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April 29, 2009

Maersk strengthens defenses against piracy

The A.P. Moller-- Maersk Group says that , as its investigation of the MAERSK ALABAMA hijacking continues, it has taken action to further boost the safety and security of crews and vessels against piracy.

"We have expanded the area off the coast of Somalia where only vessels with a certain freeboard or capable of sailing certain speeds are allowed to enter," says A.P. Moller -- Maersk Group Partner and Maersk Tankers CEO Søren Skou.

"Vessels should spend as little time in the area as possible, and while in the area sail at maximum speed," says Søren Skou.

The Group is also examining measures such as making access to the vessel more difficult. For security reasons and the safety of its crews, it does not want to provide any specific details on these measures.

The Group maintains its policy of not arming crews or allowing armed guards onboard its vessels. Weapons onboard could lead to a dangerous escalation and raise a number of multi-jurisdictional legal issues. However, in certain instances when force protection is government mandated, the Group will work with and comply with government instructions

The Group gives detailed instructions and procedures to its crews prior to sailing in the area, which includes reviewing safety plans onboard before entering into the area.

The Group reiterates its call on the international community to find a solution to the problem of piracy. Piracy is a threat to important international trade lanes and therefore an international security issue.

While the naval presence in the Gulf of Aden has achieved some success in deterring attacks there, the pirates still remain a threat to crews and vessels in the area and elsewhere.

"We back proposals such as establishing a regional maritime sea patrol to protect vessels in the area from piracy attacks. The nations in the region with the support of the international community must address this problem," says Søren Skou.

"We also call on the international community to establish a transit corridor, so vessels can safely call ports in Kenya and Tanzania," he says.

The Group welcomes the expected agreement between Denmark, Kenya and other countries to allow legal prosecution of pirates in Kenya.


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