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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Somali Pirates And Those Captured Indian Dhows

Yesterday I put up a post about 7 Indian dhows being captured off the coast of Somalia and noted this:
Why the vessels were operating, apparently unescorted, so near pirate-infested waters is not clear.
Now, thanks to the Voice of America in an article by Steve Herman, Hijacked Indian Vessels Put Focus on Illicit Maritime Trade, there may be an explanation - old-fashioned smuggling:
The vessels, all under 400 tons each, are based out of several ports in India's Gujarat State. Reports say the missing ships had been visiting the rebel-held port of Kismayo in Somalia.
[Indian] Navy spokesman Commander P.V.S. Satish tells VOA ship operators are reluctant to inform authorities their crews have been hijacked.

"I think it would probably be for fear of the fact that they would be prevented from going to these area and that would affect their livelihood. Sometimes it has happened in the past that we come to know much later that such an incident has actually happened," said Satish.

The dhows are part of a centuries-old tradition of Gujaratis trading between the African east coast and the Arabian Peninsula.

A Germany-based environmental group, Ecoterra, accuses the Indians of exporting charcoal and other contraband from the port to Dubai. It says the Indian fleet also may be involved in other criminal activity, such as human trafficking and delivering drugs and weapons.

Taking charcoal from Somalia to meet demand in the Gulf States is a lucrative, but illegal, trade blamed for deforestation in Somalia.
 The map shows normal dhow ports around the Indian Ocean. The red arrow points to the port of Kismayo (Chisimayu on the map).

A sample of a typical dhow is shown in the photo. Photo caption:
GULF OF ADEN (Aug. 30, 2009) Members of the visit, board, search, and seizure team of the guided-missile cruiser USS Anzio (CG 68) approach a dhow to question the crew. Anzio is the flagship for Combined Task Force 151, a multinational task force established to conduct counter-piracy operations. (U.S. Navy photo by Information System Technician 2nd Class Marshall Watson/Released)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Somali Pirates: More EU/Swedish/Dutch Anti-Pirate Action

Reported by MSC(HOA) here:

EU NAVFOR Dutch warship Tromp disrupts more Pirate Action Groups

30/03/2010 16.09 UTC

Continuing success by EU NAVFOR over the last 24 hours by Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) and EU NAVFOR HNLMS Tromp, has led to the detention of 10 suspected pirates and the destruction of a Pirate Action Groups (PAG).

On 28th Mar, the EU NAVFOR Swedish Maritime Patrol aircraft (MPA) located a PAG almost 700 miles east of Mogadishu and informed the Force Commander onboard the Italian warship ETNA. The Force Commander, Admiral Giovanni Gumiero tasked TROMP with intercepting the PAG. EU NAVFOR warship TROMP launched her helicopter and forced the suspected pirates to stop their skiffs. A boarding operation was conducted and 10 suspected pirates were detained. A large number of fuel barrels were found and destroyed. Two attack skiffs were also destroyed and the suspects were provided with sufficient fuel and water to reach the coast in a third boat.

During this period of highly successful disruption operations, EU NAVFOR French, Spanish, German and Dutch warships and Maritime patrol Aircraft from Sweden and Luxembourg have interdicted some 17 Pirate Groups, accounting for more than 131 suspected pirates with HNLMS Tromp alone accounting for the apprehension of 61 suspected pirates.
More on the Swedish MPA here. Earlier post on the "pirate cleansing" Tromp here.

Also set out in an update here, the EU was involved with the Seychelles Coast Guard success against pirates by providing a Maritime Patrol Aircraft.

UPDATE2: Some might be confused with the mention of Luxembourg providing MPA - they are apparently using modified, leased CAE Aviation Swearingen Merlin III aircraft based in the Seychelles. These aircraft appear to be equipped with the WESCAM™ MX-20 Sensor System

Somali Pirates: Seven Indian Vessels Taken

As reported here:
In one of the coordinated incidents of piracy, seven Indian vessels with nearly 100 people on board have been hijacked off the Gulf of Aden and Somalia coast. All of these are mechanised sailing vessels (MSVs) – and no contact have been established so far with the pirates.

The Directorate General of Shipping (DG-Shipping) gave the names of these vessels as MSV Al Kadri, MSV Al Ijaz, MSV Faize e Osman, MSV Sea Queen, MSV Nar Narayan, MSV Vishwa Kalyan and MSV Krishna Jyot.

These ships were hijacked over the weekend. “These are reported missing and presumed hijacked by pirates. These vessels have been reportedly operating in or near the pirate-infested area near the Gulf of Aden/Somalia region. Ninety-seven lndian seafarers are reported to be on these vessels,” the DG-Shipping’s office said in Mumbai. Unconfirmed reports said that that the number of sea-farers could be more than 120.
Why the vessels were operating, apparently unescorted, so near pirate-infested waters is not clear.

UPDATE: More here:
'These cargo vessels must have been commandeered for use as decoys and for camouflaged movement by pirates in the intensively patrolled waters,' said an Indian Coast Guard source.
A worried Indian government Tuesday banned the movement of its mechanised sailing vessels to the south and west of Salalah in Oman and Male with immediate effect.
Seems a bit late for that...

How do you grab 7 vessels?

Naval History Blog Opens

Joint effort of the US Naval Institute and the US Naval History and Heritage Command now open at Naval History Blog.

As Steeljaw wrote in the opening post:
History gives us perspective – of who we are and why we do what we do. It builds our culture and informs our ethos. It’s why we have traditions and customs. It serves as sign posts of progress — and warnings.

Indeed, we have much still to learn from the examples history affords us — and our own history is abundantly rich in that regard. We can build upon the experiences of those who went before as long as we understand the context and setting of those experiences.
Add it to your links.

Somali Pirates: Seychelles CG Fights Pirates - Wins - Rescues Captives

Seychelles' Coast Guard took on some Somali pirates and won a victory at sea, rescuing captured Seychellois fishermen, Iranians and capturing some pirates, as reported as in Seychelles downs pirates, rescues crews:
In a successful attack on a pirate vessel, the coastguard of Seychelles overwhelmed armed Somali pirates and managed to free Iranian and Seychellois crews and their two fishing vessels. President James Michel had ordered the attack himself.

It is believed that 9 Somali pirates hijacked the 'Galate', which had 6 Seychellois men onboard. The pirates used a dhow, which they had hijacked with 21 Iranian crew members onboard last Friday. This was then used to hijack the Seychellois vessel. The Seychellois crew was moved onto the Iranian dhow following the attack.

Together with the assistance of an EU Maritime Patrol Aircraft, the 'Topaz' located the position of the dhow, which was towing the 'Galate' and tried to engage with the vessel. The pirates responded in a threatening manner and the 'Topaz' fired several warning shots.

The dhow continued to travel towards Somalia, with 'Topaz' in pursuit.

Seychellois President James Michel, who is also the Commander-in-Chief of the Seychelles Armed Forces, himself gave the orders for 'Topaz' to "intercept the vessel and ensure that it did not reach Somalia," according to a government statement sent afrol News.

This afternoon the 'Topaz' disabled the dhow by firing at the engine of the boat, which resulted in a fire onboard the dhow. The pirates, the Iranian crew as well as the Seychellois men onboard jumped into the sea. The 'Topaz' thus picked up all the six Seychellois men from the sea.

The Seychelles coastguard had also rescued all the Iranian crew members, and among them one Iranian man has been injured, with a gunshot wound to the upper arm. "All the Somali pirates have now also been retrieved from the sea," according to government information.

According to the Seychelles Office of the Commanding Officer, the 'Topaz' repelled yet another Somali pirate attack on its way back to Seychelles with the rescued crews. The 'Topaz' had "returned fire, one attack skiff was sunk and the mother ship exploded and caught fire. The third skiff managed to escape," a statement said. The 'Topaz' continued towards Seychelles, "having taken the decision that the priority was to return the freed hostages home safely and not to risk the lives of the civilians on board by hunting for the third skiff."
***The 'Topaz' had been fired upon by rocket-propelled grenades by the pirates, and had successfully evaded them. "Our men on board the Topaz have shown that they are capable in dealing with piracy in the most difficult of circumstances," President Michel praised the crew. "Our Armed Forces have risen to the challenge and we are all proud of them," he added.***
Recent legislation clarified the SCG's right to pursue pirates in "hot pursuit" after a hijacking in Seychelles waters.

SCG Topaz is an Indian Trinkat-class fast patrol vessel transferred to the Seychelles from the Indian Navy in 2005 according to
INS Tarmugli T64 was commissioned into the Indian Navy on 04 March 2002. She was transferred to the Seychelles Coast Guard on 23 February 2005 and was renamed as the SCG Topaz.
The top photo shows SCG Topaz in Indian service.

The Seychelles Coast Guard has been actively involved in maritime training with the United States Navy, as set out here:
U.S. service members from Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) and USS Halsey reviewed visit, board, search, and seizure (VBSS) tactics with Seychelles Coast Guard personnel at Seychelles Coast Guard headquarters on August 14, 2008.

U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer Stuart Cravens, CJTF-HOA, said the Seychelles Coast Guard already has some experience with these procedures.

"The Seychelles Coast Guard does an excellent job of patrolling the Seychelles waters," said Cravens. "Most of the visit, board, search, and seizure they conduct is usually in a compliant situation, meaning the captain and crew of the vessels they board are not aggressive."

With malicious acts such as piracy on the rise, Cravens said the Seychelles Coast Guard members want to be prepared in case such an act is committed in Seychelles territory.

"The Seychelles Coast Guard expressed their concerns to CJTF-HOA about the need for training for non-compliant VBSS situations," said Cravens.

The training consisted of basic techniques of shipboard tactical movement, self-defense, searching and handcuffing procedures.
Lower photo caption:
VICTORIA, Seychelles - Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Justin Boulanger, a member of USS Halsey's visit, board, search and seizure team, demonstrates proper boarding techniques with the Seychelles Coast Guard during training at Seychelles Coast Guard headquarters on August 14, 2008. U.S. service members from Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa and USS Halsey partnered with the Seychelles Coast Guard to review tactics for visit, board, search and seizure situations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Darrell I. Dean)
UPDATE: More on EU-tasked Swedish Maritime Patrol Aircraft from MSC(HOA):
Early this morning, 29th March, the EU NAVFOR Force Commander, Rear Adm Giovanni Gumiero, tasked the Seychelles Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) to support the Seychelles Coast Guard vessel Topaz in an anti piracy operation against three hijacked ships.

It had been reported that a Pirate Action Group (PAG) hijacked a Motor Vessel ARZOO with 14 Indian nationals onboard. EU NAVFOR had been monitoring its movements and noticed that 2 days ago the vessel was abandoned by the pirates near to the Seychelles when the vessel ran out of fuel. The crew were released unharmed. They hijacked another ship (fishing vessel) called GALATE and set course for the northern Somali basin. The Swedish MPA monitored the movements of this vessel and reported to the EU NAVFOR Force HQ. At this time the Seychelles Coast Guard vessel Topaz was vectored onto the position. The EU NAVFOR Luxemburg MPA then arrived and provided cover and positional information to the Topaz.
Earlier post on the Swedish Coast Guard MPA here.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Nigeria: Pirates attack Turkish ship, 3 wounded

An attack on March 25 off Nigeria reported here:
Pirates attacked a Turkish cargo ship off the coast of Nigeria, injuring three crew members, Turkey's state-run news agency Anatolian reported on Friday.

Eight to 10 pirates with automatic weapons boarded the Ozay 5 late Thursday. They robbed the crew of money and cellphones but fled after the ship began making distress calls.

The ship's cargo was not damaged in the attack.

Two of the injured crew were Turkish and one was Nigerian, Anatolian quoted the Turkish Maritime Undersecretariat as saying.
The crew has been returned home.
H/T: Saturn5

Somali Pirates: Ship Hijacked Off Aden, Yemen

Somali pirates appear to have grabbed another ship in the Gulf of Aden, this time within 10 miles of the port of Aden, Yemen, as reported by MSC(HOA):
Reports have been received by EU NAVFOR that the MV Iceberg 1 has been hijacked 10 nautical miles off the port of Aden, Yemen, outside the International Recommended Transit Corridor (IRTC).
The Iceberg 1 is a Panama Flagged, Roll on Roll Off vessel with deadweight of 4500 tonnes. The vessel, with a crew of 24 and carrying a mixed cargo of general mechanical equipment, was bound for Jebel Ali in the UAE when hijacked. The crew consist of persons from Yemen, India, Ghana, Sudan, Pakistan and the Philipines.
The last contact with the vessel was the master stating to his owner that pirates were onboard. The vessel appears to be heading towards the Somali coast.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Changing the Look

Some site modifications are on-going.

My plan is that the picture under the blog title will change on occasion.

The current picture and the one over there by "My Profile" are the work of McClelland Barclay and you can view more at the Navy Art Center.

The comment counter thingie is still not working right, though comments are working.

Sorry for any inconvenience.

UPDATE: Apparently the new format has now put comments back to Blogger but I've now lost those from IntenseDebate. Working on it.

South Korea: Cause of Ship Sinking Still Mystery

"Initial reports of almost any event are nearly always wrong," the military saying goes. As shown yesterday, there were already conflicting reports of what caused a Republic of Korea (that's South Korea) coastal patrol ship to sink off a South Korean Island that sits about 10 miles off the beaches of the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (aka North Korea).

Confusion still seems to be the rule, as seen in this report from The Korea Herald:
A survivor from the sunken naval patrol ship Cheonan on Saturday raised the possibility of the 1,200-ton vessel sinking due to an attack from an outside force.

“There is no possibility whatsoever that the ship sank due to an internal explosion or a collision with a reef. I guarantee that,” a navy lieutenant was quoted as saying by participants in a briefing session organized by the Navy’s Second Fleet Command in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province -- the home port of the ill-fated ship.

“Another cause could be an attack from an outside force and that is not exact as of yet. The military is currently conducting an investigation and I am not in a position to comment on that,” he added.

About 300 relatives of the 46 missing sailors from the sunken ship attended the session, which was not open to the press. The vessel sank in waters near the western maritime border with North Korea at around 9:45 p.m. on Friday after an explosion ripped a hole in the rear bottom of the ship.
Fifty-eight sailors have so far been rescued. Thirteen of them suffered injuries and are now being treated at hospitals. No one is in critical condition, officials said.

In another briefing session held in the afternoon, commander Choi Won-il, who led the sunken ship, said the explosion appears to have been caused by “internal or external shocks.”
"Before" photo supplied by ROK Navy, "after" photo is from The Korea Herald.

The blog One Free Korea has thoughts (in an update):
It might just be that the South Koreans don’t know if they ran over one of their own mines. On the other hand, it might also be that President Lee does know and still hasn’t decided what he’s going to do about it. He might be hiding behind those doubts to give people a chance to calm down before he announces his decision.
UPDATE: More here:
North Korea's possible involvement was initially suspected, but Seoul government officials said it was premature to draw any conclusions.

"It is hard to say for sure now, but chances appear to be slim that North Korea was related," a senior official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. "If North Korea's attack really caused the sinking, it means there is a serious loophole in our defense system."

Navy divers had planned to go underwater to search the sunken craft Cheonan which officials said is protruding from the shallow waters about 24 meters deep, but the effort was hampered by inclement weather.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Latest ONI Worldwide Threats to Shipping Report (to 25 March 2010)

Latest ONI Worldwide Threats to Shipping Report (to 25 March 2010)can be found here.

6. RED SEA/GULF OF ADEN: ONI Special Advisory, 9 Mar 10. To ensure maximum
dissemination to the maritime industry and/or community, ONI is bringing to your attention the
following US DOT MARAD Advisory. Please note, this advisory is not piracy-specific. This
advisory is regarding terrorism and is being disseminated in an effort to promote security for
those operating within the maritime domain. US DOT MARAD Advisory: Information
suggests that al-Qaida remains interested in maritime attacks in the Bab-al-Mandeb Strait, Red
Sea, and the Gulf of Aden along the coast of Yemen. Although it is unclear how they would
proceed, it may be similar in nature to the attacks against the USS COLE in October 2000 and
the M/V LIMBURG in October 2002 where a small to mid-size boat laden with explosives was
detonated. Other more sophisticated methods of attack could include missiles or projectiles.
Although the time and location of such an attack is unknown, ships in the Red Sea, Bab-al-
Mandeb Strait, and the Gulf of Aden along the coast of Yemen are at the greatest risk of
becoming targets of such an attack. All vessels transiting the waters in the vicinity of Yemen are
urged to operate at a heightened state of readiness and should maintain strict 24-hour visual and
radar watches, and regularly report their position, course, and speed to the UKMTO. Vessels are at greatest risk in areas of restricted maneuverability and while in/near port or at anchor.
Merchant vessels are requested to report any suspicious activity to the UKMTO Dubai (ONI).
9. STRAIT OF MALACCA: Malacca terrorist strike feared, 4 Mar 2010. Singapore has
sounded an alert that terrorists are feared to be planning an attack on tankers plying the Malacca
Strait. Industry sources confirmed to Fairplay that Singapore’s navy circulated the alert to
members of the Singapore Shipping Association. It specified no particular group of terrorists.
The Malacca Strait, once a major pirate target, has been relatively calm since joint efforts by
Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore intensified patrols and creating a network for sharing
information. IHS Global Insight commented: "Attacks in the Singapore Strait have been on the
increase, with nine incidents reported in 2009 compared with six in 2008. The majority of attacksin the area have been carried out by opportunistic criminal groups, usually Indonesian in origin,so the announcement of a terrorist group is unusual." “The warning should be taken seriously,”Rohan Gunaratna, head of the Singapore's International Center for Political Violence and Terrorism Research, told Bloomberg. “There are terrorist groups in the region that have the
intent to carry out terrorist attacks, and some of these groups have relationships with al-Qaeda.”
He noted: “In the past, there were a number of attempts to mount terrorist attacks in the Malacca Strait. The threat of terrorism in this region is still very significant.” The alert declared: “The terrorists’ intent is probably to achieve widespread publicity and showcase that it remains a
viable group. This information does not preclude possible attacks on other large vessels with
dangerous cargo.” Michael Howlett of the International Maritime Bureau, which monitors global
terrorism and piracy, told Fairplay today: "We were told about a terrorism threat two days ago by a government agency. We cannot say any more in the interests of global security" (FP).
1. RED SEA: Vessel reported suspicious approach 10 Mar 10 at 1251 UTC while underway
in position 13:29.9N – 042:35.4E, approximately 17NM southwest from Hanish Island. Vessel
observed and reported two open type wooden speed boats on the vessel’s starboard side about
two miles away. The general alarm was raised and fire hoses were activated. The speed boats
were observed altering to port towards the vessel approximately at approximately two cables on
the starboard side while increasing speed. The vessel conducted evasive maneuvers and notified
UKMTO. The two boats crossed the stern at approximately 100 meters before moving away andreducing their speed (Operator, IMB).
2. RED SEA: Vessel reported suspicious approach 8 Mar 10 at 1354 UTC while underway
in position 13:37.5N – 042:31E, approximately 15NM southwest from Hanish Island. Master
reported armed men in five skiffs approached the vessel from the port quarter, port bow, and
starboard bow. The vessel raised the alarm, sent distress messages, and conducted evasive
maneuvers while firing rocket flares to warn other vessels. Coalition forces were contacted and a
warship was dispatched. After 35 minutes, the skiffs abandoned their pursuit (IMB, Operator).
3. RED SEA: Tanker reported suspicious approach 3 Mar 10 at 0628 UTC while underway
in position 13:37N – 042:58E, approximately 25NM northwest of Mokha, Yemen. Men in two
small boats approached the vessel from the starboard side. The master raised the alarm,
activated fire hoses, and conducted evasive maneuvers while contacting coalition forces for
assistance via VHF. The suspicious boats approached at a distance of less than 50 meters and
followed the vessel for about one minute before they altered course and moved away. No
injuries to the crew and no damage to the vessel were reported (Operator, IMB).
4. BAB EL MANDEB: Tanker reported suspicious approach 28 Feb 10 at 0350 local time
while underway in position 12:32.5N – 043:26E. The duty officer onboard noticed two crafts on
radar sailing parallel to the vessel. The crafts then started approaching the vessel. The alarm was
raised and the crew mustered on the bridge. Counter piracy measures were enforced, including
the use of floodlights to track the crafts and recorded sounds of dogs barking. Naval forces
responded to the distress call and the suspicious crafts departed after almost 30 minutes (IMB).
5. GULF OF ADEN: Vessel fired upon 24 Mar 10 at 0515 UTC while underway in position
13:24N – 048:16E, approximately 80NM southwest of Al Mukalla, Yemen. Vessel reported
shots fired, and reportedly a security team was on board. No further information to provide
(Mercury chat).
6. GULF OF ADEN: Tanker reported suspicious approach 2 Mar 10 at 0345Z while
underway in position 12:38.4N – 044:47.4E, approximately 14NM southwest of Aden, Yemen.
The master reported four men in a skiff approached the vessel and attempted to board. The vessel conducted evasive maneuvers and fire hoses were activated. After about one hour of chasing,the skiff moved away (IMB).
7. GULF OF ADEN: Tanker (AL NISR AL SAUDI) hijacked 1 Mar 10 while underway
approximately 45NM southwest of Al Mukalla, Yemen. Pirates boarded and hijacked the vessel,with its crew of 14, and have sailed it toward the Somali coast. No further information to
provide at this time (AFP, IMB).
8. INDIAN OCEAN: Container ship fired upon 25 Mar 10 at 0804 UTC while underway in
position 03:49S – 046:10E, approximately 300NM southeast of Kismayo, Somalia. Vessel
reported coming under fire from two skiffs with 4-5 persons onboard. Vessel increased speed
and the two skiffs aborted the attack (UKMTO).
9. INDIAN OCEAN: Cargo ship reported suspicious approach 24 Mar 10 at 1649 UTC
while underway in position 14:09N – 052:27E, approximately 105NM northwest of Socotra
Island. Vessel reported being approached by two skiffs and a mothership. Master increased
speed and the skiffs broke off pursuit (UKMTO).
10. INDIAN OCEAN: Cargo ship (TALCA) hijacked 23 Mar 10 at 1258 UTC while
underway in position 17:28N – 056:42.7E, approximately 325NM northeast of Socotra Island.
Pirates in two speed boats boarded and hijacked the vessel with 25 crewmembers while
underway. The vessel is currently sailing to an undisclosed location off the Somali coast (IMB,
Operator, LM: Xinhua).
11. INDIAN OCEAN: Cargo ship (ALMEZAAN) fired upon 23 Mar 10 at 0808 UTC while
underway in position 03:45N – 048:07E, approximately 30NM from the coast of Somalia and
200NM northeast of Mogadishu. Owner reported the vessel came under attack by three skiffs
while underway. A security team onboard returned fire, killing one pirate. Six suspected pirates
were captured and detained by the Spanish navy (UKMTO, AP, BBC).
12. INDIAN OCEAN: Bulk carrier (FRIGIA) hijacked 23 Mar 10 at 0137 UTC while
underway in position 11:41.5N – 066:05.3E, approximately 680NM east of Socotra Island.
Pirates boarded and hijacked the vessel with 21 crewmembers and are sailing it to an unknown
destination off the Somali coast (IMB, Operator, LM: Xinhua).
13. INDIAN OCEAN: Tanker fired upon 22 Mar 10 at 1200 UTC while underway in
position 14:56.4N – 055:01.6E, approximately 140NM northeast of Socotra Island. Six armed
men in a speedboat chased and fired upon the vessel while attempting to board from the port
quarter. The master raised the alarm, fired rocket flares, increased speed and conducted evasive
maneuvers. The attack was aborted after approximately 20 minutes. No injuries to the crew
were reported while the tanker sustained minor damages (IMB).
14. INDIAN OCEAN: Container ship fired upon 20 Mar 10 at 1200 UTC while underway
in position 11:10N – 062:22.9E, approximately 760NM northeast of Eyl, Somalia. Five armed
men chased and attempted to board the vessel while underway. The master raised the alarm,
increased speed 25 knots and sounded the ship’s whistle. The armed men fired upon the vessel
and came as close as 0.2NM before aborting. The skiff was doing approximately 24.5 knots at
the time of the attack (IMB).
15. INDIAN OCEAN: Fishing vessels (TARASKA) and (ORTUBE BARRIA) fired upon
19 Mar 10 while underway approximately 100NM southwest of the Seychelles. Two fishing
vessels reported coming under fire from three skiffs. Embarked security teams repelled the
attacks with gunfire and the skiffs abandoned the attack (AFP).
16. INDIAN OCEAN: Warship (HNLMS TROMP) reported suspicious approach 17 Mar
10 at 0601 UTC while underway in position 05:22S – 051:43E, approximately 225NM southwest of Port Victoria, Seychelles. Two small skiffs made a fast approach toward the warship, prompting warning shots to be fired in their direction. A helicopter was deployed, which intercepted the two skiffs as well as a third boat, likely a mothership. A search of the skiffs uncovered ammunition and RPG rounds. The suspects were eventually released, while the two skiffs were destroyed (MSCHOA).
17. INDIAN OCEAN: Two fishing vessels reported suspicious approach 16 Mar 10 while
underway in position 06:24S – 05053E, approximately 290NM southwest of Port Victoria,
Seychelles. Three skiffs approached the fishing vessels. Armed security teams onboard fired
warning shots and the skiffs moved away (Mercury).
18. INDIAN OCEAN: RO/RO fired upon 15 Mar 10 at 1317 UTC while underway in
position 11:02S – 046:57E, approximately 200NM northeast of Comoros. Vessel reported
coming under fire from AK-47s and RPGs by at least two skiffs. Vessel increased speed and
activated fire hoses and the skiffs eventually abandoned the attack (UKMTO).
19. INDIAN OCEAN: Fishing vessel (TXORI ARGI) reported suspicious approach 14 Mar
10 at 0910 UTC while underway in position 03:03S – 055:08E, approximately 95NM north of
Port Victoria, Seychelles. The vessel reported being approached by one mothership and two
smaller skiffs. An armed security team onboard fired several warning shots and the suspicious
skiffs turned around (Risk Intelligence/MaRisk, AFP).
20. INDIAN OCEAN: Vessel (ER LUBECK) fired upon 12 Mar 10 at 0045 UTC while
underway in position 03:10S – 062:06E, approximately 400NM northeast of Port Victoria,
Seychelles. Armed men in two skiffs chased and opened fire on the vessel. The vessel
conducted evasive maneuvers and increased speed while sending out an SSAS alert. Effective
counter measures prevented further attacks (IMB, LM:
21. INDIAN OCEAN: Cargo dhow hijacked 08 Mar 10 while underway in the Indian
Ocean, exact position unknown. Dhow is still believed to be in pirate control and conducting
mothership operations in the Indian Ocean (ONI analysis).
2. CAMEROON: Fishing trawlers attacked, crewmembers kidnapped 12 Mar 10 while
underway off the Bakassi peninsula in southwest Cameroon. Seven Chinese nationals working
for a private fishing company were kidnapped off the Bakassi peninsula in southwest Cameroon,
according to Cameroonian sources. They reportedly have demanded a cash ransom (AFP).
4. SOUTH CHINA SEA: Fishing vessels fired upon 23 Mar 10 at 0901 UTC while
underway in position 05:16N – 106:30E, approximately 205NM northeast of Tanjong Berhala,
Malaysia. Armed robbers in a 15-meter long boat chased and fired upon two fishing vessels.
The vessels increased speed and managed to evade the boat. No injuries to the crew were
reported (IMB).
More good stuff from ONI'sPiracy Analysis and Warning Weekly (PAWW) Report (Horn of Africa) for 24-31 March 2010:
5. (U) Forecast for the Week of 18-24 March 2010
(U) As the northeast (winter) monsoon has come to an end, weather is now more conducive for pirate small boat operations in the Horn of Africa region. Mariners are warned that with improved weather conditions, it is highly likely that pirates will continue to get underway this week to hijack vessels. Pirate activity is expected to remain high through the second week of June. Pirates may launch in attack skiffs, mother skiffs, or dhows. Mariners should continue to maintain all counter-piracy measures when transiting the area. Mariners are strongly encouraged to contact UKMTO and all appropriate authorities when transiting the Gulf of Aden as well as make use of the International Recommended Transit Corridor (IRTC). Of note, the last two vessels hijacked in the Gulf of Aden were not executing Best Management Practices by transiting north of the IRTC and not reporting their position to all appropriate authorities. Somali pirates currently hold fewer vessels for ransom than they have shown the ability to hold. This week, ONI assesses the risk of pirate attacks is high in the Indian Ocean. As shown by activity this week, pirates operating south of the equator in the Indian Ocean may focus their operations as far south as 11 degrees south latitude, approximately 140NM northwest of Port St. Louis, Madagascar. In addition, the area due east of Socotra Island out as far as 600NM is still considered high risk and mariners are warned to avoid this area if possible. The area northeast of Seychelles is also still considered very high risk. The Gulf of Aden remains a prime operating area for Somali pirates.

South Korean Military on alert as S Korean warship sinks near North Korea

South Korean Military on alert as S Korean warship sinks near North Korea:
A South Korean naval ship sank near the disputed maritime border with North Korea early Saturday, prompting the South's military to rush vessels to the site to rescue its sailors and raising fears of an attack by the North.

The ship, on a routine patrolling mission with 104 crew members on board, began sinking off the coast of South Korean-controlled Baengnyeong Island close to North Korea around 9:45 p.m. (1245 GMT, 8:45 a.m. EDT), Rear Adm. Lee Ki-sik of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told reporters late Friday.

Lee said an unexplained hole in the bottom of the ship caused the vessel to take on water. South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported that the ship was damaged by an explosion, and said the military had not ruled out the possibility of an attack by North Korea.

A rescue mission was under way. Officials told Yonhap there were some deaths among the sailors but did not specify the number. The military, meanwhile, moved to strengthen its vigilance near the maritime border, the site of three bloody naval clashes between the warring Koreas. The divided peninsula remains in a state of war because the three-year Korean conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty, in 1953.

Earlier Friday, North Korea's military threatened "unpredictable strikes," including a nuclear attack, in anger over a report that South Korea and the U.S. were preparing for possible instability in the totalitarian country.
Red arrow points to Baengnyeong Island.

UPDATE: FoxNews reporting damage self- inflicted. AFP identifies unit as "Patrol Combat Corvette PCC-772 Chonan."

Fighting Words

Words like "freedom," "the rights of the individual" ... "living free meant a lot more to them than cowering in security."

Remember the Alamo? I have enough Texan in me to do just that.

Somali Pirates: The EU Naval Force Press Briefing 2.2.10

RADM Hudson, Operation Commander, EUNAVOR OPERATION ATALANTA :
 Part 1:


Thursday, March 25, 2010

Fearless Navy Bloggers Take to the Air: Episode 14 Multilateralism at Sea 3/28/2010 - Midrats on Blog Talk Radio

Coming Sunday 1700EST (R)/2200Z: Episode 14 Multilateralism at Sea 3/28/2010 - Midrats on Blog Talk Radio:
Join Sal from the blog "CDR Salamander" and EagleOne from the blog "EagleSpeak" as they look at multilateralism at sea; how different nation's navies work together.

From piracy to exercises to warfighting - what are the plusses and minuses of working with other nations at sea? Are we leveraging the capabilities of other nations enough - or are we in danger of relying on them too much? How does the American Navy see working with other naval forces - and how do they look at working with us? What special capabilities do other nations have that we don't, and what could we learn from them? What do the lessons from multilateralism in ground combat in Afghanistan, and multilateralism against pirates tell us?

Our guests will be Hans de Vreij and James S. Robbins. Hans de Vreij is the Netherlands correspondent at Jane's Defence Weekly, and the Security and Defence specialist at Radio Netherlands Worldwide. He received his education at the University of Amsterdam. Previously, he was Economics, web editor, and EU & NATO correspondent for Radio Netherlands World.

James S. Robbins is Senior Editorial Writer for Foreign Affairs at the Washington Times. He is also author of the book, Last in Their Class: Custer, Pickett and the Goats of West Point, and a political commentator and contributing editor for National Review Online. Dr. Robbins holds a Ph.D. and Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in Medford, Massachusetts. He also has Masters and Bachelors degrees in Political Science from the University of Cincinnati. In addition to contributing to a wide variety of publications, he served in government for ten years, and in 2007 was awarded the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joint Meritorious Civilian Service Award.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Somali Pirates: Pirate Killed in Attempted Hijack

As set out here, a Somali pirate was killed, apparently by a private security guard, as he and his chums were attempting to board and seize a cargo ship off the Somali coast:
Early on the morning of Tuesday 23 March, an EU NAVFOR warship received a distress call from a merchant ship off the Somalia coast and proceeded at high speed to assist.
As previously reported, the Panamanian-flagged cargo ship, MV ALMEZAAN, en route to Mogadishu, was under attack from pirates. An armed private vessel protection detachment on board the ship returned fire, successfully repelling the first attack, but the pirates continued to pursue. A second attack was repelled and the pirates fled the area.
The EU NAVFOR frigate ESPS NAVARRA, from the Spanish Navy, was dispatched by the Force Commander, Rear Admiral Giovanni Gumiero of the Italian Navy, and raced to the scene of the incident. She launched her helicopter, quickly locating the ALMEZAAN and the pirates’ boats, known as skiffs. When the suspects failed to heed the helicopter’s instructions to stop, warning shots were fired by the aircraft, after which a team from NAVARRA boarded a skiff.
There were three boats, comprising one mother ship and two pirate skiffs. In the first skiff they found three suspected pirates and, in the second, three suspects and a fourth individual, who had died. The body has been transferred to NAVARRA, and an investigation indicated that the individual had died from small calibre gunshot wounds. The mother ship has now been destroyed and the remaining six suspects have been taken onboard the NAVARRA.
This may be the first reported killing of a pirate by a onboard private security guard since the current wave of Somali piracy began several years ago.

Naturally, this has resulted in some folks getting their panties in a twist.

For example from the BBC:
A number of suspected Somali pirates have been killed by international forces during rescue operations but this is thought to be the first time private security guards have killed a pirate in defence of a ship. Pirates are known to use fire-arms and rocket-propelled grenades in their attacks on ships but rarely harm the crews of vessels they capture.
Several organisations, including the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), have expressed concern that the use of armed security contractors could encourage pirates to be more violent when taking a ship.
Yes, you read it right. Fighting back against people shooting at you with automatic weapons and RPGs will somehow cause an escalation of violence.

Of course, you should also be aware that the United Nations does not support the idea of a right to armed personal self-defense, see here.

UPDATE: Here's a hoot:
“This could be the beginning of a violent period,” says E.J. Hogendoorn, head of the Horn of Africa program at the International Crisis Group’s office in Nairobi. “If [the pirates] see guys with shiny barrels pointing at them, they might fire first.”
Hey, Mr. Hogendoorn, the pirates are already firing first at unarmed merchants! See Fred Fry's coverage of one attack Pirate Attack Photos - M/V KAPITAN MASLOV from November 2008 (next two photos came from there):

And here are some photos from an attack on the tanker Dubai Princess from June 2009:

As you can see for these two examples, the pirates are already threatening the lives of sailors with rocket propelled grenades and automatic weapons and doing so without provocation.

I think, Mr. Hogendoorn, you have missed the point. Ocean going vessels are not being stopped at sea because the pirates ask them politely to stop. They are stopped because the crews fear for their lives because of violence brought to them by the pirates.

It's a war, Mr. Hogendoorn, a long running war against armed pirates. The "violent period" has been going on for some time.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Somali Pirates: Cargo Ship Taken Off the Coast of Oman

MSC(HOA) report from here:

Bermuda flagged cargo ship hijacked in Gulf of Aden
23/03/2010 15.53 UTC

This afternoon, Tuesday 23 March, the Bermuda flagged Virgin Islands owned cargo ship MV TALCA was reported hijacked in the Gulf of Aden.

The hijacking took place approximately 120 nautical miles off the coast of Oman and 180 miles south of Mazera. MV TALCA was heading from Sokhna in Egypt to Busheir in Iran. It had already passed through the International Recommended Transit Corridor, which is patrolled by warships and maritime patrol aircraft from EU NAVFOR, NATO, Combined Maritime Forces and other navies. Twenty-three of the crew are from Sri Lanka, one from the Philippines and one from Syria. MV TALCA has dead weight of 11 055 tonnes. EU NAVFOR will continue to monitor the situation.
UPDATE: Added map with my guesstimate of attack location. UPDATE2: Replaced original guesstimate with another.

Somali Pirates: Turkish Cargo Ship Taken 1000 miles at Sea

Early reports: Turkish Cargo Ship Hijacked By Somali Pirates | AHN:
Somali pirates have hijacked a Turkish-owned Malta-flagged ship and her 21 crew members 1,000 miles off the Somali coast near India, according to the European Union Naval Force.

The ship, MV Frigia, was enroute to Kaousichang, Thailand, from Egypt’s Port Said when it came under attack outside the heavily guarded International Recommended Transit Corridor.

“The hijacking took place approximately 1,000 nautical miles east of the northern coast of Somalia. This position is closer to India than Somalia and is approximately 400 nautical miles outside the normal EU NAVFOR operation area,” said the statement.

It added, “MV Frigia has a crew of 21 (19 Turkish and two Ukrainian). The ship was heading east but has now turned around, is heading west and and appears to be heading for one of the known pirate ports off the coast of Somalia.”
From EU's MSC(HOA):

Malta Flagged cargo ship hijacked in Indian Ocean
23/03/2010 11.16 UTC

This morning, 23 of March, the Malta flagged Turkish owned (Garanti Finansal Kiralama) cargo ship MV FRIGIA, deadweight 35,000 tonnes, was reported hijacked in the Indian Ocean.

The hijacking took place approximately 1000 Nautical miles east of the northern coast of Somalia. This position is closer to India than Somalia and is approximately 400 N Miles outside the normal EU NAVFOR operation area. The ship was heading from Port Said to Kaousichang in Thailand. MV FRIGIA has a crew of 21 (19 Turkish and 2 Ukrainian). The ship was heading east but has now turned around, is heading west and and appears to be heading for one of the known pirate ports off the coast of Somalia. EU NAVFOR will continue to monitor the situation.
UPDATE: BBC notes here that the Somali pirates are moving "toward India." This trend was discussed previously in posts here - see March 2010 A Somali Pirate Attack Off India?, Dec 2009 Somali Pirates: Indian Merchant Ship Evades Attack - Off India? and Somali Pirates: Update on tanker attacked off India.

Ship photo from by Hans & Simon Rosenkranz and used in accord with instructions.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Haiti Logistics: What the DLA Did

An under-reported story behind the U.S. military aid to Haiti concerning the Defense Logistics Agency as told by the - DLA's Sara Moore:
Immediately after the quake hit, DLA began coordinating with USSOUTHCOM, which had partnered with the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development to assess the need for humanitarian support. In the following weeks, DLA deployed a support team to Joint Task Force Haiti, and the Agency’s field activities worked around the clock, filling hundreds of thousands of requests for ready-to-eat meals, bottles of water, medical supplies, health and comfort items, fuel, maps, repair parts for military equipment and construction materials.

The Agency established two DLA support teams to assist relief workers on the ground. Twelve logisticians forming DLA Support Team – Haiti were deployed to Haiti, and two members of the separate seven-member DLA Support Team – Migrant Ops were at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, doing preliminary work in case Haitian refugees were sent there.

Additional DLA representatives were aboard the Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort, and others worked with USSOUTHCOM in Miami, including members of DLA’s Joint Contingency Acquisition Support Office who helped establish a contracting office and evaluate contracting approaches.

As of March 12, Defense Supply Center Philadelphia had filled more than 9,000 requisitions valued at $76.5 million, including Meals, Ready-to-Eat, group rations, bottled water, ice, produce, commercial pre-packaged meals, tents, uniforms and construction supplies. Notably, DSCP provided 2.7 million ready-to-eat meals in support of the World Food Program, coordinating its effort with the U.S. Agency for International Development. The meals were allocated by USAID to support the World Food Program’s plans for 15 distribution sites, including orphanages and hospitals.

DLA also coordinated with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to replenish FEMA stocks of 1 million ready-to-eat meals FEMA sent to Haiti.

In addition to providing food, DLA sourced construction material in support of Port-au-Prince pier reconstruction. DLA also provided hundreds of tents and cots to Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, which was used as a hub for humanitarian supplies headed to Haiti.

Employees are DLA’s field activities have spent countless hours supporting the Haiti relief efforts.

The Defense Reutilization and Marketing Service provided more than $74 million in supplies like sleeping bags, generators and medical supplies, while the Defense Energy Support Center provided more than 500 drums of diesel fuel and 250 drums of motor gasoline.

Defense Supply Center Richmond, Va., provided more than 68,000 maps and charts for U.S. forces operating in and around Haiti, and additional tie-down straps that were used to secure loads on aircraft and helicopters as they flew supplies into Haiti.

The Defense Distribution Center’s Supply Chain Transportation Division ran an around-the-clock operation to support disaster-relief efforts in Haiti. DDC SCT is responsible for coordinating transportation requirements for the DDC’s vendor base, including providing carriers, documentation and guidance as freight moves to its destination.

BIREY, Haiti (Jan. 30, 2010) Sailors assigned to the amphibious dock-landing ship USS Carter Hall (LSD 50) unload a truck bed of meals-ready-to-eat (MREs) at a Birey, Haiti school. Carter Hall is conducting humanitarian and disaster relief operations as part of Operation Unified Response after a 7.0 magnitude earthquake caused severe damage in and around Port-au-Prince, Haiti Jan. 12. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Monique Hilley/Released)

Possible Terrorist Attacks Off Yemen from ONI's Worldwide Threats to Shipping Report (to 11 March 10)

Well, it's on the news, so you might as well see the source the U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence Weekly Worldwide Threat to Shipping Report (to 11 March 10):
2. RED SEA/GULF OF ADEN: ONI Special Advisory, 9 Mar 10. To ensure maximum dissemination to the maritime industry and/or community, ONI is bringing to your attention the following US DOT MARAD Advisory. Please note, this advisory is not piracy-specific. This advisory is regarding terrorism and is being disseminated in an effort to promote security for those operating within the maritime domain. US DOT MARAD Advisory: Information suggests that al-Qaida remains interested in maritime attacks in the Bab-al-Mandeb Strait, Red Sea, and the Gulf of Aden along the coast of Yemen. Although it is unclear how they would
proceed, it may be similar in nature to the attacks against the USS COLE in October 2000 and the M/V LIMBURG in October 2002 where a small to mid-size boat laden with explosives was detonated. Other more sophisticated methods of attack could include missiles or projectiles. Although the time and location of such an attack is unknown, ships in the Red Sea, Bab-al- Mandeb Strait, and the Gulf of Aden along the coast of Yemen are at the greatest risk of becoming targets of such an attack. All vessels transiting the waters in the vicinity of Yemen are urged to operate at a heightened state of readiness and should maintain strict 24-hour visual and
radar watches, and regularly report their position, course, and speed to the UKMTO. Vessels are at greatest risk in areas of restricted maneuverability and while in/near port or at anchor. Merchant vessels are requested to report any suspicious activity to the UKMTO Dubai (ONI).

Somali Pirates: EU Rescues Iranians in an Ugly Situation

From the EU MSC (HOA) report:
On 19th March the EU NAVFOR Spanish warship NAVARRA was dispatched by the Force HQ (ITS ETNA) to assist an Iranian dhow that had sent out a distress call.

The Iranian fishing dhow, named UAID 400, with 13 crew members, had suffered a pirate attack some days before and had been left without food, water or sufficient fuel to return to shore.

After a high speed dash, the NAVARRA's helicopter located the dhow early the following morning, 60 NMiles from its last known position. The crew were seen on deck waving their arms and making desperate signs for help as the helicopter approached them.

Once EU NAVFOR warship ESPS NAVARRA arrived in the vicinity of the dhow, a boarding party was sent onboard and confirmed that the fishing vessel's radio equipment was broken and their mobile phones were not working. The crew were already drinking sea water and there was no food onboard. The crew confirmed that it had been four days since the attack.

The fishermen reported that the pirates had kept them tied up for two days without food or water. When the pirates left they looted the vessel and also took the crew's possessions.
The NAVARRA provided the crew with sufficient food, water and fuel to ensure that that they could make it back to the nearest harbour. The Iranian crew, who are now all well, were extremely grateful for EUNAVFOR's quick reaction to their distress call that clearly saved their lives.
Navarra is based on the U.S. Perry class frigates, but is Spanish built.

Iranian PressTV coverage here:
The 13 Iranian crewmembers onboard had been tied up for two days without food or fresh water, after the sea bandits had broken radio equipment, CNN reported, adding that their mobile phones were also dysfunctional.

Before the rescue on Saturday, the dhow had sent out a distress call 60 nautical miles from where it was discovered.
Lower photo of dhow UAID 400 from here (EU NAVFOR Somalia website).

Health Care and Egalitarianism

Victor Davis Hanson:
I understand the reasoning behind Obamism and am familiar with the feel-good, this-is-our-moment rhetoric of egalitarianism. But please at least spare us the fictions and simply be honest: Obama wants a state-run America, somewhere to the left of France or Denmark, a United States unexceptional and merely one of many nations at the UN. This vision follows an existing, decades-long encroachment of government. And it requires all sorts of highly credentialed overseers monitoring and at times justifiably attacking the upper middle class for its deplorable treatment of those below it.

This new America is ultimately predicated on the notion that we were born equal and must die absolutely equal as well. And this is entirely within our grasp, if we just understand that individual responsibility, talent, natural endowment, chance, merit, luck, tragedy, and a dozen other variables far too complex for government to imagine, much less solve, in fact, are not the real obstacles to ensuring equality.
Kurt Vonnegut wrote a nice piece on perfect equality in Harrison Bergeron.

Oh, by the way, the geniuses in Congress managed to create a mini crisis for those 9+ million AMERICANS covered by Tricare, the military health care plan:
House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-MO) says he will include a provision in the FY2011 Defense Authorization Bill to amend national health care reform legislation to explicitly state that TRICARE “meets all requirements for individual health insurance.”

Committee staff members indicate this is a technical correction to make doubly sure TRICARE beneficiaries don’t suffer any inadvertent penalties under the language of national health care reform legislation currently pending in the House.

According to staff, the new House language cites Medicare, TRICARE For Life, and VA care as meeting the requirements, but didn’t explicitly include TRICARE.

Skelton tried to amend the bill to include TRICARE, but House rules governing reconciliation bills like the national health reform bill bar amendments that don’t involve funding.

But the lack of funding issue means Skelton will be able to make the fix in the defense bill instead.

While it would be incongruous in the extreme to consider TRICARE as failing to meet any reasonable requirements for health insurance, the technical fix will make doubly sure TRICARE beneficiaries won’t be subject to financial penalties applicable to people who don’t obtain qualifying insurance.

It would also require that TRICARE make a change to allow continued coverage of non-dependent children until age 28 if they don’t have qualifying employer-sponsored coverage. Details on how to accomplish that would have to be worked out in the defense bill if the national health reform legislation passes.
UPDATE: Of course, including TRICARE might have caused the bill, which the Democrats assure us will save us money, to appear to cost too much, as noted over at Castle Argghhh!.
UPDATE2: Although I probably wouldn't call them "death panels" there will eventually be something akin to "decision trees" to sort out who will receive certain medical treatments.UPDATE3: "Decision Trees" will take the onus off individuals and "panels" deciding on who gets what. "It's not our fault, we ran it through the decision tree and determined that with your age and probability of living only another 3 years you just barely missed the cut. So sorry. Next!"

You know, the same sort of process that real insurance companies used to be able to apply is selecting who to insure and for how much. I remember the days when my SCUBA diving caused them to raise my life insurance rates, for example. Sky diving? "Raise the rates." Amateur sports car racing? "Raise the rates."

Now, let's assume you engage in high risk behavior like drug abuse and needle sharing - why, my goodness, you are now covered. Got AIDS or HIV positive as a result of needle sharing? Why, now you have a "preexisting condition." Covered.

Too stupid and selfish to practice safe sex? Whatever you get - "Covered."

Questions? Will the new system mandate genetic testing of wannabe parents and in vitro babies to decide whether or not the child will be a burden on the taxpayers? What about "sickle cell" genetic carriers? What about "Factor 5 Leiden" genetic carriers? Autism? And so on...

Friday, March 19, 2010

Somali Pirates: More on Pirate Adandoning Putative "Mother Ship"

Original report here. Update from NATO via press release:
19 crew members from a small Iranian cargo ship, SAAD 1 are now free from their pirate captors after being held for 5 months. Their release followed intervention by the Italian warship ITS Scirocco, one of five NATO warships operating in the region as part of NATO’s counter piracy mission, Operation Ocean Shield.
The Commanding Officer of ITS Scirocco, Cdr Massimiliano Giachino said:
“The success of this operation demonstrates the professionalism and determination of the crew of Scirocco in combating piracy. SAAD 1 is now free and we have provided assistance to the crew to ensure their safe return home.”
Captured by Somali pirates 5 months ago the vessel has been prepared to act as a mothership to attack merchant traffic transiting the busy international waters in the Indian Ocean.
SAAD 1, with its crew under the control of pirates, sailed from Garacad on 14th March. ITS Scirocco who had been tasked to monitor pirate camps along the coast quickly took up the trail. On 16th March, once the presence of pirates had been established, ITS Scirocco forced the SAAD1 to return to the coast where it could no longer pose a threat to legitimate seafarers.

Late on 17th March as soon as the dhow arrived at the coast, the pirates fled with the NATO ship still close by. Seizing the opportunity, SAAD 1 then rapidly escaped with ITS Scirocco providing protection as the pirates fled on shore.
Both ships then proceeded into safe water where the crew of ITS Scirocco rendered assistance to the help prepare the vessel and her crew for their journey home.
NATO Force Commander, Cdre Steve Chick, RN said:
“This is excellent news. Scirocco’s actions today send a very strong message to the pirates that NATO and other counter piracy forces are willing to do what is necessary to stop piracy – even if it means tackling the pirates in the vicinity of the pirate camps.”
Background (also from the press release):
1. The NATO task force TF 508 conducing Operation Ocean Shield is one out of three coalition task forces operating in the fight against piracy. TF 508 consists presently of five ships:
HMS CHATHAM (Flagship - Royal Navy)
TCG GELIBOLU (Turkish Navy)
HS LIMNOS (Greek Navy)
ITS SCIROCCO (Italian Navy)
2. At the request of the UN in late 2008, NATO started to provide escorts to UN World Food Programme vessels transiting through the Somali Basin. This operation has now been succeeded by Operation Ocean Shield, which as well as deterring and disrupting pirate activity additionally offers training to regional countries in developing their own capacity to combat piracy activities.
3. NATO is conducting counter-piracy activities in compliance with UN Security Council Resolutions (1816, 1838, 1846, 1851 and 1897) and in coordination with other international actors including the European Union.
4. Scirocco assisted the dhow by repairing the ship’s radio, providing 1000 litres of fuel as well as sufficient food and water for the voyage to its next port of call.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Fearless Navy Bloggers Take to the Air: Midrats Epsiode 13 "USMC and Forcible Entry"

Sunday, 5PM Eastern - Midrats on Blog Talk Radio:
What are the Marines, what do they do, and what do they bring to the table in 2010? Are they just and adjunct Army with a good PR department, or do they bring a skill set and expertise that a Maritime power needs in order to project power? What have we forgotten about the mission of the Marines in the last decade, and what do we need to remember? In the 28 years since San Carlos Water and 19 years since II MEF's feint - what do we need to be ready to do next? What do we need to do for hardware and training? Our guests will be Dakota Wood and Mark E. Stanovich. Dakota Wood, Lt. Col., USMC (Ret) is a Senior Fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. He is currently involved in studying the operational challenges of irregular warfare, complex contingencies under high-technology conditions, and proliferated nuclear environments. Before his retirement, LtCol Wood served in a wide variety of operational and staff assignments, including the Corps’ Military Assistant to the Director of the Office of Net Assessment and, provided defense issues analysis support to the Commandant of the Marine Corps on assignment to the Strategic Initiatives Group. Following his retirement, he provided support to the DHS as Operations Officer for the National Biosurveillance Integration System. Mark Stanovich is a is a Lt. Col. in the USMCR, an Artillery officer with 22 years of service. He has served in all four Marine Divisions, and is a combat veteran of OIFII. In his civilian occupation, he is an emergency planner in New England, and is a qualified exercise developer who has participated in the planning and conduct of myriad federal and state exercises with scenarios ranging from natural disaster to terrorism to cyber attack. His current USMCR unit supports Title X war games for all services.
Listen to Midrats on Blog Talk Radio

Please join us.

Somali Pirates Going All Wimpy?

Somali pirates seemingly are going all wimpy because both NATO and the EU are stepping up their anti-pirate activity, a trend evidenced by this report Somali pirates release hijacked vessel after encountering Italian warship - Winnipeg Free Press:
Somali pirates abandoned a hijacked Iranian vessel and set its 19-man crew free Thursday after encountering an Italian warship just off the coast of Somalia, NATO said.

Shona Lowe, a NATO anti-piracy spokeswoman, said the SAAD1 transport was released near the port of Garacad on Somalia's Indian Ocean coast, where it was hijacked five months ago and had been anchored.

It was unclear why the pirates set sail on Sunday in their captured ship, but they encountered the Italian frigate Scirocco which was patrolling nearby. On Thursday, the hijackers abandoned the Iranian ship and returned to Garacad in a dinghy, Lowe said.

"Because our ships are there, the pirates no longer have the freedom they had in the past," she said. "There was no fire fight. It was the presence of the Italian ship that made them leave."
If it was just that easy - having a warship show up - Somali piracy could have be quashed a long time ago.

Bwahaha! Not so much surprise - U.S. ships bombs

A speculative article first reported in The Herald of Scotland here and picked up by the Times of India here, on Hot Air here and on forums at both the Democratic Underground here and the Free Republic here and in roughly a gazillion other places, all of which seem, once again to see this putative shipment to Diego Garcia as a sign Iran or somebody is soon to be targeted...
“They are gearing up totally for the destruction of Iran,” said Dan Plesch, director of the Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy at the University of London, co-author of a recent study on US preparations for an attack on Iran. “US bombers are ready today to destroy 10,000 targets in Iran in a few hours,” he added.
In the past these 1000 lb and 2000 lb bombs have been used for such nefarious purposes as . . . target practice. Here is a caption for the photos above:
DJIBOUTI, Africa (Dec. 4, 2007) 1,000 pound BLU-110 MK-83 and 500 pound BLU-111 MK-82 hard target penetrating bombs explode at the Gordia range off the coast of Djibouti. The weapons were delivered from U.S. Navy F/A-18 hornet aircraft from the Red Rippers of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 11 embarked aboard USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75). Combined Task Forcer – Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) conducts operations in the region to prevent conflict, promote regional stability and protect coalition interests. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Michael R. McCormick (Released)
In fact, if you click on the following photo, you might see a bomb headed for the dirt (inside the red circle):

Now, think about this - those bombs being dropped by the Red Rippers had to get to Djibouti somehow. Maybe by shipping them? So why are there now so much fun and excitement about another shipment of bombs?

Next we''l learn that jet fuel is shipped to Diego Garcia for .... fueling jets.

And food is shipped for feeding .... troops.

Is there no end to this madness? Bwahaha!

Hat tip to Jim for his kind email.