Searches of captured mother ships operating off the Somali coast have revealed for the first time that pirate gangs are coordinating their attacks against commercial shipping, the commander of the European Union's naval task force said Wednesday.
British Rear Admiral Philip Jones said that in recent weeks his flotilla had captured four of the mother ships used to resupply the small pirate speedboats that operate far offshore in the Indian Ocean.
"We do fairly extensive trawls of all the vessels we capture to look for ... evidence we can use to work (out) ourselves what the pirates tactics are," Jones told reporters.
The most recent evidence, he said, shows the mother ships are telling each other about potential targets.
"They're exchanging positional information, they're exchanging information about ships they've seen or may have tried to attack," he said. "Obviously, that's a significant development."
Despite the international naval presence, attacks on commercial shipping off the Somali coast have exploded in the last two months as the pirates have taken to sailing far out into the Indian Ocean to attack vessels beyond the patrol range of the warships.
Since the small speedboats cannot operate that far from their bases, they require mother ships – mostly converted fishing trawlers or small cargo vessels – to resupply them.
Jones said he was "bemused" by media reports that the pirates were receiving intelligence on the movement of commercial shipping from sources in the West, adding that the searches of the mother ships had yielded no such evidence.
"The only thing we have seen in the ships operating in the Somali basin is evidence for the first time that there can be a degree of coordination between mother ships," Jones said.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Interesting, especially considering the discussion here (especially in the comments) about the alleged "London centered" pirate intelligence network, EU: Pirates coordinating attacks off Somalia: