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Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Piracy Reports

Latest Piracy Report from ICC Commercial Crime Services highlights:
27.05.2008: 0748 UTC: 14:04.30N-049:23.72E: Gulf of Aden.
A suspicious speedboat, with five persons, was noticed proceeding towards a tanker underway. Master increased speed, took evasive manoeuvres and called the coalition forces. Unable to intercept the vessel, after about forty minutes the boat aborted and moved away. At the same time, another boat was seen crossing the bows at a distance of 3 nm.

28.05.2008: 1200 UTC: 13:43N-048:50E: Gulf of Aden.
Four suspicious high-speed boats, length about 15 meters, wooden/plastic gray hull with four persons in each boat tried to approach a tanker underway. Master took evasive manoeuvres to prevent the speedboats from approaching closer. One speedboat crossed the bow at a distance of 0.5 miles. Later, the boats aborted and moved away in a south-easterly direction.
28.05.2008: 1040 UTC: 13:09N - 048:58E, Gulf of Aden.
Four heavily armed pirates, in a speedboat, attacked and hijacked a general cargo ship underway. They sailed the vessel into Somali territorial waters. Further details awaited.
Take a look at the two maps in this post (clicking on them should cause them to enlarge). The First shows the Gulf of Aden with 12 mile territorial limits for the countries forming the Gulf (green is Yemen, violet Dijbouti, red Somalia -and the 12 miles is very approximate and except for Yemen, does not really include offshore islands). The ocean area in between the territorial waters is "high seas" and acts of piracy occurring there and pirates captured there are subject international law concerning pirates. Inside the territorial limits, the is no "piracy," but rather "sea robbery" subject to the sovereign law of the state owning the those territorial waters.

It is possible for an act of sea robbery to occur in Yemeni territorial waters and for the the "sea robbers" to escape from Yemeni waters and run toward Somali waters. They can be pursued by Yemeni forces up to the point where they cross into Somali territorial waters where they become a Somali issue. In the Strait of Malaaca, where the territorial waters meet in the middle of the strait, it was, before recent cooperative efforts, a frequent pirate ploy to move in and out of such waters. The other map, courtesy of ICC CCS, shows the locations of pirate attacks in 2008 in the Gulf of Aden.

Now, if I were placing and concentrating naval vessels in the Gulf of Aden for "escort" purposes, I have a pretty good idea of where I might place "chaser" and "barrier" ships to slow the pirates of the Gulf of Aden down. How about you?

Latest ONI Worldwide Threats to Shipping Report (to 28 May 08) here. Highlights:
1. GULF OF ADEN: Warning from IMB Piracy Reporting Center, 26 May 08. A total of
six attempted attacks and two hijackings have been reported by vessels recently since 19 May 08 at 1720 UTC. The attempted attacks were around 12:49.3Nñ050:36.3E, 13:16.2N-049:08.7E, 13.25.2Nñ047:57.8E, 14:02Nñ050:46E, 13:16.2N-049:08.7E, 12:45.7Nñ046:43.6E, and the two hijackings were located at 13:09N-048:58E (LEHMANN TIMBER) and 13:13N-050:49E
(AMIYA SCAN). Pirates firing at vessels with rocket propelled grenades may attempt to board and possibly hijack. All vessels transiting the Gulf of Aden are advised to take additional precautionary measures and maintain a strict 24 hrs anti piracy visual watch and radar watch. Look out for small suspicious boats converging to own vessel. Report all incidents including suspicious sighting to IMB piracy reporting centre (IMB).
7. INDIAN OCEAN: New south Asian regional port security organization has been formed to combat a wide range of threats, from illegal fishing and human and drug-smuggling to terrorism and piracy, 20 May 08. The South Asia Regional Port Security Cooperative (SARPSCO) consists of nine nations sharing the waters of the Indian Ocean: Bangladesh, Comoros, India, Madagascar, the Maldives, Mauritius, Oman, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The initiative was inaugurated in the Maldives on 19 May 08 at a four-day conference called 'Partnering for a Safer Sea', hosted by the Maldives Ministry of Transport and Communication. The US is not a member but is supporting the initiative through its Coast Guard Activities Far East. US Coast Guard chief Rear Admiral Craig E Bone was quoted as saying in a keynote speech that it was important for the region to work together on port and maritime security to save
lives and prevent economic damage by thwarting criminal and terrorist acts before they occur. Any disruption of the maritime flow of oil supplies in the Indian Ocean region would have disastrous economic consequences, he said. The formation of SARPSCO ìsends a clear message and a warning to terrorists and criminals in the South Asia and Indian Ocean region that they will be detected, they will be interdicted and their activities will not be toleratedî (LM: Daily News).
1. GULF OF ADEN: Cargo ship (LEHMANN TIMBER) hijacked 28 May 08 at 1040 UTC while underway in position 13:09N-048:58E, 56NM south of the Yemen coast. The vessel was attacked by four heavily armed pirates. Lehmann GmbH shipping company said in a statement that the owners continue to maintain regular contact with the vessel and all 15 members of the crew are well in view of the circumstances (Operator, UKMTO, AP, LM: International Hearld Tribune, Xinhua).
2. GULF OF ADEN: Cargo ship (AMIYA SCAN) hijacked 25 May 08 at 2235 local time while underway in position 13:13N-050:49E, 117NM south of Qishn, Yemen, 80NM off the Somali coast. An unknown number of pirates hijacked the vessel and took a total of nine Russian and Filipino crewmembers hostage. The vessel was sailing to Costanza Port, Romania from Mombasa, Kenya carrying a decommissioned oil platform when it was seized. Reider Shipping BV, the vesselís owners, said it was in contact with the pirates but declined to comment on the captors' demands out of concern for the crew's safety (IMB, Operator, UKMTO, LL, CNN).
3. GULF OF ADEN: Bulk carrier reported suspicious approach 25 May 08 at 0610 local time/0310 UTC while underway in position 13:25.2Nñ047:57.8E, 32NM off the Yemen coast. Three grey boats closed in on the vessel. There were four persons in each boat armed with machine guns. The boats followed the vessel at a distance of one cable and the armed men were shouting in a foreign language. The master raised the alarm, all crew mustered and anti piracy measures were enforced. After following the vessel for 25 minutes, the boats moved away at 0650 local time (IMB, Operator).
4. GULF OF ADEN: Tanker fired upon 24 May 08 at 1420 local time/1100 UTC while
underway in position 13:58N-050:42E, 103NM south of Qishn, Yemen. Two boats with four persons each closed in on the vessel. The pirates opened fire with automatic guns and a rocket propelled grenade. One RPG round hit and damaged the port bridge wing. Evasive maneuvers prevented the pirates from boarding. No injuries to crew and no pollution. After breaking off the two boats were reported to be drifting in the same vicinity (IMB, Operator, UKTMO).
5. GULF OF ADEN: Bulk carrier fired upon 23 May 08 at 0830 local time/0430 UTC while underway in position 13:16.2Nñ049:08.7E, 75NM south of Al Mukalla, Yemen and 118NM north of Bossaso, Somalia. One fiberglass skiff with a single outboard motor and four gunmen onboard approached the vessel from the port quarter. The gunmen opened fire on the bridge and accommodations with one rocket propelled grenade and five bursts of automatic gunfire. Vessel took evasive maneuvers and escaped with minimal damage. No injuries to crew reported. The master observed one white hulled fishing dhow approximately 6NM away that he thought could
be acting as a mother ship. The master warned all nearby ships via Ch 16. The vessel resumed voyage. ONI COMMENT: Photo of attacking skiff shows pirates carried a hook ladder of approximately six meters in length. Investments in anti-piracy measures are always encouraged for all vessels operating anywhere near Somalia. Vessels with gunwales within reach of six meter hook ladders are at a higher risk of being successfully boarded and should take extra precautions (IMB, Operator, UKTMO, ONI).
6. GULF OF ADEN: Yacht reported suspicious approach 22 May 08 at 1430 UTC, while underway in position 13:21.29N-048:25.96E, 38NM off the coast of Yemen. A speedboat crossed the bow of the vessel while two other speedboats approached from the stern. The skipper increased its speed and enforced anti piracy measures to prevent possible boarding. After a while, the speedboats moved away. The suspicious boats seemed to have been launched from a dhow, which was in the position 13:20.9N-049:37.32E. The dhow is described as 20m in length, a red hull and a white superstructure (IMB, UKTMO).
7. GULF OF ADEN: Container ship reported attempted boarding 19 May 08 at 1500 local time while underway in position 12:49.3N-050:36.3E, approximately 145NM northwest of Bossaso, Somalia. Two small speedboats approached the vessel from the bow. One of the speedboats had four pirates armed with automatic weapons and rocket launcher. The pirates aimed the rocket launcher towards the bridge and reportedly attempted to board the vessel. †The master raised the alarm, took evasive maneuvers and the crew mustered. After 10 minutes, the suspected pirates aborted and moved away. The boats were seen approaching two other ships about five miles off (IMB).

8. GULF OF ADEN: General cargo ship (VICTORIA) hijacked 17 May 08 at 0905 local time while underway in position 02:13.19N-046:49.38E, 40NM off Mogadishu, Somalia. The Jordanian-flagged vessel, owned by Marwan Shipping Company, with a crew of 21, was transporting 4,200 tons of bagged sugar from Mumbai, India to Mogadishu when it was hijacked by unknown gunmen. The BBC World Service reported pirates tried to dock the vessel off Hobyo but the local residents resented their presence. Shariff Ali Guure, a member of the Hobyo Traders, told reporters that the pirates should leave the area or face confrontation. According to local media reporting, the vessel owners and Somali officials are conducting negotiations.
Marwan Shipping reported that the hijackers are demanding a ransom, but the sum was not revealed. All crewmembers are reportedly safe. As of 23 May 08, the vessel was reportedly released (IMB, AFP, AP, BBC, LM: Shipping Times UK, The Times of India, Indo-Asian News Service, Hindustan Times,
9. GULF OF ADEN: Container ship reported suspicious approach 15 May 08 at 0900 UTC while underway in position 13:02.6N-045:42.6E, 32NM northeast of Port Aden. Four suspicious speedboats reportedly chased the vessel. Each vessel had four people onboard. The vessels speed was about 18knts but they did not close in. Two boats sped up to 22knts and closed in. The vessel increased speed and took evasive maneuvers. Thirty minutes later, the speedboats moved away (IMB, UKTMO, Operator).
10. GULF OF ADEN: Tanker reported suspicious approach 15 May 08 while underway in position 15:40.8N-052:41E, approximately 59NM northeast of Qishn, Yemen. The vessel observed a high speed boat doing 24knts approaching the vessel from the port quarter. The crew on the poop deck monitored the boat which came within 1.4NM and then altered course away from the vessel. The boat was steering 315T and approached from southeast. The boat was dark blue with four persons onboard (Operator, UKMTO, IMB).
11. GULF OF ADEN: Tanker reported suspicious approach 13 May 08 while underway in position 12:43.1N-045:42.6E, 31NM east southeast of Port Aden, Yemen. Four speedboats were in close proximity of the vessel. Two of the speedboats were detected on the port side and two speedboats on the starboard side. The master sounded the general alarm and briefed the crew on anti-piracy precautions. Each speedboat was manned by two persons. No weapons were
observed. However, the master noticed concealed items within the boat. At 0615 UTC, the master altered its course to the starboard side. The master observed the speedboats achieve a speed of over 20kts, but were having difficulty in the wind conditions. At 0620 UTC, the two speedboats on the starboard side crossed the shipís bow and attempted to approach the vessel's port side. The master altered its course to the starboard side in order to make the port side under swell direction. The master alerted the Company Security Officer in Dubai, UAE, and announced the speedboats position via VHF ch. 16. At 0635 UTC, the vessel started to gain
distance from the four speedboats. At 0635 UTC, Marshall Islands Duty Officer was advised about the situation via telephone by the Ship Manager in Dubai. At 0640 UTC, the four speed boats altered its course to the port side, shore direction.† Master reported again the position of the speed boats via VHF Ch.16. Fortunately, the master was able to maneuver the vessel to take evasive action, thereby successfully mitigating the threat from the four speed boats, which headed back towards the general vicinity of the Yemen coast. UKMTO NOTE - This incident was investigated by UKMTO and assessed as fishing activity. The vesselís position was close to
land and in a known area of high fishing activity. On speaking to the master he told UKMTO that the two boats forward kept on the port side and seemed to force the vessel to starboard side. No shots were fired and in each of the four boats only 2 people per boat were seen (Operators, UKMTO, IMB).
Busy times.

UPDATE: Some Piracy Law from UNCLOS concerning the right of hot pursuit:
Article 105. Seizure of a pirate ship or aircraft
On the high seas, or in any other place outside the jurisdiction of any State, every State may seize a pirate ship or aircraft, or a ship or aircraft taken by piracy and under the control of pirates, and arrest the persons and seize the property on board. The courts of the State which carried out the seizure may decide upon the penalties to be imposed, and may also determine the action to be taken with regard to the ships, aircraft or property, subject to the rights of third parties acting in good faith.
Article 111. Right of hot pursuit

1. The hot pursuit of a foreign ship may be undertaken when the competent authorities of the coastal State have good reason to believe that the ship has violated the laws and regulations of that State. Such pursuit must be commenced when the foreign ship or one of its boats is within the internal waters, the archipelagic waters, the territorial sea or the contiguous zone of the pursuing State, and may only be continued ouside the territorial sea or the contiguous zone if the pursuit has not been interrupted. It is not necessary that, at the time when the foreign ship within the territorial sea or the contiguous zone receives the order to stop, the ship giving the order should likewise be within the territorial sea or the contiguous zone. If the foreign ship is within a contiguous zone, as defined in article 33, the pursuit may only be undertaken if there has been a violation of the rights for the protection of which the zone was established.

2. The right of hot pursuit shall apply mutatis mutandis to violations in the exclusive economic zone or on the continental shelf, including safety zones around continental shelf installations, of the laws and regulations of the coastal State applicable in accordance with this Convention to the exclusive economic zone or the continental shelf, including such safety zones.

3. The right of hot pursuit ceases as soon as the ship pursued enters the territorial sea of its own State or of a third State.
UPDATE2: The International Maritime Organization is happy, too. I guess a couple of years of effort may be "high speed" in UN terms. UPDATE3: The UN relief agencies, who have been trying to keep Somalis alive but who have been troubled by pirates and land sharks, are also happy.

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