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Weekly Piracy Report

April 22, 2012 - 21:50:00 UTC


13 - 20 April 2012

Slight hiatus: More disruptions than attacks. Bombs over Bargal, but by whom? Yemeni fishermen kidnapped. Tanzania arrests 5 pirates in the vicinity of a mothership near its gas fields. 6 Sri Lankan fishermen later freed by naval forces. High-ranking pirate trial resumes in US court as crewman tells of torture at pirate hands. Unruly pirates disrupt court in Kenya. Another 11 pirates have 20-year sentences handed down. Pirate gang splits over ransom negotiations. Innocent Somali fishermen freed from Somali pirates by EU warship. Armed robbers board ship off Singapore, the first incident in the area this year. Tough times ahead for pirates, if IONS determination is any indicator. SA urges regional navies to be 'beefed up'. Armed security on all Qatar gas tankers. Germany gives go ahead for mandate extension and may see bombing missions over Somalia. Malta to continue counter piracy involvement, whilst India and EU agree to coordinate and share resources. Forty-two percent of global conflict occurs around the Indian Ocean. Counter piracy patrol nets drug bust. Piracy fears as yacht goes missing off Tanzania, but found following technological problems.


Regional ActivityReleased by PiratesPirates in CourtPrivate SecurityInternational ResponsePiracy CostSeafarers' PlightAnd Finally...Piracy IncidentsSituational Map

Regional Activity

East Africa

Somali pirates have kidnapped nine Yemeni fishermen while they were fishing in the territorial water of the Arabian Sea, Yemen's Interior Ministry said on Monday - Yemen Post.

The ministry said the investigations are ongoing to know the place of the fishermen and their boat. 

Yemen had frequently called on the international community to activate cooperation and coordination to combat piracy and the attacks against trading and fishing ships off the Somali boats. 

Yemeni officials say Yemen's coast guards could manage to overcome piracy, pointing out that it lack potentials, equipment, and training of cadres. 

Yemeni analysts said piracy could only be ended if the Somali government was strengthened and its security services become able to perform its duties. 

The Yemeni Coast Guard Authority (YCG) arrested more that a dozen of Somali pirates in Yemeni waters – though this doesn’t account for those picked up by international fleets more than 12 miles off the coast. Read more.

On Saturday 14 April Spanish warship ESPS Reina Sofia, who is now operating as part of the EU’s counter-piracy mission, Operation Atalanta, stopped a Yemeni dhow that was suspected of carrying armed Somali pirates. Spanish Marines and freed Somali hostagesThe French Air Force Awacs E3F, FS Dixmude and her helicopters, as well as an Australian Maritime Patrol and Reconnaisance Aircraft (MPRA) contributed to this operation. As a result they were able to successfully release 4 innocent Somali crewmen who were being held as hostages onboard, according toEUNAVFOR.

Spanish Marines boarded the dhow that was believed to have been used as a mother ship and related to several pirate attacks in the area. After transferring the 20 men from the dhow to Reina Sofia, four of the men were quickly identified as innocent Somali crewmembers and they are now being cared for by the Spanish crew. Two Yemeni crew had reportedly already been let go by the suspect pirates after the dhow was pirated in late March.

As a result of her actions, Reina Sofia took out the threat of 16 pirates and their use of the dhow as a mother ship to attack merchant shipping in the Indian Ocean. The dhow and the Somali crew can now return safely to the homeport in Yemen.

As neither the crew of the dhow, nor the master of the attacked merchant vessel filed a complaint, the 16 suspected pirates will be released.

War planes fired several missiles at a suspected Somali pirate base in the north of the war-torn country, wounding two civilians, a coastguard official said Tuesday, reports AFP.

"Unknown military jets fired several missiles near the village of Gumah, elders told us at least two civilians were injured," said Mohamed Abdirahman, a coastguard.

Witnesses said the aircraft struck the northeastern coastal village lying some 220 kilometres (140 miles) east of Bossaso, the main port of Somalia's breakaway Puntland state.

"Two aircraft attacked the village, which is between Hafun and Bargal towns. ... It came from the sea, and I think they were targeting pirates," said Muse Jama, an elder.

Several other witnesses confirmed the bombardment, but could not give further details of the planes.

"Officials in the area are investigating the incident," Abdirahman added, speaking from Bossaso.

Kalashnikov-wielding pirates prowl far out across the Indian Ocean from their bases in northern Somalia, seizing foreign ships which they hold for several months demanding multi-million-dollar ransoms.

Last month the European Union authorised its navies to strike Somali pirate equipment on land, with a mandate for warships or helicopters to fire at fuel barrels, boats, trucks or other equipment stowed away on beaches.

However, it was not possible to establish which nation the aircraft belonged to, and the EU force have not yet said they have ever launched such an attack. Read more.

Officials in Somalia’s semi-autonomous region of Puntland have blamed the western anti-piracy task forces in Somali coast for the air raid which two local fishermen were wounded on Tuesday in Gumbah district east of Bosasso, RBC Radio reports.

An air raid carried by two war planes wounded two local fishermen in the coastal district of Gumbah, 200km east of the commercial port town of Bosasso.

“The forces claiming that they protect the pirates in the sea have targeted civilians in Gumbah district. This is totally unacceptable.” The director general of the ministry of marine resources, ports and fisheries of Puntland Abdiwahid Mohamed Jo’ar told reporters in Bosasso today.

Asked whether Puntland administration had contacts with the NATO and the European Union anti piracy forces in the Somali coast on Tuesday’s air raid, Mr. Jo’ar said they did nothing.

“They have caused a great fear in the region due to this act; the local fishermen could not go to fish because they fear of to be targeted.” He said.

Mr. Jo’ar said the Puntland administration condemns shelling against civilians in its territory while also not informed any operations in the area.

“We see this action as irresponsibility and intentionally against the international laws.” Mr. Jo’ar added.

The criticism by Puntland official came as local outrage against the western anti piracy mission grows in the region since Tuesday.

There were no comments available from the combined mission of European Union’s anti-piracy military and NATO task force mission operating in the Somali coast.

The pirate gang holding the six hostages from hijacked vessel MV Leopard, fought over the weekend following a dispute over the ongoing ransom negotiations. The rift resulted in pirate leader, Ilyagoon to take the hostages from the Fatxi gang by force from Hobyo, and move them to Garacad. Somalia Report spoke with Ali Jareer, a member of the pirate gang, who confirmed the development.

"The issue is that the pirates had not signed a contract, which prompted distrust between the various pirate commanders involved. Fatxi and Xaye Hurde, the gang leaders, were planning to release the hostages for $4 million, but Ilyagoon suspected that the actual ransom amount was higher. This is what precipitated the fight - thankfully there were no casualties. On Saturday afternoon, Ilyagoon and some of his special guards managed to grab the hostages and move them to Garacad," Ali Jareer told Somalia Report from Hobyo.

A pirate in Harardheere said that Ilyagoon moved the hostages to the outskirts of Garacad, where his clan, the Dir, is more dominant. Fatxi and Xayle Hurde are both from the Sacad clan. The group is one of largest and most powerful operating out of Hobyo and Harardheere.

The incident provides some interesting insight into pirate group dynamics. While it is widely believed that Somalia's social structures are rigidly built around clan lines, there are plethora of exceptions, particularly within the pirate community. Piracy is a for profit business, and gang leaders are well aware of the benefits of recruiting along meritocratic lines rather than clan bias. As evidenced in this case, however, clan alliances will always offer an attractive refuge. Read more.

The Spanish navy 'Infanta Elena on Thursday rescued six Sri Lankan fishermen captured by Somali pirates along their fishing vessels six months ago - Bernama.com .

A patrol team had intercepted and boarded the hijacked vessel as part of 'Operation Atalanta', the European Union operation to fight piracy in the Western waters of the Indian Ocean.

On board the fishing vessel were seven suspected Somali pirates, along with six Sri Lankan fishermen, the initial crew of the ship. Both groups were medically checked on board and were provided with food and water, China's Xinhua news agency quoted the Spanish navy.

Meanwhile, the rescued fishermen have spoken to their relatives in Sri Lanka on the phone Thursday night and have assured them that they are unharmed.

They have appealed to authorities to make arrangements for their immediate repatriation.

The pirates had asked for a ransom of US$6 million to release the fishermen and threatened to kill the fishermen unless the money was given.

In January last year, Somali pirates killed two Sri Lankan fishermen and took another three as hostages after their vessel got lost in the Indian Ocean.

Tanzania has arrested five suspected Somali pirates on an island close to its natural gas reserves in the southern part of the east African country, the army said on Friday, according to Reuters - OCEANUSLive.

Suspect Mothership, Nimesha Duwa - Morley Risk

Tanzania's coastline is fast becoming a major gas hub with major discoveries made there.

"The Tanzanian navy arrested the pirates in their skiff on April 18 near the Songsongo gas fields. Each of the five pirates was found in possession of a sub-machine gun," Tanzanian army spokesman Kapambale Mgawe said.

"The pirates arrested in Tanzania were in close communication with a mother ship that has seven more pirates. A Spanish vessel has managed to arrest the pirates on this mother ship and they are being brought to Tanzania today for custody."

Mgawe said the mother ship used by the pirates was formerly a Sri Lankan fishing vessel with six crew members on board. Read more.

West Africa


Southeast Asia

Armed pirates boarded a Panama-registered product tanker late Sunday while the vessel was sailing from Singapore to Vietnam, regional piracy watchdog ReCAAP said in an advisory issued Monday, reports Platts.com.

The 6,368 dwt and 1190-built Great Fish was boarded by seven men 20 nautical miles northeast of Horsburgh Lighthouse, which is between Singapore and Indonesia's Pulau Bintan, stealing cash and other valuables before escaping. The tanker's crew is safe.
This is the first such incident reported from this area since the beginning of this year, according to ReCAAP.
The waters around Singapore, Malaysia and the neighboring islands of Indonesia are key shipping channels for oil and gas tankers sailing to the Far East.
Also, Singapore is an oil trading hub with several storage terminals dotting its nautical waters as well as it's the world's largest bunkering port. 
"This incident involved pirates who were reportedly armed with guns. Although the guns were not discharged, ship masters and crew operating in the vicinity were advised to exercise enhanced vigilance with all around look-out, and take necessary precautionary measures," ReCAAP said in its advisory.
It has warned shipmasters to stay vigilant while operating in waters close to where the incident happened.
Tighter maritime security measures are paying off in Asia. Lloyd’s List article this week reported fewer incidents in Malaysia, the South China Sea and the Straits of Malacca and Singapore, said the Regional Co-operation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia - Shiptalk.
Key contributing factors included “the increase in surveillance measures carried out by the authorities, better situation awareness among the shipping fraternity and anti-piracy measures adopted by ship masters and crew”, Singapore-based ReCAAP said.
Although Asia’s maritime security improved during the first quarter of this year compared to the year-ago period, with fewer reported armed robberies and thefts, Indonesia is emerging as an incident hotspot, an inter-government study has found.
Altogether, 38 incidents – including 35 actual ones and three attempted ones – were reported in the January-March period, down from 48 incidents that included 38 attacks and 10 attempts in the first quarter of 2011. Read more.
Release by Pirates


Pirates in Court

A Somali man U.S. authorities consider the highest-ranking pirate they have ever captured will go on trial in Virginia under a cloud of uncertainty about what the definition of piracy is - WAVY.com.

Mohammad Saaili Shibin is charged with piracy for his role in the hijacking of an American yacht in which all four passengers on board were shot and killed. Jury selection begins Tuesday.

Shibin's case is unique because he never set foot on the Quest. Prosecutors say he acted as a land-based hostage negotiator.

The federal judge in the case has been waiting for a federal appeals court to rule on the definition of piracy in another case. At issue is whether piracy is limited to robbery at sea. It's unclear if a ruling will happen before Shibin's trial ends.

Jury selection in the case of a Somali man accused of being a pirate negotiator will go into a second day - Houston Chronicle.

Mohammad Saaili Shibin faces piracy, weapons and other charges for his role in the 2011 hijacking of an American yacht off the coast of Africa. All four passengers onboard were shot and killed several days after their sailboat was captured.

More than 70 prospective jurors showed up to the federal courthouse in Norfolk on Tuesday. U.S. District Judge Robert Doumar dismissed about a dozen jurors and said he planned to have a jury seated by noon Wednesday. He stopped jury selection short Tuesday because someone was involved in a bad car accident. He did not say who that was or how that person is related to the case.

Federal prosecutors have started making their case against a Somali man they say is a pirate negotiator - Fox News.

Mohammad Saaili Shibin faces piracy, hostage-taking and other charges for his role in the hijacking of a German merchant ship as well as an American yacht off the coast of Africa. All four passengers on the sailboat were shot and killed. Prosecutors said in opening arguments Wednesday that the crew of the German ship was tortured for months as Shibin negotiated a $5 million ransom.

Shibin attorney James Broccoletti told jurors in Virginia that Shibin was only acting as a mediator to help the hostages on the merchant ship. He also said Shibin never agreed to negotiate the release of the Americans aboard the Quest.

The trial is expected to last several weeks.

Testimony about torture aboard a hijacked German ship off the coast of Somalia is expected to resume during a federal piracy trial in Virginia - WSET.com.

A Ukranian crewmember aboard the Marida Marguerite told jurors Wednesday that he was tortured in 2010 by Somali pirates.

The testimony was heard in the case of Mohammad Saaili Shibin, who has been charged with piracy, hostage-taking and other federal charges in connection with the ship's hijacking. Shibin also faces charges in the hijacking of an American yacht in which all four passengers were shot and killed. The trial resumes Thursday morning.

Prosecutors say Shibin acted as a hostage negotiator aboard the German ship for several months. Shibin's attorney contends he was merely acting as a mediator trying to help secure the release of the hostages.

A crewmember from a German ship that was hijacked in 2010 testified Thursday that Somali pirates threatened to execute him at knifepoint, suffocated him by placing a plastic bag over his head and led him to believe the ship's captain had been killed during his eight-month ordeal - Seattle PI.

Ukrainian Oleg Dereglazov also said one crew member had his genitals painfully tied together with plastic ties and that he was threatened with the same action if he didn't tell them where extra fuel aboard the ship was hidden, although he repeatedly told them there wasn't any.

He detailed the torture aboard the Marida Marguerite on Thursday during 53-year-old Mohammad Saaili Shibin's trial.

Shibin has been charged with piracy, hostage-taking and other federal charges in connection with the ship's hijacking. Shibin also faces charges in the hijacking of an American yacht in which all four passengers were shot and killed.

[VIDEO] Hostile pirates cause case halt. Unruly behaviour forced a magistrate to stop proceedings in a Kenya courtroom (via @youtube) NTV Kenya

The hearing of a piracy case in which witnesses were to testify via video link failed to proceed after twenty-four suspected Somali pirates became unruly forcing the magistrate to stop proceedings and go back to his chambers. The accused were charged with piracy, where it was alleged that on October 20, 2010 attacked a fishing vessel christened FV Ariya and at the time of such act used violence against the crew.

Eleven Somalis were on Thursday sentenced to a 20-year jail term for attacking a French naval ship - Business Daily Africa .

Mombasa court Principal magistrate Mr S.K. Gacheru declined to have the accused serve their sentence in Somalia as they had pleaded during mitigation.

Mr Gacheru instead ordered that they be deported to Somalia upon completion of their sentence.

The court noted that the offence was serious and that it had endangered the lives of the crew of the French naval ship, Nivose.

The magistrate said the offence called for a deterrent sentence to act as a warning to others who might have the intention of committing a similar offence.

The accused are Ahmed Abikadir,Abdirahim Mohamed,Abdullahi Salat,Abdullahi Yusuf,Abdullahi Mohamud,Abdi Dahir,Ahmed Maalim,Ahmed Hassan,Ahmed Mohamed,Abshir Ahmed and Omar Ibrahim.

They allegedly committed the offence while armed with two AK 47 rifles, an RPG 7, six RPG launchers and a knife attacked the naval ship on May 3 2009 upon the high seas.

State counsel Catherine Mwaniki urged the court to impose a harsh sentence on the accused citing the seriousness of the offence and economic costs incurred.

“The accused are not of Kenyan origin, their nationalities have not been established, there are no records of their previous convictions in the country and that they may be treated as first offenders” Ms Mwaniki added.

Lawyer Ng’etich Samson representing the accused called upon the court to consider that the accused did not board the naval ship during the incident and that at no point was ransom paid.

The judgement was prepared by Principal magistrate Karimi Mwangi who has since been transferred but was delivered by Mr Gacheru.

The eleven pirates now join list of other Somalis who have been convicted and sentenced by Kenyan courts foir piracy in the high seas.

Kenya prosecuted its first piracy case in the year 2006 and has since been receiving and prosecuting suspected Somali pirates captured by international forces patrolling international the Indian Ocean.

The German online magazine Der Spiegel has published a gallery of photos under the title 'Tough but Lucrative Times for Somali Pirates'. A few follow below. See the full galleryHERE.

Pirates in Hargesia Prison Female Prison Guards at Hargesia Prison

  Under-resourced CG

 Pirates in Hargeisa prison 

Female security guards at the jail

Under-resourced Coastguard

The international shipping industry and the governments that are ostensibly supposed to protect it have begun to radically rethink their long-held aversion to private armed protection at sea, writes Patrick Cullen in Eurasia Foreign Policy. The shift illustrates the inability and/or unwillingness of states to provide security, and presages potential ethical and legal controversy as the lines between commerce and state authority become increasingly blurred.NVG Guard - courtesy of @vanderfelix

For decades, both the international shipping industry and the governing bodies that oversee it have been critical of the concept of putting armed guards on commercial vessels in order to protect them from violence -- and piracy in particular -- at sea. From the perspective of private industry, hiring armed guards has traditionally been viewed as a costly and risky move that creates more liabilities (financial, legal, and reputational) than it resolves. Furthermore, the shipping industry has also balked at the idea of paying for a service that it expects the world's navies to provide for them free of charge.

As recently as June 2010, a host of public and commercial maritime industry stakeholders -- including major shipping organizations -- explicitly stated that "the use of armed guards is not recommended" in a Best Management Practices maritime security document designed to offer shippers advice to mitigate the threat from Somali piracy.

States and international organizations such as the U.N. International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the International Maritime Bureau have long underscored the importance of maintaining the classic division between the state and the market, with the former maintaining a monopoly of the legitimate use of force, and the latter enjoying the privileges granted by this state protection.

The shift toward the acceptance of armed private security on ships has been recent and dramatic. In an unprecedented announcement last May, the IMO issued guidance to governments and shippers on how to engage with "privately contracted armed security personnel," and many states have followed in the IMO's wake, issuing similar policy announcements outlining their acceptance of armed private security teams operating onboard commercial vessels. And only weeks ago, on March 28th, BIMCO, the world's largest international shipping organization, issued a standardized guard contract (GUARDCON) intended to help shipping companies responsibly select and manage teams of armed guards provided by specialized maritime private security companies. The same maritime industry players that were traditionally averse to the idea of placing armed guards on commercial vessels have now positioned themselves as key players involved in legitimizing this practice. This includes maritime insurance brokers and Protection and Indemnity insurance clubs that have begun to accept, and even endorse, the use of private armed security at sea. Read moreImage: courtesy of @vanderfelix.

It has recently come to the attention of Nexus Consulting that a video of an armed anti-piracy security team embarked on ship (that appears to shoot at small skiff) has been released on the internet Yahoo.com (PRWeb). This viral video has unfortunately painted private security in a poor light.

"As president of Nexus Consulting, a leading provider of armed security teams in the defense of mariners against Somali pirates, I would like to personally note that though we are operating quite regularly conducting anti-piracy missions, the team in this video is not a Nexus team," noted Kevin Doherty, President of Nexus.

Though the validity of the video has not yet been verified (as no security firm has come forward to accept responsibility for the incident), the video is troubling on a number of levels. 

Life is precious, and great care needs to be given by any security firm hired to provide defense. Threat identification, proper Use of Force (UoF) understanding and incident de-escalation need to be paramount components of every security guard's training.

The Use of Force model is the cornerstone of any security firm. Nexus is thus calling on all security firms working in the maritime arena to review their Use of Force policies. In support of this, Nexus is proudly showcasing their cornerstone UoF policies to clarify any concerns.

Further, Nexus is calling on SAMI to conduct a through review of the incident to ensure that only the highest standards of service are being rendered through the association, and if needed, sanction the firm in the video. Security associations must ensure that firms are held accountable for their actions (and public statements) to ensure governance is not merely a paper tiger. 

As an aid to ship owners, Nexus is offering ten simple questions that should help vet any potential security firm they may consider to utilize - available HERE.

International Response

Things are going to get very rough for Somali pirates in the near future, if resolutions made during the third Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS) in Cape Town, South Africa, are translated into action - Digital Journal.IONS logo

It must be said, judging from the determination displayed, they will. Digital Journal attended the conference, which was ended on Friday. The symposium is considered to be of key importance in coordinating the fight against pirates, as well as other criminals, such as polluters and those involved in the smuggling of human beings.Chiefs of Navies Photo Op

On the diplomatic front, such meetings of the commanders, or “chiefs” of navies are considered to be just below the importance of the UN. Rear Admiral Robert “Rusty” Higgs told me in an informal talk on the sidelines of the symposium that for example, the International Seapower Symposium (ISS) held every two years at the US Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, had as much importance in diplomatic terms as a meeting of the UN. He pointed to the fact that the top commanders of the world’s naval forces could talk about practical matters without being distracted by politics.

This determination to get things done was palpable throughout the three days and the opening evening of IONS. The German Navy trains regularly with the South African Navy, in a joint exercise series held biennially codenamed “Good Hope”. The recently-held Exercise Good Hope V was used as a test of the two navies’ counter-piracy abilities.

SA Navy chief Vice-Admiral Johannes Mudimu has called on African countries to invest more in protecting their seas from piracy - Independent Online.

Speaking at the four-day maritime security conference in Cape Town that ended at the weekend, Mudimu urged the governments of Indian Ocean countries to invest in their navies, equipping them so they have the ships and equipment necessary to patrol the “length and breadth of their territorial waters”.

“We are trying to use resources to bring stability on the Indian Ocean. Governments need to promote the training of our officers, both on land and at sea, because pirates can disguise themselves as fishermen on land and at sea,” he said.

Last year Mudimu proposed a maritime security strategy and action plan that called on Southern Africa Development Community countries to help their navies work together to overcome piracy. SADC’s justice committee is looking at what legislation would be required to get member countries to beef up their navies. Read more.

All of Qatar Liquefied Gas Co’s tankers have armed guards on board to prevent piracy, Alaa Abu Jbara, the company’s chief operating officer, said on Monday, reports Arabian Business.

No QatarGas ships have been attacked so far and the rhythm of attacks by pirates on shipping in the Gulf region is slowing down, he said at the Flame conference in Amsterdam, Bloomberg reported.

Gulf concerns including threats to shut shipping lanes, persistent piracy and volatile oil prices need a global response, the UAE's economy minister said earlier this month. Read more.

An extract of recent questions on Somalia in the UK House of Parliament:

Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make representations to his counterparts in countries surrounding Somalia to act collectively against acts of piracy. [103014]

Mr Bellingham: Regional engagement is at the heart of our counter-piracy strategy for piracy off the coast of Somalia. This is why we invited representatives from over 50 countries to London in February for the Conference on Somalia, including high-level representation from a number of key regional countries. As Minister for Africa, I have engaged regularly with my counterparts in these countries, and in particular I worked closely with my counterparts in Kenya, Tanzania, the Seychelles and Mauritius to secure a regional burden-sharing agreement to further our collective efforts to tackle the scourge of piracy. I am committed to ensuring that this close dialogue and cooperation with countries in the region continues.

With the recent failure of Navy anti-pirate drones early this month, the US Marine Corps is taking a more traditional stance against the Somali pirates. This month the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s (MEU) Maritime Raid Force began training at Camp Pendleton and Naval Base San Diego with Special Operations Training Group, I Marine Expeditionary Force, to learn the skills needed to take back pirated ships by force - gCaptain.Marines from the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit's Maritime Raid Force (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Timothy Childers)

The Maritime Raid Force (MRF) is a special operations force designed to carry out raids against maritime objectives including gas and oil platforms, ships and ports. “The MRF performs small scale precision raids as well as maritime interdiction operations in support of MEU operations,” said Gunnery Sgt. Jason P. Fitzgerald, MRF staff non-commissioned officer in charge, Command Element, 15th MEU.

The MRF is composed of three elements, assault, security and headquarters. The assault element, those with boots on board ship, is made up of Marines and sailors from Force Reconnaissance Company of the 15th MEU. They are assisted by servicemembers from a Security Platoon, Marines from the Command Element and sailors from a Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company fill the headquarters element. Working together they make an impressive small scale strike anti-pirate force. Read more.

Image - Marines from the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit's Maritime Raid Force (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Timothy Childers)

Germany could fly bombing missions into Somalia to destroy pirate bases, if a plan set to be discussed in cabinet on Wednesday is adopted. The idea has infuriated opposition parties who described it as senseless and dangerous, says The Local.

The European Union anti-pirate mission “Atalanta” which has for the last three years been patrolling around the Horn of Africa, currently involves up to ten ships at any one time – in an ocean area nearly the size of Europe.

Expanding the mandate to include airborne missions up to two kilometres inland to target “logistic facilities of the pirates” as the text describes it, has infuriated German opposition parties. 

Green Party defence expert Omid Nouripour said it was “a bad, senseless adventure,” while his counterpart from the Social Democrats, Rainer Arnold said his party would either vote against or abstain in a parliamentary poll. 

If enough of Angela Merkel’s conservative and liberal governing party members rebel, they could sink Germany’s participation in the expanded mandate. 

The Bundeswehr has criticised the EU mandate expansion, expressing amazement that for example, the physical extent of the missions had already been set – giving pirates the opportunity to react by, for example, simply moving their bases further inland. 

Germany provides the biggest ship of the “Atalanta” fleet, the “Berlin”, which can hold up to 230 people. The mandate expansion would only include flying missions – troops would only engage on the ground in exceptional circumstances such as rescue missions.

The German government on Wednesday approved an extension of the European Union's anti-piracy operation off the Horn of Africa to include targeting equipment stored on Somali beaches - MSN News.

The cabinet gave the green light to the expanded mission which is expected to win final approval in a parliamentary vote next month.

The EU's Operation Atalanta has deployed between five and 10 warships off the Somali coast since 2008 to escort humanitarian aid shipments and thwart pirate raids on commercial vessels using vital shipping lanes.

EU foreign ministers last month agreed to extend the mission until December 2014 and expand "the force's area of operations to include Somali coastal territory as well as its territorial and internal waters".

Warships or helicopters would be permitted to fire at fuel barrels, boats, trucks or other equipment stowed away on beaches.

The German mandate, which runs until May 31, 2013, limits such strikes to an area two kilometres (1.2 miles) in from the coastline and says German troops will only be permitted to go on land in cases of emergency. Read more.

The government is considering sending more Maltese soldiers to take part in an EU, anti-piracy mission off the Somali coast - Times of Malta.Maltese soldiers practise to take on Somali pirates

Following a recent EU decision to extend Operation Atalanta by two years until the end of 2014, a government spokesman said that Malta would continue to take part in the mission, primarily through a fixed presence at the operation’s headquarters in the UK. It was also possible more troops would be deployed to take part directly in action in the troubled area.

“Malta intends to maintain a presence in the operation’s headquarters and is also considering the option of contributing further to this mission in the future with another vessel protection detachment (VPD),” the spokesman said.

Since the beginning of the operation at the end of 2008, Malta has constantly deployed an Armed Forces of Malta officer to the UK headquarters of the operation. The deployment lasts for six-month.

In 2010, a memorandum of understanding was signed with the Dutch Ministry of Defence that catered for a 12-person (two officers and 10 other ranks) Maltese VPD to serve on the Dutch naval vessel HNLMS Johan de Witt.

Malta last year extended its support by deploying a second VPD – also comprising 12 people – on board the Dutch naval vessel HNLMS Zuiderkruis.

In both cases, the detachment, together with the Dutch parent vessel, successfully protected World Food Programme and African Union-chartered shipping.

Image - (Maltese soldier practise to take on Somali pirates)

India and the EU will be working together to help tackle a problem that has dealt severe harm to international shipping - The Bangladesh Chronicle.

The worst affected areas lie off the coast of Somalia, Yemen, the Singapore Strait and Indonesia,” explains the EU’s new ambassador to India, Joao Cravinho.

In 2011, according to International Maritime Bureau figures, there were 439 verified attacks on merchant vessels worldwide, of which 237 involved Somali pirates. Twenty-eight of the 45 hijackings happened off the Somali coast.

Piracy has had a profound impact on the international shipping industry. Nagesh Rao, a senior Indian Shipping Ministry official, said shipping companies are being forced to take out war insurance to guard against the risk. Alarmed over the prospect of hijacking, their crews are demanding huge compensation.

Rao said shipping lines based in the EU, South Korea and Japan have been requesting help from India in securing their ships. To date no Indian merchant vessel has been attacked, but Indian seamen have been kidnapped and freed only after ransoms were paid by their EU employers.

According to Cravinho, the problem has made it increasingly harder for European shipping companies – already reeling from losses caused by the global economic downturn — to stay in the red. “The menace of piracy is causing deep distress because it is pushing up insurance costs by 1,000%,” he told Khabar South Asia.

Now Delhi and Brussels appear poised to tackle maritime piracy through co-ordinated action. At a high level EU-India summit in New Delhi on Friday (February 10th), India formalized its co-operation with Europe’s “Operation Atalanta”.

Under the accord, they will work together to fight piracy off the coast of Africa through co-ordinated patrolling and intelligence sharing. Read more.

Piracy Costs


The Indian Ocean is targeted by pirates, illegal fishers and other criminals due to its rich marine resources and high volume of international trade, says history professor Thean Potgieter - Independent Online.

Potgieter said 42 percent of global conflicts took place in the Indian Ocean because the region was rich in minerals and fishing grounds and had many trade and choke points.

He was addressing delegates in his personal capacity at a three-day Indian Ocean Naval Symposium in Cape Town, which ended on Friday.

Potgieter works for the Public Administration Leadership and Management Academy.

“The Indian Ocean region has 51 coastal and landlocked states, a sea area of 68.56 million square kilometres, a land area of 33.05 million square kilometres and a population of 2.6 billion,” he said.

He observed that the region’s geographical size and population contributed to the Indian Ocean becoming “the most troubled region”.

Potgieter said states in the region were big spenders on the military, despite many facing poverty.

He said the high concentration of containers as well as poor physical security made the region’s ports vulnerable to the extent that many crimes went unreported. Read more.

Somali native and U.S. African Chamber of Commerce (USACC) President Martin Mohammed is calling for an urgent solution to Somali Piracy, which directly affects the Somali people and creates an international trade roadblock - Insurance News Net. Somali Piracy has contributed to a drastic food shortage, resulting in the death of thousands of Somalis. Piracy in the nation has also created the need for High Risk Management Insurance for vessels traveling in the Indian Ocean.

Other issues directly resulting from Somali Piracy include kidnapping and subsequent ransom payments to Somali groups and international financiers. These financiers may be connected to unknown groups that could create even more damage in the future. Double Piracy of the Somali Republic is also a critical issue demanding attention, including over-fishing by European companies operating with huge shipping factories that have the ability to package for next-day market delivery. The dumping of chemical and nuclear waste is also a serious issue affecting Somalia and international trade.

“The lack of international solutions with respect to international law in the Somali Nation is stunning,” said USACC President Martin Mohammed. The USACC, headquartered in Washington, D.C., fosters African economic development to create and sustain prosperity and strengthen America. The organization also promotes international trade between African businesses in the United States and the African Continent. “Piracy today has become the best-paying job and the only significant opportunity in Somalia,” Mohammed continued. “A Somali youth can make $10,000 per trip, as opposed to the average yearly income at less than $600. The Piracy business is booming, small towns are being created, and some members of the local authority are making money to finance their legitimacy.” Read more.


See US piracy case HERE.

And Finally...

Danish oil and shipping group A.P. Moller-Maersk said on Monday partner and shipowner Maersk Mc-Kinney Moller died on April 16 -Reuters.

Mc-Kinney Moller, born on July 13 in 1913, died at the age of 98 years.

He became executive officer and chairman of the A.P. Moller-Maersk Group following his father's death in 1965 and was the Chief Executive Officer until 1993, the group said in a statement.

A South African yacht with seven people on board, among them two South Africans, has gone missing on a cruise between the island Mayotte in the Indian Ocean and Pemba in northern Mozambique - Mail & Guardian Online.

A plane from the European Union's anti-piracy force in Djibouti began searching for the yacht on Sunday, while all ships in the area were warned to be on the lookout for pirates.

The captain of the missing yacht is John Sergel, a South African from Durban, and his co-skipper is Izabella Moallic, a French citizen.

Also on the cruise were Gianvieve Mancuso, an American, and her German husband Alexander Weyhe, British passport holder Jason Morenikeji, South African Frank Joubert and Dutch citizen Jasper van Straaten.

The owner of the yacht, Roger Hartley, told Beeld newspaper that because of the different nationalities of the passengers, authorities from all the involved countries had been drawn into the search.

Radio contact was last made on Tuesday around 6pm, when the group notified Mayotte port authorities that they had reached open waters.

According to Hartley, the yacht has a beacon on board that would have emitted a signal if the yacht had met with an accident, and thus far, no such signal had been received.

Meanwhile, the Daily Mail reports: 

A British man who was feared captured by pirates in the Indian Ocean, along with seven other people has been located this morning with all on board safe and well.

Jason Morenikeji, disappeared last week off the coast of Mozambique and maritime rescuers were dispatched to search for the vessel amid fears the group had been captured by pirates, which are known to target foreigners in the waters.

A spokesman for the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre on the island of Reunion said the yacht had suffered technical problems and was now motoring slowly towards Pemba.

He said: 'The Dandelion was spotted this morning by an air force plane.

'The pilots made contact with it and the captain informed them that all on board remained well.

'It is now around 20 nautical miles from Pemba and is making its way slowly towards the port.' 

Officials said it was believed the catamaran had suffered a motor breakdown in the ocean and had been left without communication.

It was due to arrive in Pemba later today or tomorrow. Read more.

£14m of drugs used to fund terrorist activity will never reach their destination thanks to a major bust by HMS Westminster - Navy News.Gotcha!

The Portsmouth-based warship intercepted a suspicious dhow in the Indian Ocean, seizing over 70 bales containing more than 180kg of pure heroin.

This is the moment the men and women of HMS Westminster prepare to board a drugs smuggler in the Indian Ocean – seizing £14m of pure heroin in the process.

The Portsmouth-based frigate pounced with her Merlin helicopter and combined Royal Marines and Royal Navy boarding teams receiving orders to search for, intercept and board a suspicious vessel.

They did – and found more than 70 bales of pure heroin, weighing more than 180kg (nearly 400lbs) on the dhow; it’s estimated the drugs have a street value of US $22m – just shy of £14m. Read more.

Image - Navy News (GOTCHA)

Piracy Incidents

  • None.

Unsuccessful Attacks/Robberies (All regions):

  • South China Sea - LATE Report | 15 pirates armed with knives and guns boarded a Thailand product tanker, V.L.6, underway at 0200 LT in position 01:50.10N - 104:28E, Pedra Branca, Malaysia. They chased the duty crew and entered the accommodation. They mustered the crew, tied their hands, entered and stole personal effects and escaped after 45 minutes. One crew was injured in the incident. Reported (via IMB) 25 Mar.

  • Gulf of Guinea - LATE Report | Two robbers armed with machine guns boarded an anchored Liberia-flagged tanker, SCF Provider, at 0025 UTC in position 04:43N - 001:35E, 9nm from Lome breakwater, Lome, Togo. The robbers entered the engine room and accommodations. Alert crew raised the alarm and all crew retreated into the citadel. Attempts to contact the authorities failed by the sister ship of the vessel in the vicinity relayed the area message to the Togo navy. A naval team boarded the vessel for investigation. No injuries were sustained by crew. Reported (via IMB) 12 Apr.

  • Singapore Straits - LATE Report | About four robbers in a boat attempted to board an anchored Bahamas-flagged bulk carrier, Seapowet, at 0510 LT in position 06:01.2N - 001:17.3E, Singapore Straits. Alert duty crew noticed them and raised the alarm resulting in the robbers aborting the attempt. Reported (via IMB) 12 Apr.

  • Mozambique Channel - Seven pirates armed with automatic weapons in a skiff chased and fired upon a Philippines-flagged bulk carrier, Canarsie Princess, underway at 1116 UTC in position 11:18S - 041:00E, approx 40nm E of Mocimboa da Praia, Mozambique Channel. Master raised alarm, took evasive manoeuvres, informed UKMTO and crew mustered. After chasing the vessel for 20 minutes the pirates aborted the attempted attack due to the hardening measures taken by the ship and the adverse sea conditions 13 Apr.

  • (Approach) Arabian Sea -  Seven pirates armed with guns in a skiff approached a Hong Kong-flagged chemical tanker, Alpine Minute, in position 16:54N - 065:59E at 0652 UTC.  Alarm sounded and armed security team mustered. When the skiff was 0.5nm from the tanker the armed security team fired warning shots and the skiff aborted the approach. A mother vessel was sighted in the vicinity in position 16:49N - 065:56E (via radar). Reported 14 Apr.

  • South China Sea - Seven armed pirates boarded a Panama-flagged tanker, Great Fish, at 2200 LT in position 01:35N - 104:37E, approx 20nm NE of Horsbrugh Lt Hse off Singapore. The pirates threatened the crew with guns and knives, stealing money and personal possessions before escaping in a waiting boat. No crew were injured. The Agent reported the incident to the authorities. Reported (via ReCAAP) 15 Apr.

  • South China Sea - During rounds on deck duty AB onboard an anchored S Korea-flagged bulk carrier noticed a boat near the forecastle at 0520 LT in position 01:10.6S - 117:15E, Samarinda anchorage (Muara Jawa), Indonesia. Suddenly eight robbers appeared on deck, tied the AB's hands and feet, made him lie down on deck and started lowering the mooring ropes. The AB managed to free his feet and ran aft for help and inform duty officer. Alarm raised and all crew proceeded to the forecastle. Robbers manage to escape with stolen ships stores and ships properties. Local authorities informed but received no response. Reported (via IMB) 20 Apr.

EUNAVFOR figures state 8 vessels and an estimated 227 hostages held captive (Updated 17 Apr). Somalia Report indicates 280 hostages held from 21 captured vessels with a further 25 land based hostages, bringing to a total of 305 hostages.

Vessels are reminded that the coalition forces' warships may not be in the vicinity of a pirate attack, subsequently, it is emphasised that seafarers can greatly reduce their chances of being pirated if they follow precautions as recommended in the Best Management Practices, increasing speed and carrying out evasive manoeuvres is a proven deterrent to piracy attacks. BMP version 4 is available at the link above; a high resolution version can be downloaded here.

Vessels are advised to exercise extreme caution when navigating in the vicinity of any reported positions of attacks and maintain maximum CPA with any ship acting suspiciously. Additionally, registration of vessel movement with MSC(HOA) prior to transiting the region is recommended.

Situational Map

Weekly Pirate Activity Update - 20 April

OCEANUSLive.org permits the reproduction of this image providing source and link are published (Map ToU)

Any suspicious activity should be reported to UKMTO in Dubai in the first instance (Email UKMTO or Telephone+971 50 552 3215) and on entering the UKMTO Voluntary Reporting Area (VRA) bound by Suez, 78E and 10S.

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