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Chamber of Shippiing: Merchant Navy seafearers awarded piracy medal by Royal Navy

Twelve merchant navy seafarers have been awarded European Defence medals for their work with the Royal Navy at the European Union's Operation Atalanta Headquarters, working to protect vessels from piracy attack.

The medals acknowledge their exceptional contribution working in partnership with the Royal Navy to combat piracy and ensure the safe transit of merchant vessels.

A medal ceremony and reception was held at the Chamber of Shipping on Thursday 28 October 2010. Foreign Office Minister Henry Bellingham presented the awards in his capacity as the Foreign & Commonwealth Office's Minister with responsibility for counter-piracy issues and on behalf of the British Government.

The event was also attended by Rear Admiral Thomas Ernst, Deputy Commander EU Naval Force, Colonel Richard Spencer Chief of Staff, EU Naval Force and Jan Kopernicki, President of the Chamber of Shipping and Chairman of Oil Companies International Marine Forum. Representatives from all of the companies that have provided MNLO seafarers also attended.
Jan Kopernicki said: "Over 80% of world trade travels by ship, with some 18 million containers making over 200 million trips each year. More than 20% of global trade passes through the Gulf of Aden and so Operation Atalanta is crucial to ensure the safe transit of merchant vessels in this area.

"Piracy is a long running problem in Somalia and growing off the West coast of Africa. This skilled collaboration between merchant seafarers and naval personnel to ensure sea routes remain secure is proving invaluable for all involved. I am delighted to congratulate the merchant seafarers involved and welcome the recognition that this medal offers."

The military operation was launched 8 December 2008 and has now been extended by the European Council until December 2012.The Merchant Navy officers are seconded from their parent companies and organisations at no cost to the naval operation, and provide a significant and invaluable industry contribution to the success of the counter piracy operation. In the first nine months of 2010 Somali pirates were involved in 127 attacks on merchant ships, 35 of which were hijacked. At the current time, 15 vessels remain in pirate control and more than 220 seafarers are being held hostage.

The 12 Merchant Navy Liaison Officers who were awarded European Defence medals are:

Captain Colin Shoolbraid MNLO BP Shipping
Captain Michael Hawkins MNLO BP Shipping
Captain Steve Barber MNLO Shell International Trading and Shipping Company
Captain Roger Harding MNLO The Maersk Company
Captain Geert Koffema MNLO The Maersk Company
Captain Howard Snaith MNLO INTERTANKO
Mr Stuart Walker MNLO International Marine Transportation
Mr Jon Hobbs MNLO Carnival UK
Captain Ko Shindo MNLO NYK Line
Captain Steven Moon MNLO BW Fleet Management
Captain Aaron Cooper MNLO Chevron Shipping Company
Captain Laureano Larrauri MNLO Teekay
Mr Simon Church MNLO EU Naval Force


For further information please contact:

Claire Sneddon, Chamber of Shipping
020 7417 2888

Notes to Editor

. We have images of the individuals being presented with their decorations and with the representatives and MLO's from each company, but unfortunately no group photo. Please contact me if there is a particular individual/company image you would like.

. The Chamber of Shipping is the trade association for the UK shipping industry, working to promote and protect the interests of its members both nationally and internationally. With 139 members and associate members, the Chamber represents over 932 ships of about 25 million gross tonnes and is recognised as the voice of the UK shipping industry. For more information on British Shipping, please go to: www.british-shipping.org

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