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 February 2022. As a result, an update was issued in respect of the Black sea and Sea of Azov. The current Listed Areas (areas of perceived enhanced risk) are linked below:
JWLA-030 - Russia
An advisory on mines was released on 31st March (JW2022-009). The overall situation is unpredictable and dynamic and as a result, the JWC is meeting more frequently to keep appraised of developments. The Listed Areas will be re-adjusted if required by circumstances.
Several casualties are known near Odessa including: Namura Queen, Millennial Spirit and Yasa Jupiter. It is believed that 84 ships are currently alongside in the region, effectively stuck for the present.
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. Despite the incremental escalation inherent in past seizures, the situation remains under comparative control. Underwriters will be mindful of the many variables in risk when assessing voyages in the region.
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.
Status of Libyan Ports
Situation in Yemen
Iran and Saudi Arabia are effectively in a proxy conflict. There have been several cruise missile attacks on vessels in the Bab el Mandeb.
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 have been 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 needs much effort from concerned parties - there may be some vessels which the coalition will decline to authorise.
Since September 2017, CMF Bahrain has operated the implementation of a Maritime Security Transit Corridor including the Bab-el-Mandeb.
The area of the Indian Ocean where ships need to be on their guard has reduced but caution is still required. The military assessment is that although the pirate infrastructure remains in place, their appetite to take ships is reduced. The JWC Listed Area is set for business reason and is not the same as the UKMTO or the industry BMP areas but in part serves a similar purpose, to alert ships 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.