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Author Topic: Piracy  (Read 38348 times)
« on: November 23, 2008, 11:56:49 AM »

Ambrose Bierce once defined piracy as "Commerce without its follyswaddles, just as God intended it." Alas, as this piece outlines, the current geopolitical mishmash caused by UN policy and other international dictates, makes dealing with piracy so complicated that many nations are choosing to kick the convoluted can down the road.

Column One: Civilization walks the plank
Nov. 20, 2008

A Somali pirate and a former US defense secretary are flying to London for vacation. One of them is stopped at immigration at Heathrow airport and arrested on suspicion of committing war crimes. Which one do you think it was?

On Tuesday, Somali pirates, sailing in little more than motorized bathtubs, armed with automatic rifles and rocket-propelled grenades, and sustained by raw fish and narcotics, successfully hijacked the Sirius Star, a Saudi-owned oil tanker the size of a US aircraft carrier. The tanker was carrying some $100 million worth of crude oil. News of its capture caused global oil prices to rise by a dollar a barrel.

The next day, Somali pirates attempted to hijack the Trafalgar, a British frigate, but were forced to flee by a German naval helicopter dispatched to the scene. They did manage to hijack a Chinese trawler and a cargo ship from Hong Kong. They nearly got control of an Ethiopian ship, but it, too, was saved by the German Navy that heeded its call for help in time.

Piracy is fast emerging as the newest old threat to stage a comeback in recent years. Over the past week and a half alone, 12 vessels have been hijacked. And according to the International Maritime Bureau, in the three months that ended on September 30, Somali pirates attacked 26 vessels, capturing 576 crew members. Britain's Chatham House (the Royal Institute of International Affairs) assesses the ransoms they netted at between $18m. and $30m.

And with financial strength comes increased military sophistication. The US Navy expressed shock at the pirates' successful hijacking of the Sirius Star. The pirates staged the hijacking much farther from shore than they had ever done previously.

Beyond the personal suffering incurred by thousands of crew members taken hostage in recent years, piracy's potential impact on global economic stability is enormous. In the Gulf of Aden, where the Somali pirates operate, US shippers alone transport more than $1.5 trillion in cargo annually.

One of the unique characteristics of pirates is that they appear to be equal opportunity aggressors. They don't care who owns the ships they attack. On August 21, Somali pirates hijacked the Iran Deyanat, a ship owned and operated by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards-linked Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Line (IRISL). In September, the US Treasury Department designated IRISL as a company that assists Iran's nuclear weapons program and placed it under stiff financial sanctions.

Iran Deyanat's manifest asserted that its cargo included minerals. Yet shortly after the pirates went on board they began developing symptoms such as hair loss that experts claim are more in line with radiation exposure. According to reports, some 16 pirates died shortly after being exposed to the cargo. Just this week, a second Iranian ship - this one apparently carrying wheat - was similarly captured.

Then, too, in September, pirates seized the Faina, a Ukrainian ship carrying 33 Russian-made T-72 tanks. The Ukrainians and Russians claimed that the tanks were destined for Kenya, but it later emerged that they may have been seized en route to Sudan. So, ironically, in the case of both the Faina and the Deyanat, pirates may have inadvertently saved thousands of lives.

THE INTERNATIONAL community is at a loss for what to do about the emerging danger of piracy. This is not due to lack of capacity to fight the pirate ships. On Monday an Indian naval frigate, the INS Tabar, sank a pirate "mother ship" whose fleet members were attacking the Tabar in the Gulf of Aden. NATO has deployed a naval task force while the American, French, German and other navies have aggressively worked to free merchant ships under attack by pirates.

As David Rivkin and Lee Casey explained in The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, the problem with contending with piracy is not so much military, as legal and political. Whereas customary international law defined piracy as a threat against all nations and therefore a crime for which universal jurisdiction must be applied to perpetrators, in today's world, states are unwilling to apprehend pirates or to contend with them because they are likely to find themselves in a sticky legal mess.

In centuries past, in accordance with established international law, it was standard practice for naval captains to hang pirates after capturing them. Today, when Europe has outlawed capital punishment, when criminal defendants throughout the West are given more civil rights than their victims, and when irregular combatants picked off of battlefields or intercepted before they attack are given - at a minimum - the same rights as those accorded to legal prisoners of war, states lack the political will and the moral clarity to prosecute offenders. As Casey and Rivkin note, last April the British Foreign Office instructed the British Navy not to apprehend pirates lest they claim that their human rights were harmed, and request and receive asylum in Britain.

THE WEST'S perverse interpretations of human rights and humanitarian law, which bar it from handling one of the most acute emerging threats to the international economy, is a consequence of the West's abdication of moral and legal sanity in its dealings with international terror. In the 1960s and 1970s, when international terrorism first emerged as a threat to international security, the West adopted international treaties and conventions that tended to treat terrorism as a new form of piracy. Like piracy, terrorism was to be treated as an attack on all nations. Jurisdiction over terrorists was to be universal. Such early views were codified in early documents such as the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Seizure of Aircraft from 1970 that established a principle of universal jurisdiction over aircraft hijackers.

Similarly, in the wake of the September 11 attacks on the US, the UN Security Council passed binding Resolution 1373, which also compelled member states not only to treat terrorists as illegal combatants who must be universally denied any support of any kind, but to take action against anyone involved with or supporting terrorists in any way. That is, as in piracy, the tendency of states contending with terrorism has been to view it as an act requiring universal jurisdiction, compelling all UN member states to prosecute offenders.

And yet, over the years, states have managed to ignore or invert international laws on terrorism to the point where today terrorists are among the most protected groups of individuals in the world. Due to political sympathy for terrorists, hostility toward their victims, or fear of terrorist reprisals against a state that dares to prosecute terrorists found on its territory, states have managed to avoid not only applying existing laws against terrorists. They have also refrained from updating laws to meet the growing challenges of terrorism. Instead, international institutions and "enlightened" Western states have devoted their time to condemning and threatening to prosecute the few states that have taken action against terrorists.

The inversion of international law from an institution geared toward protecting states and civilians from international lawbreakers to one devoted to protecting international menaces from states and their citizens is nowhere more evident than in the international community's treatment of Hamas-controlled Gaza.

One of the reasons the international community has failed so abjectly to take reasonable measures to combat terrorism is because international terrorism as presently constituted is the creation of Palestinian Arabs and their Arab brethren. Since the 1960s, and particularly since the mid-1970s, Europe, and to varying degrees the US, have been averse to contending with terrorism because their hostility toward Israel leads them to condone Palestinian Arab terrorism against the Jewish state.

THE INTERNATIONAL community's treatment of Hamas-controlled Gaza epitomizes this victory of politics over law. Both the US and the EU have labeled Hamas a terror group. That designation places Gaza, which is controlled by Hamas, under the regime of UN Security Council Resolution 1373.

Among other things, Resolution 1373 requires states to "freeze without delay funds and other financial assets or economic resources of... entities owned or controlled directly or indirectly by [terrorists]."

That is, the resolution requires UN member states to end all financial and other support for Hamas-controlled Gaza.

The resolution also requires UN member states to "cooperate [with other states] to prevent and suppress terrorist attacks and take action against perpetrators of such acts."

This means that states are required to assist one another - and in the case of Hamas, to assist Israel - in combating Hamas and punishing its members and supporters.

While it can be argued that given the absence of a binding legal definition of terrorism, states that do not designate Hamas as a terrorist organization are not required to abide by the terms of 1373 in dealing with Hamas, it is quite clear that for states that do recognize Hamas as a terror group, 1373's provisions must be upheld.

And yet, the EU and the US have willfully ignored its provisions. They have steadily increased their budgetary support for the Palestinian Authority while knowing full well that the Fatah-led PA in Judea and Samaria is transferring money to Hamas-controlled Gaza to pay the salaries of Hamas employees.

More disturbingly, the US and the EU as well as the UN demand that Israel itself sustain Hamas-controlled Gaza economically. The UN, EU and the US have consistently demanded that Israel provide Gaza with fuel, food, water, medicine, electricity, telephone service, port services and access to Israeli markets, in spite of the fact that international law actually prohibits Israel from providing such assistance, and in fact arguably requires Israel to deny it.

Recently, supported by the UN, and in connivance with Hamas, European leaders began supporting illegal moves to end Israel's maritime blockade of Gaza, which was established to block weapons and terror personnel from entering and exiting the area. Expanding this trend, this week Navanethem Pillay, the UN's High Commissioner for Human Rights, called for Israel to end its blockade of the Gaza Strip, perversely calling the blockade a breach of international and humanitarian law.

This inversion of the aims of international law - from protecting states and innocent civilians from attack to protecting aggressors from retaliation - has brought about the absurd situation where terrorist ideologues and commanders such as Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi are feted in Britain while retired Israeli and American generals are threatened with arrest. Germany welcomed Iranian President and genocide proponent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to visit and indicted former US defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld for crimes against humanity. Belgium allows Hamas and Hizbullah supporters like Dyab Abu Jahjah, who calls for attacks against Jews, to operate freely, but indicted former prime minister Ariel Sharon for crimes against humanity.

The consequence of this absurd state of affairs is obvious. The international law champions who argue that international humanitarian law provides a nonviolent means for nations to defend themselves against aggressors have perverted the purpose and meaning of international humanitarian law to such a degree that the only way for nations to protect themselves against pirates, terrorists and other international rogues is to ignore international law aficionados and secure their interests by force.

This article can also be read at /servlet/Satellite?cid=1226404794131&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull
Power User
Posts: 9471

« Reply #1 on: November 23, 2008, 12:39:55 PM »

Seems to me that Somalia is one place where we fought al Qaida and surrendered.  Like Saddam's Iraq who attacked 4 of his neighbors prior to the current war, if Somalia gives safe haven and docking rights to whoever is doing this, they have no sovereignty and are fair game for military action anytime the free world decides that is a course worth pursuing. 

I would apply a corollary of the Powell Doctrine, if it is broken before we get there, we will NOT be staying to fix it. 

Obama, I suppose, will want to arrange a summit with their leaders and explore mutual areas of interest.
Power User
Posts: 7833

« Reply #2 on: November 23, 2008, 01:56:24 PM »

Somalia is ruled by gangs it seems:

***Anarchy in Somalia

The lawless Horn
Nov 20th 2008
From The Economist print edition

Pirates are only part of a much bigger problem in east Africa

IT IS tempting to be jaunty about piracy. So what if a few Robin Hoods in skiffs nick the odd tanker off the Horn of Africa? Often enough, the owners pay ransom and nobody gets hurt. Everyone needs a living in these hard times. And if the worst comes to the worst, gunboats can always be dispatched to clean the problem up, just as the British and Americans did off north Africa’s Barbary coast at the turn of the 19th century.

It is tempting, but it is wrong. The Barbary pirates caused immense human and economic damage, and the current spate of piracy in the waters of east Africa is now getting out of hand too. On November 15th pirates operating hundreds of miles from the coast seized the Sirius Star, a supertanker carrying 2m barrels of Saudi oil (see article). A dozen or so other vessels are already held by pirates. One of them—surrounded by American and Russian warships—contains a cargo of 33 T-72 tanks, enough to tip the balance in a small local war.

The last thing the world needs right now is disruption of one of its busiest shipping lanes and a spike in insurance premiums. But the cause of the present surge of piracy is no less worrying than its consequences. What has made the pirates’ audacity possible is the collapse of Somalia. The existence of a vast ungoverned space in Africa’s Horn does not just provide a useful haven from which pirates can hunt their prey at sea. It also threatens to transmit shockwaves through a seam of fragile and strife-torn African states from Sudan to the Congo.

How did this happen, and how can it be resolved? The first question is the easier to answer. About 50,000 peacekeepers are currently deployed under United Nations or African Union auspices in east and central Africa in an effort to dampen down various conflicts. In Somalia in 2006, however, the Bush administration tried something different: war by proxy. It gave a green light for Ethiopia to invade Somalia. The plan was for Ethiopia to squash an Islamist movement and reinstate a Somali government that had lost control of most of its territory.

Two years on, the plan has backfired. Abdullahi Ahmed, Somalia’s increasingly notional president, admitted on November 15th that a variety of Islamist insurgents once again dominate most of the country, leaving only two cities, Mogadishu and Baidoa, in the hands of his increasingly notional government. Neither Ethiopia nor the African Union ever sent enough soldiers to impose order. Worse, the strongest of the insurgent groups, the Shabab, is even more radical than the Islamic Courts movement which the Americans and Ethiopians originally took on. It is suspected of being linked by money to the pirates (who hand over a slice of the ransom in return for protection) and by ideology to al-Qaeda.

So how to resolve the issue? It is not enough just to send more gunboats. Although an Indian warship sunk an alleged pirate vessel this week, and a bigger naval effort could help to keep the sea-lanes a little safer, a long-term solution demands much more. This includes establishing stability inside Somalia itself, depriving the pirates of a sanctuary, and preventing the jihad-tinted anarchy there from spilling over Somalia’s borders. But since there are no serious military forces available to defeat the insurgents, a proper answer will entail reshaping the country’s politics and stepping up attempts to woo the more biddable Islamists—if there are enough left and a deal with them is still possible. Maybe not so jaunty, after all. ***

Power User
Posts: 42479

« Reply #3 on: November 23, 2008, 06:43:27 PM »


I'm just in from a fine weekend.  I'm sensing some considerable overlap here with the Horn of Africa thread.  Would you please give it a look and suggest how you think we should best handle this?
« Reply #4 on: November 23, 2008, 07:13:15 PM »

I've no problem folding it in to the other thread (that I confess I wasn't aware of). As the world piracy map I posted elsewhere indicates, however, piracy isn't confined to the horn of Africa.

You can see the map here:
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Posts: 42479

« Reply #5 on: November 24, 2008, 07:37:24 PM »

India’s anti-pirate aggression


India’s anti-pirate aggression

comment David Lepeska, correspondent in New Delhi

Last Updated: November 24. 2008 9:50AM UAE / November 24. 2008 5:50AM GMT

When the Sirius Star and its US$100 million crude oil cargo and 25 crew were hijacked by Somali pirates nine days ago, one country was ready to respond immediately.

After Indian shipowners and seafarers’ unions outlined the pirate threat, New Delhi moved with laserlike focus. The navy dispatched a warship to the region in mid-October, and its personnel have in recent weeks foiled three attempted hijackings and sunk a pirate mother ship – the only country to do so.

The Somali pirates have wreaked havoc – increasingly so – in the Gulf of Aden and along the coast of Somalia in recent months. Piracy in the region has tripled this year, according to the International Maritime Bureau, with more than 120 attacks resulting in 40 hijackings, hundreds of hostages and at least seven dead crew. Estimates of Somali pirates’ 2008 ransom income range from $30 million (Dh110m) to $150m.

A recent rash of brazen attacks has upped the ante. The Sirius Star hijacking took place 830 kilometres from the coast of Kenya, meaning the pirates have put all area shipping routes at risk. Feeling the heat, major shipping firms – including the world’s largest carrier, Copenhagen-based AP Moller-Maersk – have begun diverting liners away from the area, even though the alternative route around the Cape of Good Hope means millions in extra costs.

Analysts estimate up to half a billion dollars in lost shipping revenue this year.

Yet news reports highlight the pirates’ shiny mansions, advanced weaponry and hi-tech gadgets. The international community appears baffled, responding with concern but minimal focus. Most agree that a long-term solution involving the establishment of a stable Somali government could take up to a decade. About short-term responses there has been no such consensus.

In a hastily arranged meeting with its neighbours, Egypt tried last week to forge a joint regional antipiracy strategy – but to no avail. The United Nations has authorised asset freezes and travel bans, despite the fact that Somali pirates live off cash ransoms dropped from helicopters. Nato has dispatched several warships, but like the United States and the European Union, points out that it has no jurisdiction to attack hijacked ships. The possibility of attacking pirate ships is rarely addressed.

The United States has been particularly feeble. Last week the US navy told shipping companies to ensure their own security by hiring private contractors. Yet over three years ago Adm Michael Mullin, now chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, suggested a global security partnership to tackle maritime piracy and terrorism. The only result is the US-run Global Fleet Station, a pilot version of which was launched last year in the Caribbean, suggesting the United States is either living in the past or watching too many movies.

Contrast all this with the confident clarity coming from India.

Last week the Indian government authorised hot pursuit of pirate vessels, announced the imminent dispatch of three more warships and a reconnaissance aircraft and urged the United Nations to orchestrate joint action. The International Maritime Bureau has praised India’s response and urged the international community to follow it.

India has been facing down piracy since making maritime history with the rescue of a Japanese vessel from pirate hands in the Arabian Sea in 1999. Indian frigates escorted US warships headed to Afghanistan through the pirate-infested Malacca Straits in 2002. And after the devastating 2004 tsunami as well as after Cyclone Nargis struck Myanmar this year, Indian ships were first to deliver aid and relief supplies.

Yet last week’s missions marked a sea change – the first time the Indian navy had fired shots in anger so far from home. The world’s largest democracy has long sought to transform its economic growth into military and diplomatic might, and is in the process of acquiring the hallmarks of a naval power – aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines. These recent manoeuvres, 2,900km from its shores, represent a more aggressive stance, an effort to exert control over the waters from Djibouti to Indonesia – a stretch of open and not-so-open sea through which 20,000 commercial vessels and crucial regional energy supplies pass each year. Paired with a successful moon landing this month and the recently completed civilian nuclear deal with the United States, India’s anti-pirate aggression is the act of a rising world power seizing the opportunity on a floodlit stage.

A welcome stance, indeed, but tackling Somali piracy will take a great deal more.
“The only solution I see is a co-ordinated effort by various naval forces,” said Fred Burton, an analyst with Stratfor, a US-based risk assessment agency. “The problem is that no single country wants to take the lead.”

In the past couple of weeks, India has done just that, but its lone-wolf aggression will not end the threat. A UN Security Council draft resolution that calls upon capable navies to dispatch armed vessels and combat the menace would be a good first step.

But whether the international community is ready to follow India’s lead and take on Somali piracy with the seriousness it deserves remains to be seen.
Power User
Posts: 42479

« Reply #6 on: November 29, 2008, 08:30:53 AM »

It is hard to be a security guard if your unarmed!


NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) - Somali pirates hijacked a chemical tanker with dozens of Indian crew members Friday and a helicopter rescued three British security guards who had jumped into the sea, officials said.

A warship on patrol nearby sent helicopters to intervene in the attack, but they arrived after pirates had taken control of the Liberian-flagged ship, according to Noel Choong, head of the International Maritime Bureau's piracy reporting center in Malaysia.

The ship master had sent a distress call to the piracy reporting center, which relayed the alert to international forces policing Somali waters, Choong said. No details about how the pirates attacked or the condition of the crew were available immediately.

Choong said the ship was being operated out of Singapore.

Still on board were 25 Indian and two Bangladeshi crew members, said diplomats who could not be named due to restrictions on speaking to the media. The British security guards escaped by jumping into the water, said a news release issued by their company, Anti-Piracy Maritime Security Solutions.

The company said it was aware of the incident on the chemical tanker it identified as M/V BISCAGLIA.

"We have been informed by coalition military authorities that three of our unarmed security staff were rescued from the water by a coalition helicopter and are currently on board a coalition warship in the Gulf of Aden," the company statement said.

German Defense Ministry spokesman Thomas Raabe confirmed that a naval helicopter lifted three people out of the water in the Gulf of Aden at about 4 a.m. Friday morning and deposited them on a French ship. Germany and France have ships in the area as part of a NATO fleet which, along with warships from Denmark, India, Malaysia, Russia and the U.S., have started patrolling the vast maritime corridor. They escort some merchant ships and respond to distress calls.

The ship hijacked Friday was the 97th vessel to be attacked this year off Somalia, where an Islamic insurgency and lack of effective government have contributed to an increase in pirate attacks in the Gulf of Aden.

Ships "must continue to maintain a 24-hour vigil and radar watch so they can take early measures to escape pirates. Even though there are patrols, the warships cannot be everywhere at the same time," Choong said.

Pirates have become increasingly brazen in the Gulf, a major international shipping lane through which about 20 tankers sail daily.
Forty ships have been hijacked this year, including a Saudi supertanker loaded with $100 million worth of crude oil Nov. 15.
Pirates demanding multimillion-dollar ransoms hold 15 ships and near 300 crew, Choong said.

Somalia, an impoverished nation in the Horn of Africa, has not had a functioning government since 1991.


Associated Press Writer Sean Yoong contributed to this report from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
« Reply #7 on: November 29, 2008, 07:33:50 PM »

November 26th, 2008
The business case for high-seas piracy
Post a comment (24)
By: Bernd Debusmann
Tags: General, Bernd Debusmann, Blackwater, piracy, The Great Debate
– Bernd Debusmann is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own -

As far as illicit businesses with low risk and high rewards go, it doesn’t get much better than piracy on the high seas. The profit margins can easily surpass those of the cocaine trade. The risks?

“There is no reason not to be a pirate,” according to U.S. Vice Admiral William Gortney, who commands the U.S. navy’s Fifth Fleet. “The vessel I’m trying to pirate, they won’t shoot at me. I’m going to get my money.”

Even pirates who are intercepted have little to fear. “They won’t arrest me because there’s no place to try me.”

Gortney’s assessment of piracy’s low risk came in a radio interview that focused on the Gulf of Aden, where Somali pirates this month capped a string of increasingly brazen hijackings by seizing a Saudi supertanker carrying $100 million worth of U.S.-bound crude. But although attention is focused on the Horn of Africa, piracy is a global phenomenon (see map), relative impunity applies in many places, and a thick legal fog hangs over effective action.

Among questions to keep lawyers busy: Can a naval vessel fire on a suspected pirate ship? It depends. Who would be held accountable for someone killed in an exchange of fire between pirates and private security personnel traveling aboard a merchant ship? Which country’s jurisdiction applies, for example, to a Somali arrested on the high seas and taken aboard a Danish vessel?

“One of the challenges that we have…in piracy clearly is if you are intervening and you capture pirates, is there a path to prosecute them?” Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, explained at a recent Pentagon briefing.

A rough back-of-the-envelope calculation shows that the operation to hijack the Saudi tanker, the Sirius Star, cost no more than $25,000 assuming that the pirates bought new equipment and weapons ($450 apiece for an AK-47 Kalashnikov, $5,000 for an RPG 7 grenade launcher, $15,000 for a speedboat). That contrasts with an initial ransom demand from the tanker’s owner, Saudi Aramco, of $25 million.

“Piracy is an excellent business model if you operate from an impoverished, lawless place like Somalia,” says Patrick Cullen, a security expert at the London School of Economics who has been researching piracy. “The risk-reward ratio is just huge.”

One way to shrink that ratio would be to place private security guards on vessels that ply shipping routes prone to pirate attack, from the waters off Nigeria to the Molucca Straits and the Horn of Africa. That’s the solution recommended by the commander of the U.S. Fifth Fleet, whose area of responsibility covers 7.5 million square miles, including the waters off Somalia. Its warships can’t be everywhere.

Even with the additional deployment of warships from France, Britain, Denmark, Russia, India, Japan, Korea, and Malaysia, the navies are looking for needles in a haystack. The pirates launch speedboats from mother ships hundreds of miles off the coast.


Carrying armed guards aboard ships sounds a simple, straightforward solution. They stand watch; they fire warnings flares at an approaching speedboat manned by what looks like pirates. If the vessel doesn’t turn away, they blow it out of the water. End of story.

Except if the incident somehow turned into a court case and the ship’s crew and guards had to prove that the men in the approaching speedboat were driven by criminal intent. By some definitions, an act of piracy doesn’t begin until the grappling hooks are thrown over the side and the pirates start clambering up.

In the past, shipping companies, by and large, have been reluctant to add armed personnel to their crews, partly for reasons of cost - a security team can add $30,000 to $60,000 and more to a voyage - and partly because the statistical chance of having their ships hijacked or attacked are relatively small.

The International Maritime Organization puts the world trading fleet at 50,525 ships. In the first nine months of this year, the International Maritime Bureau’s piracy reporting center in Kuala Lumpur recorded 199 attacks on ships, including 36 hijackings. In percentage terms, this is not much.

But the targets, and the ransom demands, have been getting bigger. The Sirius Star was taken less than two months after the hijacking of a Ukrainian freighter, the Fainu, which carried some 30 T-72 tanks, crates of rocket-propelled grenades, anti-aircraft guns and thousands of rounds of ammunition. That capture made world headlines and raised fresh questions over existing anti-piracy tactics.

Private security firms see new markets and new opportunities. Several British firms have begun teaming up with insurance companies that offer lower rates for ships carrying security teams.

Anti-pirate devices now coming into use range from razor wire strung along the side of ships to sound cannon - a weapon that beams ear-splitting noise at suspected attackers.

One U.S. company, Blackwater Worldwide, is offering maritime escort services with  a 183-foot vessel that carries two helicopters, a crew of 15 and 35 guards. Blackwater says 13 shipping companies have expressed interest.

To make pirates think twice about the risk-reward ratio, nothing is likely to be as effective as brute force. But those who warn that 18th century methods can be problematic in the 21st can now point to the example set by the Indian frigate Tabar on November 18.

According to the Indian navy, the Tabar had come under fire from a suspected pirate mother ship that had failed to obey a command to stop.

The Indian frigate returned fire, “in self defense.” The ship blew up in a ball of fire and sank.

A week later, it turned out that the suspected mothership was a Thai freighter that was being taken over by pirates when the frigate approached.

(You can contact the author at

(Pictured above: pirates on a speedboat approach one of their mother boats docked near Eyl, Somalia, in a framegrab from November 24, 2008 TV footage. REUTERS/Reuters TV)
« Last Edit: November 29, 2008, 07:35:40 PM by Body-by-Guinness » Logged
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Posts: 42479

« Reply #8 on: December 05, 2008, 03:10:30 PM »

Interesting piece

Piracy Is Terrorism
Published: December 5, 2008

THE golden age of piracy has returned. Just as Henry Every and William Kidd once made their fortunes in the Red Sea, a new generation has emerged, armed with grenade launchers and assault rifles, to threaten trade and distract the world’s navies. With the recent capture of the Saudi supertanker Sirius Star, a crime that once seemed remote and archaic has again claimed center stage.

And yet the world’s legal apparatus is woefully confused as to how to respond to piracy. Are the Somali pirates ordinary criminals, or a quasi-military force?

The question is not insignificant. It has virtually paralyzed the navies called to police the Gulf of Aden. The German Navy frigate Emden, on patrol this spring to intercept Qaeda vessels off the Somali coast, encountered pirate vessels attacking a Japanese tanker. But since it was allowed to intervene only if the pirates were defined as “terrorists,” the Emden had no choice but to let the pirates go. Currently, 13 vessels are held by pirates in the Gulf of Aden, while the navies of a dozen nations circle almost helplessly.

The legal confusion extends to what happens once pirates have been caught. In theory, any nation can shoulder the burden of prosecution. In fact, few are eager to do so.

Prosecuting pirates puts enormous strain on a country’s legal system. A state whose ship was not attacked, and whose only involvement with the incident was as rescuer, might balk at being asked to foot the bill for lengthy and costly proceedings. Yet it might find itself forced to do so, if neither the victim’s nor the pirates’ state is willing. As Somalia has not had a recognized government since the early 1990s, the situation is all the more precarious for would-be capturers. The result is that ship owners, knowing that no rescue is imminent, pay the ransom. This emboldens the pirates further, and the problem worsens.

Fortunately, there is a way out of this legal morass. Indeed, the law is very clear — we just seem to have forgotten about it.

The solution to piracy lies in the very nature of piracy itself. The Roman lawmaker Cicero defined piracy as a crime against civilization itself, which English jurist Edward Coke famously rephrased as “hostis humani generis” — enemies of the human race. As such, they were enemies not of one state but of all states, and correspondingly all states shared in the burden of capturing them.

From this precept came the doctrine of universal jurisdiction, meaning that pirates — unlike any other criminals — could be captured wherever they were found, by anyone who found them. This recognition of piracy’s unique threat was the cornerstone of international law for more than 2,000 years.

Though you wouldn’t guess it from the current situation, the law is surprisingly clear. The definition of pirates as enemies of the human race is reaffirmed in British and American trial law and in numerous treaties.

As a customary international law (albeit one that has fallen out of use since the decline of traditional piracy) it cuts through the Gordian knot of individual states’ engagement rules. Pirates are not ordinary criminals. They are not enemy combatants. They are a hybrid, recognized as such for thousands of years, and can be seized at will by anyone, at any time, anywhere they are found.

And what of the Emden’s problem? Are pirates a species of terrorist? In short, yes. The same definition of pirates as hostis humani generis could also be applied to international organized terrorism. Both crimes involve bands of brigands that divorce themselves from their nation-states and form extraterritorial enclaves; both aim at civilians; both involve acts of homicide and destruction, as the United Nations Convention on the High Seas stipulates, “for private ends.”

For this reason, it seems sensible that the United States and the international community adopt a new, shared legal definition that would recognize the link between piracy and terrorism. This could take the form of an act of Congress or, more broadly, a new jurisdiction for piracy and terrorism cases at the International Criminal Court.

There is ample precedent. In the 1970s, the hijacking of airliners was defined by the United Nations as “aerial piracy.” In 1985, when Palestinian terrorists seized the cruise ship Achille Lauro and held its passengers hostage, President Ronald Reagan called the hijackers “pirates.” Recent evidence also indicates that the Somali pirates hand over a part of their millions in ransom money to Al Shabaab, the Somali rebel group that has been linked to Al Qaeda.

The similarities and overlaps between the two crimes have prompted some jurists to advocate abandoning the term piracy altogether in favor of “maritime terrorism.” By reasserting the traditional definition of pirates as hostis humani generis, and linking it to terrorism, the United States and other nations will not only gain a powerful tool in fighting the Somali pirates, but other incidents of terrorism around the world as well.

Recognizing piracy as an international crime will do something else: It will give individual states that don’t want to prosecute pirates an alternative — the international court. If pirates are recognized under their traditional international legal status — as neither ordinary criminals nor combatants, but enemies of the human race — states will have a much freer hand in capturing them. If piracy falls within the jurisdiction of the international court, states will not need to shoulder the burden of prosecution alone.

Today the world’s navies are hamstrung by conflicting laws and the absence of an international code. A comprehensive legal framework is the only way to break the stalemate off Somalia. In a trial before the Old Bailey in 1696, Dr. Henry Newton, the Admiralty advocate, declared, “Suffer pirates and the commerce of the world must cease.”

More than 300 years later, the world is suffering again. Fortunately, this time we have the answer.

Douglas R. Burgess Jr. is the author of “The Pirates’ Pact: The Secret Alliances Between History’s Most Notorious Buccaneers and Colonial America.”
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« Reply #9 on: December 13, 2008, 12:37:47 AM »

Geopolitical Diary: The Significance of Pirates
December 12, 2008

High-level discussions began Thursday over a U.S.-sponsored resolution at the U.N. Security Council (UNSC) that seeks to strengthen the international response to piracy in waters off the coast of Somalia. The new resolution -— which comes just a week after the UNSC passed another U.S.-penned resolution, extending the current U.N. approach to Somali piracy by another year —- would authorize foreign countries to send military assets ashore into Somalia and into Somali airspace in pursuit of pirates.

This would significantly intensify the international fight against Somalia-based pirates, who are now in possession of some 17 major ships. Thus far, international law has authorized foreign warships to invade Somali territorial waters in counter-piracy operations, but their activity has been confined to maritime interdictions. The U.S. push for broader authority is meant to strike at the pirates in Puntland, the lawless part of Somalia where they find safe haven.

The slow expansion of piracy off the Horn of Africa increasingly has dominated headlines in recent years, but on a strategic level it has been little more than a nuisance for global commerce. After the capture of one supertanker from Saudi Arabia, major oil shipments from the Middle East to the West began steering an extremely wide berth around Somalia.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Navy, which is the de facto guarantor of worldwide maritime shipping security, has plenty of bandwidth to address any real challenges to freedom the of seas. Washington has been taking its time with the piracy issue politically, and slowly working to build an international consensus through the UNSC, because Somali piracy has not yet reached the point that it poses a strategic threat to U.S. interests. The request for further U.N. authorization means not that Washington is punting the issue, but rather that it is starting to consider taking on piracy more forcefully.

The deeper meaning of the piracy issue is that it runs up against the underlying U.S. interest in control of the seas: the foundation of U.S. global military dominance, and in turn the foundation of U.S. global economic dominance. Combating maritime piracy has been a perennial concern of the United States, and is in essence the cornerstone of U.S. naval policy.

Throughout its existence, the United States has depended on maritime commerce for its survival. Even the early European colonies in North America were at first heavily dependent on seaborne lines of communication to Europe, and over time the colonies came to rely heavily on commercial maritime trade, which was protected from piracy by the European navies. In 1783, however, when the American Revolutionary War officially ended with the Treaty of Paris, the U.S. government suddenly became responsible for the safety and protection of its own merchant traffic overseas.

The United States, with its Continental Navy in the process of being disbanded and the new government deep in war-related debt, could not protect its interests abroad and was forced to pay annual tribute and occasional ransoms to the “Barbary” states of Algiers, Tripoli and Tunis -— North African regencies of the Ottoman Empire that had long extorted payments from ocean-going powers through the threat of piracy. It was not until the turn of the 19th century that the reconstituted U.S. Navy was equipped with its first frigates. When tribute was demanded of President Thomas Jefferson’s new administration in 1801, he dispatched the Navy to protect U.S. commercial interests on the other side of the Atlantic. What followed was a series of naval engagements and the first U.S. expeditionary assault on foreign soil: the Battle of Derne in Tripoli, which the United States won and which was the decisive action in the First Barbary War.

U.S. interest in freedom of the seas —- and the U.S. Navy’s ability to protect that interest -— would only continue to grow. The core American imperative of ensuring the free flow of traffic on the high seas was a key factor in the War of 1812, as a Britain engaged in the Napoleonic wars forcefully impressed sailors aboard U.S.-flagged ships into Royal Navy service. And arguably one of the most important outcomes of World War II was that the United States achieved an effectively unchallenged hegemony over the world’s oceans — a hegemony only further solidified in subsequent decades.

The Somali pirates do not, at this point, pose a strategic threat to the U.S. interest in freedom of the seas — but the push to intensify operations against them shows that Washington wants to act against them before they have a chance to rise to that level.

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« Reply #10 on: December 13, 2008, 01:20:13 PM »

Indian navy captures 23 pirates
Pirates threatened a merchant vessel in the Gulf of Aden, navy says
The Associated Press
updated 9:45 a.m. PT, Sat., Dec. 13, 2008

NEW DELHI - The Indian navy captured 23 pirates who threatened a merchant vessel Saturday in the lawless waters of the Gulf of Aden, where dozens of ships have come under attack by gunmen in recent months.

An Indian navy ship, the INS Mysore, was escorting merchant ships in the region near Somalia when it received a distress call from seamen on board the MV Gibe, who said they were being attacked by two boats.

The distress call said the pirates were firing as their boats closed in on the Gibe, according to a statement from the Indian government. The pirate boats attempted to escape when they saw the Mysore and its helicopter, but were boarded by Indian marine commandos, the statement said.

The pirates had "a substantial cache of arms and equipment," including seven AK-47 assault rifles, three machine guns, a rocket-propelled grenade launcher and other weapons, the statement said. They also found a GPS receiver and other equipment.

The pirates were from Somalia and Yemen, two countries on the coast of the Gulf of Aden.

The Gibe was flying an Ethiopian flag, the statement said, but there was no further information about the ship.

Last month, India's navy drew criticism after sinking a Thai fishing trawler that had been commandeered hours earlier by pirates. At least one Thai crew member was killed in the attack, which the Indian navy had originally announced by saying it had sunk a pirate "mother ship." The Indian navy defended its actions, saying it had fired in self-defense.

Somali pirates have become increasingly brazen, and recently seized a Saudi supertanker loaded with $100 million of crude oil. Many of the vessels are taken to pirate-controlled regions in Somalia, where they are held for ransom.

It was not immediately clear what would happen to the pirates captured by the Indians, or where they would be taken. The statement said only that the prisoners and their weapons would be "handed over to appropriate authorities ashore."

'All necessary measures'
Most foreign navies patrolling the Somali coast have been reluctant to detain suspects because of uncertainties over where they would face trial, since Somalia has no effective central government or legal system.

An estimated 1,500 pirates are based in Somalia's semiautonomous Puntland region, raking in millions of dollars.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will present a draft Security Council resolution next week asking the United Nations to authorize "all necessary measures" against piracy from Somalia.

But on Friday, the commander of the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet expressed doubt about the wisdom of launching attacks against Somali pirates on land, as the draft proposes.

U.S. Vice Adm. Bill Gortney told reporters that it is difficult to identify pirates, and the potential for killing innocent civilians "cannot be overestimated."
« Reply #11 on: December 14, 2008, 11:08:08 PM »

Piracy & Firearms: Another View

Created by doina. Last modified on 2007-03-27 12:33:04
Topic: Self-defence and Deterring Attacks
I was scanning your site, like I do often, and I noticed on the issue of piracy some short comments about using firearms to ward off pirates.

One good source of info on modern piracy that many who own yachts may not have ever read is an American magazine called, "Soldier of Fortune".

"Soldier of Fortune" magazine, founded and edited by a retired US Army special forces colonel, is known as the only publication to have had a reporter on the ground the entire time during the Russian war in Afghanistan.

This magazine is of extreme interest to the yachting community because it has also run several excellent, unique, in-depth articles on modern piracy, even from some journalists that have actually traveled with the pirates on their forays. One article showed a real yacht being hit and looted. I know of no other publication that has acquired the hands-on, personal look into modern piracy that "Soldier of Fortune" has done.

One thing that the invaluable data gathered by "Soldier of Fortune" has shown is that most pirates tend to break off encounters as soon as they start to receive gunfire, or feel that they may do so. They are not in the business to get killed. If a yacht has teeth, they usually break off and find another, "softer" target - Blackbeard they are not.

Another thing that their data shows is the tactic of being defenseless and leaving yourself at their mercy is foolish. Aa time goes on, this is becoming a riskier and riskier thing to do, yet this is the main plan many on yachts have. Putting yourself at the mercy and whim of thugs, killers, and bandits and hoping they just take some cash and leave you alone is foolish and can easily be far deadlier to yourself and your crew than fighting them off. These men follow no rules except what they make up as they go.

This is the reason why in almost every pirate attack that you hear about where a yacht gets boarded, the crews were virtually defenseless, except for maybe a flare gun. Yachts that return fire with real firearms generally don't get boarded. The train of thought of, "Don't shoot at them, you might make them angry," is not the wisest of paths to follow. Submission to murderous criminals is seldom a smart and productive move.

A good example is that Italian catamaran, near Venezuela if I recall, some time ago that was chased for quite a while by eight men in an open skiff brandishing rusty shotguns. The yacht had only a flare gun.

(this refers to the 2004 incident when Italian Bruno Bianchella on "Joe's Dog" was shot and killed off Isla de Margarita)

A common hunting rifle, or even an aging, old, $100 WWII surplus bolt action rifle could have stopped that pursuit in its tracks. The pirates' boat, like most boats used in piracy, was small and offered virtually no protection against defensive rifle fire, especially from pretty much any common hunting rifle. Even a single, ordinary hunting rifle (bolt action or pump action) plus maybe a shotgun (pump action) on board - both recognized around the world as civilian weapons - could have prevented such a tragedy.

A rifle is more dangerous to pirates than a shotgun as it has range and penetration. It can hole and/or disable a small boat while also hitting the pirates. A rifle gives you a defensive cordon that can be measured in hundreds of meters, depending upon visibility and sea conditions. Pirates in their typical small boats have virtually no defense against accurate rifle fire except to take evasive action and leave.

A shotgun is better for closer ranges as they try and board, and for defense in case a boarding is in process or has already occured. A shotgun is extremely effective at close ranges and it has a low level of penetration power - meaning that you probably won't sink yourself if you fire it inside your boat.

In retrospect, that murdered Italian skipper might have found the extra paperwork and bureaucratic hassle, while in port, that is normally associated with having a rifle on board, to have been worthwhile after all.

The world is going through one its periods in history where it is getting to be a more dangerous place. People are going to have to understand that and be better prepared to deal with the risks and dangers of traveling the seas during such a period.

Law enforcement agencies all too often consider piracy out of their capabilities and concerns. Piracy won't stop until it becomes too risky to be a pirate. The only way for that to happen is for people to start defending themselves, because no one else will do it for them.

An item of note: A good introductory "how-to" book that some may find interesting is "High Seas Security" by Frank Camper. It is an easy read and it is written to be understood by regular people who are not security professionals, but it is still very informative. It is generally available used on Amazon for less than $7.

Mike Rostov

March 2007
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« Reply #12 on: December 16, 2008, 07:20:04 AM »

The NYTimes in typical form

Pirates Outmaneuver Warships Off Somalia
Published: December 15, 2008
ON THE ARABIAN SEA — Rear Adm. Giovanni Gumiero is going on a pirate hunt.

Italian sailors on patrol on the Arabian Sea. Pirates based in Somalia are still able to operate in the area.

An Italian naval destroyer, foreground, escorted a merchant vessel that was carrying a cargo of humanitarian aid to Somalia in November.

From the deck of an Italian destroyer cruising the pirate-infested waters off Somalia’s coast, he has all the modern tools at his fingertips — radar, sonar, infrared cameras, helicopters, a cannon that can sink a ship 10 miles away — to take on a centuries-old problem that harks back to the days of schooners and eye patches.

“Our presence will deter them,” the admiral said confidently.

But the wily buccaneers of Somalia’s seas do not seem especially deterred — instead, they seem to be getting only wilier. More than a dozen warships from Italy, Greece, Turkey, India, Denmark, Saudi Arabia, France, Russia, Britain, Malaysia and the United States have joined the hunt.

And yet, in the past two months alone, the pirates have attacked more than 30 vessels, eluding the naval patrols, going farther out to sea and seeking bigger, more lucrative game, including an American cruise ship and a 1,000-foot Saudi oil tanker.

The pirates are recalibrating their tactics, attacking ships in beelike swarms of 20 to 30 skiffs, and threatening to choke off one of the busiest shipping arteries in the world, at the mouth of the Red Sea.

United Nations officials recently estimated that Somali pirates had netted as much as $120 million this year in ransom payments — an astronomical sum for a country whose economy has been gutted by 17 years of chaos and war. Some shipping companies are now rerouting their vessels to avoid Somalia’s waters, detouring thousands of miles around the Cape of Good Hope, at the southern tip of Africa.

The pirates are totally outgunned. They continue to cruise around in fiberglass skiffs with assault rifles and at best a few rocket-propelled grenades. One Italian officer said that going after them in a 485-foot-long destroyer, bristling with surface-to-air missiles and torpedoes, was like “going after someone on a bicycle with a truck.”

But the pirates — true to form — remain unfazed.

“They can’t stop us,” said Jama Ali, one of the pirates aboard a Ukrainian freighter packed with weapons that was hijacked in September and was still being held.

He explained how he and his men hid out on a rock near the narrow mouth of the Red Sea and waited for the big gray ships with the guns to pass before pouncing on slow-moving tankers. Even if foreign navies nab some members of his crew, Mr. Jama said, he is not worried. He said his men would probably get no more punishment than a free ride back to the beach, which has happened several times.

“We know international law,” Mr. Jama said.

Western diplomats have said that maritime law can be as murky as the seas. Several times this year, the Danish Navy captured men they suspected to be pirates, only to dump them on shore after the Danish government decided it did not have jurisdiction.

The American warships surrounding the hijacked Ukrainian freighter have intercepted several small skiffs going to the freighter, but let the men aboard go because American officials said they did not want to put the freighter’s crew in danger.

This seeming impunity is especially infuriating to the new cadre of private security guards, fresh from the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, hired to tag along on merchant voyages to add a layer of protection. Burly men with tattooed forearms and shaved heads sipping Heineken and checking their watches are now common sights on the beaches of Oman, Kenya and Djibouti. They have their own ideas for dealing with seafaring outlaws.

“We should make ’em walk the plank,” one British security guard said.

Despite tough talk, the guards are unarmed (because most countries do not allow them to bring weapons into port), so they are often forced to confront machine-gun-toting pirates with fire hoses.

Or worse. There was even a recent case, according to several security contractors, in which Filipino crew members pelted pirates with tomatoes in an attempt to stop them from scaling the hull of their ship. It did not work.

The Italian naval officers say the piracy patrols are helping — already the Italians have rescued several merchant vessels surrounded by pirate skiffs. The Italian destroyer is part of a NATO mission that began in October.

“But the answer is to have a good, strong government on land,” Admiral Gumiero said. “That’s the only way to end this, for sure.”
Page 2 of 2)

That said, strong government is nowhere to be found. The piracy epidemic is not so much a separate problem as a symptom of the failed state of Somalia — a place crawling with guns, gangs and criminals that has not had a functioning central government since 1991.

In Xarardheere, much of the economy is based on piracy.

 Many Somalia analysts think that it is about to get even worse. The Ethiopian military, which has been shoring up a weak and unpopular transitional Somali government, says it will pull out within a month.

The transitional government, split by poisonous infighting, seems on the brink of collapse. Islamic militants with links to Al Qaeda are poised to take over. Famine is steadily creeping toward millions of people, many withering away in plastic huts that are no match for the intense sun or the drenching rains.

United Nations officials are swinging into crisis mode, calling high-level meetings in East Africa and New York to address piracy and the greater Somali mess. Some United Nations officials are pushing to send in peacekeepers, but no countries are rushing to offer troops.

Some American officials have proposed chasing the pirates on the shore and raiding their dens, which are well known but so far untouched. Somalia’s transitional leaders, anxious for any help, said they would welcome that.

“This is a cancer and it’s growing,” said Abdi Awaleh Jama, an ambassador at large for the transitional federal government. “We have to extract it once and for all.”

More than 100 ships have been attacked off Somalia’s coast in 2008, far more than in any previous year on record. The economic costs are piling up, with higher insurance payments for shippers, higher fuel costs because of detours and new private security bills, not to mention the million-dollar ransom payments.

The cash-starved Egyptian government is poised to lose billions of dollars if ships from the Middle East and Asia stop using the Suez Canal, one of Egypt’s biggest foreign-exchange earners, and go around Africa instead.

But the end of piracy could be an economic catastrophe — for many Somalis. Their country exports almost nothing these days, and more legitimate forms of business have largely died off.

Entire clans and coastal villages now survive off piracy, with women baking bread for pirates, men and boys guarding hostages, and others serving as scouts, gunmen, mechanics, accountants and skiff builders. Traders make a nice cut off the water, fuel and cigarettes needed to sustain such oceangoing voyages.

Pirates are known as the best customers of all.

“They pay $20 for a $5 bottle of perfume,” said Leyla Ahmed, a shopkeeper in Xarardheere, a notorious pirate den on the Somali coast.

Maritime experts say that the naval efforts will take time. “Let’s wait and see,” said Pottengal Mukundan, director of the International Maritime Bureau in London. “You must appreciate it’s a very large stretch of water, a massive area,” he said, referring to the several hundred thousand square miles of sea where the naval ships are patrolling.

Then there is the nettlesome question of what to do with the pirates. Italian officers on pirate patrol seemed uncomfortable at the thought of actually capturing a real live pirate. There is not even a brig or place to hold the pirates on the destroyer.

“Our main goal is providing safe passage,” said Fabrizio Simoncini, the destroyer’s captain.

So far, they have done a decent job at that, escorting at least eight humanitarian ships, with 30,000 tons of badly needed aid for Somalia.

The Indian Navy recently announced that it had arrested 23 pirates, though it is not clear where the suspects would be prosecuted. Last week in Nairobi, Kenya, at an antipiracy conference, British officials outlined a plan for their navy to capture Somali pirates and hand them over to Kenyan courts.

But according to Kenneth Randall, dean of the University of Alabama School of Law and an international law scholar, “Any country can arrest these guys and prosecute them at home, under domestic laws that apply.

“I’m actually surprised people think it’s unclear,” he said. “The law on piracy is 100 percent clear.”

He said that international customary law going back hundreds of years had defined pirates as criminals who robbed and stole on the high seas. Because the crimes were committed in international waters, he said, all countries had not only the authority but also the obligation to apprehend and prosecute them.

The Italians clearly have the resources. Out on the front lines, or front waves, beefy Italian marines prowl the decks with machine guns. Radar screens blip and beep. Sailors make announcements over the destroyer’s radio, telling nearby cargo ships to put out an S O S with their position as soon as they spot any pirates.

The Italians said that, deep down, pirates were creatures of the sea, no matter how many navy ships were hot on their tail. “When the sea is calm, the moon is bright, the weather is good, it’s easy to see how the pirates are encouraged,” said Enrico Vignola, a lieutenant on the ship.

For visitors on board, lunchtime was the highlight. The officers summoned up from the oily bowels of the destroyer a banquet of homemade pasta, marinated eggplant sliced paper thin, prosciutto-wrapped dates and tiramisu, finished off with cool glasses of spumante.

It seems that when Italians hunt for pirates, they hunt in style.

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« Reply #13 on: December 21, 2008, 11:25:39 AM »


Chinese ship uses Molotov cocktails to fight off Somali pirates
The crew of a Chinese ship used water cannon, Molotov cocktails and beer bottles to fight off an attack by Somali pirates.
By Our Foreign Staff
Last Updated: 1:40PM GMT 20 Dec 2008

Previous1 of 2 Images

The crew of the Zhenhua 4 held off the pirates using molotov cocktails and water cannon Photo: AP

 The Somali pirates were armed with rocket-propelled grenades Photo: AP

The captain of the Zhenhua 4 told how his well-prepared crew held off the pirates - who were armed with rocket-propelled grenades - when the ship was boarded by pirates on Tuesday in the Gulf of Aden.

The ordeal of the multinational crew of 30 men ended with the arrival of military helicopters and a warship despatched by the task force fighting the piracy menace in the region.

“Seven of the nine pirates landed on our ship, all with weapons,” said the captain, Peng Weiyuan, speaking to China Central Television.

“Our crew, who had been well trained and prepared, used water cannon, self-made incendiary bombs [Molotov cocktails or petrol bombs], beer bottles and anything else that could be used to battle with them. Thirty minutes later, the pirates gestured to us for a ceasefire. Then the helicopter from the joint fleet came to help us.”

The ship was one of four vessels seized by pirates on Tuesday, the same day the United Nations Security Council took a strong stand against the attacks and authorised countries to pursue the gunmen on to Somali soil.  Rampant piracy off the coast of Somalia this year has earned gunmen millions of dollars in ransoms, forced up the cost of shipping insurance costs and caused international alarm.

The Global Times newspaper, a tabloid run by the Communist Party’s People’s Daily, said on Thursday that two destroyers and a large-sized depot ship would set sail for the region after Christmas to defend Chinese shipping. The first tour of duty would be for three months, it said.

According to Andrew Mwangura of the East African Seafarers Assistance programme, there have been 124 incidents of piracy off Somali this year and some 60 successful hijacks. Nearly 400 people and 19 ships are being held along the coast, including a Saudi supertanker with two million barrels of oil and a Ukrainian cargo ship carrying 33 tanks.
« Reply #14 on: December 30, 2008, 10:12:10 AM »

Fight Against Pirates Could Mend U.S.-China Ties

WASHINGTON - China's plans to join the fight against piracy off the coast of Somalia could lead to a renewal of military exchanges between Beijing and Washington, a top U.S. military official said Dec. 18.

Adm. Timothy Keating, head of the Pacific Command, held out hopes for a revival in military relations after China said it was preparing to send warships to the Gulf of Aden in response to a pirate attack on a Chinese vessel.

"I hope the Chinese do (send ships to the Gulf of Aden) and we'll work closely with them," Keating said.

"I think this could be a springboard for a resumption of dialogue between PLA forces and U.S. Pacific Command forces," he said.

China suspended military contacts with the U.S. in October in protest over U.S. arms sales to Taiwan valued at $6.5 billion.

Relations between Taipei and Beijing, which regards Taiwan as a renegade province, nevertheless have warmed since President Ma Ying-jeou assumed office in Taiwan in May.

Keating said his command has been in touch with other agencies and military commands to provide information to the Peoples Liberation Army should it decide to deploy warships in Gulf of Aden.

The U.S. wants "to make sure they are aware of the lines of communications that are available to them... should they desire to send ships to the area of piracy most prevalent which is of course the Gulf of Aden and off the coast of Somalia."

Since the start of the year, about 100 ships have been attacked by Somali pirates who are holding 240 sailors for ransom.
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« Reply #15 on: January 10, 2009, 01:41:46 PM »

5 Somali Pirates Whom Hijacked Saudi Supertanker Drown With Ransom


January 10, 2009

5 Somali Pirates Drown With Ransom

Filed at 11:12 a.m. ET

MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) -- Five of the Somali pirates who released a hijacked oil-laden Saudi supertanker drowned with their share of a reported $3 million ransom after their small boat capsized, a pirate and a relative of one of the dead men said Saturday.

Pirate Daud Nure said the boat with eight people on board overturned in a storm after dozens of pirates left the Sirius Star following a two-month standoff in the Gulf of Aden that ended Friday.

He said five people died and three people reached shore after swimming for several hours. Daud Nure was not part of the pirate operation but knew those involved.

Abukar Haji, the uncle of one of the dead men, said the deaths were an accident.

''The boat the pirates were traveling in capsized because it was running at high speed because the pirates were afraid of an attack from the warships patrolling around,'' he said.

''There has been human and monetary loss but what makes us feel sad is that we don't still have the dead bodies of our relatives. Four are still missing and one washed up on the shore.''

Saudi Arabian oil minister Ali Naimi said Saturday that the crew of the Sirius Star was safe and that the tanker had left Somali territorial waters and was on its way home.

A Saudi Oil Ministry official said the ship was headed for Dammam, on Saudi Arabia's Gulf coast, but gave no estimated time of arrival. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press.

The Liberian-flagged ship is owned by Vela International Marine Ltd., a subsidiary of Saudi oil company Aramco. A spokesman for the Dubai-based Vela, Mihir Sapru, would not provide details of the ship's destination or plans once in port.

''We are very relieved to know that all the crew members are safe and I am glad to say that they are all in good health and high spirits,'' said a statement by Saleh K'aki, president and CEO of Vela. ''Throughout this ordeal, our sole objective was the safe and timely release of the crew. That has been achieved today.''

U.S. Navy photos released Friday showed a parachute, carrying what was described as ''an apparent payment,'' floating toward the tanker. The Sirius Star and its 25-member crew had been held since Nov. 15. Its cargo of crude oil was valued at US$100 million at the time.

The capture was seen as a dramatic demonstration of the pirates' ability to strike high-value targets hundreds of miles offshore.

On the same day the Saudi ship was freed, pirates released a captured Iranian-chartered cargo ship, Iran's state television reported Saturday. The ship Delight was carrying 36 tons of wheat when it was attacked in the Gulf of Aden Nov. 18 and seized by pirates. All 25 crew are in good health and the vessel is sailing toward Iran, the TV report said.

The pirate-infested Gulf of Aden is one of the world's busiest shipping routes.

The U.S. Navy announced this week it will head a new anti-piracy task force after more than 100 ships were attacked last year. NATO and the European Union already have warships patrolling the Gulf of Aden and have intervened to prevent several ships from being captured.

More than a dozen ships with about 300 crew members are still being held by pirates off the coast of Somalia, including the weapons-laden Ukrainian cargo ship MV Faina, which was seized in September.

The multimillion dollar ransoms are one of the few ways to earn a living in the impoverished, war-ravaged country. Somalia has not had a functioning government since 1991 and nearly half of its population depends on aid.
« Reply #16 on: February 02, 2009, 01:42:51 PM »

Anti-piracy task force hits choppy waters

The Navy's new anti-piracy task force, led by two Norfolk ships, hit some choppy waters Thursday as pirates seized a German gas tanker off the Horn of Africa.

Rear Adm. Terry McKnight, commander of the force, said later in the day that the Navy is adjusting strategies as it tries to patrol and monitor 1.1 million square miles of treacherous sea centered on the Gulf of Aden.

Seven pirates boarded the German ship Longchamp, loaded with liquefied petroleum gas, about 60 miles off the southern coast of Yemen, according to published reports. The pirates subdued the 13-person crew and turned the ship toward Somalia. The ship's management company reported that none of the sailors had been injured.

Pirates raked in an estimated $30 million in ransom last year, seizing more than 40 vessels off the Somali coast. Thursday's incident marked the first hijacking since the task force, whose commanders are aboard the amphibious ship San Antonio, was established on Jan. 15.

In a telephone interview from the San Antonio, McKnight said the Navy is moving a shipping channel south from its original location. The channel, comparable to an interstate highway, allows Navy ships to track and protect merchant vessels as they steam from the Indian Ocean toward the Suez Canal and Mediterranean Sea. About 23,000 ships travel the corridor annually.

But the shipping lane took the merchant vessels through fertile fishing grounds, prompting numerous false alarms from captains who believed they might be under attack from fishing boats, McKnight said.

The task force includes the San Antonio, the destroyer Mahan and the British Royal Navy frigate Portland. The U.S. warships also are coordinating with about 20 naval ships from 14 different nations, including Russia and China, McKnight said.

The Navy views the mission as a law enforcement operation.

"The ships are very busy out here," McKnight said. "They're doing a lot of training," he said, adding that sailors are learning new techniques for visiting and boarding small vessels. "This is not one of our core missions."

An eight-person Coast Guard unit trained in anti-drug-smuggling operations has led training and also joins the patrols, said Lt. j.g. Greg Ponzi.

Ponzi, leader of the Coast Guard unit, said the Navy sailors are being trained in preserving evidence and thwarting criminal activities. Merchant vessels also have been cooperating by registering details of their voyage, such as cargo, speed and destination, on a Web site to allow naval ships to track their passage.

But even the most diligent Navy efforts can't ensure safe passage for every vessel crossing the Gulf of Aden, McKnight said. "We will not ever be able to stop piracy until we get a stable nation in Somalia," he said.


The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Louis Hansen, (757) 446-2322,

Source URL (retrieved on 02/02/2009 - 15:24):
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« Reply #17 on: February 04, 2009, 11:12:46 AM »

An informative read...

Dangerous Waters is  very interesting and eye opening read. My wife works in the Marine Cargo Insurance industry so this is required reading for her. I read it just because it's very interesting. Modern day piracy is back in the news recently but this has been going on for a long time, especially through the 550 mile Strait of Malacca in SE Asia.


Dangerous Waters; Modern Piracy And Terror On The High Seas.
By John S. Burnett


While sailing alone one night in the shipping lanes across one of the busiest waterways in the world, John Burnett was attacked by pirates. Through sheer ingenuity and a little bit of luck, he survived, and his shocking firsthand experience became the inspiration for Dangerous Waters.
Today’s breed of pirates are not the colorful cutthroats painted by the history books.
Unlike the romantic images from yesteryear of Captain Kidd and Blackbeard, they can be local seamen looking for a quick score,    
highly-trained guerillas, rogue military units, or former seafarers recruited by sophisticated crime organizations. Armed with machetes, assault rifles and grenade launchers, they steal out in speedboats and fishing boats in search of supertankers, cargo ships, passenger ferries, cruise ships, and yachts, attacking them at port, on the open seas, in international waters. Off the coasts of SOMALIA, NIGERIA, in SOUTHEAST ASIA, entire ships are hijacked and cargo and crews simply vanish.
Dangerous Waters, considered the definitive work on modern piracy, also reveals the connection between piracy and terrorism post 9/11. It currently serves as a resource for government agencies, the maritime industry, ship owners and insurers, security consultants and the media.


Prologue: The Attack
The young Indonesian poked me in the stomach with the barrel of his assault rifle. His eyes, cold and hard, challenged me to resist.
I was at the edge of doing something stupid.
I had been sailing alone across the South China Sea to Singapore in January 1992 aboard my little sloop Unicorn. While not a large boat—only thirty-two feet long—it is stout enough for ocean passages and comfortable enough to call home. Setting off single-handed was not recommended; Indonesian harbor officials in Borneo on the other side had warned me that an oil tanker steaming through the same area had been attacked by pirates the night before.
Piracy was not a threat I took very seriously; I was more concerned with the difficult navigation through the reefs, dodging the heavy ship traffic, and getting enough catnaps during the three-day passage. Piracy was something I associated with Long John Silver, Captain Hook and Hollywood, a childhood game to be played over the mounds of dirt dueling with cutlasses torn from a picket fence. How could pirates climb the sheer steel wall of the hull of a big ship, I wondered?
I was approaching one of the busiest waterways in the world, shipping lanes that linked Europe to the Pacific, the Persian Gulf to Japan and China; it is a highway for 600 commercial ships a day. It is also, I was to discover, prime hunting ground for pirates.
It was my second night out from Borneo and the atmosphere was heavy and airless. Lightning flashed off the port side from a thunderstorm over Sumatra. The reassuring loom of the Singapore City lights hovered faintly on the horizon in front of me to the west. Even without the benefit of wind, without the use of the sails, and puttering along with the small auxiliary engine, landfall, I estimated, should be early afternoon. And, four or five hours after that I’d be sitting at the bar of the Changi Yacht Club knocking back a cold medicinal ale. Then sleep. Priorities.
The merchant vessels that chugged through the shipping lanes could not see the Unicorn and its limp mainsail and it was up to me to avoid them. One large container ship, its decks flooded in bright light and lit up like Times Square on New Year’s Eve, paralleled my course to starboard; fire hoses shot water out into the darkness. I watched her gradually change course, then turn sharply to port and in disbelief I realized it was heading straight for me. A ship bearing down at 18 knots — there was not a lot I could do. The bastard was trying to run me over! I threw the tiller hard over, increased speed to a smoky six knots; I was being chased out of the shipping lanes. I looked back and up at the towering clutter of bright lights that was about to swallow me whole. Then it dawned on me that the captain was assuming the small blip on his radar screen was a pirate boat. The ship finally returned to its original East-West course and I throttled down and slumped back, exhausted and shaking. He had run me out of the shipping lanes where he couldn’t go, apparently satisfied he had scared the daylights out of a bunch of pirates. The Unicorn hobby-horsed up and down on the ship’s wake, corkscrewed and twisted out of control. The boom swung wildly from side to side and the engine’s small propeller cavitated uselessly in the air as the stern lifted out of the water.
The sea is a lonely place at the best of times but this was one of those moments when I realized how totally alone I could be. Even the sensation of being so isolated in the middle of an ocean with no one around for a thousand miles cannot compare to this night in the shipping lanes.
Dead tired, I was getting confused. Bright halogen lights decked the passing ships from stem to stern as part of their anti-piracy defenses. With their regulation navigation lights obliterated, I had no way of knowing what they were doing, whether they were coming or going and at what angle.
I steered the Unicorn back to the inside edge of the traffic lanes — keeping outboard of the line of ships. The waters outside the channel were nearly as dangerous; unmarked reefs, unlit fishing boats, floats and nets formed as much of a gauntlet as the merchant ships inside. Still, I felt safer.
Somebody was smoking nearby. Once at night off the Sri Lanka coast, I smelled cigarette smoke; a few minutes later I had to throw the tiller hard over to avoid an unlit fishing boat pulling up its nets. Only at the last moment did I spot with my binoculars the glow of a cigarette hanging from the mouth of a fishermen. There was no doubt this night — someone close was having a smoke — a Gudang Garam, the sweet clove-scented cigarette so popular in Indonesia. Senses heightened, I tried to sort through the throaty vibrations of passing ships and strained to detect the shadows of a fishing boat that I was convinced I was about to hit.
Admitting to my own building fears, I went below to switch on the VHF radio. Just in case. The radio had seemed useless. The frequencies were either jammed with shrill whistles, a favorite Asian calling technique, or the night-time taunts between Filipino, Malaysian and Indonesian fishermen, anonymously calling each other: "Hey, monkey — you Indonesian monkey." "Hey, you Philippine pig — you eat your mothers shit, YOU big monkey." Tonight the radio was controlled by someone who kept the microphone keyed open next to an AM radio playing some twangy Chinese tune. A ship calling a distress or trying to get through to another would be blocked unless it had a more powerful signal. I certainly did not.
A sudden jolt threw me off balance. My first thought was that I had hit an uncharted reef or a partially submerged container that had fallen off a cargo ship.
I gripped the handrail, heart beating in my throat. Vibrations rattled the hull — another vessel, powered by a large engine, had come alongside my boat. I felt the thump as someone. Then a second jumped onto the deck. Hushed but excited voices from above sent a wave of acid horror into my gut. I froze. The sudden unexpected sound of people when you’ve been alone for days is terrifying. Somebody is on my boat!
I couldn’t run, I couldn’t hide. I felt the panic of a trapped animal. The voices were getting more agitated as the intruders stumbled around on the rolling deck. By God, I’ll throw these guys off! I pulled my Indonesian machete out of its scabbard and turned to run topsides.
But this was pirate country and I had been warned. I had to calm myself and think. I replaced the knife in its sheath. I would fight only as a last resort; my life was more important than the toys on board. I would give them anything they wanted — except the Unicorn itself. On wobbly legs and scared to death, I pulled myself up the companionway steps.
A military-style patrol boat about the length of the Unicorn had tied up to me. Low-slung and ghostly, the boat was only a colorless silhouette — except amidships where the orange glow of a cigarette briefly illuminated a dark face. Two shadowy figures shrouded in terrifying silence stood opposite, pointing rifles at me. The decision not to resist was the right one. It was probably better they had guns; had they been unarmed, I might have made a mistake.
I had worked in Jakarta and had a basic knowledge of Bahasa Indonesia; I had liked those with whom I had worked and found the people generally a courteous lot. "Salamat Datang!" I welcomed them. My quavering voice belied my fear. I couldn’t fight, I couldn’t argue, I could only try to be polite, a trait that Indonesians find indispensable. It was said in Jakarta that if you were robbed in your home, the thief will apologize before killing you.
Over their shoulders I could see a third, smaller figure attempting, clumsily, to get onto my boat. Holding my breath, I walked past the guns and offered him a hand. He was just a boy, barely in his teens. He glowered and waved a long knife in my face. He didn’t need any help. Then he seemed to relax.
"Terimah kasih, Pak," the boy thanked me as if he remembered his manners.
There was plenty of light from the passing ships to seaward, enough to reveal their features. One gunman was, in Indonesian terms, an old man—about forty—with sprigs of chin hair, a permanent frown, and a pinched lupine face. He wore the camouflaged uniform of the TNI, the Indonesian military. The other was a bare-chested teenager with a thin black mustache whose sullen eyes darted nervously and enviously over my boat. He was dressed only in military trousers. The patrol boat and their semimilitary attire and their modern guns gave me an instant of hope. Maybe they were police officers or customs officials, just checking my papers. However, these were international waters. And it was the middle of the night. And they wore rolled-up ski masks.
And none of them wore shoes. The toes of their dark brown feet were splayed, their leathery heels cracked. I suddenly recalled that Joshua Slocum, the first person to sail alone around the world almost exactly a hundred years ago, had spread carpet nails on the deck at night as his antipiracy weapon. It worked near Cape Horn; his pirates jumped back into the water howling and screaming after meeting the commercial end of the tacks. It was too late for me to dust the decks with nails.
I tried to refocus; why the hell would they be on my little boat, pointing guns at me? I just could not accept it—while my fear was extreme, the situation seemed at the same time ludicrous. I liked Indonesians. I thought I knew them. I had been up before a more frightening situation during an anti-American protest in Jakarta during the Gulf War and I had managed to get out of that. One-on-one with an Indonesian always seemed to work; I had found myself in the middle of rioting students in Tanjung Priok dock area who were burning the effigy of Bush Senior; someone in the mob made me as a likely American and began shouting and pointing at me. I turned to an older man next to me dressed in a white robe and asked for his help. Surprised and pleased that I should ask, he led me out and away to safety.
A large tanker passed about a half mile abeam, its fully illuminated deck casting an eerie glow upon us. It was so close! There was no way to signal it, no way to call for help. I watched in frustration as the ship steamed past, its water cannon blasting into the night.
We stood facing each other. No one had ever pointed a loaded gun at me before and staring into the barrels, I became weak with fear. I knew I had to maintain some control. The older boy massaged the trigger with his forefinger. He jabbed the barrel of his rifle into my ribs, silently egging, taunting, challenging. His deep-set eyes, like black glass marbles, drilled into mine with inexplicable anger. I stood before him with my teeth clenched, unflinching, staring into those depthless sockets. He poked my gut, then jabbed harder, testing the tenderness of the meat. Emboldened, he jabbed again as if the barrel of his gun were a bayonet. The hard metal felt like a dull knife. Relaxing my stomach muscles lessened the pain. I was so close; bloody hell, one little push and he’d be overboard. I was about to do something really stupid. The older man’s squeaky voice cut like a razor. "Money! You MONEY!" he said in agitated jerks of English.
"Money. Yeah, sure. Money," I think I managed. As I turned, the surly youth slammed the butt of his rifle against the back of my head. I lurched forward, falling against the wire shrouds of the mast, then slipped to my knees. He yanked me up by my hair and kicked me ahead of him toward the cabin stairs.
The three men stood awkwardly in the narrow cabin below, their assault rifles too large to point. Through tears of pain I watched the old man’s eyes scan my sea-going home. The Unicorn had none of the toys found on most blue-water yachts. It had no radar, no sophisticated radios, no televisions, no weather fax machines, no satellite navigating system, not even any refrigeration (I had learned to enjoy bilge-warm beer), only shelves of some treasured books, a mahogany box for an old sextant, and a rack for binoculars. There wasn’t much to steal.
Still dazed, I nodded for them to sit. I reached for the thermos of old coffee that I had made hours earlier and with shaky hands splashed it into some mugs and slid them across the table. There was a sickening crunch as the Unicorn and the pirate vessel banged against each other in the wake from a passing ship. The damage to my hull would be considerable. The sullen youth, whose eyes never left mine, watched me cringe at the sound of the two boats smashing against each other; his face brightened with a thin, cruel smile.
"Kopi susu," I muttered. I nodded toward an open tin of Nestlé sweet cream. The youngest boy placed his knife in his lap, stirred in the cream with his forefinger, and slurped his cup noisily.
The old man barked something and the youngster, looking a little sheepish, hastily put down his coffee. I noticed then the similarity between the two boys. I poured myself a cup, opened a drawer, and pulled out a photo of my two sons taken years before: I was cutting a birthday cake and my face was plastered in chocolate icing; my three-year-old hung around my neck, his fingers thick with goo, and my five-year-old was doubled over laughing in the background. In passable Indonesian I told the old man they were my kids and asked him if these were his boys. The old man, who up to this point had no real face at all, broke into a crooked grin, straightened himself proudly, and said they were indeed and that he had two more sons back in Sumatra. He picked up a cup and sipped. I pushed the other two cups toward his sons; the youngest looked at his father for permission. The other pointedly ignored the coffee and kept his eyes pinned on mine; his challenging arrogance continued to test me. The old man and I spoke in stilted Indonesian about his village, somewhere on a nearby island, and my town and his admiration for America, until impatient shouts from the boat outside reminded the old man what they had come for.
There was a tense silence. The old man stared into his cup; he pulled nervously at his chin hairs. He raised his eyes and again looked over the cabin. I leaned over and pulled out my binoculars from the rack and handed them over. He slipped the strap around his neck without acknowledgement. I watched his eldest son scan the cabin, looking for his own booty. His eyes settled on an open carton of Marlboros atop a row of books. I had kept the cigarettes to exchange for fish from passing fishermen in their dugouts.
"Rokok tidak bagus," I tried to joke, mimicking a current Indonesian anti-smoking slogan; I realized at once that I sounded like a patronizing smartass. I reached overhead and handed the carton to the humorless youth.
The old man rose. In the Islamic tradition of respect he shook my hand, then tapped his chest lightly; he turned and ascended the companionway steps in silence, followed by his sons. As the pirate boat motored off into the darkness to perhaps more lucrative prey, the angry tones of a loud and rancorous discussion drifted across the water. I imagined they were catching hell for not returning with better loot.
I went to the side, held my throbbing head between my hands to keep it from exploding, leaned over, and retched.
At the immigration office in Singapore the next day, officials told me that an oil tanker had been pirated only a few miles from where I'd had my encounter. The ship had been hijacked and had vanished.

Mongrel Combative Systems
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« Reply #18 on: April 08, 2009, 10:32:39 AM »

No doubt our President will , , , well, what will he do?

Sorry, no URL.

Somali pirates on Wednesday hijacked a U.S.-flagged cargo ship with 21 crew members aboard, a diplomat and a U.S. Navy spokesman said.

The Kenya-based diplomat identified the vessel as the 17,000-ton Maersk Alabama and said all the crew members are American. The diplomat spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

The U.S. Navy confirmed that a U.S. flagged ship with 21 members of crew was hijacked early Wednesday off the eastern coast of Somalia.

Spokesman Lt. Nathan Christensen said the attacked happened in the early hours of the morning hours, about 280 miles (450 kilometers) northeast of Eyl, a town in the northern Puntland region of Somalia.

Christensen said there were U.S. citizens aboard the ship, but he did not say how many. He declined to release the name of the ship until the family members of the crew are notified.

He said the ship was operated by the Danish company Maersk, which deals with the U.S. Department of Defense. Christensen said the vessel was not working under a Pentagon contract when hijacked.

Maersk Kenya Managing Director Rolf Nielsen said the company was still verifying reports of the hijacking. An U.S. embassy spokeswoman was not immediately able to confirm the incident.

Andrew Mwangura of the East African Seafarers' Assistance Program said the ship was taken about 400 miles (640 kilometers) from the Somali capital, Mogadishu.

The vessel is the sixth to be seized within a week and the first with an all-American crew.
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« Reply #19 on: April 08, 2009, 12:29:25 PM »

US crew reportedly takes over ship from pirates

2 mins ago
WASHINGTON – The crew of a U.S.-flag ship seized by pirates off Somalia is believed to have retaken the vessel, the Pentagon said Wednesday, even as a shaken national security establishment confronted troubling questions about the hostage-taking at high sea.

Capt. Joseph Murphy, an instructor at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, told The Associated Press the Department of Defense that his son Shane, the second in command on the ship, had called him to say the crew had regained control.

"The crew is back in control of the ship," a U.S. official said at midday, speaking on condition of anonymity because she was not authorized to speak on the record. "It's reported that one pirate is on board under crew control — the other three were trying to flee," the official said. The status of the other pirates was unknown, the official said, but they were reported to "be in the water."

The crew apparently contacted the private shipping that it works for. That company, Maersk, scheduled a noon news conference in Norfolk, Va, defense officials said.

Somali pirates today hijacked a U.S.-flagged cargo ship with 20 American crew members onboard, hundreds of miles from the nearest American military vessel in some of the most dangerous waters in the world.

The 17,000-ton Maersk Alabama was carrying emergency relief to Mombasa, Kenya, when it was hijacked, said Peter Beck-Bang, spokesman for the Copenhagen-based container shipping group A.P. Moller-Maersk. It was the sixth ship seized within a week, a rise that analysts attribute to a new strategy by Somali pirates who are operating far from the warships patrolling the Gulf of Aden.

The company confirmed that the U.S.-flagged vessel has 20 U.S. nationals onboard.

Cmdr. Jane Campbell, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Navy's Bahrain-based 5th Fleet, said that it was the first pirate attack "involving U.S. nationals and a U.S.-flagged vessel in recent memory." She did not give an exact timeframe.

When asked how the U.S. Navy plans to deal with the hijacking, Campbell said: "It's fair to say we are closely monitoring the situation, but we will not discuss nor speculate on current and future military operations."

It was not clear whether the pirates knew they were hijacking a ship with American crew.

"It's a very significant foreign policy challenge for the Obama administration," said Graeme Gibbon Brooks, managing director of the British company Dryad Maritime Intelligence Service Ltd. "Their citizens are in the hands of criminals and people are waiting to see what happens."

Brooks and other analysts interviewed by the AP declined to speculate on whether American military forces might attempt a rescue operation. A senior Navy official in Washington said the Obama administration was talking to the shipping company to learn "the who, what, why, where and when" of the hijacking.

The U.S. Navy confirmed that the ship was hijacked early Wednesday about 280 miles (450 kilometers) southeast of Eyl, a town in the northern Puntland region of Somalia.

U.S. Navy spokesman Lt. Nathan Christensen said the closest U.S. ship at the time of the hijacking was 345 miles (555 kilometers)away.

"The area, the ship was taken in, is not where the focus of our ships has been," Christensen told The Associated Press by phone from the 5th Fleet's Mideast headquarters in Bahrain. "The area we're patrolling is more than a million miles in size. Our ships cannot be everywhere at every time."

Somali pirates are trained fighters who frequently dress in military fatigues and use speedboats equipped with satellite phones and GPS equipment. They are typically armed with automatic weapons, anti-tank rocket launchers and various types of grenades. Far out to sea, their speedboats operate from larger mother ships.

Most hijackings end with million-dollar payouts. Piracy is considered the biggest moneymaker in Somalia, a country that has had no stable government for decades. Roger Middleton, a piracy expert at the London-based think-tank Chatham House, said pirates took up to $80 million in ransoms last year.

A NATO official said from Brussels that the alliance's five warships were patrolling the Gulf of Aden at the time of attack.

"That's where most of the shipping goes through and we can provide most of the protection in that vital trade route," said the official who asked not to be identified under standing rules.

The official said the taking of the crude-filled Saudi supertanker Sirius Star also happened in open water far off the Somali coastline. The Sirius Star was released in January,

NATO has five warships that patrol the region alongside three frigates from the European Union. The U.S. Navy normally keeps between five to 10 ships on station off the Somali coast. The navies of India, China, Japan, Russia and other nations also cooperate in the international patrols.

NATO sees piracy as a long-term problem and is planning to deploy a permanent flotilla to the region this summer.

On March 29, a NATO supply ship itself came under attack by Somali pirates who appear to have mistaken it for a merchant ship. The crew quickly overcame the attackers, boarded their boat and captured seven.

This is the second time that Somali pirates have seized a ship belonging to the privately held shipping group A.P. Moller-Maersk. In February 2008, the towing vessel Svitzer Korsakov from the A.P. Moller-Maersk company Svitzer was briefly seized by pirates.

Before this latest hijacking, Somali pirates were holding 14 vessels and about 200 crew members, according to the International Maritime Bureau.
« Reply #20 on: April 08, 2009, 12:46:07 PM »

That is great news!!!
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« Reply #21 on: April 09, 2009, 09:07:08 AM »

President Obama may have dodged a hostage crisis on the high seas yesterday, thanks to the bravery, quick thinking and good fortune of the 20-man American crew of the Maersk Alabama. But unless his Administration moves quickly to show that pirates, rogue states -- and even a few rogue judges -- will pay a fearsome price for taking U.S. citizens hostage, a similar drama can't be far off.

APAs we went to press, the crew of the Maersk Alabama had regained control of their U.S.-flagged, 17,000-ton unarmed merchant ship, though its seems Captain Richard Phillips was still being held by Somali pirates. The ship had been bound for Mombasa, Kenya, carrying a cargo of emergency food when it came within 300 miles of Somalia's coastline. It is one of at least 50 ships to have been attacked by Somali-based pirates in the past three months. But it is the first U.S.-flagged vessel to have been hijacked in years, and perhaps decades.

Why has Somalia become the 21st-century version of the 17th-century West Indies? The usual answer is that it's a failed state, unhappily situated near a major shipping lane where all kinds of criminality can thrive.

In fact, piracy is making a comeback because the world has largely allowed it. The owners of captured vessels have been willing to pay multimillion dollar ransoms to recover the ships, 16 of which and 200 crew members are currently in pirate hands. Restrictive or ambiguous rules of engagement -- a bequest of the Law of the Sea Treaty -- create further difficulties for navies trying to prevent piracy. Western states have also been wary of trying captured pirates in their own courts, choosing instead to remand them to Kenya's jurisdiction.

As for the U.S., too often the operative language in dealing with pirates has been "no controlling legal authority," in part because, until now, all of the hijacked ships have operated under foreign flags. The case of the Maersk Alabama was (or would have been) clearly different. Still, the price the civilized world has paid for dispensing with the old Ciceronian wisdom that pirates were hostis humani generis -- enemies of the human race -- can probably now be counted in billions of dollars.

We don't advocate reverting to Roman methods (e.g., crucifixion) for dealing with pirates, though the Administration could apply the Stephen Decatur standard by bombing the Somali pirate city of Eyl. U.S. law is clear that pirates who attack U.S. flag ships deserve at least 10 years in prison. But treating captured pirates as enemy combatants unworthy of Geneva Convention protections would help in cases where pirates attack foreign-flagged ships and international law is now more ambiguous.

A similar attitude might guide the Obama Administration in its dealings with other states that have, or seek, to take Americans captives. North Korea seized two American journalists, Euna Lee and Laura Ling, last month on the Chinese border and says it intends to put them on trial for "espionage." Iran also uses hostage-taking as an instrument of state policy, including the British sailors seized in Iraqi waters in 2007, American academic Haleh Esfandiari the same year and, most recently, American journalist Roxana Saberi, whom the Iranians also accuse of espionage and who is now being held in Tehran's notorious Evin prison.

Then again, why look so far afield? As we wrote yesterday, a Spanish judge may soon order arrest warrants for six Bush Administration officials on dubious charges under the preposterous theory of "universal jurisdiction." So far, however, the Obama Administration hasn't spoken a word in their defense. If the U.S. government won't protect American citizens from the legal anarchy of postmodern Europe, how can we expect it to protect American sailors from the premodern anarchy of Somalia, much less the tyrannies of Tehran and Pyongyang?
« Reply #22 on: April 09, 2009, 02:57:55 PM »

April 9, 8:27 AM, 2009 · Washington Babylon · Previous · Next 
Pirates and the CIA: What would Thomas Jefferson have done?
By Ken Silverstein

“It was the sixth such attack this week and one of 66 this year by Somali pirates, a collection of shrewd businessmen and daring opportunists who have pulled off a series of spectacular seizures using high- and low-tech gear, from satellite phones and rocket-propelled grenades to battered wooden skiffs and rickety ladders,” the Washington Post reported today about the attack on a U.S.-operated container ship. “In the past year, their booty has included the MV Faina, a Ukrainian ship loaded with tanks and antiaircraft guns, and the MV Sirius Star, a 300,000-ton, 1,000-foot-long Saudi oil tanker that is the largest ship to be seized in history.”

For months, a former senior CIA officer has been telling me that pirate activity off Somalia was a problem that needed to be aggressively dealt with. By chance, I had a meeting with him yesterday as the Maersk Alabama hijacking was unfolding. Here’s what he had to say (he updated his remarks today):

The American response to date has been incredibly naïve and woefully ineffective. Now, predictably, you have an American taken hostage. All of which should have been prevented. You’ve got a failed state in Somalia and pirates operating in an area of ocean that is larger than the state of Texas but we’ve been trying to deal with this from the ocean side, by sending the navy and with a limited application of technology, such as satellites and drones. We can’t afford to patrol that big a piece of the ocean; it’s too expensive to leave a naval task force out there.

We need to deal with this problem from the beach side, in concert with the ocean side, but we don’t have an embassy in Somalia and limited, ineffective intelligence operations. We need to work in Somalia and in Lebanon, where a lot of the ransom money has changed hands. But our operations in Lebanon are a joke, and we have no presence at all in Somalia. Attempting to interdict this exclusively from the water side is folly. The U.S. Navy is already stretched so thin with enormous other tasks and amassing the required resources to search for a small band of thieves would be a waste of valuable resources. The U.S. Navy should not have to shoulder this mission alone. Where is the CIA? Where is the humint effort in Somalia? Where is the covert action capability of the CIA that should be on the ground in Somalia, collecting, pressuring, attacking, and destroying pirate infrastructure?

The pirates have a base of operations and infrastructure. They’re not going out 400-plus nautical miles from shore in shitty boats; they have fuel supplies, docks, mechanics, and support infrastructure, on the beach. It’s all findable and disrupt-able. We need a contingent of agency personnel in Ethiopia and Somalia to go after this infrastructure, leadership and control elements in Somalia, and an aggressive humint [human intelligence] effort in Lebanon to follow, and choke off the money.

This is a challenge to confront, but it has to be dealt with. A band of thugs are tying up international shipping along a gigantic stretch of Africa that’s an approach area for the Suez Canal. Last year, the hijackers made $80 million, which is a staggering sum of money in that country. Up until now, little has been done to deal with it because of the expense, complexity and necessary commitment of manpower and resources required. Also, given the long history of Al Qaida in Somalia, no one wants to discuss the possibility that it may have a role in this pirate activity as a revenue stream. That’s a question that could be answered if we had better humint in Somalia.

The navy sent the USS Bainbridge to the pirate incident. Commodore Bainbridge was the commander of the task force that President Jefferson sent to fight the Barbary pirate incidents in Tripoli. Commodore Bainbridge is probably spinning in his grave at how feckless our response is today. In 1803-05, Jefferson sent Captain Eaton to conduct a covert action attack against the pirates and their infrastructure and leadership on the beach. Captain Eaton assembled a handful of of U.S. Marines and a group of Arab, Greek and North African mercenaries and attacked the Basha from the desert, overland side, while the Naval task force bombarded the sea side. And the State Department authorized a “payment” to the Basha, paid by that rat Tobias Lear.

It was the first combined covert action, U.S. Navy operational action against a foreign enemy. Unconventional warfare, against an unconventional enemy. What a novel idea. We handled things better 200 years ago!
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« Reply #23 on: April 10, 2009, 11:54:19 AM »

Obama's latest international test.
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« Reply #24 on: April 10, 2009, 10:44:54 PM »

I've been corrected. It's wrong to call them pirates. They are just community organizers from ACORN-Somalia.

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« Reply #25 on: April 11, 2009, 09:56:24 AM »

The piracy probelm has the potential to turn into another terrorist problem.
Remember the name Al Shabab:

The US is weak.
The rest of the world is happy.
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« Reply #26 on: April 11, 2009, 11:10:39 AM »

**Hey, Bush isn't president anymore. What's Obama going to do, talk smack on Leno? Open season on America and the west.**

Pirates seize U.S.-owned, Italy-flagged tugboat
11 Apr 2009 14:39:44 GMT
Source: Reuters
(Adds quote, NATO)
By Duncan Miriri

NAIROBI, April 11 (Reuters) - Pirates seized a U.S.-owned and Italian-flagged tugboat with 16 crew on Saturday in the latest hijacking in the busy Gulf of Aden waterway, a regional maritime group said.
Andrew Mwangura, of the Mombasa-based East African Seafarers' Assistance Programme, said the crew were believed to be unharmed on the tugboat, which he added was operated from the United Arab Emirates.
He said the tugboat was towing two barges at the time of capture but there were no details on their cargo.
"This incident shows the pirates are becoming more daring and violent," Mwangura told Reuters by phone.
NATO alliance officials on board the Portuguese warship NRB Corte-Real, which is patrolling the Gulf of Aden, said a distress call came from the MV Buccaneer tugboat but communications were lost six minutes later.
They said 10 of the tugboat's crew were Italian citizens.
Somali pirates have stepped up attacks in March after a lull at the start of 2009.
International interest has focused this week on the plight of an American hostage, Richard Phillips, held by four pirates on a lifeboat flanked by U.S. naval warships in a high seas standoff since Wednesday. (Additional reporting by Andrew Cawthorne in Nairobi and Alison Bevege on the NRB Corte-Real)
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« Reply #27 on: April 11, 2009, 09:16:45 PM »

April 11, 2009, 2:30 p.m.

Our Reprimitivized Future
When all the world’s a “distraction,” maybe you’re not the main event after all.

By Mark Steyn

The Reuters headline put it this way: “Pirates Pose Annoying Distraction For Obama.”

So many distractions, aren’t there? Only a week ago, the North Korean missile test was an “annoying distraction” from Barack Obama’s call for a world without nuclear weapons and his pledge that America would lead the way in disarming. And only a couple of days earlier the president insisted Iraq was a “distraction” — from what, I forget: The cooing press coverage of Michelle’s wardrobe? No doubt when the Iranians nuke Israel, that, too, will be an unwelcome distraction from the administration’s plans for federally subsidized daycare, just as Pearl Harbor was an annoying distraction from the New Deal, and the First World War was an annoying distraction from the Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s dinner plans.

If the incompetent management driving the New York Times from junk status to oblivion wished to decelerate their terminal decline, they might usefully amend their motto to “All the News That’s Fit to Distract.” Tom Blumer of Newsbusters notes that in the last 30 days there have been some 2,500 stories featuring Obama and “distractions,” as opposed to about 800 “distractions” for Bush in his entire second term. The sub-headline of the Reuters story suggests the unprecedented pace at which the mountain of distractions is piling up: “First North Korea, Iran — now Somali pirates.”

Er, okay. So the North Korean test is a “distraction,” the Iranian nuclear program is a “distraction,” and the seizure of a U.S.-flagged vessel in international waters is a “distraction.” Maybe it would be easier just to have the official State Department maps reprinted with the Rest of the World relabeled “Distractions.” Oh, to be sure, you could still have occasional oases of presidential photo-opportunities — Buckingham Palace, that square in Prague — but with the land beyond the edge of the Queen’s gardens ominously marked “Here be distractions . . . ”

As it happens, Somali piracy is not a distraction, but a glimpse of the world the day after tomorrow. In my book America Alone, I quote Robert D. Kaplan referring to the lawless fringes of the map as “Indian Territory.” It’s a droll jest but a misleading one, since the very phrase presumes that the badlands will one day be brought within the bounds of the ordered world. In fact, a lot of today’s badlands were relatively ordered not so long ago, and many of them are getting badder and badder by the day. Half a century back, Somaliland was a couple of sleepy colonies, British and Italian, poor but functioning. Then it became a state, and then a failed state, and now the husk of a nation is a convenient squat from which to make mischief. According to Chatham House in London, Somali pirates made about $30 million in ransom and booty last year. Thirty mil goes a long way in Somalia, making piracy a very attractive proposition.

It’s also a low-risk one. Once upon a time we killed and captured pirates. Today, it’s all more complicated. The attorney general, Eric Holder, has declined to say whether the kidnappers of the American captain will be “brought to justice” by the U.S. “I’m not sure exactly what would happen next,” declares the chief law-enforcement official of the world’s superpower. But some things we can say for certain. Obviously, if the United States Navy hanged some eyepatched peglegged blackguard from the yardarm or made him walk the plank, pious senators would rise to denounce an America that no longer lived up to its highest ideals, and the network talking-heads would argue that Plankgate was recruiting more and more young men to the pirates’ cause, and judges would rule that pirates were entitled to the protections of the U.S. constitution and that their peglegs had to be replaced by high-tech prosthetic limbs at taxpayer expense.

Meanwhile, the Royal Navy, which over the centuries did more than anyone to rid the civilized world of the menace of piracy, now declines even to risk capturing their Somali successors, having been advised by Her Majesty’s Government that, under the European Human Rights Act, any pirate taken into custody would be entitled to claim refugee status in the United Kingdom and live on welfare for the rest of his life. I doubt Pirates of the Caribbean would have cleaned up at the box office if the big finale had shown Geoffrey Rush and his crew of scurvy sea dogs settling down in council flats in Manchester and going down to the pub for a couple of jiggers of rum washed down to cries of “Aaaaargh, shiver me benefits check, lad.” From “Avast, me hearties!” to a vast welfare scam is not progress.

In a world of legalisms, resistance is futile. The Royal Navy sailors kidnapped by Iran two years ago and humiliated by the mullahs on TV were operating under rules of engagement that call for “de-escalation” in the event of a confrontation. Which is to say, their rules of engagement are rules of non-engagement. Likewise, merchant vessels equipped with cannon in the 18th century now sail unarmed. They contract with expensive private security firms, but those security teams do not carry guns: When the MV Biscaglia was seized by pirates in the Gulf of Aden last year, the Indian and Bangladeshi crew were taken hostage but the three unarmed guards from “Anti-Piracy Maritime Security Solutions” in London “escaped by jumping into the water.” Some solution. When you make a lucrative activity low-risk, you get more of it.

As my colleague Andrew McCarthy wrote, “Civilization is not an evolution of mankind but the imposition of human good on human evil. It is not a historical inevitability. It is a battle that has to be fought every day, because evil doesn’t recede willingly before the wheels of progress.” Very true. Somalia, Iran, and North Korea are all less “civilized” than they were a couple of generations ago. And yet in one sense they have made undeniable progress: They have globalized their pathologies. Somali pirates seize vessels the size of aircraft carriers flying the ensigns of the great powers. Iranian proxies run Gaza and much of Lebanon. North Korea’s impoverished prison state provides nuclear technology to Damascus and Tehran. Unlovely as it is, Pyongyang nevertheless has friends on the Security Council. Powerful states protect one-man psycho states. One-man psycho states provide delivery systems to apocalyptic ideological states. Apocalyptic ideological states fund non-state actors around the world. And in Somalia and elsewhere non-state actors are constrained only by their ever increasing capabilities.

When all the world’s a “distraction,” maybe you’re not the main event after all. Most wealthy nations lack the means to defend themselves. Those few that do, lack the will. Meanwhile, basket-case jurisdictions send out ever-bolder freelance marauders to prey on the civilized world with impunity. Don’t be surprised if “the civilized world” shrivels and retreats in the face of state-of-the-art reprimitivization. From piracy to nukes to the limp response of the hyperpower, this is not a “distraction” but a portent of the future.

— Mark Steyn, a National Review columnist, is author of America Alone. © 2009 Mark Steyn
National Review Online -
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« Reply #28 on: April 12, 2009, 05:18:33 AM »,2933,514039,00.html
« Reply #29 on: April 12, 2009, 09:05:27 AM »

One of my favorite military historians is John Keegan. I would highly recommend his Face of Battle. Here Keegan provide his prescription for battling pirates:

Pirates must be hunted down and their vessels sunk on sight
The sooner we tackle this menace, the sooner our seas will be safe again, argues John Keegan.
By John Keegan
Last Updated: 7:44PM BST 09 Apr 2009

Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum, raise the Jolly Roger and all that. The thought of pirates brings a smile to the lips – but in reality there is nothing jolly about pirates, as this week's hijacking of the Maersk Alabama off the coast of Somalia, should remind us.

On Wednesday, Somali gunmen briefly hijacked the colossal freighter, only to be driven off by the crew. Retaining the captain as a hostage, they fled to a lifeboat, where they were yesterday engaged in a David-and-Goliath standoff with the might of the US Navy.
Last year, more than 130 such attacks were reported, centred on the Gulf of Aden. Approximately 50 were successful, with millions of pounds being extracted in ransom money, most notoriously for a Saudi supertanker carrying £70 million in oil, and a Ukrainian ship transporting 33 tanks. The civilised world long believed that piracy was part of history, long ago stamped out by the navies of the industrialised nations. Instead, at the chokepoints of sea lanes, off the shore of weak – or completely failed – states, piracy is flourishing.

Although such areas have been pirates' main area of activity over the years, they were once far more widely spread. Our own country was once a nest of pirates, including some of our national heroes, such as Sir Francis Drake. By around the 17th century, however, it was no longer in the rich nations' interest to tolerate the practice, so they combined to stamp it out. One of the reasons why the attack on the Maersk was the first to involve American sailors in around 200 years is encapsulated in a well-known line of the US marines' anthem: "From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli". This refers to the occasion, in the early 1800s, when the young republic sent a naval expedition to the north-western coast of Africa, den of the Barbary pirates, to deter attacks on their shipping.

Like other countries, America had paid bribes and ransoms, but the pirates' promises were never kept. Military action, in the form of two expeditions separated by a decade, was far more successful, especially when consolidated by the French occupation of Algeria in 1830. Admittedly, piracy did persist in the South China Sea and East Indian Sea, but with the rise of the European empires – and especially of the Royal Navy – it was eventually wiped out. One of the triumphs of Victorian Britain was to rule waves on which piracy had been extinguished.
Now, however, it is on the rise again – in precisely the areas where it should most be expected. Yet this time, there are even more pressing reasons to tackle the problem. The Gulf of Aden is the southern exit of the Suez Canal, and the ships on which the pirates are preying are not small sailing vessels, but huge container ships, carrying the cargoes upon which the world's prosperity depends.

The rich nations are already taking steps to protect their shipping – the US 5th Fleet has five to 10 ships in the area; there is also an EU force, and a Nato fleet. A host of countries, including Britain, China, Russia, India, Saudi Arabia, Denmark and Malaysia, have either sent warships or are reportedly considering doing so.

Such ships must act promptly and ruthlessly, as piracy will spread unless it is stamped out. The Gulf of Aden is an exit from the Mediterranean, one of the world's most important seas, crossed annually by thousands of ships. So our campaign must be ruthless and pitiless: pirate ships must be sunk on sight and the crews left to swim to safety, if it can be reached.
Many would complain about such tactics but, in my opinion, pirates have no rights – indeed, it will be vital to exclude human rights lawyers from the anti-piracy campaign. To bring any captives to Europe or America for trial would probably be to grant them their dearest wish, which is to secure entry to a new life in the First World.

This intensified anti-piracy campaign will require real re-equipment. Although the European navies likely to bear the lion's share of the burden – ourselves, the French, the Spanish and the Italians – are all efficient, they lack the right sort of ships. The Royal Navy's potential anti-piracy ships are anti-submarine or air-defence frigates.

But the Royal Navy has been here before. In 1939, at the start of the Battle of Atlantic, its anti-submarine fleet was largely composed of large fleet destroyers that needed to refuel too often to be suitable for the long operations with convoys. The navy had to try a new sort of ship – the frigate – and a new small destroyer, the Hunt model, in order to cope.

It is vital to begin re-equipping sooner, rather than later. Like the IRA, the pirates will not go away. Nor can they be negotiated out of the system. They needed to be hunted to extinction – and the time to start the hunt is now.
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« Reply #30 on: April 12, 2009, 12:13:05 PM »

Freed French hostages due to arrive in Paris
Sunday 12 April 2009

Four ex-hostages, freed from a French yacht seized by Somali pirates, arrive in Paris on Sunday but without their skipper Florent Lemaçon, who was killed during a mission to recue them. On Saturday, Somali pirates seized an Italian tug.

Before :

Handout photo released by the French Navy on 11 April 2009, showing the owners of French 14.5 meters sailboat Tanit, Florent Lemacon (C), his wife Chloe (C), their three years old son Collin, and crew member 'Dodo' (2-L) being held at gun point by armed pirates. Florent and Chloe Lemacon and their three years old son Collin, plus two crew members, were captured and held hostages by pirates on 04 April 2009, not far from the Somalia's cost on the Indian Ocean, as the group was sailing to Kenya, French Special Forces retook the yacht on 10 April after negotiations to secure the release of the hostages fail. Mr. Lemacon and two pirates were killed, and 3 were taken prisoner.

After :

A handout photo released by the French Navy on 11 April 2009, showing Chloe Lemacon (C), owner of French 14.5 meters sailboat Tanit, being helped off the yacht's cockpit by French Special Forces members. French nationals Florent and Chloe Lemacon and their three years old son Collin, plus two crew members, were captured and held hostages by pirates on 04 April 2009, not far from the Somalia's cost on the Indian Ocean, as the group was sailing to Kenya, French Special Forces retook the yacht on 10 April after negotiations to secure the release of the hostages fail. Mr. Lemacon and two pirates were killed, and three were taken prisoner.

RIP Florent Lemaçon
Congrats "La Royale"

12 April 2009
React (4) Print save AFP - Pirates holding a US merchant captain hostage on a lifeboat near Somalia could be preparing to transfer him to another ship Sunday, as an Italian vessel became the latest hijacking prey in the Gulf of Aden.

» Despite warnings, French family sails into pirate hands
Amid reports of ransom demands and shots fired at US sailors trying to reach the pirates, US officials considered how best to free Captain Richard Phillips and FBI agents interviewed his crew after the Maersk Alabama docked safely at Mombasa, Kenya.

In Italy meanwhile, the owners of the tug captured on Saturday by Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden gave more details of the 16-strong crew.

"Ten Italians, five Romanians and a Croat are on board," Claudio Bartolotti of Micoperi Marine Contractors told AFP from the company's headquarters in Ravenna, northern Italy.

An earlier report had suggested that the boat was US-owned but operating under an Italian flag.

At around noon (1000 GMT), the company got word that their vessel, the 75-metre (250-foot) Buccaneer, had been captured, said Bartolotti. Fighting Piracy

» Hunting pirates with the French Navy
» Q&A with French Navy captain
» Despite warnings, French family sails into pirates' hands

The news came in an email that had probably been sent by the pirates themselves, he added. He had had no word since then.

It was the latest in a series of brazen raids in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean, despite the presence of an international task force there to defend international shipping through the busy passage.

US Navy forces have poured into the region amid the standoff over Phillips, who has been held hostage since Wednesday when the container ship he commanded was attacked.

Four pirates hijacked the Maersk Alabama, a freighter carrying 5,000 tonnes of UN aid destined for African refugees.

Its unarmed American crew managed to regain control of the ship, but the pirates bundled Phillips into the lifeboat as they escaped.

At 8:30 pm local time (1730 GMT) the Maersk Alabama docked at Mombasa. Those crew members visible from the dock looked tired but happy.

"The captain is a hero, he saved our lives," said one crew member, before retreating back inside the vessel.

Despite their ordeal, however, the crew was not allowed off the ship and the media was told to stay ashore while US Federal Bureau of Investigation agents were on board investigating.

"Because of the pirate attack, the FBI has informed us this ship is a crime scene," Maersk Line president John Reinhart told a press briefing in the US state of Virginia.

Adrift in Indian Ocean and tracked closely by two US warships, the lifeboat carrying Phillips was now roughly 20 miles (32 kilometers) from the Somali coastline, according to CNN.

Overnight Thursday to Friday, Phillips tried to swim for the nearby US destroyer the USS Bainbridge, but was recaptured by his abductors.

A small naval party from one of the warships approached the lifeboat Saturday, but was forced back when the pirates opened fire, CNN reported from Bahrain, where the US Fifth Fleet is based.

The naval party retreated back to its mother ship without further incident to avoid antagonizing the situation any further, CNN said, citing a US official familiar with the situation.

Meanwhile, a pirate commander in the northern Somali town of Eyl told AFP by telephone that Phillips would be moved from the lifeboat where he was being held to another ship off the Somali coast.

Abdi Garad warned against using force to rescue Phillips.

"I'm afraid this matter is likely to create disaster because it's taking too long and we are getting information that the Americans are planning rescue tricks like the French commandos did," Garad said.

A US military spokesman in Washington declined to comment on how the US Navy would react if the pirates holding Phillips managed to transfer him to another vessel.

The pirates have demanded a two-million-dollar ransom and safe passage to Somalia for Phillips' release, New York's Daily News reported, adding that they threatened to kill their hostage if the US Navy attacked.

French Defence Minister Herve Morin defended Friday's marine raid on a yacht in the region that left one hostage and two pirates dead.

The marines moved in six days after the French yacht, the Tanit, was seized in the Gulf of Aden.

Although they freed three adults and a three-year-old boy, a fourth man, Florent Lemacon, the owner of the yacht and the child's father, was killed.

An autopsy and investigation would determine what had happened, said Morin. He could not rule out that the fatal shot had come from the French forces.

But in comments to French radio, he insisted: "We did everything to save the hostages' lives."

The four ex-hostages -- Lemacon's wife Chloe, their three-year-old son Colin and two other adults -- were due in Paris on Sunday aboard a French-chartered plane, Morin told AFP.

Meanwhile, a court in the northern Somali breakaway region of Puntland -- the main hub for piracy in the Gulf of Aden -- on Saturday sentenced 10 people to 20 years in jail each for piracy.
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« Reply #31 on: April 12, 2009, 01:36:49 PM »

Official: US sea captain freed in swift firefight


Well Done Navy,would love to see the video,if it exists.

MOMBASA, Kenya (AP) - An American ship captain was freed unharmed Sunday in a U.S. Navy operation that killed three of the four Somali pirates who had been holding him for days in a lifeboat off the coast of Africa, a senior U.S. intelligence official said.

One of the pirates was wounded and in custody after a swift firefight, the official said.

Capt. Richard Phillips, 53, of Underhill, Vermont, was safely transported to a Navy warship nearby.

The official was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

A government official and others in Somali with knowledge of the situation had reported hours earlier that negotiations for Phillips' release had broken down.

The district commissioner of the central Mudug region said talks went on all day Saturday, with clan elders from his area talking by satellite telephone and through a translator with Americans, but collapsed late Saturday night.

"The negotiations between the elders and American officials have broken down. The reason is American officials wanted to arrest the pirates in Puntland and elders refused the arrest of the pirates," said the commissioner, Abdi Aziz Aw Yusuf. He said he organized initial contacts between the elders and the Americans.

Two other Somalis, one involved in the negotiations and another in contact with the pirates, also said the talks collapsed because of the U.S. insistence that the pirates be arrested and brought to justice.

Phillips' crew of 19 American sailors reached safe harbor in Kenya's northeast port of Mombasa on Saturday night under guard of U.S. Navy Seals, exhilarated by their freedom but mourning the absence of Phillips.

Crew members said their ordeal had begun with the Somali pirates hauling themselves up from a small boat bobbing on the surface of the Indian Ocean far below.

As the pirates shot in the air, Phillips told his crew to lock themselves in a cabin and surrendered himself to safeguard his men, crew members said.

Phillips was then held hostage in an enclosed lifeboat that was closely watched by U.S. warships and a helicopter in an increasingly tense standoff.

Talks to free him began Thursday with the captain of the USS Bainbridge talking to the pirates under instruction from FBI hostage negotiators on board the U.S. destroyer.

A statement from Maersk Line, owner of Phillips' ship, the Maersk Alabama, said "the U.S. Navy had sight contact" of Phillips earlier Sunday—apparently when the pirates opened the hatches.

Before Phillips was freed, a pirate who said he was associated with the gang that held Phillips, Ahmed Mohamed Nur, told The Associated Press that the pirates had reported that "helicopters continue to fly over their heads in the daylight and in the night they are under the focus of a spotlight from a warship."

He spoke by satellite phone from Harardhere, a port and pirate stronghold where a fisherman said helicopters flew over the town Sunday morning and a warship was looming on the horizon. The fisherman, Abdi Sheikh Muse, said that could be an indication the lifeboat may be near to shore.

The U.S. Navy had assumed the pirates would try to get their hostage to shore, where they can hide him on Somalia's lawless soil and be in a stronger position to negotiate a ransom.

Three U.S. warships were within easy reach of the lifeboat on Saturday. The pirates had threatened to kill Phillips if attacked.

On Friday, the French navy freed a sailboat seized off Somalia last week by other pirates, but one of the five hostages was killed.

Early Saturday, the pirates holding Phillips in the lifeboat fired a few shots at a small U.S. Navy vessel that had approached, a U.S. military official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

The official said the U.S. sailors did not return fire, the Navy vessel turned away and no one was hurt. He said the vessel had not been attempting a rescue. The pirates are believed armed with pistols and AK-47 assault rifles.

Phillips jumped out of the lifeboat Friday and tried to swim for his freedom but was recaptured when a pirate fired an automatic weapon at or near him, according to U.S. Defense Department officials speaking on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to talk about the unfolding operations.

"When I spoke to the crew, they won't consider it done when they board a plane and come home," Maersk President John Reinhart said from Norfolk, Virginia before news of Phillips' rescue. "They won't consider it done until the captain is back, nor will we."

In Phillips' hometown, the Rev. Charles Danielson of the St. Thomas Church said before the news broke that the congregation would continue to pray for Phillips and his family, who are members, and he would encourage "people to find hope in the triumph of good over evil."

Reinhart said he spoke with Phillips' wife, Andrea, who is surrounded by family and two company employees who were sent to support her.

"She's a brave woman," Reinhart said. "And she has one favor to ask: 'Do what you have to do to bring Richard home safely.' That means don't make a mistake, folks. We have to be perfect in our execution."
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« Reply #32 on: April 12, 2009, 09:41:38 PM »

awesome work by all!  afro  grin  cool
I'm so glad the white house didn't micro manage this to death and gave the
people on the boat autonomy to git this done! although that somali they
took prisoner (accounts say he might get life) seems to have gotten the
better deal of this whole scene. Imagine, his life in somalia vs. his life in a US jail (free tv/cable,
free food, new clothes... oy vey undecided
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« Reply #33 on: April 13, 2009, 08:28:02 AM »

Navy commander: Trio of shots ended sea standoff
April 13, 2009 6:57 AM EDT

WASHINGTON - Adm. William Gortney said Monday that it took only three shots for Navy snipers to kill the trio of pirates holding captain Richard Phillips hostage on a lifeboat drifting in the high sea.

Interviewed from Bahrain, Gortney said the takedown happened shortly after the hostage-takers were observed by sailors aboard the USS Bainbridge "with their heads and shoulders exposed."

Asked how the snipers could have killed each pirate with a single shot in the darkness, Gortney described them as "extremely, extremely well-trained." He told NBC's "Today" show the shooting by the snipers was ordered by the captain of the Bainbridge after the pirates "exposed themselves" to attack.

Military officials were widely praising the snipers for three flawless shots, which they described as remarkable, coming at night and from the stern of a ship on rolling waters.

Defense officials also indicated, speaking anonymously, that the Navy snipers got the go-ahead to fire after one of the pirates was seen holding an AK-47 so close to Phillips that the weapon appeared to be touching him. Two other pirates popped their heads up, giving snipers all three of their targets, one official said.

The military officials asked not to be named because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the case.

They said that a fourth pirate who survived was believed to be between 16 and 20 years old, and had in effect surrendered before the sniper rescue.

One official said he jumped into a small craft that had been taking food to the lifeboat, and asked to be taken to the Bainbridge. He also needed medical help because he had been stabbed in the hand on the Maersk Alabama in the initial standoff with crew members when the pirates attempted unsuccessfully to take over the cargo vessel, officials said.

Shane Murphy, a crew member of the Maersk Alabama, told a news conference: "We are lucky to be out of it with every one of us alive. We never had to fight to take our ship back. We never gave up."

The Navy released images of the scene from an unmanned drone, Scan Eagle. It showed that the snipers had positioned themselves on the fantail of the Bainbridge. The snipers fired simultaneously. One of the pirates was in the pilot house.

The SEALS arrived on the scene by parachuting from their aircraft into the sea, and they were picked up by the Bainbridge, a senior U.S. official said.

He said negotiations with the pirates had been "going up and down. Discussions would be going well, and then they would get discouraged and real angry." This official, asking not to be publicly identified because he, too, was not authorized to discuss this on the record, said the pirates were "becoming increasingly agitated in the rough waters; they weren't getting what they wanted."

Just as it was getting dark, pirates fired a tracer bullet "toward the Bainbridge," further heightening the sense that the incident was ratcheting up, the official said.

He said that at the time snipers took their shot, Phillips' hands were bound.
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« Reply #34 on: April 13, 2009, 08:46:17 AM »

Giving credit where it's due
April 12, 8:25 PM · Add a Comment

John F. Kennedy once observed famously that, "Victory has a thousand fathers, but defeat is an orphan."

The lasting truth of that axiom was evident again today in the waters off Somalia--and in the halls of Washington. 

As word of the rescue of Captain Richard Phillips began to spread Sunday afternoon, members of the Obama Administration were quick to claim credit.  According to the Associated Press, officials said the President "twice authorized the use of force" to free Phillips, the captain of the merchant vessel Maersk Alabama, who was taken captive by Somali pirates on Wednesday.

While it is true that Mr. Obama gave the go-ahead for employing military force, the actual rescue began when the on-scene commander determined that Phillips faced imminent danger, and authorzed Navy SEAL snipers to open fire.  Three of the pirates, guarding Phillips in a 28-foot lifeboat, were killed by the sharpshooters firing from the stern of the USS Bainbridge, the guided missile destroyer that was the first U.S. Navy vessel to reach the area.   

Admiral William Gortney, Commander of U.S. naval forces in the Middle East, told a Pentagon news conference that the order to eliminate the pirates came around 7:30 pm, east Africa time, when the SEALs saw the heads and shoulders of the three pirates clearly in the lifeboat--one of them pointing his AK-47 at Captain Phillips. Instantly, the snipers informed the on-scene commander, stationed on the Bainbridge, who gave orders to fire. 

The fourth pirate, who was aboard the destroyer and participating in negotiations aimed at freeing Captain Phillips, was taken into custody.  With the pirates on the lifeboat dead, other SEALS removed Phillips from the craft and took him to the Bainbridge.  He was later transferred to the USS Boxer, an amphibious assault ship which was also involved in the operation.

At the time of the rescue, the lifeboat was under tow by the destroyer, which was moving it to calmer waters.  Talks between the pirate and Navy officers on the Bainbridge became heated, and the on-scene commander determined hostile intent, based on the tone of the negotiations, and the weapons pointed at Captain Phillips.   

At the time the commander gave the order to fire, the lifeboat was about 80 feet behind the destroyer, well within range for the SEAL sniper team.  However, the shot was complicated by the small craft's pitching and bobbing in the wake of the Bainbridge, and the design of the lifeboat. 

John Konrad, the veteran merchant captain who blogs at reports that the Maersk Alabama was equipped with enclosed lifeboats.  As their name suggests, the craft have only a limited number of openings that would have allowed the SEALs to observe activity inside and target the pirates.  Under those conditions, the shots that eliminated the three pirates were remarkable, indeed. 

But the split-second decision to rescue Captain Phillips--and the superb marksmanship of the snipers--were soon overshadowed by a predictable round of credit-grabbing in Washington.  Administration sources pointed out that President Obama previously authorized the military to act on Friday and Saturday, when commanders on the scene also believed that Phillips' life was in jeopardy. 

But White House officials who spoke with the AP (on the condition of anonymity) declined to discuss the mechanics of the deliberation process.   

Truth be told, there really isn't much to discuss.  While another senior official, who spoke with ABC's George Stephanopoulos, bragged about Mr. Obama authorizing the use of special forces assets to assist in the operation, such directives are standard for this type of contingency.  And luckily for all concerned, U.S. special forces personnel have operated for years from the former French colony of Djibouti, on the Horn of Africa.  The presence of the Boxer, with its large complement of helicopters, facilitated movement of the SEALs to the Bainbridge.     

To be fair, President Obama made the right call, giving his commanders the authority to act swiftly--and decisively--to end the hostage standoff, when the opportunity presented itself.  But the successful rescue of Captain Phillips was hardly a triumph of executive decision-making from the White House situation room.  Instead, the real credit should go to the field-grade officer who accurately assessed the situation and gave the order to fire--and to the SEALs who took out their targets with customary efficiency.                                 
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« Reply #35 on: April 13, 2009, 04:34:43 PM »

From the GOTX forum:


I think privateering is a shitty idea in today's day and age for several reasons.

If the USA started to issue letters of marque, who the fuck wouldn't?

Show of hands, how many people want to see columbian drug cartels use puppet governments to start a new side line for themselves under legit papers?

You'd see LOM's with Mugabe's signature, you know that for sure.

The captives on the ships? Shit, everything from summary execution to selling their bodies for organ donation would be happening. We get upset when a cargo ship get's taken...imagine what would happen when a cruise liner gets hit and POOF, the passengers & crew is gone...but suddenly their is a whole bunch of hearts/kidneys available for transplant in India, South Africa and Brazil at "Private Clinics"...

Kidnapping? Ho...hold's not kidnapping anymore. I've got a letter of marque signed by the duly authorized government of Chad. They said if I captured anyone in my travels I can legally hold them in Chad and ransom them...

Those are just some of the great reasons governments want pirates stamped the fuck out.

Letters of Marque my ass.

Contractors under government authority - sure.

Letting anyone out to "Hunt Pirates" - NO.
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« Reply #36 on: April 13, 2009, 05:09:45 PM »

Given how the left uses private contractors as the whipping boy for it's hatred of all things military/masculine, I'd not want to step into that role.
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« Reply #37 on: April 14, 2009, 10:43:41 AM »

.S.: The Hostage Rescue
Stratfor Today » April 13, 2009 | 1626 GMT

A Totally Enclosed Lifeboat (TELB) similar to the one launched from the AlabamaSummary
The hostage situation involving American Captain Richard Phillips was resolved April 12 by U.S. Navy SEALs, resulting in the deaths of three of the four pirates involved. The operation was the climax of a five-day standoff that saw the pirates’ position become steadily weaker. The United States used a strategy to slowly wear down the captors and maneuver into a position that would resolve the situation.

Related Link
Somalia: Pirates’ Continuing Evolution
U.S. Naval Update Map: April 8, 2009
Somalia: Obstacles to Tackling Piracy
U.S. Military Dominance
U.S. Navy SEALs ended the five-day standoff between Somali pirates, who were holding U.S. Captain Richard Phillips hostage, and the U.S. Navy on April 12. Immediately following the Maersk Alabama’s distress signal after being attacked by Somali pirates on April 8, the United States was able to quickly deploy three ships; first the USS Bainbridge (DDG-96), followed by the USS Boxer (LHD-4) and the USS Halyburton (FFG-40) to the area of the attempted hijacking. The U.S. crew on board the Maersk Alabama was able to fight the pirates off, forcing the pirates to abandon the cargo ship for a contained lifeboat (believed to be a Norsafe JYN57C) along with Captain Phillips as a hostage. The fact that the Alabama crew was able to fight off the pirates changed the U.S. Navy’s tactical calculus dramatically for this operation, giving them an obvious upper-hand.

The pirates were essentially trapped as soon as the U.S. Navy arrived. The SEALs enjoyed the advantages of time, manpower and firepower against the pirates. While resolving the situation peacefully was in everyone’s best interest (captured pirates can provide operational intelligence and a non-violent resolution would put the U.S. hostage at lesser risk) once the opportunity presented itself, the United States had had sufficient time and taken sufficient control of the situation to act decisively. Isolating and wearing down hostage takers is a standard tactic used by hostage negotiators.

After pirates took Captain Richard Phillips hostage in a covered lifeboat that the pirates had commandeered from the Alabama, the U.S. Navy ships, assisted by U.S. Navy P-3 surveillance aircraft, were able to prevent any outside assistance and reinforcement from pirate confederates, who were attempting to gain access to the lifeboat. The U.S. Navy was able to gain control over any additional provisions that were allowed into the lifeboat (which most likely already had minimal supplies) — essentially quarantining the lifeboat — and ensured that they knew exactly who was on board at all times. Having control over the lifeboat meant that the U.S. Navy had the advantage of time and the ability to wait for the pirates to make a mistake, who were under constant pressure on a hot, 18-foot lifeboat for several days. Although Captain Phillips’ life was at risk, the pirates knew any threat to his life was a threat to their own survival because the U.S. Navy controlled the larger tactical situation with overwhelming firepower. The presence of Captain Phillips on the lifeboat was the only thing preventing the U.S. Navy from abandoning discretion and destroying the lifeboat.

Then, the threat of choppy seas gave the captain of the USS Bainbridge an opening to offer the lifeboat a tow out of rough waters into calmer waters. With a towline connecting the USS Bainbridge and the lifeboat, the U.S. Navy had complete control over the lifeboat. Though this only presented the narrow bow view, the SEALs may have been able to get at least a partial view of the long axis of the lifeboat if the USS Bainbridge executed a sharp turn. It also decreased the distance between the USS Bainbridge and the lifeboat, pulling it to within 100 feet — an easy distance for any trained marksman.

With the pirates worn down after five days of the ordeal, U.S. Navy SEALs (who, in contrast to the pirates, enjoyed working in shifts, warm food and beds) were able to take out the pirates. Only three pirates remained, after one pirate had already surrendered by climbing into the small raft that was shuttling supplies back and forth between the USS Bainbridge and the lifeboat. This also gave the operators on the Bainbridge a defector who could offer some insight as to what was going on inside the lifeboat.

Positioned on the fantail, at the stern of the USS Bainbridge, Navy SEALs had a steady, clear view of the lifeboat. With 24-hour cover, along with the ability to gain essentially any angle on the lifeboat, it was simply a matter of waiting for the pirates to make a mistake. U.S. President Barack Obama had already given the captain of the USS Bainbridge the authority to take action, so when one of the pirates was spotted through a window allegedly pointing his weapon at Captain Phillips and the two other pirates emerged from the rear hatch, sharpshooters took action and killed the three pirates and rescued Captain Phillips. While it cannot be confirmed, such teams would also deploy with thermal imaging equipment, which may have aided in the operation

April 14, 2009

Somali Pirates Hijack 3 More Ships

Filed at 9:16 a.m. ET

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) -- NATO says Somali pirates have hijacked another cargo ship in the Gulf of Aden, the fourth ship seized in the last two days.

NATO spokeswoman Shona Lowe says the Lebanese-owned MV Sea Horse was attacked Tuesday off the Somali coast by pirates in three or four speedboats. She had no further details.

Earlier, Somali pirates captured the MV Irene E.M., a Greek-managed bulk carrier sailing from the Middle East to South Asia. The Irene was seized in the middle of the night Tuesday -- a rare tactic for the pirates.

Somali pirates appear undeterred by U.S. and French attacks that have killed five pirates in the past week during hostage rescues, including that of an American sea captain.

Pirates have vowed to retaliate for the killing of their colleagues.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

MOMBASA, Kenya (AP) -- Undeterred by U.S. and French hostage rescues that killed five bandits, Somali pirates brazenly hijacked three more ships in the Gulf of Aden, the waterway at the center of the world's fight against piracy.

Pirates have vowed to retaliate for the killing of their colleagues -- and the top U.S. military officer said Tuesday he takes those comments seriously.

But Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told ABC's ''Good Morning America'' that ''we're very well prepared to deal with anything like that.''

The latest trophy for the pirates was the M.V. Irene E.M., a Greek-managed bulk carrier sailing from the Middle East to South Asia, said Noel Choong, who heads the International Maritime Bureau's piracy reporting center in Kuala Lumpur.

The Irene was attacked and seized in the middle of the night Tuesday -- a rare tactic for the pirates.

U.S. Navy Lt. Nathan Christensen, spokesman for the Bahrain-based 5th Fleet, said the Irene was flagged in the Caribbean island nation of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and carried 23 Filipino crew. Choong reported a crew of 21, and there was no immediate way to reconcile the figures.

A maritime security contractor, speaking on condition of anonymity because it is a sensitive security issue, said the ship put out a distress signal ''to say they had a suspicious vessel approaching. That rapidly turned into an attack and then a hijacking.''

''They tried to call in support on the emergency channels, but they never got any response,'' the contractor said.

On Monday, Somali pirates also seized two Egyptian fishing boats in the Gulf of Aden off Somalia's northern coast, according to Egypt's Foreign Ministry, which said the boats carried 18 to 24 Egyptians total.

A flotilla of warships from nearly a dozen countries has patrolled the Gulf of Aden and nearby Indian Ocean waters for months. They have halted several attacks on ships this year, but say the area is so vast they can't stop all hijackings.

Choong said pirate attacks this year had risen to 77, with 18 of those ships hijacked and 16 vessels with 285 crew still in pirates' hands. Each boat carries the potential of a million-dollar ransom.

The latest seizures come after Navy SEAL snipers rescued American ship captain Richard Phillips on Sunday by killing three young pirates who held him captive in a drifting lifeboat for five days. A fourth pirate surrendered after seeking medical attention for a wound he received in trying to take over Phillips' vessel, the Maersk Alabama.

Phillips is aboard a Navy vessel at an undisclosed location, Christensen said Tuesday. He was initially taken aboard the Norfolk, Va.-based USS Bainbridge and then flown to the San Diego-based USS Boxer for a medical exam.

In Washington, President Barack Obama appeared to move the piracy issue higher on his agenda, vowing the United States would work with nations around the world to fight the problem.

''I want to be very clear that we are resolved to halt the rise of piracy in that region and to achieve that goal, we're going to have to continue to work with our partners to prevent future attacks,'' Obama said at a news conference Monday.

The 19 crew members of the Alabama celebrated their skipper's freedom with beer and an evening barbecue Monday in the Kenyan port of Mombasa, said crewman Ken Quinn.

The vessel's chief mate was among those urging strong U.S. action against piracy.

''It's time for us to step in and put an end to this crisis,'' Shane Murphy said. ''It's a crisis. Wake up.''

The U.S. is considering new options to fight piracy, including adding Navy gunships along the Somali coastline and launching a campaign to disable pirate ''mother ships,'' according to military officials. They spoke on condition of anonymity because no decisions have been made yet.

In Burlington, Vt., Phillips' wife, Andrea Phillips thanked Obama, who approved the dramatic sniper operation.

''With Richard saved, you all just gave me the best Easter ever,'' she said in a statement.

The four pirates that attacked the Alabama were between 17 and 19 years old, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said.

''Untrained teenagers with heavy weapons,'' Gates told students and faculty at the Marine Corps War College. ''Everybody in the room knows the consequences of that.''

U.S. officials were now considering whether to bring the fourth pirate, who surrendered shortly before the sniper shootings, to the United States or possibly turn him over to Kenya. Both piracy and hostage-taking carry life prison sentences under U.S. law.

The French navy late Monday handed over the bodies of two Somali pirates killed in a hostage rescue operation last week to authorities in Somali's semiautonomous northern region of Puntland and locals buried the bodies.
« Last Edit: April 14, 2009, 01:25:05 PM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
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« Reply #38 on: April 15, 2009, 11:33:01 AM »

Timely history review ...

Ruthless, unconventional foes are not new to the United States of America. More than two hundred years ago the newly established United States made its first attempt to fight an overseas battle to protect its private citizens by building an international coalition against an unconventional enemy. Then the enemies were pirates and piracy. The focus of the United States and a proposed international coalition was the Barbary Pirates of North Africa.

Pirate ships and crews from the North African states of Tripoli, Tunis, Morocco, and Algiers (the Barbary Coast) were the scourge of the Mediterranean. Capturing merchant ships and holding their crews for ransom provided the rulers of these nations with wealth and naval power. In fact, the Roman Catholic Religious Order of Mathurins had operated from France for centuries with the special mission of collecting and disbursing funds for the relief and ransom of prisoners of Mediterranean pirates.

Before the United States obtained its independence in the American Revolution, 1775-83, American merchant ships and sailors had been protected from the ravages of the North African pirates by the naval and diplomatic power of Great Britain. British naval power and the tribute or subsidies Britain paid to the piratical states protected American vessels and crews. During the Revolution, the ships of the United States were protected by the 1778 alliance with France, which required the French nation to protect "American vessels and effects against all violence, insults, attacks, or depredations, on the part of the said Princes and States of Barbary or their subjects."

After the United States won its independence in the treaty of 1783, it had to protect its own commerce against dangers such as the Barbary pirates. As early as 1784 Congress followed the tradition of the European shipping powers and appropriated $80,000 as tribute to the Barbary states, directing its ministers in Europe, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, to begin negotiations with them. Trouble began the next year, in July 1785, when Algerians captured two American ships and the dey of Algiers held their crews of twenty-one people for a ransom of nearly $60,000.

Thomas Jefferson, United States minister to France, opposed the payment of tribute, as he later testified in words that have a particular resonance today. In his autobiography Jefferson wrote that in 1785 and 1786 he unsuccessfully "endeavored to form an association of the powers subject to habitual depredation from them. I accordingly prepared, and proposed to their ministers at Paris, for consultation with their governments, articles of a special confederation." Jefferson argued that "The object of the convention shall be to compel the piratical States to perpetual peace." Jefferson prepared a detailed plan for the interested states. "Portugal, Naples, the two Sicilies, Venice, Malta, Denmark and Sweden were favorably disposed to such an association," Jefferson remembered, but there were "apprehensions" that England and France would follow their own paths, "and so it fell through."

Paying the ransom would only lead to further demands, Jefferson argued in letters to future presidents John Adams, then America's minister to Great Britain, and James Monroe, then a member of Congress. As Jefferson wrote to Adams in a July 11, 1786, letter, "I acknolege [sic] I very early thought it would be best to effect a peace thro' the medium of war." Paying tribute will merely invite more demands, and even if a coalition proves workable, the only solution is a strong navy that can reach the pirates, Jefferson argued in an August 18, 1786, letter to James Monroe: "The states must see the rod; perhaps it must be felt by some one of them. . . . Every national citizen must wish to see an effective instrument of coercion, and should fear to see it on any other element than the water. A naval force can never endanger our liberties, nor occasion bloodshed; a land force would do both." "From what I learn from the temper of my countrymen and their tenaciousness of their money," Jefferson added in a December 26, 1786, letter to the president of Yale College, Ezra Stiles, "it will be more easy to raise ships and men to fight these pirates into reason, than money to bribe them."

Jefferson's plan for an international coalition foundered on the shoals of indifference and a belief that it was cheaper to pay the tribute than fight a war. The United States's relations with the Barbary states continued to revolve around negotiations for ransom of American ships and sailors and the payment of annual tributes or gifts. Even though Secretary of State Jefferson declared to Thomas Barclay, American consul to Morocco, in a May 13, 1791, letter of instructions for a new treaty with Morocco that it is "lastly our determination to prefer war in all cases to tribute under any form, and to any people whatever," the United States continued to negotiate for cash settlements. In 1795 alone the United States was forced to pay nearly a million dollars in cash, naval stores, and a frigate to ransom 115 sailors from the dey of Algiers. Annual gifts were settled by treaty on Algiers, Morocco, Tunis, and Tripoli.

When Jefferson became president in 1801 he refused to accede to Tripoli's demands for an immediate payment of $225,000 and an annual payment of $25,000. The pasha of Tripoli then declared war on the United States. Although as secretary of state and vice president he had opposed developing an American navy capable of anything more than coastal defense, President Jefferson dispatched a squadron of naval vessels to the Mediterranean. As he declared in his first annual message to Congress: "To this state of general peace with which we have been blessed, one only exception exists. Tripoli, the least considerable of the Barbary States, had come forward with demands unfounded either in right or in compact, and had permitted itself to denounce war, on our failure to comply before a given day. The style of the demand admitted but one answer. I sent a small squadron of frigates into the Mediterranean. . . ."
The American show of force quickly awed Tunis and Algiers into breaking their alliance with Tripoli. The humiliating loss of the frigate Philadelphia and the capture of her captain and crew in Tripoli in 1803, criticism from his political opponents, and even opposition within his own cabinet did not deter Jefferson from his chosen course during four years of war. The aggressive action of Commodore Edward Preble (1803-4) forced Morocco out of the fight and his five bombardments of Tripoli restored some order to the Mediterranean. However, it was not until 1805, when an American fleet under Commodore John Rogers and a land force raised by an American naval agent to the Barbary powers, Captain William Eaton, threatened to capture Tripoli and install the brother of Tripoli's pasha on the throne, that a treaty brought an end to the hostilities. Negotiated by Tobias Lear, former secretary to President Washington and now consul general in Algiers, the treaty of 1805 still required the United States to pay a ransom of $60,000 for each of the sailors held by the dey of Algiers, and so it went without Senatorial consent until April 1806. Nevertheless, Jefferson was able to report in his sixth annual message to Congress in December 1806 that in addition to the successful completion of the Lewis and Clark expedition, "The states on the coast of Barbary seem generally disposed at present to respect our peace and friendship."

In fact, it was not until the second war with Algiers, in 1815, that naval victories by Commodores William Bainbridge and Stephen Decatur led to treaties ending all tribute payments by the United States. European nations continued annual payments until the 1830s. However, international piracy in Atlantic and Mediterranean waters declined during this time under pressure from the Euro-American nations, who no longer viewed pirate states as mere annoyances during peacetime and potential allies during war.
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« Reply #39 on: April 17, 2009, 10:38:11 PM »

Unsourced.  Caveat lector:

Having spoken to some SEAL pals yesterday and asking why this thing dragged out for 4 days, I got the following:
1. BHO wouldn't authorize the DEVGRU/NSWC SEAL teams to the scene for 36 hours going against OSC (on scene commander) recommendation.
2. Once they arrived, BHO imposed restrictions on their ROE that they couldn't do anything unless the hostage's life was in "imminent" danger
3. The first time the hostage jumped, the SEALS had the raggies all sighted in, but could not fire due to ROE restriction
4. When the navy RIB came under fire as it approached with supplies, no fire was returned due to ROE restrictions. As the raggies were shooting at the RIB, they were exposed and the SEALS had them all dialed in.
5. BHO specifically denied two rescue plans developed by the Bainbridge CPN and SEAL teams
6. Bainbridge CPN and SEAL team CDR finally decide they have the OpArea and OSC authority to solely determine risk to hostage. 4 hours later, 3 dead raggies
7. BHO immediately claims credit for his "daring and decisive" behaviour. As usual with him, it's BS.
So per our last email thread, I'm downgrading Oohbaby's performace to D-. Only reason it's not an F is that the hostage survived.
Read the following accurate account.
Philips’ first leap into the warm, dark water of the Indian Ocean hadn’t worked out as well. With the Bainbridge in range and a rescue by his country’s Navy possible, Philips threw himself off of his lifeboat prison, enabling Navy shooters onboard the destroyer a clear shot at his captors — and none was taken.
The guidance from National Command Authority — the president of theUnited States, Barack Obama — had been clear: a peaceful solution was the only acceptable outcome to this standoff unless the hostage’s life was in clear, extreme danger.
The next day, a small Navy boat approaching the floating raft was fired on by the Somali pirates — and again no fire was returned and no pirates killed. This was again due to the cautious stance assumed by Navy personnel thanks to the combination of a lack of clear guidance fromWashington and a mandate from the commander in chief’s staff not to act until Obama, a man with no background of dealing with such issues and no track record of decisiveness, decided that any outcome other than a “peaceful solution” would be acceptable.
After taking fire from the Somali kidnappers again Saturday night, the on-scene commander decided he’d had enough. Keeping his authority to act in the case of a clear and present danger to the hostage’s life and having heard nothing from Washington since yet another request to mount a rescue operation had been denied the day before, the Navy officer — unnamed in all media reports to date — decided the AK47 one captor had leveled at Philips’ back was a threat to the hostage’s life and ordered the NSWC team to take their shots.
Three rounds downrange later, all three brigands became enemy KIA and Philips was safe.
There is upside, downside, and spinside to the series of events over the last week that culminated in yesterday’s dramatic rescue of an American hostage.
Almost immediately following word of the rescue, the Obama administration and its supporters claimed victory against pirates in theIndian Ocean and declared that the dramatic end to the standoff put paid to questions of the inexperienced president’s toughness and decisiveness.
Despite the Obama administration’s (and its sycophants’) attempt to spin yesterday’s success as a result of bold, decisive leadership by the inexperienced president, the reality is nothing of the sort.
What should have been a standoff lasting only hours — as long as it took the USS Bainbridge and its team of NSWC operators to steam to the location — became an embarrassing four day and counting standoff between a ragtag handful of criminals with rifles and a U.S. Navy warship.
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« Reply #40 on: April 18, 2009, 05:56:22 AM »

Still hoping for feedback on the veracity of my previous posts:

SKorean navy repels Somali pirate attack: military
Fri Apr 17, 1:58 pm ET

COPENHAGEN (AFP) – South Korean naval forces drove away pirates who were trying to board a Danish-registered ship in waters off Somalia, the military and the vessel's owner said Friday.

The incident occurred Friday about 110 kilometres (70 miles) off the coast of Yemen, said a Joint Chiefs of Staff official in Seoul as well as shipowner Shipcraft in Copenhagen.

The Munmu the Great destroyer, carrying a crew of 300, received a distress call from the ship which reported it was being chased by a pirate boat, said Army Colonel Lee Hyoung-Kook, a JCS official who oversees the deployment.

The 2,500-ton ship Puma -- carrying a generator from Singapore to Germany with a crew of three Danes, four Filipinos and five British security guards -- was about 55 kilometres from the South Korean destroyer.

"The crew of the Puma, upon seeing Friday six pirates in an outboard motor boat approaching at full speed, began to zig-zag to keep them from boarding, and fired a distress flare in their direction," said Shipcraft director Per Nykjaer Jensen.

That gave them just enough time for the Puma to call for help from international naval forces in the area, he told AFP.

The South Korean destroyer dispatched its Lynx anti-submarine helicopter, which arrived at the scene in just over 20 minutes, Lee said.

"The pirates gave up (their) attempt to board the ship and turned away when the helicopter threatened to fire," he said.

Jensen agreed that the helicopter's arrival saved the Puma from being seized, but he added: "We are really frustrated by these intolerable conditions whereby the pirates more often than not get away with impunity."

The South Korean destroyer began operating this week to help fight piracy off Somalia, where several Korean ships have been seized.

Up to 20 foreign warships now patrol the waters off the Somali coast to safeguard major shipping lanes.
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« Reply #41 on: April 18, 2009, 08:30:54 AM »

My statement analysis of the unsourced post is that it is valid, written by a current or fomer military man familiar with US naval special warfare.

Very credible, IMHO.
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« Reply #42 on: April 24, 2009, 08:15:07 AM »

Published: April 23, 2009
MOMBASA, Kenya — In the shadow of Fort Jesus, a 16th-century Portuguese stronghold that truly belongs to the era of slave raiders and pirate ships, is the office of Kenya’s premier pirate lawyer.

More than three dozen Somali pirates are behind bars in Shimo la Tewa, the notoriously decrepit prison in Mombasa.
And these days, the lawyer, Francis Kadima, is very busy.

On Thursday morning, his newest batch of clients suddenly arrived: 11 thin-faced, bewildered suspects who were marched into a Mombasa courtroom to face charges of piracy on the high seas. This month, French commandos captured them — and a small arsenal — after they were suspected of trying to commandeer a cargo ship.

“When I first started handling pirate cases, I thought these guys would be like kidnappers, strong, you know, and really crafty and sophisticated,” Mr. Kadima said. “But not these guys. They’re just ordinary. If anything, they’re expressionless.”

Kenya is emerging as the venue of choice for piracy cases and an important piece of the worldwide crackdown on piracy. The spate of recent hijackings off Somalia’s coast has stiffened international resolve. Just a few months ago, foreign warships would catch suspected pirates cruising around in speedy skiffs with guns and ladders and then dump them back on the Somali beach because of sticky legal questions. Those days are just about gone.

Now, the piracy suspects are getting a one-way ticket to Mombasa, a historic port town where Kenyan officials are all too eager to punish the seafaring thugs imperiling their vital shipping industry. Under recent, innovative agreements with the United States, Britain and the European Union, Kenya has promised to try piracy suspects apprehended by foreign navies. In return, the other countries have agreed to improve Kenya’s antiquated courts. Many Kenyan judges still wear wigs and take everything down by hand, making trials agonizingly slow.

In a few cases, countries that have caught piracy suspects accused of attacking their own citizens have chosen to prosecute them back home. That was demonstrated this week, when a wide-eyed young Somali man landed in New York to face charges that he had kidnapped an American sea captain. But according to maritime law experts, that is not necessary.

“The law on piracy is 100 percent clear,” said Kenneth Randall, dean of the University of Alabama School of Law and an international law expert. “Any country can arrest these guys and prosecute them at home.”

When it comes to putting pirates on trial, there are some practical complications, like serving papers to witnesses who may be Filipino or Kenyan sailors with no mailing addresses who spend all year at sea. Or finding a Somali translator in Mumbai, India, or Copenhagen.

In light of those problems, most nations have been hesitant to undertake piracy trials. As a result, there is growing support for the Kenyan solution. Today, more than three dozen Somali pirates sit behind bars in Shimo la Tewa, Mombasa’s notoriously decrepit prison, which just so happens to be a few miles up the beach from some of this country’s most magnificent palm-fringed resorts.

Western diplomats are hoping that this courtroom effort, coupled with a reinvigorated military response involving warships from more than a dozen nations, will put a dent in Somalia’s stubborn piracy problem. At a meeting in Brussels on Thursday, donor nations pledged more than $200 million for Somalia, much of it for security, on land and at sea.

Last year, Somali pirates hijacked more than 40 ships, netting tens of millions of dollars in ransom. Many major shipping companies are now opting to sail all the way around Africa instead of risking the Somali seas.

Antti Lehmusjarvi, a legal adviser for the European Union who came to the Mombasa courthouse on Thursday to observe the arraignment of the 11 piracy suspects, said Kenya was the best solution — for now.

“Obviously, Kenya needs assistance,” Mr. Lehmusjarvi said. He rattled off all the help the European Union was providing, including computers and money to bring more qualified Kenyan judges to Mombasa. “But the law here is very clear,” he said. “And in Somalia, a stable legal framework doesn’t exist.”

Section 69 (1) of the Kenyan penal code reads, “Any person who, in territorial waters or upon the high seas, commits any act of piracy jure gentium is guilty of the offence of piracy.” The punishment can be life in prison.

But Mr. Kadima, a former magistrate himself, takes issue with this. Kenya has not ratified international maritime conventions, he said, and the recent agreements signed with other countries were not approved by Kenya’s Parliament and therefore are not enforceable.

“You can’t just go around making up laws, you know,” he said. “There is a process.”

Mr. Kadima, 50, who took on his first piracy case in March, said he had yet to see a shilling from any of his piracy cases, though he conceded that the publicity was good for business.

He said all of his clients had uttered the same excuse for why they had been caught on the high seas with serious firepower.

“They said they were just fishermen,” he said. “Fishermen who needed to protect themselves.”

Does he really believe that?

“A lawyer doesn’t need to believe,” Mr. Kadima explained. “He goes by what he is told.”

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« Reply #43 on: April 26, 2009, 07:27:09 AM »

Italian Cruise Ship Fires on Somali Pirates


Italian Cruise Ship Fires on Somali Pirates

Sunday , April 26, 2009

An Italian cruise ship with 1,500 people on board fended off a pirate attack far off the coast of Somalia when its Israeli private security forces exchanged fire with the bandits and drove them away, the commander said Sunday.

Cmdr. Ciro Pinto told Italian state radio that six men in a small white boat approached the Msc Melody and opened fire Saturday night, but retreated after the Israeli security officers aboard the cruise ship returned fire.

"It felt like we were in war," Pinto told state radio.

None of the roughly 1,000 passengers and 500 crew members were hurt, Melody owner Msc Cruises said in a statement issued by its German branch.

Domenico Pellegrino, head of the Italian cruise line, said Msc hired the Israelis because they were the best trained security agents, the ANSA news agency reported.

Civilian shipping and passenger ships have generally avoided arming crewmen or hiring armed security for reasons of safety, liability and compliance with the rules of the different countries where they dock. Saturday's exchange of fire was one of the first reported between pirates and a nonmilitary ship. International military forces have battled pirates, with U.S. Navy snipers killing three holding an American captain hostage in one of the highest-profile incidents.

The attack occurred about 200 miles north of the Seychelles, and about 500 miles east of Somalia, according to the anti-piracy flotilla headquarters of the Maritime Security Centre Horn of Africa.

Pinto said the pirates fired with automatic weapons, slightly damaging the liner, and tried to put a ladder on board. But he said they were unable to climb aboard.

The commander said his security forces opened fire with pistols and the ANSA news agency said the pistols had been kept in a safe under the joint control of the commander and security chief.

The Spanish warship SPS Marques de Ensenada was meeting up with the liner to escort her through the pirate-infested northern Gulf of Aden, the Maritime Security Center said.

The cruise ship was headed as scheduled to the Jordanian port of Aqaba. The Melody was on a 22-day cruise from Durban, South Africa, to Genoa, Italy.

Pirates have attacked more than 100 ships off the Somali coast over the last year, reaping an estimated $1 million in ransom for each successful hijacking, according to analysts and country experts.

Another Italian-owned vessel remains in the hands of pirates. The Italian-flagged tugboat Buccaneer was seized off Somalia on April 11 with 16 crew members aboard.
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« Reply #44 on: May 04, 2009, 02:17:04 PM »

10:54 a.m. EDT, Sun May 3, 2009

What a brunch of retarded, so much "kat" chewing that they took a Fregate for the Love Boat 

(CNN) -- The French Navy said they seized 11 pirates Sunday after they apparently mistook a French military vessel for a commercial ship and made a run at it.

A French navy sailor speaks to one of 11 pirates on board the French warship the Nivose after their capture.

Two pirate assault boats approached the Nivose "at great speed," Capt. Christophe Prazuck said, but a French helicopter intervened before the attackers had time to fire at the French navy ship.

The helicopter fired warning shots, he said.

The pirates, who had a mother ship as well as the two assault boats, are being held for questioning on the Nivose, Prazuck said. The vessels were carrying AK-47 rifles and rocket-propelled grenades, but the pirates did not fire, he said.

The incident took place about 1,000 km (620 miles) east of Mombasa, Kenya, at 8:30 a.m. local time (0430 GMT) he added.

In the past three weeks, the Nivose has intercepted 24 suspected pirates as part of a European Union anti-piracy operation off the coast of Somalia, which has become a piracy hotspot.

Over the past year, more than 100 suspected pirates have been picked up, Prazuck said. Of that total, 27 have been released, and more than 70 taken to jail in France, handed to authorities in Somalia or taken to Kenya under an EU agreement with the government in Nairobi.

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More than $200M pledged to beat Somali pirates
The Nivose seized three other suspected pirates Thursday morning, the French military spokesman said, but released them the next day for lack of evidence.

But a day later, the Seychelles coast guard picked up the same three men. They claimed they were fishermen, but had no license to fish in the Seychelles exclusive economic zone, Prazuck said.

Pirates seized a ship that was carrying wheat and used vehicles to Mogadishu, Somalia, on Saturday, according to NATO, which also patrols the area.

The ship, the Almezaan, now appears to be heading for a Somali village called Harradera, known as a pirate base, Cmdr. Chris Davies told CNN.

The ship did not send a distress signal until 4 a.m. Sunday, 18 hours after it was hijacked in the Indian Ocean, he said. No NATO ships were in the area at the time, he added.

The Panamanian-flagged ship had a crew of 18 Indians as of April 2008, the last listing for it on the Web site of the International Transport Workers' Federation.

Pirates also hijacked a British-owned bulk carrier in the Indian Ocean. The MV Ariana was carrying 35,000 tons of soya about 250 nautical miles (287 miles) northwest of the Seychelles when it was seized around dawn.

The crew members are Ukrainians and they are not believed to be harmed, NATO said. It is unclear how many crew members were aboard the vessel and how it came to be attacked. NATO said it was unaware of ransom demands or any threats against those aboard.

NATO said a European Union Protection Aircraft has been deployed to monitor and track the MV Ariana, which is making its way toward Somalia -- the epicenter of the pirate industry.

Piracy has been soaring off the coast of eastern Africa -- particularly Somalia, which has not had an effective government since 1991.

Somali pirates have defied foreign navies patrolling the waters and have collected large ransoms from shipping companies. Ransoms started out in the tens of thousands of dollars and have since climbed into the millions.
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« Reply #45 on: May 06, 2009, 01:28:30 PM »

Tuesday, 05 May 2009
JOURNAL: Guerrilla Entrepreneurs take to the seas

Back in 2004, I wrote quite a bit about the return of Guerrilla Entrepreneurs and how once they are established, their interactions will begin to create a bazaar-like dynamic. It's pretty clear the piracy situation off of Somalia is another example of this process in action (yet again)>
With this in mind, here's an excellent primer on venture financed piracy off the coast of Somalia. Link via NPR, Shlok and the research J. Pham over at James Madison University (who sounds like a global guerrilla strategist, welcome!).

... they actually found time sheets onboard the ship after the pirates had left. "We could see that there was a time sheet on a particular person who had been onboard and dates they had been onboard and so many dollars per day, and then a total sum on the time sheet," he says. The pirates, in effect, were clocking in and out.

From this and other ransom situations, here's a typical accounting for a piracy operation: About 20 percent goes to pay off officials who look the other way. About 50 percent is for expenses and payroll. The leader of an attack makes $10,000 to $20,000 (the average Somali family lives on $500 a year). The initial investor — who put in $250,000 of seed capital — gets 30 percent, sometimes up to $500,000.

Read more analysis on pirates.

Posted by John Robb on Tuesday, 05 May 2009 at 04:53 PM


A pirate with a time sheet is so disturbing... So much for them being unorganized opportunists, just looking for a little loot and respect.
Posted by: Matt | Tuesday, 05 May 2009 at 06:05 PM
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« Reply #46 on: May 09, 2009, 09:16:54 AM »

GAROOWE, Somalia — Abshir Boyah, a towering, notorious Somali pirate boss who admits to hijacking more than 25 ships and to being a member of a secretive pirate council called “The Corporation,” says he’s ready to cut a deal.

Garoowe, where several prominent and many lesser Somali pirates make their homes.

The Pirate Chronicles
Islamic Backlash
This article is the first in a series exploring piracy and the social upheaval that has led to it.

Abshir Boyah, one of Somalia's best-known pirates. Facing intensifying naval pressure and a rising backlash on land, Mr. Bohah is now promising to quit the buccaneering business.

Facing intensifying naval pressure on the seas and now a rising backlash on land, Mr. Boyah has been shuttling between elders and religious sheiks fed up with pirates and their vices, promising to quit the buccaneering business if certain demands are met.
“Man, these Islamic guys want to cut my hands off,” he grumbled over a plate of camel meat and spaghetti. The sheiks seemed to have rattled him more than the armada of foreign warships patrolling offshore. “Maybe it’s time for a change.”

For the first time in this pirate-infested region of northern Somalia, some of the very communities that had been flourishing with pirate dollars — supplying these well-known criminals with sanctuary, support, brides, respect and even government help — are now trying to push them out.

Grass-roots, antipirate militias are forming. Sheiks and government leaders are embarking on a campaign to excommunicate the pirates, telling them to get out of town and preaching at mosques for women not to marry these un-Islamic, thieving “burcad badeed,” which in Somali translates as sea bandit. There is even a new sign at a parking lot in Garoowe, the sun-blasted capital of the semiautonomous region of Puntland, that may be the only one of its kind in the world. The thick red letters say: No pirates allowed.

Much like the violence, hunger and warlordism that has engulfed Somalia, piracy is a direct — and some Somalis say inevitable — outgrowth of a society that has languished for 18 years without a functioning central government and whose economy has been smashed by war.

But here in Garoowe, the pirates are increasingly viewed as stains on the devoutly Muslim, nomadic culture, blamed for introducing big-city evils like drugs, alcohol, street brawling and AIDS. A few weeks ago, Puntland police officers broke up a bootlegging ring and poured out 327 bottles of Ethiopian-made gin. In Somalia, alcohol is shunned. Such a voluminous stash of booze is virtually unheard of.

“The pirates are spoiling our society,” said Abdirahman Mohamed Mohamud, Puntland’s new president. “We will crush them.”

In the past 18 months, Somali pirates have netted as much as $100 million hijacking dozens of ships and holding them ransom, according to international maritime groups. It will be exceedingly difficult for these men — or the local businesses that they support — to make that kind of money doing anything else in this beleaguered nation.

Still, the Puntland pirate bosses insist they are ready to call it quits, if the sheiks find jobs for their young underlings and help the pirates form a coast guard to protect Somalia’s 1,880-mile coastline from illegal fishing and dumping. These are longstanding complaints made by many Somalis, including those who don’t scamper up the sides of cargo ships, AK-47 in hand.

It is a stretch, to say the least, that the world would accept being policed by rehabilitated hijackers. But on Monday, Mr. Boyah and two dozen other infamous Puntland pirates, many driving Toyota Surfs, a light, fast sport utility vehicle that has become the pirate ride of choice, arrived at an elder’s house in Garoowe to make their case nonetheless.

“Negotiation is our religion,” said one pirate, Abdirizak Elmi Abdullahi.

Puntland officials acknowledge, grudgingly, that the pirates have helped them in a way: bringing desperately needed attention and aid.

“Sad but true,” said Farah Dala, Puntland’s minister of planning and international cooperation. “After all the suffering and war, the world is finally paying attention to our pain because they’re getting a tiny taste of it.”

Last month, after an American sea captain was kidnapped by Somali pirates, donor nations pledged more than $200 million for Somalia, in part to fight piracy.

Since then, foreign navies have increased their patrols and arrested dozens of pirates. Mr. Boyah conceded that business was getting riskier. But, he said, there are still plenty of merchant ships — and plenty of ocean.

“It’s like hunting out there,” Mr. Boyah said through an interpreter. “Sometimes you get a deer, sometimes you get a dik-dik,” a runty antelope common in Somalia.

Mr. Boyah, 43, was born in Eyl, a pirate den on the coast. He said he dropped out of school in third grade, became a fisherman and took up hijacking after illegal fishing by foreign trawlers destroyed his livelihood in the mid-1990s.

“He’s respected as a pioneer,” said Yusuf Hassan, the managing editor of Garoowe Online, a Somali news Web site.

When Mr. Boyah walked into a restaurant recently, he had to shake half a dozen hands before sitting at a plastic, fly-covered table with two foreign journalists.

“Ha!” he said, through a mouthful of spaghetti. “Me eating with white men. This is like the cat eating with the mice!”


The restaurant sat across from the presidential palace. Mr. Boyah cut right through a crowd of Puntland soldiers to enter. He is hard to miss, about 6 foot 4 and dangerously thin. Earlier, he had been sitting on a couch, thigh to thigh, next to a high-ranking police chief. The two joked — or maybe it was not a joke — that they were cousins.

In Garoowe, the pirates are seen as bringing big-city evils.  Hawo, left, with a friend, is the wife of the pirate Abshir Boyah, who says that he is thinking of giving up pirating.

Puntland’s last president, Mohamud Muse Hirsi, was a former warlord widely suspected of collaborating with pirates and voted out of office in January. The new president, Mr. Abdirahman, is a technocrat who had been living in Australia and came back with many Western-educated advisers — and an ambition to be Somalia’s first leader to do something substantive about piracy. He formed an antipiracy commission and even issued a “First 100 Days” report.
Yet, Puntland officials are doing precious little about the pirate kings under their noses — reluctant, perhaps, to provoke a war with crime lords backed by hundreds of gunmen. When asked why they weren’t arresting the big fish, Mr. Abdirahman said, “Rumors are one thing, but we need evidence.”

Indeed, it is hard to see exactly where all those millions went, at least here in Garoowe. There are some nice new houses and a few new hotels where pirates hang out, including one encased in barbed wire called “The Ladies’ Breasts.” Dozens of dusty Surfs prowl the streets. But not much else.

Mr. Boyah, who lives in a simple little house, explains: “Don’t be surprised when I tell you all the money has disappeared. When someone who never had money suddenly gets money, it just goes.”

He claims that his estimated take of several hundred thousand dollars disappeared down a vortex of parties, weddings, jewelry, cars and qat, the stimulating leaf that Somalis chew like bubble gum.

Also, because of the extended network of relatives and clansmen, “it’s not like three people split a million bucks,” he said. “It’s more like 300.”

Oh, Mr. Boyah added, he also gives 15 percent to charity, especially to the elderly and infirm. “I’d love to give them more,” he said. Over all, he seemed like a man on a genuine quest for redemption — or a very good liar.

“We know what we’re doing is wrong,” he said gravely. “I’m asking forgiveness from God, the whole world, anybody.”

And then his silver Nokia phone chirped yet again. He would not say what he needed to do, but it was time to go.
« Reply #47 on: May 11, 2009, 10:27:20 AM »

I post this not because I agree with it, but to share a contrary opinion.

Opposing View: Keep Arms Off Ships
By Peter Chalk
This commentary appeared in USA Today on May 4, 2009.
Does the provision of private security contractors provide a viable solution to the growing problem of piracy off the Horn of Africa? Quite apart from the high cost — a robust security operation can run as much as $21,000 a day — employing security contractors poses problems on several fronts.

First, most coastal states impose restrictions on ships entering their territorial waters if they carry weapons. Arming crews would significantly complicate the legal logistics of any container vessel that makes numerous ports of call.

Second, since many states do not allow armed personnel on vessels, this would be liable to increase so-called flags of convenience, compounding an already amorphous and poorly regulated industry.

Third, death or injury to an innocent party, as a result of an exchange involving security contractors, could expose ship owners to exorbitant compensation claims (not covered by insurance) and criminal charges.

Fourth, it is not apparent what authority, if any, an escort boat has to board a pirate vessel that is threatening a client-owned vessel. Under international law, only warships clearly identified as being in the service of a sovereign government retain this right.

Underscoring all these considerations is the real possibility of pirates elevating their own threshold of violence, storming vessels with an intent to use lethal force against any they confront — including crew, who until now have been relatively well treated.

Preferable, cheaper options would combine state and industry efforts by:

Enhancing overall policing on the seas.
Ensuring any military assets in pirate-prone areas are properly coordinated, with transparent rules of engagement.
Encouraging target hardening by requiring vessels transiting dangerous regions to sail over 15 knots, adhere to pre-defined corridors, maintain close communication with coastal authorities, sail at night (if transiting the Gulf of Aden) and have practiced protocols for hostage situations.
Installing non-lethal defenses such as electrified perimeter fences and long-range acoustic devices that emit loud, disorienting blasts of sound.
Arming commercial ships is a recipe for making a bad situation worse, not better.

Peter Chalk is an expert on piracy and terrorism at the RAND Corp.
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« Reply #48 on: October 07, 2009, 05:06:46 PM »

PARIS – Somali pirates in two skiffs fired on a French navy vessel early Wednesday after apparently mistaking it for a commercial boat, the French military said. The French ship gave chase and captured five suspected pirates. 

No one was wounded by the volleys from the Kalashnikov rifles directed at La Somme, a 3,800-ton refueling ship, French military spokesman Rear Adm. Christophe Prazuck said.

La Somme "was probably taken for a commercial ship by the two small skiffs" about 250 nautical miles (290 statute miles) off Somalia's coast, Prazuck said.

"They understood their mistake too late," he said.

One skiff fled, and La Somme pursued the second one in an hour-long chase.

"There were five suspected pirates on board. No arms, no water, no food," Prazuck said.

France is a key member of the EU's naval mission, Operation Atalanta, fighting Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden. It has aggressively tracked and caught suspected pirates and handed over at least 22 to Kenya. An additional 15 suspects were brought to France for prosecution after allegedly seizing boats belonging to French nationals.

President Nicolas Sarkozy called for tougher action against piracy last year after dozens of attacks.
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« Reply #49 on: March 25, 2011, 10:05:11 AM »
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