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Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Latest ICC CCS Piracy report (to 10 April 06)

Latest ICC Commercial Crime Services Piracy report found here. Highlights:
- 09.04.2006 at 0140 UTC in position 14:14N - 042:44E, Southern Red Sea.
An unlit speedboat doing over 26 kts approached a general cargo ship underway. D/O directed searchlights and the boat reduced speed to 15 knots. After 10 mins another unlit boat joined and both kept trailing the ship. At 0215 UTC both boats moved away.

- 03.04.2006 at 0145 LT in position 04:33N - 055:40E, off east coast Somalia / Arabian Sea.
A speedboat approached a vessel underway. Ship took evasive manoeuvres and increased speed. The boat pursued the vessel but 30 mins later aborted attempt. It is suspected the boat could have been launched from a large fishing vessel in the vicinity.
Noteworthy is the near absence of reports from the Strait of Malacca since patrol and other efforts have picked up.

Add to this the comments from the latest ONI Worldwide Threats to Shipping report (to 5 April 2006)(found here (click on the date) :
fire on a group of suspected pirates 18 Mar at 0540 local time,
approximately 25 nautical miles off the eastern central coast of
Somalia in international waters. One suspect was killed and at least
five were wounded. No U.S. or coalition personnel were injured.
Reportedly, the gun battle occurred after sailors on patrol as
part of a Dutch-led coalition task force, observed a larger
skiff towing two smaller skiffs. As the sailors prepared for
routine boarding, passengers on the larger skiff began shooting
and the naval gunners returned fire with mounted machine guns.
The U.S. Navy reports that a total of 12 suspects are being held,
including the five injured. The U.S. Navy confiscated a rocket
propelled grenade launcher and automatic weapons. The Somali
militiamen deny initiating fire. Saleban Aadan Barqad, a
spokesperson for the militia in Harardhere, stated that the militiamen
were operating to protect the country’s sea resources from illicit
exploitation by foreign vessels. ONI Comment: the lack of common
sense and self preservation displayed by the suspected Somali
pirates engaging coalition warships from a small skiff (which
typically have drums of extra fuel onboard) demonstrates the
dangerously unpredictable nature of the Somali pirates operating
off the east central coast of Somalia. Various spokespersons from
Harardhere continue to claim the attacks and hijackings they
conduct are in self defense of their resources. While unscrupulous
fishing practices by foreign vessels do occur off Somalia, the
Harardhere spokespersons have yet to explain how hijacking
transiting merchant vessels and holding them for ransom are
protecting said resources (LL, Reuters, BBC, LM, ONI).
The last point parallels comments made in my recent post on the capture of the Korean trawler here and earlier posts on the Somali fisheries topic linked therein.

UPDATE: (4/13/06) Questiion: Is the decline in reported piracy incidents in the Strait of Malacca solely due to increased security or also attributable to decreased reporting caused by the threatened insurance rate increases? In line with this question is a recent ruling by the Singapore High Court determining that "piracy" is not limited to the "high seas" - or as a commentor wrote:
This is a landmark case. It examines the various definitions of the term "piracy" available internationally. The Judge’s finding that piratical acts need not take place on the high seas will have an important impact on shipowners and marine underwriters doing business in this region where piracy is a real and serious menace to shipping in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore.
The reason for the impact in the Strait of Malacca is that no part of the water in that strait is "high seas" but is all the territorial water of one of the adjoining littoral states. See here for this definition of "high seas":
The term "high seas" means all parts of the sea that are not included in the territorial sea or in the internal waters of a State.
Traditionally, acts of piracy in territorial waters has been called "sea robbery" and not "piracy."

UPDATE2: (4/13/06) According to this, the Korean fishing trawler has a license to fish in Somali waters:
The militias who hijacked a South Korean ship on April 5 have announced that they now own all the natural resources found on the ship. A spokesman for the militias named Mohamed Afweine said that his group plans to charge the ship’s owners a monetary fee because it was fishing “illegally” in Somalia’s territorial waters.

Mr. Afweine said that the group of militias he represented were not “pirates,” as charged by some international media outlets. He said that the militias were rightfully defending Somalia’s territorial waters from the illegal encroachment of foreign vessels.

The militias found papers signed by Somali federal fisheries minister Mr. Hassan Abshir that gave the Dongwon-ho fishing rights in Somali waters, the militias’ spokesman added. Two officials from the South Korean company that owns the Dongwon-ho arrived in Dubai, UAE, today to take part in efforts to release the ship. The officials have reiterated Mr. Afweine’s statement that the Dongwon-ho had license to fish papers from the Somali federal government.
Which leaves us where exactly? I would say the term "piracy" is back into play.

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