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Friday, November 30, 2012

Pirates: Counter-Piracy Operations

Multinational counter-piracy operations off the Somali coast are defined by reports like this one from Nov 21, 2012, EU Naval Force and Combined Task Force 151 Work Together to Ensure No Safe Haven for Pirates In Indian Ocean:
The boarding team from ROS Regele Ferdinand brings the apprehended pirates and their skiff back to the Romanian warship (EUNAVFOR photo)
Earlier today, Romanian frigate ROS Regele Ferdinand, under command of the EU Naval Force (EU NAVFOR) worked in close co-operation with Turkish warship TCG Gemlik of Combined Task Force 151 (CTF-151) to apprehended nine suspected pirates at sea off the coast of Somalia.

In the early hours of the morning, Swedish EU NAVFOR Maritime Patrol Aircraft located the suspicious skiff at sea 420 nautical miles east of Mogadishu. Counter piracy forces in the area were quickly alerted, and being the two closest warships, both TCG Gemlik and ROS Regele Ferdinand made haste to the area to investigate, as the Luxembourg EU NAVFOR patrol aircraft maintained visual coverage from the air.

Once at the scene, TCG Gemlik sent a boarding team to search the suspect vessel, which had tried, unsuccessfully, to evade capture for over an hour. In an excellent demonstration of co-operation between the 2 counter-piracy forces, ROS Regele Ferdinand then embarked the suspect pirates on to the Romanian frigate for further questioning and evidence collection in order to fully assess the possibility of prosecution of the nine suspects.

After gathering intelligence, the skiff was destroyed, thus preventing the suspect pirates from using it to attack ships in the future.
Meanwhile, on the other side of Africa, Nigeria does counter-piracy as set out here:
A ONE-WEEK onslaught against crude oil theft and other illegal activities on sea by the army, navy and air force has led to the arrest of two oil tankers and interrogation of 15 others at the Gulf of Guinea.

The raid tagged ‘Exercise FARAUTA’ was sequel to the mandate by President Goodluck Jonathan when he appointed two new service chiefs, urging the military to get rid of oil thieves from Nigeria’s seaways.

The Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Dele Ezeoba, who was on board the Nigerian Navy ship ‘Thunder’, led the operation at sea.

“We interrogated 17 vessels at sea, out of which, we found two culpable. Some would have to explain as per the quantity of the petroleum they have on board, some were in excess of what was approved and one of the other vessels did not have any documentation at all. It is important to note that this exercise would continue. For us to continue to do what we are supposed to do, it is important we get all the support we can get from government. The navy needs to be encouraged. Crude oil thieves and pirates have already seen the signals and they don’t have a choice than to leave our waters,” Ezeoba said.
South China Sea, yellow circle indicates area of attack
The Office of Naval Intelligence Worldwide Threat to Shipping Report (to 28 Nov 12) (here (pdf) shows mostly robberies at anchorage but there is this:
VIETNAM: Tanker hijacked on 19 November in the vicinity of 07:10 N – 109:09 E, approximately 174.4 nm southeast of Con Son Island. Eleven pirates armed with long knives and pistols hijacked the tanker. The nine crew members were forced overboard into a life raft and rescued shortly after by a Vietnamese fishing trawler. While thought to be enroute toward Vietnam to sell the vessels cargo of marine gas oil illegally in Vietnam waters/ port, all eleven pirates were apprehended by the Vietnam Marine Police Special Task Force and are currently under the custody of the VMP. Prior to apprehension, it was reported that the pirates had changed the IMO number and name of the vessel. (ReCAAP ISC)
UPDATE: ReCAAP update here (pdf):
On 22 Nov 12 at or about 0404 hrs (local time), Zafirah was located at
approximately 35 nm south-east of Vung Tung (09o 50.10’ N, 107o 19.59’ E). The
Vietnam Marine Police despatched two patrol vessels to the location to monitor the
situation. The tanker was reported to have been renamed ‘MD FEAHORSE’ and has a
different IMO number. From the statement made by the master of Zafirah, there were
11 pirates onboard the tanker and they were armed with long knives and pistols. On 22
Nov 12 at or about 1600 hrs (local time), the Vietnam Marine Police Special Task Force
boarded Zafirah and apprehended all 11 pirates who are currently under the custody of
the VMP.

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