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Friday, October 03, 2008

Somalia: Pirates go Zero for Four, but keep trying

While the coalition has a half dozen ships keeping an eye on the Ro-Ro full of tanks off Eyl Somalia, and the EU plans to send its own anti-pirate task force to the Gulf of Aden, the pirates of the GOA have been busy trying to restock their cache of captured ships - attacking four in one day, as set out here:
Armed Somali pirates attacked four ships, including an Italian crude-oil tanker, in what a maritime piracy watchdog yesterday said was a “critical level” of attacks in the Gulf of Aden.

“It is one of the highest number of attacks in a single day in the same area,” Noel Choong, head of the International Maritime Bureau’s (IMB) Piracy Reporting Center in Kuala Lumpur, said.

He added the vessels were attacked last Oct. 1 by Somali pirates armed with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades in the notorious waterway.

“We are warning ships to be on high alert. Pirates are attacking ships almost every day. It is at a critical level now,” he told Agence France Presse.

“Three hijacked vessels were released a few days ago and it now appears this group of Somali pirates are looking for ships to hijack again.”

The first attack occurred at 3 p.m. when pirates armed with guns and travelling in speedboats tried to board a United Arab Emirates bulk carrier with 28 crew on board, heading from Europe to Asia.

“The master took evasive maneuvers and a coalition helicopter arrived and chased the pirates away,” Choong said.

Less than an hour later, a gang armed with rocket-propelled grenades attempted to board a Philippine-owned chemical tanker heading from the Middle East to Asia with 12 crew on board, but was chased away by a warship.

In the third incident pirates targeted a crude-oil Italian tanker but were foiled when the ship’s master took evasive action.

The final incident occurred when pirates armed with machine guns forced a Taiwanese container ship with 20 crew members to halt.

The ship’s captain deployed fire hoses to retaliate and the vessel managed to escape.

Choong said it was not known if the same gang was responsible for all the attacks.
To be fair, a coalition helicopter and a warship did help thwart two attacks, meaning that the sea lane has not been abandoned by naval forces.

Also good news is that 0 for 4 day will not help the pirate's batting average. But you know they'll keep swinging away...

UPDATE: Updated total for impact of coalition forces.

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