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US to sign anti-piracy document

US to sign anti-piracy document

Washington: The United States plans to formalise its commitment to have US-flagged ships conduct "internationally-recognised best management practices" against piracy, AFP writes quoting the State Department.

Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs Andrew Shapiro said Washington will sign the so-called New York Declaration, a non-binding political document.

The US signature will commit the United States "to implement measures that it has already encouraged and followed through compliance with US Coast Guard directives on ship security," the department said in statement.

"US shipping companies have been instrumental in creating and implementing these best practices," it added.

"Examples of the best practices developed and implemented by all of the major international shipping industry organisations include increasing lookouts, ensuring that ladders are raised, and readying fire pumps to repel boarders," it said.

Panama, the Bahamas, Liberia, and the Marshall Islands -- which make up four of the world's largest ship registries -- first proposed the declaration that will also be signed by China, France, Britain and other countries.

The event will take place on the eve of the fourth plenary session of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia.

The contact group was established under a UN Security Council resolution on January 14 to coordinate actions among states and organisations to suppress piracy off the coast of Somalia.

The signing announcement comes on the day US maritime officials warned that the end of the monsoon season will likely bring an increase in piracy off the Horn of Africa and urged shipping companies to remain vigilant.

More than 130 merchant ships were attacked last year, a rise of more than 200% on 2007, according to the International Maritime Bureau.

So far this year, there have been 114 attempted attacks on merchant vessels in the region, 29 of them successful, according to the US Navy.  [10/09/09]