America

Monday, November 30, 2009

Somali Pirates: Supertanker Taken By Pirates

Reported here:
Somali pirates have captured a tanker carrying oil to the US, officials say.

The Greek-owned Maran Centaurus was about 1,300km (800 miles) off Somalia when it was hijacked on Sunday, said the EU Naval task force (Navfor).

The ship was full of oil and is believed to be one of the largest yet seized by Somali pirates. There are 28 crew members on board.

Pirate attacks have been common off the Somali coast and international navies have been deployed to counter them.

A spokesman for the Greek coastguard told Reuters news agency that about nine armed pirates attacked the ship close to the Seychelles.

As it was fully laden, it was moving quite slowly - between 11 and 15 knots (20-27km/h) - when attacked, a Navfor spokesman told the BBC.

The agency reported the Greek defence ministry as saying that a Greek navy frigate which had been involved with the Navfor operation was now shadowing the vessel.

Navfor said the ship, which has a dead weight of some 300,000 tonnes, had been sailing to New Orleans in the US from Jeddah in Saudi Arabia but was now heading towards Somalia.

Its crew is made up of 16 Filipinos, nine Greeks, two Ukrainians and one Romanian.

Maran Tankers Management, which operates the vessel, told Reuters the crew were "well".
More here and here. Low, slow, unprotected and traveling a predictable sea lane = easy pickings.

UPDATE: NY times take.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Holiday Routine: Thanksgiving

Except for the cooks and the watch standers, today is holiday routine. Memories of Thanksgivings past and a gathering of such members of the clan who can work their way to Raleigh.

We have a menu, Navy-style, though we don't quite serve up the quantities:




For those deployed and serving far from home, those at sea and on the shore, from my family to you, "Thanks!"

You are in our thoughts and prayers.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Wednesday Reading

CDR Salamander chats with a private security company head about deterring pirates in RPG’s vs fire hoses: place your bets at the USNI Blog

Fred Fry has Maritime Monday 189 up at gCaptain.com with photos of a "Semester at Sea" and other maritime fun. There is a photo of a person "riding the shaft" but it is safe for work...

Better get lots of wrapping paper ready if you plan to fulfill Boston Maggie's Christmas wish.

Why, yes, I'd give these guys a Captain's mast - a "meritorious mast" along with medals. Next time, there will be a bullet riddled corpse that won't be complaining about a swollen lip. Asymmetric warfare. when will we learn the second word matters?

Pirates Attack Oil Tanker Off Benin

Pirates Attack Oil Tanker Off Benin:
Pirates have attacked a Monrovia-flagged oil tanker off the coast of the West African country of Benin, killing one seaman, officials said Tuesday.

According to Benin's naval forces, the attack on the 230-meter long Cancale Star took place some 18 nautical miles off the country's coast. The vessel's chief engineer, a Ukrainian, was killed in the attack, which also left four other crew members injured.

Local reports indicated that Benin's naval forces has escorted the tanker to the port of Cotonou, where it is currently berthed. It is understood that the crew of the vessel managed to capture one of the pirates and have handed him over to authorities in Benin.
Pirates are believed to be Nigerian.

Cancale Star
photo by Prieschka Beentjes from Shipspotting.com and used in accord with Shipspotting terms of use.

Benin's navy? See here.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Somalia Pirates: A Defense?


Found as The Somali Pirates have the right to Hijack Foreign vessels:
The highest ranking officer in the Somali naval force Admiral Farah Omar Qare, has said in a press conference on Sunday that the foreign war ships stationed over the Somali waters are pretending to be watching over the Pirates who are intending to Hijack the foreign Vessels, but are in mass collecting the Somali sea resources.

“We have been closely following what actually is the so called NATO troops are doing over the Somali waters, and the result we have got out of our assessment is that they are collecting the Somali sea resource in mass, and not scaring off the Pirates, in the first place we clearly know what has forced the Somali pirates to involving themselves in hijacking of foreign vessels while they were ordinary fishermen is because there were armed foreign troops, who used to chase them off cut their fishing nets into pieces, and eventually the fisherman came together and discussed hard about the issue and armed themselves, and after having seen that this is more benefiting than what they have been doing they have left out their nets and fishing boats on the shore and instead came into the sea with Russian made Kalashnikov Assault rifle, and rocket propel grenade, in which they have hijacked more than 100 ships since mission started” said the Admiral Farah Omar Qare the Somali naval commander in a press conference.

The Admiral has urged the international community not to complain about the activities of the Pirates, but should also focus about what the forging vessels are doing in the Somali waters.
We've heard this justification before, see here, here (and here, here). Would it be okay to protect the 200 mile EEZ? Sure and some consideration should be given to helping the Somalis set up a fisheries patrol and a means to protect their waters from illegal dumping.

Attacking ships 300 and more miles at sea? Piracy.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Somali pirates seize Panamanian cargo ship off Yemeni coast

Report says Somali pirates seize Panamanian cargo ship off Yemeni coast:
Yemen's Interior Ministry said Friday that Somali pirates have seized a Panamanian cargo ship off southeast coast of Yemen at the Gulf of Aden.

The ministry said in a statement that the Panamanian-flagged ship called Red Sda Sbirt left Aden port late Thursday and was intercepted by the pirates after sailing about 36 nautical miles off the Yemeni port of Balhaf.

The multinational coalition task force had sent one of its military boats to the specific area where the hijacking took place in an attempt to save the ship, the Yemeni coast guard was quoted by the statement as saying.

The statement mentioned neither the exact time of the attack nor the number of the crew aboard the hijacked ship.

No other reports of this hijacking yet received.

UPDATE 22 November: Reuters says it's the Red Sea Spirit, Greek owned:
Pirates hijacked a Greek-owned bulk carrier on Thursday in the Gulf of Aden near Yemen, a Kenyan maritime official said on Sunday, but Greek officials said the attack may have been unsuccessful.

The vessel was taken 36 nautical miles off the Yemeni port of Balhaf and news of the seizure only emerged on Saturday, said Andrew Mwangura, coordinator of the Kenya-based East African Seafarers' Assistance Programme.

"Red Sea Spirit was taken by gunmen off the Yemeni coast last Thursday. She is flying the Panama flag," Mwangura said. "She is a Greek-owned bulk carrier."

However, a Greek merchant marine ministry spokesman said the managers of the ship, Sekur Holdings, did not confirm the incident. Sekur Holdings were not available for comment.
If that's the right, it's a cement "floating terminal." See here.

UPDATE2: THe shipping company denies the capture of its vessel here:
Greek maritime authorities Sunday denied that a Greek cargo ship had been seized off Yemen, saying the vessel was attacked by pirates but escaped.

Earlier, a Kenyan maritime watchdog reported that the Panama-flagged Red Sea Spirit had been hijacked late Thursday in the Gulf of Aden off Yemen.

But Greek officials said they had spoken to the company which manages the ship, Sekur Holding Inc., and were told it had managed to outrun its attackers..

They also said the attack did not happen on Thursday, but on Monday.

"The cargo ship was attacked on (Monday) November 16 by two speedboats but, by manoeuvring, escaped from the pirates," the authorities said.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Headline of the Day: "Somali pirates waste ransom money on weddings and orgies"

Headline reads "Somali pirates waste ransom money on weddings and orgies". Report is that the $3 million dollar ransom paid for a Spanish fishing trawler has been spent.
According to the journalist’s observations, after Alakrana was released, Harardhere became the center of endless “orgies, money, shooting and sex.”

Yep, those weddings are a waste.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Somali Pirates: Wounded Captain of Hijacked Tanker Dies

Reported as Captain of Hijacked Tanker Dies From Gunshot Wounds :
"The captain of the chemical tanker died last night from gunshot wounds he got during the hijack," a pirate who gave his name as Mohamed said.

"The ship is headed for Haradheere with the dead captain."

The a Virgin-Islands owned chemical tanker MV Theresa VIII was hijacked earlier this week with its 28 North Korean crew members.
Photo of vessel by Foggy from Shipspotting.com and used in accord with Shipspotting terms and conditions.

Somali Pirates : Maersk Alabama Attacked, Fights Back

Reported here:
On the early morning of 18 November 2009, 350 nautical miles east from the Somali coast, pirates attacked MV Maersk Alabama, a US flagged, Danish owned, 155 meter long, Container ship.

Pirates fired automatic weapons on MV Maersk Alabama who responded with fire from an embarked Vessel Protection Detachment. The crew managed to repel the attack and no casualties were reported. The vessel was previously hijacked in April 2009.

An EU NAVFOR Maritime Patrol Aircraft from Djibouti was tasked to investigate the situation and the closest EU NAVFOR naval vessel was tasked to search for the pirate attack group and neutralise the area.
UPDATE: Fixed the photo to represent the right ship. Thanks for the anonymous note calling the error to my attention.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Latest 9-11 "Can of Worms"

From www.stratfor.com:
Deciphering the Mohammed Trial:

By George Friedman

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has decided that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed will be tried in federal court in New York. Holder’s decision was driven by the need for the U.S. government to decide how to dispose of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, a U.S. Naval base outside the boundaries of the United States selected as the camp in which to hold suspected al Qaeda members.

We very carefully use the word “camp” rather than prison or prisoner of war camp. This is because of an ongoing and profound ambiguity not only in U.S. government perceptions of how to define those held there, but also due to uncertainties in international law, particularly with regard to the Geneva Conventions of 1949. Were the U.S. facility at Guantanamo a prison, then its residents would be criminals. If it were a POW camp, then they would be enemy soldiers being held under the rules of war. It has never really been decided which these men are, and therefore their legal standing has remained unclear.

War vs. Criminal Justice

The ambiguity began shortly after 9/11, when then-U.S. President George W. Bush defined two missions: waging a war on terror, and bringing Osama bin Laden and his followers to justice. Both made for good rhetoric. But they also were fundamentally contradictory. A war is not a judicial inquiry, and a criminal investigation is not part of war.

An analogy might be drawn from Pearl Harbor. Imagine that in addition to stating that the United States was at war with Japan, Franklin Roosevelt also called for bringing the individual Japanese pilots who struck Hawaii to justice under American law. This would make no sense. As an act of war, the Japanese action fell under the rules of war as provided for in international law, the U.S. Constitution and the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). Japanese pilots could not be held individually responsible for the lawful order they received. In the same sense, trying to bring soldiers to trial in a civilian court in the United States would make no sense. Creating a mission in which individual Japanese airmen would be hunted down and tried under the rules of evidence not only would make no sense, it would be impossible. Building a case against them individually also would be impossible. Judges would rule on evidence, on whether an unprejudiced jury could be found, and so on. None of this happened, of course — World War II was a war, not a judicial inquiry.

It is important to consider how wars are conducted. Enemy soldiers are not shot or captured because of what they have done; they are shot and captured because of who they are — members of an enemy military force. War, once launched, is pre-emptive. Soldiers are killed or captured in the course of fighting enemy forces, or even before they have carried out hostile acts. Soldiers are not held responsible for their actions, but neither are they immune to attack just because they have not done anything. Guilt and innocence do not enter into the equation. Certainly, if war crimes are in question, charges may be brought; the UCMJ determines how they will be tried by U.S. forces. Soldiers are tried by courts-martial, not by civilian courts, because of their status as soldiers. Soldiers are tried by a jury of their peers, and their peers are held to be other soldiers.

International law is actually not particularly ambiguous about the status of the members of al Qaeda. The Geneva Conventions do not apply to them because they have not adhered to a fundamental requirement of the Geneva Conventions, namely, identifying themselves as soldiers of an army. Doing so does not mean they must wear a uniform. The postwar Geneva Conventions make room for partisans, something older versions of the conventions did not. A partisan is not a uniformed fighter, but he must wear some form of insignia identifying himself as a soldier to enjoy the conventions’ protections. As Article 4.1.6 puts it, prisoners of war include “Inhabitants of a non-occupied territory, who on the approach of the enemy spontaneously take up arms to resist the invading forces, without having had time to form themselves into regular armed units, provided they carry arms openly and respect the laws and customs of war.” The Geneva Conventions of 1949 does not mention, nor provide protection to, civilians attacking foreign countries without openly carrying arms.

The reasoning behind this is important. During the Franco-Prussian war, French franc-tireurs fired on Prussian soldiers. Ununiformed and without insignia, they melded into the crowd. It was impossible for the Prussians to distinguish between civilians and soldiers, so they fired on both, and civilian casualties resulted. The framers of the Geneva Conventions held the franc-tireurs, not the Prussian soldiers, responsible for the casualties. Their failure to be in uniform forced the Prussians to defend themselves at the cost of civilian lives. The franc-tireurs were seen as using civilians as camouflage. This was regarded as outside the rules of war, and those who carried out such acts were seen as not protected by the conventions. They were not soldiers, and were not to be treated as such.

An Ambiguous Status

Extending protections to partisans following World War II was seen as a major concession. It was done with concerns that it not be extended so far that combatants of irregular forces could legally operate using their ability to blend in with surrounding civilians, and hence a requirement of wearing armbands. The status of purely covert operatives remained unchanged: They were not protected under the Geneva Conventions. Their status remained ambiguous.

During World War II, it was U.S. Army practice to hold perfunctory trials followed by executions. During the Battle of the Bulge, German commandos captured wearing U.S. uniforms — in violation of the Geneva Conventions — were summarily tried in field courts-martial and executed. The idea that such individuals were to be handed over to civilian courts was never considered. The actions of al Qaeda simply were not anticipated in the Geneva Conventions. And to the extent they were expected, they violated the conventions.

Holder’s decision to transfer Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to federal court makes it clear that Mohammed was not a soldier acting in time of war, but a criminal. While during times of war spies are tried as criminals, their status is precarious, particularly if they are members of an enemy army. Enemy soldiers out of uniform carrying out reconnaissance or espionage are subject to military, not civilian, justice, and frequently are executed. A spy captured in the course of collecting information is a civilian, particularly in peacetime, and normally is tried as a criminal with rules of evidence.

Which was Mohammed? Under the Geneva Conventions, his actions in organizing the Sept. 11 attacks, which were carried out without uniforms or other badges of a combatant, denies him status and protection as a POW. Logically, he is therefore a criminal, but if he is, consider the consequences.

Criminal law is focused on punishments meted out after the fact. They rarely have been preventive measures. In either case, they follow strict rules of evidence, require certain treatments of prisoners and so on. For example, prisoners have to be read the Miranda warning. Soldiers are not policeman. They are not trained or expected to protect the legal rights of captives save as POWs under the UCMJ, nor protect the chain of custody of evidence nor countless other things that are required in a civilian court. In criminal law, it is assumed that law enforcement has captured the prisoner and is well-versed in these rules. In this case, the capture was made without any consideration of these matters, nor would one expect such consideration.

Consider further the role of U.S. covert operations in these captures. The United States conducts covert operations in which operatives work out of uniform and are generally not members of the military. Operating outside the United States, they are not protected by U.S. law although they do operate under the laws and regulations promulgated by the U.S. government. Much of their operations run counter to international and national law. At the same time, their operations are accepted as best practices by the international system. Some operate under cover of diplomatic immunity but carry out operations incompatible with their status as diplomats. Others operate without official cover. Should those under unofficial cover be captured, their treatment falls under local law, if such exists. The Geneva Conventions do not apply to them, nor was it intended to.

Spies, saboteurs and terrorists fall outside the realm of international law. This class of actors falls under the category of national law, leaving open the question of their liability if they conduct acts inimical to a third country. Who has jurisdiction? The United States is claiming that Mohammed is to be tried under the criminal code of the United States for actions planned in Afghanistan but carried out by others in the United States. It is a defensible position, but where does this leave American intelligence planners working at CIA headquarters for actions carried out by others in a third country? Are they subject to prosecution in the third country? Those captured in the third country clearly are, but the claim here is that Mohammed is subject to prosecution under U.S. laws for actions carried out by others in the United States. And that creates an interesting reciprocal liability.

A Failure to Evolve

The fact is that international law has not evolved to deal with persons like Mohammed. Or more precisely, most legal discussion under international law is moving counter to the Geneva Conventions’ intent, which was to treat the franc-tireurs as unworthy of legal protection because they were not soldiers and were violating the rules of war. International law wants to push Mohammed into a category where he doesn’t fit, providing protections that are not apparent under the Geneva Conventions. The United States has shoved him into U.S. criminal law, where he doesn’t fit either, unless the United States is prepared to accept reciprocal liability for CIA personnel based in the United States planning and supporting operations in third countries. The United States has never claimed, for example, that the KGB planners who operated agents in the United States on behalf of the Soviet Union were themselves subject to criminal prosecution.

A new variety of warfare has emerged in which treatment as a traditional POW doesn’t apply and criminal law doesn’t work. Criminal law creates liabilities the United States doesn’t want to incur, and it is not geared to deal with a terrorist like Mohammed. U.S. criminal law assumes that capture is in the hands of law enforcement officials. Rights are prescribed and demanded, including having lawyers present and so forth. Such protections are practically and theoretically absurd in this case: Mohammed is not a soldier and he is not a suspected criminal presumed innocent until proven guilty. Law enforcement is not a practical counter to al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan. A nation cannot move from the rules of counterterrorism to an American courtroom; they are incompatible modes of operation. Nor can a nation use the code of criminal procedures against a terrorist organization operating transnationally. Instead, they must be stopped before they commit their action, and issuing search warrants and allowing attorneys present at questioning is not an option.

Therefore — and now we move to the political reality — it is difficult to imagine how the evidence accumulated against Mohammed could enter a courtroom. Ignoring the methods of questioning, which is a separate issue, how can one prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt without compromising sources and methods, and why should one? Mohammed was on a battlefield but not operating as a soldier. Imagine doing criminal forensics on a battlefield to prove the criminal liability of German commandos wearing American uniforms.

In our mind, there is a very real possibility that Mohammed could be found not guilty in a courtroom. The cases of O.J. Simpson and of Jewish Defense League head Rabbi Meir Kahane’s killer, El Sayyid Nosair — both found not guilty despite overwhelming evidence — come to mind. Juries do strange things, particularly amid what will be the greatest media circus imaginable in the media capital of the world.

But it may not be the jury that is the problem. A federal judge will have to ask the question of whether prejudicial publicity of such magnitude has occurred that Mohammed can’t receive a fair trial. (This is probably true.) Questions will be raised about whether he has received proper legal counsel, which undoubtedly he hasn’t. Issues about the chain of custody of evidence will be raised; given that he was held by troops and agents, and not by law enforcement, the chances of compromised evidence is likely. The issue of torture will, of course, also be raised but that really isn’t the main problem. How do you try a man under U.S. legal procedures who was captured in a third country by non-law enforcement personnel, and who has been in military custody for seven years?

There is a nontrivial possibility that he will be acquitted or have his case thrown out of court, which would be a foreign policy disaster for the United States. Some might view it as a sign of American adherence to the rule of law and be impressed, others might be convinced that Mohammed was not guilty in more than a legal sense and was held unjustly, and others might think the United States has bungled another matter.

The real problem here is international law, which does not address acts of war committed by non-state actors out of uniform. Or more precisely, it does, but leaves them deliberately in a state of legal limbo, with captors left free to deal with them as they wish. If the international legal community does not like the latter, it is time they did the hard work of defining precisely how a nation deals with an act of war carried out under these circumstances.

The international legal community has been quite vocal in condemning American treatment of POWs after 9/11, but it hasn’t evolved international law, even theoretically, to cope with this. Sept. 11 is not a crime in the proper sense of the term, and prosecuting the guilty is not the goal. Instead, it was an act of war carried out outside the confines of the Geneva Conventions. The U.S. goal is destroying al Qaeda so that it can no longer function, not punishing those who have acted. Similarly the goal in 1941 was not punishing the Japanese pilots at Pearl Harbor but destroying the Japanese Empire, and any Japanese soldier was a target who could be killed without trial in the course of combat. If it wishes to solve this problem, international law will have to recognize that al Qaeda committed an act of war, and its destruction has legal sanction without judicial review. And if some sort of protection is to be provided al Qaeda operatives out of uniform, then the Geneva Conventions must be changed, and with it the status of spies and saboteurs of all countries.

Holder has opened up an extraordinarily complex can of worms with this decision. As U.S. attorney general, he has committed himself to proving Mohammed’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt while guaranteeing that his constitutional rights (for a non-U.S. citizen captured and held outside the United States under extraordinary circumstances by individuals not trained as law enforcement personnel, no less) are protected. It is Holder’s duty to ensure Mohammed’s prosecution, conviction and fair treatment under the law. It is hard to see how he can.

Whatever the politics of this decision — and all such decisions have political dimensions — the real problem faced by both the Obama and Bush administrations has been the failure of international law to evolve to provide guidance on dealing with combatants such as al Qaeda. International law has clung to a model of law governing a very different type of warfare despite new realities. International law must therefore either reaffirm the doctrine that combatants who do not distinguish themselves from noncombatants are not due the protections of international law, or it must clearly define what those protections are. Otherwise, international law discredits itself.

Emphasis added.

Douglas Burgess has suggested that terrorists be treated as pirates here, because, among other reasons, no international law definition of "terrorism as a crime" exists. Mr. Burgess suggests that the law of piracy -and treating terrorists as "enemies of all mankind" could be applicable. I suspect, however, that AG Holder and crew have in mind more mundane crimes, such as murder, conspiracy and the like in their case against al Qaeda terrorists. I hope, at some point, some far-sighted JAG officer made sure that rights were read to these groups so that their asymmetric war against the United States does not result in a legal judo flip and setting the "suspects" free.

Somali Pirates: Chemical Tanker Taken, Attacks Continue

Reported here:
17/11/2009 09.09 UTC
On 16 November a Virgin Islands owned (operated from Singapore) Chemical Tanker named the MV Theresa VIII was hijacked in the south Somali Basin, 180 nautical miles North West of the Seychelles. Theresa VIII has a deadweight of 22,294 tonnes and a crew of 28 North Koreans. The vessel, which was heading for Mombasa, has turned around and is now heading north.
More here. Photo of vessel by Foggy from Shipspotting.com and used in accord with Shipspotting terms and conditions.

Another unsuccessful, this time in the Gulf of Aden, reported here:
On 16 November in the Gulf of Aden, the Ukrainian Cargo Ship MV LADY JULIET (flagged St Vincent & The Grenadines) heading West was attacked by pirates firing Kalashnikovs and rocket propelled grenades. The attack commenced when two small skiffs detached from a mother ship and made a fast approach towards the MV LADY JULIET not realising that a Vessel Protection Detachment was onboard. The VPD returned fire and the skiffs broke off their attack. There are no casualties onboard the MV LADY JULIET and it is not confirmed if any of the attacking pirates were injured.

Monday, November 16, 2009

ONI On Piracy

From U.S. Navy's Office of Naval Intelligence's (ONI's) Weekly Worldwide Threat to Shipping Report(to 11 November 09):
B. CENTRAL AMERICA-CARIBBEAN:
.
1. NICARAGUA: Sailing vessel (BLU INTERLUDE) robbed 26 Oct 09 at 0700 local time while underway in position 15:04.7N – 082:55.1W, approximately 14NM off Cabo Gracias a Dios. While sailing along the Nicaraguan banks, the vessel was flagged down by a green panga with four men onboard wearing what appeared to be paramilitary clothing. As the vessel slowed down, the men pulled out shotguns and pistols and then boarded the vessel. At gun point, they tied up all three crewmembers and then stole cameras, money, and other personal belongings including a hand held GPS and VHF radios. They were onboard for approximately 45 minutes searching for valuables. The robbery was reported to the Coast Guard at San Andreas Island, Colombia (Operator, Noonsite.com).
.
C. SOUTH AMERICA:
.
1. VENEZUELA: Sailing vessel (JUPITER) reported suspicious approach 6 Nov 09 at 1700 local time while underway between positions 10:55N – 065:00W (Isla la Tortuga) and 11:00N – 064:30W (Isla de Margarita). A skiff painted in bright colors with three men onboard began to follow within 100-200 meters of the vessel’s wake. When they accelerated and approached to within 60 yards, the crew onboard the (JUPITER) went to the aft deck with a flare gun and other offensive measures and directly confronted them. The suspicious men dropped back several times and conferred before making several more close passes. After doing this several more
times, they eventually stopped following and dropped out of sight. The incident was reported to the US Customs and Border agents that came aboard upon clearing at Marina Puerto del Rey, Puerto Rico (Noonsite.com).
.
2. SURINAME: Fishing vessel fired upon, robbed, crewmembers kidnapped 28 Oct 09 at 1900 local time while underway in the vicinity of Caroni. A boat pulled up alongside the vessel while five men onboard fired shotguns at the fishermen. They proceeded to raid valuables, nets, and money. They placed the crew in another fishing vessel that was also attacked. The robbers then proceeded to destroy parts of the vessel, including its engine. When they escaped, they took two fishermen. Several of the remaining were injured (Risk Intelligence/MaRisk).
.
3. ECUADOR: Container ship robbed 26 Oct 09 at 2222 UTC while underway in position 02:30S – 080:04W, Guayaquil. Five men armed with guns and knives boarded the vessel underway. They broke open containers, stole goods, and escaped in their boat. The coast guard was informed. Two patrol boats arrived and detained the robbers’ skiff (IMB).
***
G. WEST AFRICA:
.
1. GUINEA: Bulk carrier robbed 25 Oct 09 at 1500 local time while anchored in position 09:25.4N – 013:43.3W, approximately 6NM south of Conakry. Five robbers armed with guns boarded the vessel and stole ship’s stores and crewmembers’ personal belongings. The robbers escaped 40 minutes later. Local authorities were informed (IMB).
.
2. GUINEA: General cargo ship reported attempted boarding 21 Oct 09 at 1600 UTC while underway in position 09:13N – 014:12W, approximately 30NM southwest of Conakry. Eight men in a small black boat approached the vessel. The duty officer raised the alarm, conducted evasive maneuvers, and increased speed. As the boat approached at a distance of 150 meters, the crew noticed one man was holding a rope, two men were armed with guns, and the others were signaling the vessel to stop. The duty officer increased speed to maximum and continued with
evasive maneuvering. The small boat eventually stopped chasing the vessel and aborted the attempt. Port control was contacted, but no response was received (IMB).
***
4. NIGERIA: Bulk carrier robbed 30 Oct 09 at 2125 UTC while anchored in position
06:08.16N – 003:27.68E, Lagos anchorage. Nine armed men in a speedboat boarded the vessel and opened fire. They took all the crewmembers hostage. They assaulted the crew and damaged the ship’s communication equipment. They stole ship’s cash and money and other personal belongings from the crew before escaping. Five crewmembers were injured. The Nigerian navy was informed (IMB).
.
5. NIGERIA: Chemical tanker robbed 30 Oct 09 at 2015 local time while underway in position 06:10N – 003:33E, Lagos anchorage. Six men armed with guns and knives in a speedboat boarded the vessel as it was drifting. The master raised the alarm, activated SSAS, and contacted Lagos port control while the crew activated fire hoses. The armed men started firing at the bridge windows and accommodation doors, but were unable to gain entry into the accommodation. The robbers were able to enter into the bridge and took all the crewmembers hostage. They assaulted some of the crewmembers and damaged the communication equipment. They stole ship’s cash and money and other personal belongings from the crew. They then
locked the crewmembers in a cabin before escaping (IMB).
***
H. INDIAN OCEAN-EAST AFRICA:
.
1. GULF OF ADEN: General cargo ship fired upon 7 Nov 09 at 0600 UTC while underway in position 12:37.5N – 047:11.6E. Six men in a skiff armed with automatic weapons and RPGs opened fire on the vessel while underway. The master raised the alarm, contacted coalition forces, and conducted evasive maneuvers. The men attempted to board the vessel using a ladder but were unable to due to the vessel’s freeboard and effective counter-measure taken by the crew (IMB).
.
2. GULF OF ADEN: General cargo ship reported suspicious approach 5 Nov 09 at 0648 UTC while underway in position 13:42.8N – 050:56.1E. A small speedboat was sighted at a distance of 4NM. When the boat passed the port beam, it immediately changed course and approached the vessel from astern. The duty officer raised the alarm, contacted coalition forces, and mustered the crew. The master increased speed and took evasive maneuvers. As the boat came closer, four men with guns were spotted trying to board the vessel. The men in the speedboat eventually aborted the pursuit due to effective counter-piracy measures (IMB).
.
3. GULF OF ADEN: Bulk carrier (THEOFOROS I) fired upon 5 Nov 09 at 0333 UTC
while underway in position 13:10N – 049:11E. According to Greek authorities, the
crewmembers activated high-pressure fire hoses against the attackers until a Turkish warship arrived on scene to provide assistance (AFP, IMB).
.
***
5. GULF OF ADEN: Bulk carrier fired upon 31 Oct 09 at 1530 UTC while underway in position 13:26N – 049:42E. Two skiffs chased and opened fire on the vessel. They attempted to board, but due to effective counter piracy measures, the two skiffs aborted the attempt and moved away (IMB).
***.
8. INDIAN OCEAN: Bulk carrier (FILITSA) reportedly hijacked 11 Nov 09 at 0200 UTC while underway in position 00:35S – 062:40E, approximately 500NM northeast of Port Victoria, Seychelles. According to the owners, pirates boarded the vessel and all communication with the crew has ceased. There are 22 crewmembers onboard of Greek and Filipino nationality. Further information is awaited (IMB, Reuters).
.
9. INDIAN OCEAN: Container ship (FELICITAS RICKMERS) fired upon 10 Nov 09 at 0430 UTC while underway in position 06:33S – 048:14E, approximately 500NM southeast of Kismayo, Somalia. The vessel reported being under attack by two skiffs. Shots were fired, but no damage was reported. The vessel conducted evasive maneuvers and prevented being boarded (IMB, AFP).
.
10. INDIAN OCEAN: Container ship (NELE MAERSK) fired upon 10 Nov 09 at 0200
UTC while underway in position 00:43.7S – 061:57.8E, approximately 455NM northeast of Port Victoria, Seychelles. Men in two skiffs armed with assault rifles and RPGs chased and opened fire on the vessel. The skiffs approached the vessel from the starboard side at approximately 25-30 knots and were spotted by extra bridge lookouts at a distance of 3NM. At that time the skiffs were not yet picked up on radar. The vessel increased speed, conducted evasive maneuvers, and
successfully deterred the attack after 30 minutes. Coalition forces were informed (LL, IMB).
.
11. INDIAN OCEAN: Tanker (BW LION) fired upon 9 Nov 09 at 0830 UTC while
underway in position 01:09S – 061:35E, approximately 420NM northeast of Port Victoria, Seychelles. Several men in two skiffs armed with assault rifles and RPGs chased and opened fire on the vessel. The master increased speed, conducted evasive maneuvers, deployed self protection measures, and successfully deterred the attack after one hour. Coalition forces were informed. The vessel sustained minor damages (AP, IMB).
.
12. INDIAN OCEAN: Bulk carrier (DELVINA) hijacked 5 Nov 09 at 0426 UTC while
underway in position 09:40.36S – 045:05.48E, approximately 690NM south of Mogadishu, Somalia. The owners reported the vessel came under attack and was boarded by pirates (AFP, IMB).
.
13. INDIAN OCEAN: Chemical tanker (JO CEDAR) fired upon 2 Nov 09 at 1213 UTC
while underway in position 07:55S – 047:40E, approximately 530NM southeast of Mombassa, Kenya. One skiff with five armed men onboard chased the vessel and opened fire while two more skiffs stood by in the vicinity. The vessel increased speed and conducted evasive maneuvers until the skiff abandoned the attack. The ship sustained bullet holes, but no crewmembers were reported injured (IMB, MSCHOA).
.
14. INDIAN OCEAN: Bulk carrier (HARRIETTE) fired upon 2 Nov 09 at 0810 UTC while underway in position 03:34.3S – 045:40.1E, approximately 270NM southeast of Kismayo, Somalia. Two skiffs with six armed men in each boat chased and fired upon the vessel. The men were unable to hook their ladder onto the vessel’s side. The master increased speed and carried out evasive maneuvers while activating fire hoses. After approximately 20 minutes the men abandoned the attempt. The vessel sustained bullet holes but no crewmembers were injured (IMB, AP).
.
15. INDIAN OCEAN: Fishing vessel (AVEL VAD) fired upon 31 Oct 09 at 0831 UTC
while underway in position 01:29N – 051:38E, approximately 370NM east of Mogadishu, Somalia. Two blue skiffs, 5-6 meters long, opened fire on the vessel. They aborted the attack after warning shots were returned from a security team onboard the fishing vessel (IMB, AFP).
.
16. INDIAN OCEAN: Fishing vessel (ARTZA) fired upon 31 Oct 09 at 0730 UTC while underway in position 02:00N – 050:10E, approximately 290NM east of Mogadishu, Somalia. Three skiffs opened fire on the vessel. A security team onboard the vessel returned fire in self defense and the skiffs broke off their attack (IMB, AFP).
.
17. INDIAN OCEAN: Fishing vessel (THAI UNION 3) hijacked 29 Oct 09 at 0247 UTC while underway in position 01:55S – 055:53E, approximately 165NM north of Port Victoria, Seychelles. Armed pirates in two skiffs approached the vessel from both sides. The vessel took evasive maneuvers and sent a distress message which was received by the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre and relayed to coalition naval forces to render assistance. A warship was dispatched to the location, but the pirates were able to board and hijack the vessel (IMB, Bloomberg).
.
18. INDIAN OCEAN: Fishing vessel (CAP ST. VINCENT) fired upon 27 Oct 09 at 1020 UTC while underway in position 01:25N – 050:41E, approximately 330NM east of Mogadishu, Somalia. The vessel reported being chased and fired upon by two skiffs with approximately six persons onboard. The visual presence and noise of warning shots fired by an armed security team onboard the vessel deterred the approach at 0.8 miles away. A German warship was dispatched to the scene and located the skiffs trying to flee the area. The men onboard the skiffs were later arrested (AFP, AP, IMB).
.
19. INDIAN OCEAN: Container ship fired upon 25 Oct 09 at 0845 UTC while underway in position 06:07.7S – 045:10E, approximately 350NM southeast of Mombassa, Kenya. Six men armed with machine guns in a white plastic hull speedboat chased the vessel. The master raised the alarm, conducted counter-piracy preventive measures, and increased to maximum speed. At a distance of about three cables, the men started firing at the vessel. The men eventually aborted
the attack, and the vessel continued underway at maximum speed (IMB).
.
20. INDIAN OCEAN: Sailing vessel (LYNN RIVAL) hijacked 23 Oct 09 while underway approximately 60NM west of Port Victoria, Seychelles. The vessel was bound for Tanzania when it dispatched an emergency distress signal on 23 Oct, and then lost contact (AP, AFP).
.
21. INDIAN OCEAN: Bulk carrier (AL KHALIQ) hijacked 22 Oct 09 at 0555 UTC while underway in position 04:09S – 052:35E, approximately 180NM west of Port Victoria, Seychelles. Six pirates armed with automatic weapons and RPGs onboard two skiffs opened fire and hijacked the vessel. Twenty-six crewmembers are currently onboard (Reuters, IMB).
.
22. INDIAN OCEAN: RoRo vessel (JOLLY ROSSO) fired upon 22 Oct 09 at 0415 UTC while underway in position 03:45.28S – 046:43.24E, approximately 320NM southeast of Kismayo, Somalia. Men armed with automatic weapons and RPGs in two skiffs opened fire on the vessel with intent to board. The vessel increased speed and conducted evasive maneuvers to escape the attack (Reuters, IMB).
.
23. INDIAN OCEAN: Bulk carrier (DE XIN HAI) hijacked 19 Oct 09 at 0815 UTC while underway in position 01:53S – 060:05E, approximately 325NM northeast of Port Victoria, Seychelles. Pirates boarded and hijacked the vessel while underway. There are 25 crew members onboard. Further information is pending (AP, IMB).
.
24. INDIAN OCEAN: Container ship (KOTA WAJAR) hijacked 15 Oct 09 at 0237 UTC while underway in position 01:33S – 054:52E, approximately 190NM north of Port Victoria, Seychelles. Owners of the vessel received a call stating that the vessel has been attacked and hijacked. No further information is available at this time (AFP, UKMTO).
From ONI's Piracy Analysis and Warning Weekly (PAWW) Report (12 Nov 09):
(U) ONI assesses that vessels attacked off Somalia are randomly selected and not specifically targeted for any reason other than how easily the vessel can be boarded. Pirates simply patrol an area, wait for a target of opportunity, and attempt to board. ONI defines a high risk vessel as one that travels at a speed of less than 15 knots with low hook points. All vessels, especially vessels that fit this profile, are advised to proceed with extreme caution when transiting the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean off the east coast of Somalia. Pirates have shown a capability to operate in waters off the Omani coast (in the southern Gulf of Oman and Arabian Sea). There have also been incidents reported in the southern Red Sea of aggressive small boat activity. Caution must be taken when transiting these waters. Pirates have achieved significant success in recent months and have shown their capability to operate for sustained periods in the Gulf of Aden and at a considerable distance (>900NM) off the coast of Somalia. Not all attacks were successful, and considerable caution is always required since the areas around failed hijackings remain at high risk for at least 48 hours after the incident.
***
And a forecast through the 18th:

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday Readings

Fred Fry after years of faithful posting announces his retirement from his long running series of Maritime Mondays with a final, link-filled post Maritime Monday 187. It is unclear whether Fred will continue his blog at Fred Fry International. I hope so. Thanks for Maritime Monday, Fred.

According to this, Somali pirates recently are experiencing a 50% success rate in hijacking ships, though a couple of recent ship escapes in the Gulf of Aden, as set forth here:
12.11.2009: 0536 UTC: Posn: 14:33N – 054:08E, Gulf of Aden. Pirates armed with assault rifles in skiffs attacked a bulk carrier underway. They chased and fired upon the ship with intent to hijack her. The ship increased speed, took evasive manoeuvres, deployed self protection measures and successfully deterred the boarding. The pirates aborted the attempt at 0832 UTC.

12.11.2009: 0330 UTC: Posn: 14:36.1N – 054:14.5E, Gulf of Aden. Pirates armed with assault rifles in skiffs attacked a bulk carrier underway. They fired upon the ship and attempted to board her. The ship increased speed, took evasive manoeuvres, deployed self protection measures and successfully deterred the boarding.


Spain has called for a blockade of known Somali pirate ports. Of course, Spain, on its own, could send 3 ships, some helicopters and whole bunch of small boats and show the world how to do a blockade. Sustaining the blockade might be an issue. Last time I looked, Spain owned 10 frigates and a handful of other ships.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Somali Pirates: Another Ship Captured in the Indian Ocean, More Attacks

Somali pirates grabbed another ship north of the Seychelles, as reported here:

11/11/2009 09.51 UTC


Early this morning on 11 November a Greek owned (Marshall Island flagged) vessel named the MV Filitsa was hijacked in the south Somali Basin, 400 nautical miles North East of the Seychelles. The Bulk Carrier with a deadweight of 23,709 tonnes has a crew of 22 consisting of 3 Greek and 19 Philipino. The vessel that was heading for Durban, has now turned around and is heading north.
(Filitsa photo from ShipSpotting,com by Daniel Ferro and used in accord with ShipSpotting terms)

Other, less successful attacks, reported here:
On the early morning of 10 November 2009 some 1000 nautical miles east from Mogadishu, Somalia, pirates attacked MV Nele Maersk, a Danish flagged Container ship. The attack took place not far from the area crude oil tanker BW Lion was attacked yesterday. Pirates fired automatic weapons on MV Nele Maersk but she could outrun the pirates with a high speed. No casualties were reported.

A second attack this morning was in the southern part of the Somali Basin 530 nautical mile east of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and 420 nautical miles west of Victoria, Seychelles. MV Felicitas Richmers, a Marshal Islands flagged Container Ship was attacked by two small skiffs. Automatic weapons were fired on the ship. With evasive maneuvers, speed and other anti piracy methods MV Felicitas Rickmers also managed to evade the attack. No casualties were reported.
The pirates seem to be well inside the shipping protection OODA loop. Really, so long as the pirates use adequate "mother ships" to place their attack boats in shipping lanes, there is little limit to their range.

Once again I suggest Indian Ocean convoy protection and routing - see here. As I said there, "Move the sea lanes, the pirates simply will move with them."

UPDATE: Blame the good weather? Wind charts for the area are on the right side of this page.

Update 1b: Seychelle area winds


I blame the pirates.

UPDATE2: From the NATO Shipping Center:
---WARNING WARNING WARNING---

On 11/Nov at 0820Z a suspect vessel was detected in position 01 10N 059 04E. The craft is 8-10 mtrs long with 9 people on board. It is towing two smaller skiffs 4-5 mtrs in length. All skiffs are white in colour and equipped with outboard engines. It is assessed, that this is a pirate mother ship.

---WARNING WARNING WARNING---

On 11/Nov at 0100 UTC a merchant vessel came under attack by pirates in position 00 35S 062 40E. Most likely the vessel is now under pirate control heading northwest towards the Somali coast. During the last three days there were two unsuccessful pirate attacks in the vicinity of that position.

It is recommended that all vessels not making scheduled calls to ports in Somalia, Kenya or Tanzania keep as far from the Somali coast as possible. MSCHOA now advise that vessels should consider maintaining a distance of more than 600 nautical miles from the coastline and when routing north/south consider keeping East of 60E Longitude until East of the Seychelles.




Click on map to enlarge.

Somalia: Air pirates?

VOA headline says there is a relation to Somali sea pirates in Somali Pirates Tried to Seize Plane, Passengers:
An eyewitness account of an attempted plane hijacking last week in Somalia's northern semi-autonomous Puntland region suggests would-be hijackers were members of a pirate gang, whose operations have been affected by the increased international naval patrols in the Gulf of Aden.

Last Tuesday, about 30 passengers boarded a commercial plane in the northeastern town of Bosasso for a short flight to neighboring Djibouti.

Among the passengers was Yusuf M. Hassan, a Somali-American journalist and the former managing editor of Garowe Online Web site. Hassan tells VOA he noticed two German journalists on board, but he says no one noticed two young Somali men, sitting quietly in the first row.

"The plane was not in the air for more the three minutes when some guy in the very front jumped up and, in the Somali language, said, 'This plane has been hijacked.' When the pilot heard his very loud voice and a woman in the front scream, the pilot closed and locked his door," he said.
***
The plane landed safely in Bosasso. Surrounded by security forces, the gunmen tried to escape from the plane hiding behind passengers, but they were caught.

Hassan says through various contacts, he subsequently learned that at least one of the gunmen was a member of the pirate group in Las Qorey, which has had trouble seizing vessels for ransom in the well-patrolled waters off Somalia's northern coast.

"My understanding is that because of NATO operations, the pirate gangs have lost a lot of money. And any time the pirates do not seize enough boats, they begin kidnapping western people," he explained.

Sunday Ship History: Veterans Day


BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
A PROCLAMATION
We have a sacred trust with those who wear the uniform of the United States of America. From the Minutemen who stood watch over Lexington and Concord to the service members who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, American veterans deserve our deepest appreciation and respect. Our Nation's servicemen and women are our best and brightest, enlisting in times of peace and war, serving with honor under the most difficult circumstances, and making sacrifices that many of us cannot begin to imagine. Today, we reflect upon the invaluable contributions of our country's veterans and reaffirm our commitment to provide them and their families with the essential support they were promised and have earned.
Caring for our veterans is more than a way of thanking them for their service. It is an obligation to our fellow citizens who have risked their lives to defend our freedom. This selflessness binds our fates with theirs, and recognizing those who were willing to give their last full measure of devotion for us is a debt of honor for every American.
We also pay tribute to all who have worn the uniform and continue to serve their country as civilians. Many veterans act as coaches, teachers, and mentors in their communities, selflessly volunteering their time and expertise. They visit schools to tell our Nation's students of their experiences and help counsel our troops returning from the theater of war.These men and women possess an unwavering belief in the idea of America: no matter where you come from, what you look like, or who your parents are, this is a place where anything is possible. Our veterans continue to stand up for those timeless American ideals of liberty, self-determination, and equal opportunity.
On Veterans Day, we honor the heroes we have lost, and we rededicate ourselves to the next generation of veterans by supporting our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen as they return home from duty. Our grateful Nation must keep our solemn promises to these brave men and women and their families. They have given their unwavering devotion tothe American people, and we must keep our covenant with them.
***
The VFW offers a pledge:
Since our forefathers founded this country, America’s military has battled to keep it—to keep us—safe. To honor every veteran who has fought for freedom, Veterans Day became an officially recognized day of remembrance in 1954.

On Veterans Day, we remember the fallen and pay tribute to those heroes who still fight. Please pause this November 11 to pay your respects to every service member who has ever honorably worn the uniform.

Join with the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and thousands of other patriotic Americans this Veterans Day in pledging your support of the men and women of our valiant military.

This Veterans Day, I pledge to honor America’s veterans and military. I pledge to:

* Reflect upon the sacrifice of America’s warriors. I will observe a moment of silence on Veterans Day with my family and encourage my friends and co-workers to do the same.

* Spread the word about the real meaning of Veterans Day. Because it’s not just a “day off work.” It’s a time to remember our American freedoms come at a cost.

* Show my American Pride. I will fly the United States flag and stand reverently during the Pledge of Allegiance. This show of respect shows our veterans they are not forgotten.

I pledge to remember America’s veterans in word and deed. I pledge to honor and respect the United States flag and the men and women who fight, and have fought, to protect our country.

A Grateful American,
And another form of pledge at Valour-IT.
Soldiers Angels

Valour-IT

Soldiers Angels

Donate to Valour-IT.


Soldiers Angels

UPDATE: Auction on eBay for all sorts of goodies to benefit Valour-IT here for all of you who want some choice items.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Somali Pirates: Arms Ship Pirated

A ship apparently carrying arms to the friendly neighborhoods of Somalia has been captured by Somali pirates, as set out in here:
Somali pirates have seized a United Arab Emirates-flagged cargo ship loaded with weapons bound for the anarchic Horn of Africa nation in contravention of a U.N. arms embargo, maritime experts said on Monday.

Also on Monday, the gunmen launched their longest range hijack attempt yet -- opening fire on a giant Hong Kong-flagged crude oil tanker 1,000 nautical miles east of Mogadishu.

Andrew Mwangura of the East African Seafarers' Assistance Programme told Reuters he believed the weapons ship was using a fake name. He said it had been hijacked on Sunday and was now held near the northern Somali town of Garacad.

"She is one of the regular weapons carriers circumventing the U.N. arms embargo on Somalia," Mwangura said. Maritime sources say the craft is believed to be carrying light arms and ammunition, as well as rockets and rocket-propelled grenades.

"We understand the weapons belong to the Somali government," Farah, a pirate, told Reuters by satellite telephone.

Another gang member, Hassan, said the weapons ship was well known to them: "It has been circling in our ocean for a long time, bringing illegal weapons to massacre Somalis," he said.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Somali Pirates: Attacking Farther at Sea - the 1000 mile mark

Somali pirates aree reaching further offshore in their shipping attacks, now out to 1000 miles, as reported here:
Pirates in two skiffs fired automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades at the Hong Kong-flagged BW Lion about 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) east of the Somali coast, the EU Naval Force said.

The tanker's captain increased speed and took evasive maneuvers, avoiding the attack, the force said. No casualties were reported. The naval force sent a plane from the island nation of Seychelles to investigate.

Pirates have launched increasingly bold attacks against vessels in the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden in hopes of capturing a ship and crew and collecting ransom. They currently hold more than 190 hostages, including a British couple seized from their personal yacht late last month.

The high-seas hijackings have increased despite an international armada of warships deployed by the United States, the European Union, NATO, Japan, South Korea and China to patrol the region. U.S. drones launched from nearby Seychelles are also patrolling the region for pirates.
More on this later, but seafarers need to keep their guard up.

Deferred

Sunday Ship History has been deferred until Wednesday.

Thanks for asking.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

MV Arctic Sea: Inside Story?

A follow-on to the tale of what may have been, after all, Baltic piracy in "Lost"cargo ship Arctic Sea gives up its secrets:
The gunmen demanded a ransom and threatened to execute the crew if security services were alerted. But crewmen’s families and the shipowner appealed to President Dmitry Medvedev, who ordered the navy into action. The guided-missile frigate Ladny was sent to track down the Arctic Sea .

The response fuelled reports that the ship was carrying a secret cargo. Suspicion mounted when sources close to Mossad, the Israeli intelligence service, claimed that Israel had tipped off Russia that the vessel was smuggling missiles to Iran .
Interesting reading and perhaps has most of the story, though the author of the piece still seems to have some lingering doubts.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Somali Pirates: China Hosting Anti-Somali Pirate Conference

Reported here:
China is to host an international conference on Nov. 6 and 7 to coordinate anti-piracy escorts in the Gulf of Aden, the Foreign Ministry announced Thursday.

The conference would consider how escort missions could cover different areas in the gulf so as to coordinate effective international cooperation, said ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu at a regular news briefing.

"China always takes a positive and open attitude towards international cooperation on shipping escorts," said Ma.

China would cooperate with all countries and organizations to achieve peace and stability in the waters off Somalia.

Ma said representatives from Russia, Japan, India, the European Union and NATO would attend the conference.

China sent three warships to the Gulf of Aden on Dec. 26 last year in its first overseas escort mission for merchant vessels.

A new Chinese naval flotilla was deployed to the Gulf of Aden on Oct. 30, the fourth task force of its kind.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Somali Pirates: Two Failed Attacks, Thanks to Navy Ships

Reported here:
On the morning of November 5th a General Cargo ship and a Bulk Carrier were attacked in the Gulf of Aden. Cooperation between EU NAVFOR and NATO prevented two more hijackings.

Early in the morning, MV Theoforus I, a Panama flagged Bulk Carrier was attacked by pirates using automatic weapons and a Rocket Propelled Grenade. The ship took evasive action until the arrival of a NATO Turkish naval vessel TCG Gediz arrived on the scene. The warship neutralized a suspected skiff in the vicinity of the attack position and weapons and pirate paraphernalia were seized.

A few hours later MV BBC Thames, a Liberian flagged General Cargo Ship, reported being under attack. EU NAVFOR German warship FGS Bremen was immediately tasked to support the Cargo ship and the Bremen’s helicopter was launched. The attackers fled but Bremen found a skiff in the vicinity and on sighting the helicopter the skiff stopped. FGS Bremen conducted a boarding where weapons, ammunition and RPG grenades were found and seized.



Thursday, November 05, 2009

Somali Pirates: Capture Another Ship

Reported here:
05/11/2009 12.54 UTC

Early this morning on 5 November a Greek owned (Marshall Island flagged) Bulk Carrier named the MV Delvina was hijacked in the south Somali Basin. The Bulk Carrier with a deadweight of 53,629 tonnes has a crew of 21 consisting of 7 Ukrainian and 14 Philipino. The vessel, that was heading for Zanzibar, has now turned around and is heading north. The ships is approximately 300 miles south east of Mombasa.
UPDATE: More info here. Estimated attack area shown on map image.

UPDATE2: Another reported attack, this time in the Gulf of Aden, from here:

TO : ALL SHIPS TRANSITING THE GULF OF ADEN

WARNING WARNING WARNING

05.11.2009: 0333 UTC: 1310N - 049:11E: GULF OF ADEN.

A MERCHANT VESSEL WAS UNDER PIRATE ATTACK IN ABOVE POSITION. SHIPS ARE ADVISED TO BE CAUTIOUS.

ALL SHIPS ARE STRONGLY ADVISED TO MAINTAIN A STRICT 24 HOURS VISUAL AND RADAR WATCH. EARLY ASSESSMENT / DETECTION WILL ALLOW SHIPS TO TAKE EVASIVE MEASURES TO PREVENT BOARDING AND REQUEST FOR ASSISTANCE.

ALL ATTACKS AND SUSPICIOUS SIGHTINGS INCLUDING POSSIBLE PIRATE MOTHER VESSEL TOWING SKIFFS SHOULD BE REPORTED. WHILE NAVIGATING IN THE REGION VESSELS ARE URGED TO OPERATE AT A HEIGHTENED STATE OF READINESS, MAINTAINING STRICT 24 HOUR ANTI-PIRACY VISUAL AND RADAR WATCHES, ACTIVELY IMPLEMENT RECOMMENDED ANTI-PIRACY MEASURES AND REGULARLY REPORT THEIR POSITION/COURSE/SPEED TO UKMTO.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Somali Pirates: Two Ship Fight Off Attacks

Reported here:

03/11/2009 10.01 UTC


In the afternoon of November 2nd some 360 nautical miles east of Mombasa, Kenya, pirates attempted to hijack MV Harriette and MV Jo Cedar.

MV Harriette, a US flagged Cargo vessel was attacked by two small skiffs. The pirates opened fire with automatic weapons. Rocket Propelled grenades were also seen by the crew of the Harriette. The pirates tried to get onboard the vessel with a ladder but the master of Harriette made evasive maneuvers and succeeded in keeping the pirates off his ships. Nobody was reported injured on board.

Some hours later, MV Jo Cedar, a Dutch flagged Tanker, reported being under attack in roughly the same position. The vessel was under attack by three fast attack skiffs. The pirates fired their automatic weapons damaging the bridge wing. Rocket Propelled grenades were sighted but not fired. With evasive maneuvers and speed this vessel also escaped the clutches of the pirates. Nobody was reported injured on board. (Photo of MVJo Cedar by Michael Marshall from ShipSpotting.com and used in accord with ShipSpotting.com policies)

An EU NAVFOR Maritime Patrol Aircraft based in Seychelles was tasked to investigate the area and EU NAVFOR German warship FGS Karlsruhe was ordered immediately to search and neutralize the pirate attack group.

EU says some pirates disrupted here:
On the morning of Tuesday November 3rd EU NAVFOR German warship Karlsruhe stopped a suspected pirate mother skiff in the Indian Ocean. The skiff was possibly involved in the attack on US flagged Cargo vessel, MV Harriette or Dutch flagged M/V Jo Cedar.

EU NAVFOR German warship FGS Karlsruhe was tasked yesterday to investigate an area where two merchant vessels had been attacked. An EU NAVFOR Maritime Patrol Aircraft working in support of this operation located the skiff and directed the helicopter of Karlsruhe to the location.

On arrival at the scene, EU NAVFOR warship Karlsruhe launched a boarding team and, on approaching the skiff, persons on board were seen to throw objects into the water. The skiff’s four man crew were questioned and claimed to be fishermen. No nets were found and any weapons they may have had had been disposed of. However, some items that could be used in pirate attacks were still onboard and this pirate related paraphernalia was seized. After further questioning, the individuals were eventually released to return to the Somali coast.
UPDATE: Approximate locations of attacks: