A Terrorist organisation called al-Furqan has claimed responsibility for the rocket-propelled grenade attack on Cosco Asia this week and has posted a video, which it claims to document the incident, on the internet.
The group has written a letter which is posted on Middle Eastern independent blogger Samy Qaid’s website.
The Egyptian military said earlier this week it had arrested three individuals who were allegedly involved in the attack.
However, Nexus Consulting president Kevin Doherty said the fact the letter and video have been posted today indicates one or more members of al-Furqan have escaped arrest. He added Nexus had issued a severe warning for vessels transiting the Suez Canal.
While the authenticity of the video has yet to be formally determined, Oceanuslive principal Glen Forbes said the potential for further elements to seek to embarrass the Egyptian army is high, despite the increase in troops to secure the vital stretch of water.
“The reactions of the Suez Canal Authority and the Egyptian army to the video will be telling and will have an impact on the future transits by commercial shipping,” he said.
Shipping companies will already have given warning for greater vigilance by their crews, as recommended by the various P&I clubs.
However, Mr Forbes said the attack on the Cosco Asia, now confirmed by Lloyd’s Agents, extends the security footing reminiscent of measures in the Gulf of Aden.
The difference in this region is that private armed security is not permitted to carry weapons in Egypt, meaning it is difficult for a vessel to defend itself.
“Onboard protection from an RPG attack in this manner is negligible, as the crew have to maintain control of the vessel in the tight confines of the canal,” he said.
“The video showing the attack may indicate that the perpetrators were able to drive along the highway and stop out of sight of security. Enhanced security patrols utilising helicopters and armoured vehicles are a likely consequence in order to ensure the safety of a vital waterway.”
How insurers will react will depend upon the veracity of the video, but the warning is there for all to see, Mr Forbes said.
The Joint War Committee is next scheduled to meet on Wednesday next week. Lloyd’s Market Association underwriting senior executive Neil Roberts said the situation in Egypt was being monitored.
Cosco has said it cannot formally confirm the incident until Cosco Asia docks at Hamburg. Lloyd’s List Intelligence data shows the Panama-flagged containership is expected on Sunday.
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