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Friday, January 16, 2009

Somali Pirates: Decline? Not so fast . . .

Been a little busy lately but I have noticed that there are reports that the 20+ ships of world navies may have reduced piracy - only four "captures" by Somali pirates in recent days.

In keeping with an earlier U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence analysis, I wonder if the 15 - 20 knot winds in the Gulf of Aden are slowing the pirates down? See Marine weather: Gulf of Aden | Wind Charts. ONI October 08 analysis:
All but one hijacking occurred during daylight hours. The single exception took place at 0430 local time during a period of 94% lunar illumination. The average service speed of the 10 vessels that were fired upon but not boarded was 15 knots. The average service speed of the 11 vessels that were successfully boarded by pirates was 14 knots.

Attacks over the study period occurred in clusters east of longitude 046 degrees 38 minutes east and west of longitude 050 degrees 32 minutes east. Attack activity within these boundaries is likely due to a combination of factors that impact small boat operations such as currents, prevailing winds, sea state, and distance from pirate staging areas. (emphasis added)
I could be wrong, but the way I read that chart above is that the sea winds in the Gulf of Aden are running 10 -25 knots - a little steep, I would think, for the small boats operated by the pirates. I don't think I'll be drinking any champagne over the success of the counter pirate operations just yet . . .

Explanation of "wind barbs" here.

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