all relevant parties.

“Since then Maersk Tankers has ceased closing contracts calling in East Africa. It was the first and only time we have contracted with the Tanzanian Navy escort (or any other East African Navy for that matter). It is thus not in any way a permanent solution or one we are considering in lieu of others.”

No Maersk Tankers vessel has called in east Africa over the last 13 months, and there are presently no plans to resume tanker services to the region, the spokesman added. He declined to reveal the cost of the contract.

source: asiasis