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Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Somali Prates: Dwindling to a Halt

Friend of the blog Bryan sends in reports of some unsuccessful pirate attacks occurring in the Gulf of Aden:
- Preliminary reports have indicated that on Sunday, June 7, a crude oil tanker, identified as Aisha, had been attacked by pirates in two skiffs. Small arms were fired and the location of the incident was given as 13:02N 048:51E, about 92 nm south-southwest of Al Mukalla, at about 0049 UTC. No further information is available at the time of this report.
(Actually, Bryan followed up with some detail: A boat stopped in the Aisha's path at 2:35 a.m. and its occupants opened fire, the paper said."About five more boats arrived to support the first boat and shot at the tanker to force it to stop," Oea quoted the head of operations at Libya's Maritime Transport Company, Abdulhakim al-Ghazzawi, as saying. "The captain ignored their orders to stop and accelerated until he entered safe waters.")

- On Friday, June 5, a general cargo ship came under fire from pirates in two skiffs at 13:15N 049:16E, about 78 nm southeast of Al Mukalla. The incident occurred at 1830 UTC, and the vessel had been reported as the Panama-flagged and Egypt-owned MV Ataqa. No further information is available at the time of this report.
Another friend of the blog, Nick of GOAGT, notes with some concern:
High Pressure is still dominating the whole IOR region which is still giving calm weather at least for the next 7 days, and other than a small annoying pocket of break away (splinter group) of pirates operating in a 100 mile corridor either side off of Al Mukalla in the IRTC, it is all relatively quiet after the intervention of Al Shebab in the 2nd week of May.

It is worrying in that the problem is not solved – it will only abate for a while..... Maybe 3 months, maybe 6 months maybe if we are lucky .... 18 months – however if the political situation does not change in Somalia – then it will come back, with considerable expertise, higher ransom payments and the possibility of an environmental catastrophe.

If no more ships get taken between now and the end of the year then I would fully expect to see the navies to reduce and redeploy their assets elsewhere on state business and then it will be a free playground again for anyone!!!
I have warned about the possibility of a short attention span on pirate fighting off Somalia but really, with the monsoon coming, smaller navies may follow the Russian lead (see here) and take some time off for crew rest, ship repair and other operations in the next few months. I expect the U.S. Navy to maintain a presence in the area, though probably somewhat reduced given the reduced threat level during the monsoon season.

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