DOT extends Mid-East ship insurance

DOT extends Mid-East ship insurance

WASHINGTON -- The Department of Transportation announced Wednesday that it has extended for a year a federal insurance program for ships entering the Middle East.

Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta signed the one-year extension for Marine War Risk insurance on Jan. 29, although the coverage expired Dec. 13. Coverage extends back to the expiration date and until next Dec. 13.

Under the program -- called "1202 insurance" after the authorizing section of the Merchant Marine Act of 1936 - the DOT underwrites the insurance in return for a premium for shipowners. The insurance is available for vessels, their cargoes and crews that enter the Middle East region whenever commercial insurance cannot be bought at reasonable rates, the Maritime Administration said.

President Bush authorized use of the war risk insurance in December 2001, the Maritime Administration said. Mineta extended it in February 2003 and again last month.

-- Andrew Beadle