Philippine Sea

Showing posts with label CTF 150. Show all posts
Showing posts with label CTF 150. Show all posts

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.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Shipping Industry Not Happy Over "Global War on Piracy"

A joint press release here:
The international shipping industry (represented by BIMCO, ICS/ISF, INTERCARGO and INTERTANKO and the International Transport Workers’ Federation) is dismayed by recent comments, attributed to leaders of the Coalition Task Force operating in the Gulf of Aden, that it is not the job of navy forces to protect merchant ships and their crews from increasingly frequent attacks from pirates operating out of Somalia.

The pirates are now attacking ships on a daily basis with machine guns and rocket propelled grenades, and currently holding over 200 seafarers hostage. The pirates are operating with impunity, and governments stand idly by.

If civil aircraft were being hijacked on a daily basis, the response of governments would be very different. Yet ships, which are the lifeblood of the global economy, are seemingly out of sight and out of mind. This apparent indifference to the lives of merchant seafarers and the consequences for society at large is simply unacceptable.

The shipping industry is utterly amazed that the world’s leading nations, with the naval resources at their disposal, are unable to maintain the security of one of the world’s most strategically important seaways, linking Europe to Asia via the Red Sea/Suez Canal.

Since 9/11, the international shipping industry has spent billions of dollars to comply with stringent new security requirements, agreed by the international community to address concerns about terrorism. Yet when merchant ships – which carry 90% of world trade and keep the world economy moving - are subject to attack by violent pirates, the response of many governments is that it is not their problem and that ships should hire mercenaries to protect themselves.

The arming of merchant ships, as suggested by the Task Force, will almost certainly put the lives of ships’ crews in even greater danger and is likely to escalate the level of violence employed by the pirates. It would also be illegal under the national law of many ships’ flag states and in many of the countries to which they are trading.

The industry understands that military resources are stretched and that the Coalition Task Force is doing what it can, consistent with current rules of engagement provided by participating governments.

But the international shipping industry, in the strongest possible way, urges governments to commit the necessary navy vessels now, and to ensure they have the freedom to engage forcefully against any act of piracy in the Gulf of Aden.

Governments must issue clear rules of engagement to allow naval forces to intercept and take appropriate action against these violent pirates, and the oceangoing ‘motherships’ from which the pirates are operating, as permitted by UN Security Council Resolution 1816, of 2 June 2008, and existing international law about the rights of States to repress criminal acts on the high seas.

Governments must also ensure that these pirates and armed robbers, who are terrorising the high seas, are brought to justice in a court of law and are not allowed to resume their piratical activities unimpeded because of governments’ unwillingness to take the necessary action.

There should be no doubt that the situation is now so serious that major shipping companies, who are currently negotiating with charterers to avoid transiting the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea/Suez Canal all together, will decide to redirect their ships via the Cape of Good Hope. This would add several weeks to the duration of many ships’ voyages and would have severe consequences for international trade, the maintenance of inventories and the price of fuel and raw materials. This would also affect not just those countries to which cargoes are destined but all global seaborne trade, a consequence which, in the current economic climate, must surely be avoided.

A repeat of the crisis in the early 1970s, when the Suez Canal was closed and shipping was similarly diverted around the Cape of Good Hope, must be prevented at all cost, thus this call for urgent measures now – today and not tomorrow!

It cannot escape notice that the supply of consumer goods – the majority of which are carried from Asia to Europe via this vital sea lane - could be also seriously affected.

The international shipping industry recognises that the United Nations’ International Maritime Organization (IMO), with whom it continues to liaise daily, has acknowledged the massive severity of the problem and has similarly implored the United Nations and the UN Security Council to ensure that appropriate action is taken. But far greater urgency is required by governments and their navies, particularly those in the Coalition Task Force who are in the best position to restore security to this critical trade artery.

We need action, not words or rhetoric. What is at stake are the lives of merchant seafarers and the security of world trade.
UPDATE: By way of background, the comments these groups are referring to are set out here and included:
The Combined Maritime Forces Commander, Vice Adm. Gortney also suggested that the shipping industry must consider hiring security teams for their vessels. “The Coalition does not have the resources to provide 24-hour protection for the vast number of merchant vessels in the region. The shipping companies must take measures to defend their vessels and their crews.”
Questions: Is what the Admiral said so outrageous or was it just a call for the ship operators to start looking out for their crews? What steps are these complaining entities taking to protect ships and sailors? Will they consider convoys even it means some delays in shipping? Will they fund private security forces if not to ride on merchant ships (thus not making them "armed") but to provide escort services?

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Somali Pirates: Russia to send ships for pirate hunt

Reported as Russia sends naval vessels to Somali waters:
Russia is to dispatch naval vessels to tackle the Somali piracy problem, in a surprise development that may create as many headaches as it solves for merchant shipping.
The main concern in shipping circles seems to be that Russia has expressly stated that it will act independently, rather than co-ordinate anti-piracy efforts with the coalition.

Roger Holt - secretary general of statement signatory Intercargo - commented: “Obviously the additional resources are welcome at face value, but co-operation has to be co-ordinated throught the UN. That is the only way an effective response can take place.”

A representative of the International Maritime Bureau, the anti-piracy watchdog, added: “If it’s going to help in the effort to curb piracy, then it’s most certainly welcome. At the same time, it should not jeopardise the efforts of others. The navies should know that each other is going to help out.”

News of the new line from the Kremlin was carried by RIA Novosti yesterday. According to the state-owned news agency, Russian admiral Vladimir Vysotsky said: “We are planning to participate in international efforts to fight piracy off the Somalia coast, but Russian warships will conduct operations on their own.”

Officially, the reason for the decision is that Russian nationals are frequently among the crews of civilian ships hijacked by Somali pirates. But the real motives appear rather more political than that.

Experts point out that, the USSR had extensive involvement in the Horn of Africa, once sponsoring Somalia as a client state before switching to support the nominally Marxist Ethiopia in the Ethiopia-Somalia war of 1977-78.

But even before the collapse of the Soviet Union, Moscow was too weak to maintain that kind of reach, according to Yuri Fedorov, a specialist on Russian military matters with the Chatham House think tank.
With a transition to more assertive nationalism over the last period, culminating in the recent conflict in Georgia, Moscow may now be sending warships to the region to make a point, he believes.

Professor Fedorov noted: “Explanation number one is that Russia would like to demonstrate that it has enough political, financial and military resources to allow it to persue an active policy all over the world, and in areas close to the Middle East in particular.

“The second explanation is that Russia would like to demonstrate that it is not only an aggressor but also participates in fighting against piracy and other international problems.”
"Not only an aggressor?" Russia could prove that in oh so many ways...

India seems to be taking an independent approach, too, as set out here:
India said it would soon find a "solution" and take all steps to rescue the Indian crew on board a merchant vessel that was abducted in the African waters recently.

"The government is concerned of the recent hijack of a merchant vessel with Indian crew on board and is consulting with its ministries on finding a solution and to rescue the abducted crew members from the pirates," Defence Minister A K Antony told reporters on the sidelines of Coast Guard commanders conference in New Delhi.

With Gulf of Aden turning into a sea pirates' den, India also virtually gave up the option of "joint patrolling" in African waters along side other Navies as "incidents keep happening there" despite major powers such as US' and France's continuous presence.

"At the moment there is no such proposal (for joint patrolling). Major naval powers such as US, France, UK and Canada are already carrying out joint patrolling there (African coast). Despite their presence, these incidents (of hijacking) are happening," Antony said.
I'm sure the Indians will be just as welcome as the Russians.

There's a lot of water to cover.

Maybe the Russians will send the new Steregushchiy corvette. And the Indians a frigate or a corvette...

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Gulf of Aden: U.S. Admiral suggests merchants look to protect themselves

Hat tip to MarineLog for noting this press release:
From Commander, Combined Maritime Forces Public Affairs

BAHRAIN, Manama – Since the inception of the Maritime Security Patrol Area (MSPA), Combined Task Force (CTF) 150 has helped deter more than a dozen attacks in the Gulf of Aden. However, criminals have still successfully targeted several vessels in the region.

The Maritime Security Patrol Area was established Aug. 22, 2008 in support of the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) call for international assistance to discourage attacks on commercial vessels transiting the Gulf of Aden.

The MSPA is a geographic area in the Gulf of Aden utilized by Combined Maritime Forces to focus their efforts against de-stabilizing activities. These activities include, but are not limited to: criminal activities, drug smuggling operations that support terrorist and violent extremist organizations, and human smuggling. Coalition forces patrol the MSPA, which is not marked or defined by visual navigational means, on a routine basis.

Initially under Canadian Commodore Bob Davidson’s leadership, CTF 150 ships are now commanded by Danish Royal Navy Commodore Per Bigum Christensen.

“Coalition maritime efforts will give the IMO time to work international efforts that will ultimately lead to a long-term solution,” said Vice Adm. Bill Gortney, Commander, Combined Maritime Forces. “This is a problem that starts ashore and requires an international solution. We made this clear at the outset – our efforts cannot guarantee safety in the region. Our part in preventing some of these destabilizing activities is only one part of the solution to preventing further attacks.”

“Mariners must remain vigilant,” said CTF-150’s commander, Commodore Christensen. “A ship’s master and her crew are the first line of defense for their own ship.”

This fact has been highlighted by merchant mariners who have been able to take effective proactive measures to defend their vessels. Such measures have included deterring attacks simply by keeping a sharp lookout for suspicious small boats operating in the vicinity of their ships, increasing speed and maneuvering to avoid small craft, and even repelling would-be boarders with water from fire hoses.

The Combined Maritime Forces Commander, Vice Adm. Gortney also suggested that the shipping industry must consider hiring security teams for their vessels. “The Coalition does not have the resources to provide 24-hour protection for the vast number of merchant vessels in the region. The shipping companies must take measures to defend their vessels and their crews.”

CTF 150 is a multinational task force that that conducts Maritime Security Operations (MSO) in and around the Strait of Hormuz, Gulf of Aden, Gulf of Oman, Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean and the Red Sea and was created to counter terrorism, prevent smuggling, create a lawful maritime order and conduct MSO to help develop security in the maritime environment.

MSO complements the counterterrorism and security efforts of regional nations and seeks to disrupt violent extremist use of the maritime environment as a venue for attack or to transport personnel, weapons or other material. Through training opportunities with regional partners, CTF 150 enhances existing cooperative relationships which aim to support regional countries’ struggles against violent extremism.
Emphasis added.