Joint War Committee
The Joint War Committee comprises underwriting representatives from both the Lloyd’s and IUA company markets, representing the interests of those who write marine hull war business in the London market. It usually meets quarterly; also see Committee Terms of Reference. The JWC retains independent security advisers, Herminius, whose objective input informs and underpins the Listed Areas.
LMA Competition Law Guidance
From time to time, the JWC updates and disseminates the Listed Areas - these are areas where owners are required to notify underwriters of voyages. Rating is a matter for individual negotiation between underwriters and brokers and the JWC plays no role in that. The Committee last reviewed the areas in December 2023. The current Listed Areas (areas of perceived enhanced risk) are linked below:
2024 - Commercial shipping has been coming under regular attack from Houthi
forces seeking to change Israeli policy in Gaza. In response, a grouping of
concerned nations supported the establishment of Operation Prosperity Guardian
to protect the freedom of navigation and the supply chain. Following over 20
attacks against shipping and a co-ordinated attack on western naval
assets, on 11th January there were air strikes against multiple targets in
Yemen. The Yemeni threat to shipping remains extant and real.
Since the US withdrew from the JCPOA, tensions between the US and Iran have been raised as Iran's ability to trade its oil has been steadily eroded. The IMF have shown that restrictions on the use of the dollar or the involvement of any US person or entity has significantly impacted the Iranian economy since 2007, and the US "maximum pressure campaign" magnified the effect.
The direction of US foreign policy and Iranian domestic policy remain opposed and the logical consequence will be continued friction with varying levels of tension. Ship owners have reported a heightened level of harassment when transiting. A general threat exists to all vessels in the region and specifically to tankers transiting Hormuz. Iranian and Houthi capability extends beyond the particularly vulnerable Strait of Hormuz itself but Iranian actions have indicated a wish to keep its actions proportionate, one for one.
The latest vessel seized was St Nikolas on 11th Jan 2024 in settlement of a past dispute, but it was not directly connected with Red Sea tensions.
Situation in Yemen
Iran and Saudi Arabia were engaged in a proxy conflict in Yemen. That war was estimated by the UN to have cost 150,000 military casualties and perhaps 377,000 deaths in all. A fragile truce is in place between the Houthis and the Saudis. The Houthis have established de facto control of urban centres in Yemen.
Foreign vessels are currently forbidden from entering Yemeni waters. Yemen does not have an effective navy of their own, so the Egyptian and Saudi navies were mandated to enforce this. There are entry procedures for vessels to enter Hodeidah or Saleef port - a completed form must be sent to the Yemen Ministry of Transport, now based in Jeddah. The system works but is complex.
The overall situation remains unstable so caution is advised. The Listed Areas will be re-adjusted if required by circumstances.
The fighting was centred on the capital Khartoum, 400 miles from the coast. There is assessed to be no immediate threat to shipping and there have been no reports of attacks on ships or port infrastructure. The SAF have full control over Port Sudan and no impact has been reported at other terminals.
Vessels picking up refugees may have to divert to a different port to that originally intended; voyages may be lengthened and there are likely to be logistical and operational consequences.
The shipowners removed their HRA at the beginning of
2023. The JWC continues to maintain its Listed Area as before. Recent incidents are not considered to be a clear trend requiring expansion Eastwards but the situation is under close watch.
The JWC Listed
Areas are set for business reasons and the Indian Ocean area was never the same as the UKMTO or the
industry BMP/HRA areas but also serves to alert parties to the potential dangers. The
applicable US Executive Order effectively requires insurers to contact OFAC
should they be involved in a piracy case.
Pirate activity is intermittent of Eastern Malaysia and a number of oil cargo seizures have occurred there.
In the Gulf of Guinea, crew abductions are the main threat. Since mid 2021, the number of incidents has notably decreased, but attacks still occur.
Below is some background on UKMTO Dubai:
Best Management Practice
The current version is BMP5. This version includes details of self-protection measures and a feedback request to masters on the effectiveness of the anti-piracy actions taken by the vessel. Maintaining vigilance, and reporting to UKMTO and MSCHOA are fundamental but only part of what prudent owners should do. It is clearly necessary for adequate training and regular practice to be given to crews to enable them to respond effectively when under attack or threat. Low speed and low freeboard remain factors which significantly increase the vulnerability of ships.