Good Company

Good Company
Good Company

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Texas Style

I was a Giants fan first. But, having lived in both California and Texas, I'm enjoying this series. Now if the A's and the Astros could make it to the same series, I'd be a happy camper. I think the Astros have the longer climb.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Somali Pirates: Hijack A Tanker

Estimated vicinity of capture
Somali pirates hijack Panama-flagged tanker:
Somali pirates have hijacked a Panama-flagged tanker in the Somali Basin with 24 crew members, European Union anti-piracy force said on Saturday.

EU Naval Force spokesman Peter Klingvall said the Liberian- owned MV Polar was attacked during on Friday night approximately 580 nautical miles (almost 1,100 km) east from Socotra Island.

"The owner confirmed this morning that his vessel was under pirate control," Klingvall said in a statement.

The MV Polar, deadweight 72,825 tons, has a crew of 24, of which one is Romanian, three are Greek, four Montenegrin and 16 Filipino, he said. The Horn of African nation is at the entrance to the Gulf of Aden, which leads to the Red Sea and the Suez Canal, one of the world's most important shipping channels.
Ship photo by Dirk from and used in accord with that site's terms.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Fearless Navy Bloggers Take to the Air: Halloween Special -Episode 43 EMP Threat: Hype or Other? 10/31/2010

Time for scary tales and . . . Midrats presents its own version of the "Treehouse of Horror" with Episode 43 EMP Threat Hype or Other, Sunday (Halloween!) at 5 pm, as we discuss the stuff behind best-selling books and widely printed op-ed pieces - the threat posed by an Electro Magnetic Pulse attack:
When you mention the possibility of an Electro Magnetic Pulse attack (EMP) - people have a reaction of, "What?" - either that or they get all fidgety or roll their eyes. Is the EMP threat trick or treat? Join us this Halloween to discuss the issue with their guests Jason Sigger, defense policy analyst, opinion writer and blogger (Armchair Generalist) for the first half of the hour. For the second half of the hour, James Carafano, Ph.D., Deputy Director, The Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies and Director, Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation.
For a recent Armchair Generalist blog post on EMP, see here.

For a recent Dr. Carafano piece on EMP, see here.

Wikipedia on EMP.

Not really a debate, but . . . how big a threat? Listen and then decide --- how afraid to be.

Listen to internet radio with Midrats on Blog Talk Radio

The River Highways

Before there were highways or even cleared trails, there were rivers. The Romans used them (see here):
The Rhine river was the main highway of the Roman province and the boat's site was a river port.
Life-sized model of Roman riverboat at Vienne (photo: Athena Review; Musee archeologique
The entire flat-bottomed vessel, a standard Roman type, would have been 22 to 23 metres long and would have had a beam of 3.5 metres and a capacity of 20 to 30 tons, suitable for cattle, stone and bricks, firewood or construction timber.  
Model photo from here

And, as noted here,
Flatboats were first introduced on the Connecticut River by European settlers in the 1630s. "Flatboats as developed by colonial builders were generally provided with a square mainsail set in the middle of the craft... and a topsail which was used only before the wind. ...When the wind was unfavorable these boats were propelled by poling. ...The flatboats [carried north] miscellaneous cargoes of merchandise, with iron, salt, molasses and much rum, and were returned down the river laden with shingles, potash and other products of the region... Household goods were also carried up for new settlers."

[From "The Upper Valley: An Illustrated Tour Along the Connecticut River" by Jerold Wikoff,
Chelsea Green Publishing Company, Chelsea VT, 1985.]
As the population moved west and found new rivers, new river highways opened up.

From A/V Geeks: Flatboatmen Of The Frontier (1941)

Presents a phase of pioneer agricultural economy in the early nineteenth century. Portrays Ohio Valley farmers as they fell trees, prepare the lumber, and build a flatboat to carry their produce down the river to market. Shows the farmers’ families helping them prepare for the trip, and the men on the first lap of their journey downstream.

 Some further history of these craft - on which floated the commerce of a nation - here.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Somali Pirates: Danes on the Attack

The Danish Navy ship Esbern Snare takes out a pirate "mother boat" as reported here:

Command ship ESBERN SNARE has patrolled along the Somali coast and blown away one of the pirates' mother ships. This limits the pirates' ability to operate far from shore.

In the past few days, NATO has had ESBERN SNARE inserted into an intelligence operation along Somalia's east coast. For this task ESBERN SNARE took yesterday a mother ship that serves as a pirate supply base out in the open ocean.

This mother ship with six suspected pirates were examined by an ESBERN SNARE boarding team, which took several effects that can be used for piracy. Among the effects were weapons and large quantities of fuel.

After ESBERN SNARE had secured evidence and confiscated equipment that can be used to pirate attacks, the suspected pirates were transferred to ESBERN SNARE and later returned to the [Somali] coast. The mother ship was blown up. (Google translation)
Go Danes!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Short Review: Expansion of Somali Piracy 2005 - 2010

Updated to add video I just created.

2010 to 26 Oct

Somali Pirates: Fail to Hijack French LPG Carrier

Another crew saved by a "citadel" as EU's MSC(HOA) reports Pirates fail in pirating LPGC MAIDO in the Somali Basin:
On 26 October 2010, late afternoon, the French-flagged Liquefied Petroleum Gas Carrier (LPGC) MAIDO was reported under attack from one skiff approximately 100 nautical miles south east from Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania.

Pirates had managed to board the vessel; however, later in the evening they eventually abandoned it, after having been unable to get control over the crew who had locked themselves in the ship’s “citadel”.

The 14 crewmembers are reported safe.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Somali Pirate Fail: MV Beluga Fortune Recovered

Some interesting photos of a boarding party from HMS Montrose getting aboard MV Beluga Fortune to ensure teh Somali pirates who held it briefly were gone at Pirates fail in pirating MV BELUGA FORTUNE in Somali Basin:
The warship HMS Montrose, operating under NATO’s naval force, headed towards the vessel as it was the closest ship from the scene of attack. As a result, the pirates set fire to part of the superstructure and immediately abandoned the ship on 25 October. “A team of Royal Marines from HMS Montrose boarded the vessel this afternoon and released them from the safe room,” explained NATO. “None of the crew were injured.”

Somali Pirates Fighting Warships?

An unconfirmed report: Somali pirates, warship clash kills one, injuries 3 in Mudug region
Confrontation between well armored Somali pirates and foreign warships broke out around the coast of Hobyo district, a stronghold of the pirates in Mudug region of north Somalia according to witnesses.

Mohamed Ali, one of the residents of Hobyo district said that the fighting between the pirates and naval forces started as more forces with their warship attacked pirates based around Hobyo district on Monday morning adding that the wounded people were fishers patrolling in the areas where the clash happened.

“Where the clash started was about 30 kilometers to the coast of Hobyo. So one pirate was killed and three fishermen were wounded during the fire exchange between the pirates and forces of the warships who attacked the pirates,” said one of the residents of Honyo district.
Is this the same event? - EU denies role in Somalia helicopter clash
The European Union's anti-piracy mission on Monday denied that one of its helicopters was involved in a clash with Somali pirates in which four people were killed.

Residents in the village of Labad on Somalia's northern coast said pirates had shot at a military helicopter on Sunday night, which returned fire killing at least four people.

"That helicopter does not belong to EU NAVFOR," Lieutenant Colonel Per Klingvall, spokesman for the EU naval force, told AFP.

"We have not heard of any incident like this from other task forces," he said, referring to US and NATO operations in the waters around the lawless Horn of Africa country.

Abdi Yare, a pirate leader, said the helicopter fired one missile in response to the shooting, killing four people including fishermen.

The incident was confirmed to AFP by elders in Labad.

"The pirates were preparing to go for an attack when the chopper spotted them," said Abdulaziz Moalim Ahmed.

Another elder said the helicopter fired a missile after pirates shot at it.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Somali Pirates: Busy Days

NATO reports 3 ship hijackings in the last 2 days:

24 October 2010
WARNING Somali Basin
Latitude: 00°54 S Longitude: 043°08 E
Alert number 440/2010.
***This vessel has been hijacked***
At 1311 UTC 23 OCT 2010 a dhow was reported Hijacked by pirates in position 00°54 S 043°08 E.
Weapons such as RPG were used. Dhow present position 01°31 S 043°28 E heading 050 speed 7kts.

October 24 2010
WARNING Somali Basin
Latitude: 03°29N Longitude: 059°35 E
Alert number 439 / 2010.
***This vessel has been hijacked*** [Eagle1 note: correlates with ship hijack reported here]
October 23 2010
WARNING Somali Basin
Latitude: 04°14 S Longitude: 041°17 E
Alert number 438/ 2010. ---ALERT UPDATE---
Reference previous Alert number 437/ 2010.
At 1235 UTC a merchant vessel is currently under attack by 2 x skiffs in position 04°14S 041°17 E.
***This vessel has been hijacked*** [Eagle1 note: correlates with LPG tank hijack reported here]

At 0542 UTC a merchant vessel was reported Hijacked by pirates in position 03°29 N 059°35 E.
2 skiff were used with 4 POB. Weapons were used.
October 23 2010
WARNING Somali Basin
Latitude: 04°14S Longitude: 041°19E
Alert number 437/ 2010.
At 1235 UTC a merchant vessel is currently under attack by 2 x skiffs in position 01°14S 041°19 E.
UPDATE: Pirates have been cleared from ship, as reported here and by NATO Shipping Center:
October 25 2010
WARNING Somali Basin
Latitude: 02°58 N Longitude: 059°55 E
Alert number 441/ 2010. ---ALERT UPDATE---
Reference previous Alert number 439/ 2010.
At 0542 UTC a merchant vessel was reported Hijacked by pirates in position 03°29N 059°35E. 2 skiff were used with 4 POB. Weapons were used.
Last position 02°58N 059°55E.
***This vessel managed to evade hijack***
The Pirate action group is still in the area.
More here:
German military and international anti-piracy forces attacked a cargo ship being held by Somali pirates off eastern Africa and freed it Monday, but the hijackers got away, the German shipping company said.
***The German military freed the ship in cooperation with the anti-pirate mission Operation Atalanta, the shipping company said, adding that the ship was now on its way to South Africa as planned.

Nils Stolberg, the director of the Beluga-Reederei, said in a statement that one of the main reasons the military was able to free the ship so quickly was that the crew had trained for an emergency situation like this many times over the years.

"They sent out an emergency call, barricaded themselves in a special security room, shut off the fuel supply and the bridge and informed the military," Stolberg said. "This way the pirates could not bring the ship under their control or take the sailors at ransom."
And even more here:
Pirates had already left the ship by the time British frigate Montrose arrived at the scene Monday after steaming 15 hours to Beluga Fortune's aid. All 16 crewmembers were safe, the Beluga shipping company told the newspaper Weser Kurier.
The Beluga Fortune is now a success story of German shipping companies' standard procedures of shutting down all power and hiding the crew when a ship is attacked.
The ship's crew radioed at 7 a.m. on Sunday that pirates were attempting to board. They then immediately stopped the engine, blocked the fuel line and switched off all systems on the bridge - making it impossible for the pirates to move the ship.

Click on map to increase size.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Somali Pirates Grab Another in Indian Ocean

UPDATE: Pirates have been cleared from ship, as reported here and by NATO Shipping Center:
October 25 2010
WARNING Somali Basin
Latitude: 02°58 N Longitude: 059°55 E
Alert number 441/ 2010. ---ALERT UPDATE---
Reference previous Alert number 439/ 2010.
At 0542 UTC a merchant vessel was reported Hijacked by pirates in position 03°29N 059°35E. 2 skiff were used with 4 POB. Weapons were used.
Last position 02°58N 059°55E.
***This vessel managed to evade hijack***
The Pirate action group is still in the area.
More here:
German military and international anti-piracy forces attacked a cargo ship being held by Somali pirates off eastern Africa and freed it Monday, but the hijackers got away, the German shipping company said.
***The German military freed the ship in cooperation with the anti-pirate mission Operation Atalanta, the shipping company said, adding that the ship was now on its way to South Africa as planned.

Nils Stolberg, the director of the Beluga-Reederei, said in a statement that one of the main reasons the military was able to free the ship so quickly was that the crew had trained for an emergency situation like this many times over the years.

"They sent out an emergency call, barricaded themselves in a special security room, shut off the fuel supply and the bridge and informed the military," Stolberg said. "This way the pirates could not bring the ship under their control or take the sailors at ransom."

In addition to the tanker grabbed off Kenya (see here), there are reports of another ship capture here:
Bremen-based Beluga shipping company meanwhile said one of its chartered cargo ships had been captured by pirates in the Indian Ocean.

The South Africa-bound ship was carrying heavy packages from the United Arab Emirates to Richards Bay, a company statement issued in the northern German port said, but did not give details about the number of staff or their nationality.

"We received a distress call this Sunday at 7:08 a.m. (0508 GMT) from our cargo Beluga Fortune," said the statement. "We can now confirm that this was an attack and that our ship was seized by Somali pirates."

The German foreign ministry could not immediately confirm the capture.

Including this weekend's seizures, pirates currently are holding 20 vessels with at least 428 hostages, the EU statement said.

Photo by Vladimir Knyaz from and used iaw the terms of that site.

"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

That is not the official motto of NPR.

Button liberated from here.

Somali Pirates Capture Small Tanker Off Kenya

Pirates seize LPG tanker off Kenya:
On the morning of 24 October, the MV YORK, a Singapore-flagged tanker, was confirmed pirated in the Somali Basin.

The MV YORK had recently left Mombasa on route to the Seychelles. The vessel was attacked on 23 October by two skiffs, approximately 50 nautical miles East from Mombasa.

The Turkish warship GAZIANTEP, operating under the Combined Maritime Forces (Task Force 151) launched her helicopter to investigate. The helicopter was able to observe pirates with weapons on board the vessel.

Initially the MV YORK was drifting but then began moving at 10 knots this morning. In a separate but seemingly linked incident the fishing vessel GOLDEN WAVE, pirated on 9 October 2010, was seen in the vicinity of the MV YORK.
The MV YORK, deadweight 5,076 tons, has a crew of 17, of which one is German (Master), two are Ukrainians and 14 Filipinos.

Including the MV YORK, Somali pirates are currently holding 19 vessels with 428 hostages.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Pirates of Costa Rica?

Arrow points to area of alleged attack

A report of a Costa Rica pirate attack :
Two Dana Point boaters sailing in Costa Rica reported their 50-foot sailboat had been attacked by masked and armed pirates that boarded after dark, tied them up with duct tape, and stole about $12,000 of electronics and cash, according to a boating newsletter.

According to an account in the Log newspaper, Bruce Stevens and Clark Nicholson were cruising with Stevens' El Salvadoran girlfriend near Quepos, Costa Rica when about six pirates attacked their Gulfstar sailboat called "Two Amigos" around 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 15.

There have been warnings about possible piracy off Costa Rica, as seen here, where the drug trade gets the blame.

And, of course, there is some history.

UPDATE: Another warning here.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Somali Pirates: Another Fishing Boat Captured and Turned Into a "Mother Ship" and more...

NATO Shipping Center reports:
October 21 2010
WARNING Somali Basin
Latitude: 09°45 S Longitude: 039°56 E
Alert number 434/ 2010.
At 210627 UTC a merchant vessel was under attack by pirates in position 09°45S 039°56E. The vessel was under attack by 2 skiffs.
Shots were fired. The vessel evaded the attack by performing Best Management Pratices. Vessel is safe.
***This vessel managed to evade hijack***
The Pirate action group is still in the area.

October 21 2010
WARNING Somali Basin
Latitude: 07°17N Longitude: 050°01E
Alert number 433 / 2010.
At 202303 UTC an unknown dhow departed from a pirate camp. Dhow will possible conduct mothership operation for piracy. Last known position is 07°17N 050°01E course 087° speed 08 knots.

October 19 2010
Latitude: 02°02N Longitude: 050°13E
Alert number 432 / 2010.
At 191857Z a merchant vessel was attacked by pirates in position 0202N 05013E. The vessel was under attack by 2 skiffs. Shots were fired. The vessel evaded the attack by performing Best Management Practices. Vessel is safe.
October 19 2010
WARNING Somali Basin
Latitude: 11°00N Longitude: 61°00E
Alert number 431 / 2010. (update for ALERT number 430)
At 182100 UTC a Pirate Action Group consisting of a Fishing Vessel Tai Yuan 227 has been sighted in position 1100N 06100E.

Golden Wave
FV Golden Wave has been pirated and maybe used by pirates for mothership operations. Golden Wave’s last known position was 03°03N 047°58E heading in a southerly direction. It is assessed that it may be heading for the seas between the coast of Tanzania and Madagascar.

Masters should note that the Golden Wave is a white hulled fishing vessel, approximately 50 metres long, with the registration numbers / Call sign DTAV4 painted in large black letters on the hull.

Picture of the FV Tai Yuan 227
The last known position of Tai Yuan 227 was 11°00N 061°00E Heading towards the Somali coast.

UPDATE 22 OCT 2010:

From the International Maritime Bureau Live Piracy Report more reports:
21.10.2010: 1600 UTC: Posn: 04:20.5S – 040:25.0E, Around 43nm east of Mombasa, Kenya (Off Somalia). Taking advantage of a moonlight night four pirates in a skiff chased and came alongside a product tanker underway. Alert duty officer heard the sound of the boat engine and upon investigation noticed the pirates attempting to board his vessel. Alarm sounded and speed increased. The skiff aborted the attack and attempted once again after 20 minutes. Due to effective preventive measures, the skiff aborted the attempts. A fishing vessel suspected to be the mother ship was noticed around 6nm off.

21.10.2010: 0825 UTC: Posn: 09:45.9S – 039:56.9E, Around 10nm off Tanzania coast. Eleven armed pirates in two skiffs chased and opened fire on a container ship underway. The master enforced all anti piracy measures and contacted the Dar es Salaam port authorities for assistance. Due to effective preventive measures, the skiff aborted the attempt. Vessel sustained some damages due to RPG fire. Crew reported safe. [Eagle1 note: Same as first NATO incident above but with more detail]
As noted above by the IMB, there is a full moon on 22 October 2010 and this aids the pirates in their work. The weather is alos good for pirates in small boats.

Somali Pirates: Preventing Attacks by Intercepting Potential Attackers

Another successful interdiction of potential pirates by use of some "street smarts" in recognizing a potential threat, promptly investigating that threat and then acting to neutralize the threat by disarming it before any harm can be done to shipping. In this case, the EU MSC(HOA) reports the the EU NAVFOR Flagship FS DE GRASSE disrupts a Pirate Action Group:
In the early hours of 20 October, while conducting a patrol along the Somali coastline, the EU NAVFOR French Flagship FS DE GRASSE spotted and intercepted a pirate action group comprising of two skiffs and one whaler, thereby averting a future attack.

On spotting the suspect vessels, FS DE GRASSE immediately launched her helicopter to investigate. After several warning shots were fired, the suspected pirates stopped their skiffs and a boarding of the vessels was carried out by a team from the warship.

Shortly after the boarding, the helicopter saw and stopped the whaler, which is believed to have being used to provide logistic support to the pirate skiffs.

In total, twelve suspected pirates were on board the three intercepted vessels as well as large quantities of fuels and food, allowing extend time at sea. Quantities of weapons were seen to be thrown overboard as the boarding team approached.

The absence of flagrante delicto did not make it possible to pursue prosecution. The whaler was destroyed and suspected pirates were sent back to Somalia. This disruption has hampered pirate action and avoided highly probable attacks on merchant and vulnerable vessels.
Identification, interdiction and neutralization - ought to be a mission statement for the anti-pirate forces.

All photos of the counter piracy action from the EU. Enlarge by clicking on them.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

"A Turkish Concept Against Piracy"

At good friend Saturn 5's blog Bosphorus Naval News: Kangal - A Turkish Concept Against Piracy:
There has been a lot of discus[sion] [about] how to combat piracy effectively. And there is a tendency to use small and fast boats that can carry a light armament outside (enough to deter pirates or provide self defense) and a VBSS them inside. The Dutch Navy used their LPD, HNLMS Johan de Witt as mothership and conducted patrols with their LCVPs and LCU's based in the amphibious ship. This tactic was not without some success.

Thus Yonca Onuk shipyard in cooperation with Aselsan has developed a concept called Kangal. Kangal is an indigenous shepherd dog race.

In the heart of this concept lies the MRTP 22 fast intervention boat. MRTP 22 is a derivat[ive] of the SAT Infiltration Boat build by the shipyard for Turkish naval special forces. The MRTP was designed special for littoral operations and offers high standards of habitability, usability and maintenance.
Well worth reading it all and then watching this video on the concept:

That van full of electronics? Looks very similar to the old U.S. Mobile Inshore Undersea Warfare Unit TSQ-108A vans, which we, on occasion, mounted on ships . . . and other platforms.

Pirate Activity So Far in 2010

A report on international piracy through September 2010 from the International Maritime Bureau here:
Reported piracy to October 19, 2010
Somali pirates intensified attacks away from their own coast and were responsible for 44% of the 289 piracy incidents on the world’s seas in the first nine months of 2010, according to a report published today by the International Chamber of Commerce International Maritime Bureau (IMB).

Carrying out 35 of the 39 ship hijackings worldwide from January to September 2010, Somali pirates used ocean-going fishing vessels to reach as far as the southern Red Sea, where they hijacked a chemical tanker in July 2010, the first such hijacking recorded in the area. Pirates are heavily armed with automatic weapons and rocket propelled grenades, IMB reported.

The IMB Piracy Reporting Centre’s worldwide figures show that in the past nine months pirates boarded 128 ships and fired at 52. A total of 70 vessels reported thwarting attacks. Pirates used guns in 137 incidents and knives in 66, killing one crew member, injuring 27 and taking 773 hostages.

Globally, the number of vessels hijacked was higher than the 34 recorded in the same period last year, despite a slight fall in the number of piracy incidents, down from 306 in the first nine months of 2009.

IMB said navies from around the world helped prevent numerous attacks off the Horn of Africa, where their presence is vital in protecting merchant shipping against piracy. But despite a fall in the number of attacks in this piracy hotspot, the level of hijackings remained similar to that of last year.

“The actions of the navies in the Gulf of Aden and the Somali basin have to be once again commended”, said Captain Pottengal Mukundan, IMB Director. “Increased intelligence gathering coupled with strategic placement of naval assets has resulted in the targeting of suspected Pirate Action Groups before they become operational.

“However, this is a vast area and the navies cannot realistically cover it. The naval presence does however remain vital to the control of piracy in this area.”
In the Gulf of Aden attacks were greatly reduced, with only 44 reported this year compared with 100 for the same period of 2009. The monsoon weather that had been deterring piracy further out to sea ended in mid-September, opening the way for renewed attacks, warned IMB.

A new area of increased piracy is the South China Sea, which suffered 30 piracy attempts in the last nine months, resulting in 21 successful boardings. This is triple the number of incidents reported in the same period last year. Captain Mukundan said: “The pirates in this area use almost identical methods of attack, suggesting that a small number of groups is responsible. The fact that vulnerable vessels are boarded by pirates whilst steaming is a matter of concern.”

Other parts of the world to note a rise in piracy include Chittagong, Bangladesh, where IMB warned ships’ Masters to be particularly vigilant. Here an increasing number of thieves boarded vessels at anchor or approaching anchorage. Around Indonesia, 26 incidents were recorded, up from seven in 2009. In Nigeria 11 piracy incidents were reported, although real figures may be much higher in this particularly violent area.
Note that the IMB uses a broad standard of what constitutes "piracy" that includes in port and at anchorage thefts from ships located in the territorial waters of a state. This varies from the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea definition concerning "high seas" piracy.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Somali Pirates: Action by the Royal Navy and Marines

The Royal Navy recently has undertaken efforts to slow down the Somali pirates as set out here in an article devoted to describing the efforts of HMS Montrose in enforcing a semi-blockade of one area of the Somali coast:
. . . The ship was alerted yesterday to a gang of ten men acting suspiciously in a small boat off the coast of Somalia near to a known pirate camp. Their boat, loaded with ladders and fuel drums, was towing two other smaller vessels that have been traditionally used for pirate attacks against ships,said the UK Ministry of Defence.

HMS Montrose, which left HM Naval Base Devonport this summer, launched her Lynx helicopter and a boat of Royal Marines and sailors to investigate.

Once the suspected pirates spotted the helicopter and boarding team, four of the suspected pirates took one of the smaller boats and tried to flee to shore. The remaining men stopped in the water and when the Lynx helicopter hovered overhead they tried to get rid of their ladders overboard.

After the Royal Navy boarding team confiscated all the pirate gear, thus ensuring that the gang could no longer pose a threat to merchantmen, they were transferred to the remaining skiff.
Previous action by the ship thwarted an attack on a merchant ship.

The Royal Marines, as presented in an article by LCPL Ryan Gorman found in The Globe and Laurel (and forwarded to me by a kind reader) engaged in a little blockade work of their own as they undertook a raid against a Somali pirate haven:
After lots of surface searches along the Somali coast we gained a lot of intelligence on the main pirate camps and identified some that had not been recorded before. We noticed that the pirates kept their whalers (large skiffs with an inboard engine carrying around 16-20 barrels of fuel on board) anchored just off the shore. They used them to store all their fuel, to refuel their skiffs, and packed them to act as mother vessels for launching attacks at sea.

To counter this capability a plan was formed to insert, stealing the whalers, tow them out into deeper water and blow them up, this became known as a small Commando raid.

One of the three Whaler type boats that HMS Lancaster destroyed

The first raid was on two whalers positioned 200m from the beach. There was a lot of activity on the beach and a pirate camp was hidden in the caves behind the beach. As we approached the beach, some jack pirates retreated in a skiff, leaving one of their oppos in a whaler. As the team in the RIBs approached, they detained the pirate that had been left behind and started cutting the whalers loose and towing them away from the beach. It was decided to leave the whaler behind with the captured pirate in it. Before the whaler was left behind, Capt Eaton and LCpl Wilson smashed the parrels open with an axe and poured 1kg of sugar into each (supposedly this makes it unusable). The whaler that was towed away was then blown up by Lancaster's 30mm gun; it looked like a scene from a Hollywood film as a nice big fireball erupted!

Having completed over 50 AAVs and 15 boardings, we have been one of the busier teams in recent years. In total we managed to capture six pirates, blow up two whalers and sabotage another one (a total of around 50 barrels of fuel destroyed). This will definitely disrupt pirate operatios in the area for a while. The raids were an interesting new tactic for the Navy and it is the first time that any boarding team has conducted such a task in recent years. Hopefully the standard has now been set and other RMBTs can continue to sabotage, dirupt and imprison more pirates in the future!
Lower two photos from HMS Lancaster website.

UPDATE: An earlier report of Turkish inshore action from Saturn 5 here:
The ship's helicopter was scanning the southern Somali coast for pirate activity when a suspicious vessel was seen not far from the shore and near a suspected pirate camp, some 100 miles south of the Somali capital, Mogadishu.

Initial reports from the helicopter crew stated seeing the kind of equipment commonly used by pirates on the vessel. TCG Gokceada's boarding team was quickly dispatched and boarded the suspicious vessel.

The seven-man boarding team found 21 drums of fuel, enough to sustain a small vessel at sea for many days, and a long ladder with hooks (the kind typically used by pirates to board large cargo vessels).
Approval was given for the boarding team to transfer the three personnel on the vessel ashore, to confiscate the fuel and ladder, and sink the vessel.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Somali Pirates: South Korean Fishing Boat Taken

EU MSC(HOA) reports "Fishing vessel GOLDEN WAVE pirated in the Somali Basin":
This morning, EU NAVFOR received the confirmation that the South-Korean fishing vessel GOLDEN WAVE (formerly named KEUMMI 305) has been pirated off the Kenyan coast on Saturday 9 October 2010.

Including the GOLDEN WAVE, Somali pirates are currently holding 19 vessels.

Somali Pirates: "Accessories"

Allegations of a loose international Somali piracy support "group" found at Shiptalk:
The World Peace Foundation has released a report which claims that Kenya is a country whose firms are strongly responsible for the piracy taking place along the Somali coast. The Foundation is an international think-tank joining scholars, diplomats, lawyers, military officers and maritime partners collaborating to end piracy.

According to the report, some 1,500 pirates are active in Somalia, an enterprise organized in seven syndicates with a “few bosses” in charge of the associated ventures. Mainly, they are all headquartered in Kenya, Dubai, Lebanon, Somalia and certain European countries.
A maritime official on condition of anonymity admitted knowledge of a select few law, security, aviation and shipping companies in Mombasa and Nairobi involved in negotiating the release of hijacked vessels and the payment of ransoms.
Well. not really all that surprising, is it?

That the "money guys" behind the pirates are unlikely to be found in Somalia has long been understood - and an "all cash" ransom system almost necessitated paying protection money along the path to both the pirates, the local infrastructure supporting the captive ships and the big money boys.
Someone is providing money for those new Yamaha outboards for the pirate skiffs . . .  and getting the motors to the pirate . . . and the fuel . . . etc.

In short, pirates have logistics issues, too, and in this world, money greases the wheels of support.

Legal aspects of "accessories" - a Wikipedia discussion here:
An accessory is a person who assists in the commission of a crime, but who does not actually participate in the commission of the crime as a joint principal.
. . . An accessory must generally have knowledge that a crime is being, or will be committed. A person with such knowledge may become an accessory by helping or encouraging the criminal in some way, or simply by failing to report the crime to proper authority. The assistance to the criminal may be of any type, including emotional or financial assistance as well as physical assistance or concealment.
I don't think the international law of piracy, such as it is, covers "accessories" to piracy. Some jurisdictions make accessories "accomplices."

Under U.S. common law, there are degrees of culpability, as set out here:
Anyone who intentionally participates in a crime or helps a criminal before or after a crime may be held responsible for the crime under accomplice liability.
To distinguish the criminal culpability of one from another, the common law developed specialized terms for the various ways in which one could be an accomplice. For instance, a "principal in the first degree" was the person who actually carried out a crime. A "principal in the second degree" (an "aider and abettor") was a helper who was present at a crime scene but in a passive role, such as acting as a "lookout." An "accessory before the fact" was a helper who was not present at the crime scene. While some state laws retain the common law terminology, few states make any distinction between the criminal liability of crime perpetrators and their accomplices. All can be punished equally, whether they actually perpetrate a crime or only help bring it about.
An accessory after the fact is someone who, knowing that a felon has finished committing a crime (usually the crime has to be a felony), helps the felon avoid arrest or trial. In most states, accessories after the fact face far less punishment than accomplices or principals.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Somali Pirates: Update 10-14-10

According to the NATO Shipping Centre (NSC):
On Oct 13th MV Ardmore Seafarer came under attack, position 08°18N 068°05E, fortunately the ship was not pirated, it is assessed that the pirate action group could be linked to the pirates onboard FV Tai Yuan 227.

Suspected pirate mother ship, the captured FV Tai Yuan 227
Oct 12th MV Viona was pursued by a skiff but evaded the attack in position 04°38N 054°16E. It is assessed that a Pirate Attack Group may be active around that position.

Oct 12th MV Mary Gorgias reported suspicious activity by skiffs and a possible mother ship in position 11°16N 061°36E.

Pirate attack groups maybe active in an area of more than 150 NM from the positions above, mariners are advised to transit the area with caution and avoid if possible.
Reported positions of Somali pirate "action groups" as of 13 Oct 10
October 13 2010 WARNING Somali Basin
Latitude: 0818N Longitude: 06805E
Alert number 426/ 2010.
At 0616 UTC a Pirate Action Group was reported in position 0818N 06805 E.
Which, you may have gathered, the last information seems to have been provided by MV Ardmore Seafarer.

The ship operator of the Ardmore Seafarer provide more info on the attack here:
Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement (Cyprus) Ltd., technical managers of the Product Tanker Ardmore Seafarer report that the vessel sustained a piracy attack yesterday, some 600 miles south west of India.

Bernhard Schulte is pleased to report the tanker is now back under control of the crew, all of whom are safe and accounted for.

The 45744 DWT tanker was on passage from Dar Es Salaam when a small craft came alongside and the crew took refuge in a citadel area on board where they remained for approximately 14 hours.

While there were reports of small arms fire during the attack, no casualties have been sustained and the crew emerged from the citadel once it had been confirmed that the pirates had abandoned the vessel.

The Ardmore Seafarer is now sailing under her own power and under full control of her crew.

The Ardmore Seafarer is a double hull, 2004 build, Product Tanker.