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Somali Based Piracy - What Plan TO END IT?

14 January, 2011

According to the information on the EU NAVFOR site, as of 12 January 2011, there were 664 innocent hostages with 28 vessels taken against their will and being held captive by Somali based piracy groups, together with an acknowledgement that “an unknown number of unconfirmed dhows and smaller vessels.” With the unconfirmed vessels, it should also be mentioned that there will also be those who were peacefully going about their business taken with their vessels.  EU NAVFOR provide a very useful breakdown of the vessels that they have confirmation of along with the crew numbers associated with the respective vessels. Additionally, a map showing the location of the piracy incidents is available HERE

ECOTERRA in THEIR SITE, state that as of 13 January 2011, there were at least 801 hostages and 45 foreign vessels and two barges and under the control of Somali based Pirate groups. Ecoterra also state that during  2010 the recorded incidents around the Horn of Africa stood at 243 incidences with 202 direct attacks by Somali based pirate Action Groups (PAGs)  resulting in 74 successful prizes for the pirates and contend that the only impact the navies have had has been to disperse the piracy menace over a much wider area. They also state that the fact that only one in three attacks are successful because of vessels employing Best Management Practice (BMP) that can be found HERE. This looks to be rather a harsh criticism in light of reports of PAGs fleeing the scenes of their tyranny with the arrival of any vessel from the multinational naval presence in the region. Ecoterra also provide a link to HERE where an article dated 29 November 2010 headed “Send Nato and their Navies to the Shrinks” can be found.

A successful ploy of BMP has been the use of a citadel by the crew of vessels who have been unable to avoid being boarded by the scum of the oceans that was until 12 January 2011, when the Danish vessel LEOPARD a Danish weapons vessel that reportedly routinely carries nuclear weapons. Some sources indicate that the vessel was carrying what was described as sensitive cargo but a information from the vessel operator believed that this was not the case. The vessel was manned by two Danes and Four Filipinos was successfully boarded by a PAG and the crew holed up in their citadel however the nearest available naval assistance was some 300 nautical miles distant.

There is a report on the Maritime Bulletin available HERE. The report is somewhat speculative however it appears that on arrival of a Turkish warship, on breaking into the citadel, the board party found it to be empty and the fate of the crew unknown. Time will tell what has happened to the crew and meantime is to be hoped and prayed for that all are safe and well.

This is thought to be the first time that a PAG has been able to penetrate a citadel defence, if in fact they did as it seems strange that the warship boarding party are reported as having to break into it which would indicate that it was in fact intact but locked.

 Further recent Somali based piracy incidents include the following reported attacks;

9 January

12 January the Indian dhow al MUSA,

11 January the Suezmax tanker BARBAROSA

11 January the bulk carrier HONG OCEAN

11 January the Suezmax tanker BARBAROSA

12 January the offshore vessel BOURBON HECTOR

12 January the offshore vessel BOURBON HESTIA

13 January on the Chinese tanker NEW FORTUNER

13 January the cruise liner SPIRIT OF ADVENTURE, with 350 passengers and 180 crew on board was attacked but outran the attackers. However the future voyage schedule takes her north – nearer to the pirate bases in Somalia.

 Undoubtedly there is more, and more to come and yet the powers that be have not put forward a definitive plan on how to bring an end to this totally unacceptable situation.

 Jim Nicoll

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