Passage Planning Offshore India and the Additional Premium Area

19 August 2011

Members will be aware that, due to the continuing pirate attacks on merchant ships traversing the Gulf of Aden area and the widening geographical range of attacks despite the presence of a number of international navies, the Additional Premium Area for War Risks in the Indian Ocean (“the AP Area”) has been extended to up to 12 miles offshore from the Indian Coast.

In the light of this extension, James Mackintosh & Co Pvt Ltd, a Mumbai Correspondent, has written to the Association (see attached) highlighting the dangers of trying to avoid the AP Area by navigating the inshore route (i.e. within 12 miles of the Indian coast), especially with regard to passage planning in and around the Mumbai area. As Members will note from the attached advice, their conclusion is that, given all the dangers (including crossing traffic lanes in contravention of accepted practice around Mumbai, navigating around offshore installations, and avoiding shallows), a prudent Master would in their view be within his rights to refuse to navigate the inshore route as it is arguable that any risk of piracy is outweighed by the risks of proceeding on the inshore route. Additionally, they indicate that “while approaching bigger ports like Mumbai, it will not be feasible to navigate through outer anchorages and traffic lanes” thus necessitating an offshore route through the AP Area in any event. 

Further investigation has shown that there may also be navigational safety issues at the start of the AP Area at the southern tip of India at the approach to Cape Cormorin. At this point there is shallower water nearer the coast which narrows the possible area through which a ship can safely pass, which could cause heightened risks particularly if traffic flow is heavy.

Given the above, and the almost certain need to enter the AP Zone when transiting the Indian Ocean, Members should carefully consider the issue of additional premium and who will be responsible for it before entering into new charterparties.