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Monday, January 31, 2011

Somali Pirates: Starting the Week with a Bang

As of Sunday, reports of Pirate Action Groups and attacks from here put on a map:

In case you missed it, the Indian Navy and Coast Guard sank a pirate mother ship and rescued some hostages as well as arresting several pirates. See here and here (reporting a 12 hour "battle" between the pirates and the Indian forces).

India has now announced a "zero tolerance" for pirates "messing" in Indian waters, see here:
The Navy's sinking of a pirate 'mother vessel' off the Lakshadweep Islands will send a "strong message" to the sea brigands that India will not tolerate their nefarious designs anywhere near its waters, Navy chief Admiral Nirmal Verma told TOI on Sunday.

"There is no question of anybody messing in our waters or area... it's absolutely unacceptable to us," Admiral Verma said.

This comes after naval fast attack craft INS Cankarso sank Prantalay, a hijacked Thai trawler being used as a mother vessel by Somali pirates to carry out attacks for the last nine months, after a hot chase on Friday night. In the well-executed operation, the Navy apprehended 15 pirates as well as rescued 20 Thai and Myanmar nationals who had been taken hostage on board Prantalay. "The pirates are being interrogated... they are being brought to Mumbai for legal proceedings," Admiral Verma said.

In the meantime, an attack off the coast of Iran is the northernmost reported attack by Somali pirates to date (see here). New reports are that an Iranian frigate helped break up the attack. See report:
Star of Abu Dhabi from by Dragec (used iaw terms of
Star Of Abu Dhabi was attacked 30-JAN-11 .....19.6nm SW of Chabahar Port, Iran . . . by a PAG consisting of 2 skiffs with 3 pirates in each . . . The PAG broke off their attack when an Iranian Warship arrived in the area. The vessel was enroute . . . to Port Khomeini in Iran.

SAS Mendi
It appears that the South African Navy may soon deploy one of its new ships to assist in fighting East African piracy -see here:
. . . [O]ne of the navy's new frigates, the SAS Mendi, headed for Durban a week ago in anticipation of the signing of an agreement aimed at protecting Mozambique against piracy.
UPDATE: The South Koreans did a perp walk with the 5 Somali pirates captured by ROK forces when they retook the Samho Jewelry (see here and here):

RMN photo

Malaysia, too, has its captured 7 pirates (see here for post on their capture) in custody as reported by the "BBC" in its article titled (and scare quoted) as Seven Somali 'pirates' held in custody by Malaysia:
Seven Somali men accused of being pirates have arrived in Malaysia where they could face prosecution.
AFP Photo
They were captured by the Malaysian navy 10 days ago as they allegedly tried to hijack a tanker in the Gulf of Aden.
Legal experts in Malaysia are now studying whether they can be charged.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Pirate Attack Off Coast of Iran

Early report of an attack on a merchant ship approximately 20 miles off Iran. Attack was unsuccessful.

Reports indicate usual firing of automatic weapons and RPGs.

NATO Shipping Center message:
January 30, 2011
Latitude: 25°01N  Longitude: 060°26E
Alert number 071/ 2011.

At 1013 UTC / 30 JAN 2011 / A merchant vessel was reported under attack by 2 skiffs with 3 POB in. Vessel was fired upon by small arms.

***This vessel managed to evade hijack***

The Pirate Action Group is still in the area.


This may mark another move by Somali pirates into a major shipping lane.

I suppose that it speaks volumes about the threat perceived by the pirates by Iranian naval or other forces that the pirates can strike within 20 miles of the Iranian coast.

UPDATE: No, I am not suggesting Iran has any obligation to patrol 20 miles off its coast. As far as I know, they assert a 12-miles territorial waters limit and that would also limit their security area. Iran has long been involved with anti-pirate patrols in the Gulf of Aden (here). They may have to start working closer to home.

UPDATE2: New reports are that an Iranian frigate helped break up the attack. See report:
Star Of Abu Dhabi was attacked 30-JAN-11 .....19.6nm SW of Chabahar Port, Iran . . . by a PAG consisting of 2 skiffs with 3 pirates in each . . . The PAG broke off their attack when an Iranian Warship arrived in the area. The vessel was enroute . . . to Port Khomeini in Iran.
Good on Iran, then, in this instance.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

India: Maritime Security - IAF Looks to Sea Planes

In a another move related to pursuing its maritime security, India is looking at acquiring some sea planes:
For the first time, the Indian Air Force (IAF) is planning to purchase amphibious aircraft which it intends to deploy at the Andaman and Nicobar archipelago.

Bombardier 415
A request for information for the aircraft which can take off from both land and sea has been floated by the IAF. Contenders in the fray are Canadian Bombardier 415 and Russian Beriev Be-200 as well as the Dornier Sea Plane.

Beriev Be-200
“It is for the first time the IAF is planning to have an amphibious capability. This is because of the changing dynamics of security demands around the isles,” a senior IAF official said.

Dornier Seastar
Andaman and Nicobar is the only tri-service command of the Indian armed forces. The aircraft will boost the forces’ capability to keep an eye on the maritime boundary around the islands, most of which are uninhabited.

“IAF intends to buy six of these aircraft for maritime reconnaissance and search and rescue ops,” the official added.

As per the IAF’s qualitative requirements, the aircraft should have a short take off capability and a range of 800 nautical miles.

Somali Pirates: Indian Navy Destroys Pirate Mother Ship, Captures Pirates

NATO photos of Prantalay
Reported as Navy destroys pirate mother ship, arrests pirates:
The Indian Navy and the Coast Guard in a joint operation on Friday, destroyed a pirate mother ship, Prantalay, off the Lakshadweep group of islands and arrested 15 pirates.

They also rescued 20 fishermen of Thailand and Myanmarese nationalities who were being held hostage by the pirates after Prantalay was hijacked by them on April 18 last year. Since its hijack, the vessel was being extensively used by the pirates to launch attacks on merchant vessels passing along the shipping lanes off the island chain.

Arrow identifies Lakshapweep Islands
“The vessel has been a risk to international shipping for many months and has carried out several attacks,” said the Navy in a media release.
See earlier report on the Indian Coast Guard stopping an attack from this mother ship here.

Good on India.

UPDATE: (30 Jan 11) More here including more details and identification of the Indian Navy ships involved, INS Cankarso, INS Kalpeni, and Indian Coast Guard CGS Sankalp:
There was an exchange of fire between INS Cankarso and the pirate vessel, following which fire was noticed in 'Prantalay' and some personnel were seen jumping into the waters.

Twenty Thai and Myanmarese fishermen, the original crew of the vessel, who had been held hostage by the pirates held hostage for over 8 months and 15 pirates, were pulled out from the waters by INS Cankarso. INS Kalpeni, CGS Sankalp, Naval and Coast Guard ships and aircraft are presently in the area searching for any fishermen or pirates, the release said.

Somali Pirates: More on the Hijacking of Beluga Nomination

 See earlier post here.

Reported under the headline "Two sailors from hijacked German ship found in lifeboat":
Beluga Nomination
Two sailors on a German ship have been found in a lifeboat after pirates took control of their vessel last weekend in the Indian Ocean.

The pirates attacked the Bremen-based Beluga Nomination around 800 sea miles north of the Seychelles, prompting reaction from a Seychelles patrol boat and a Danish warship in the area.

The Seychelles patrol boat fired on the ship killing two pirates and two crew members, reported Der Spiegel on Saturday. Yet it was unable to gain control of the Beluga Nomination, and most of the surviving crew locked themselves into a safe room.

At least two others jumped into the free-fall life boat and activated it, plunging into the sea.

The day afterwards the Beluga Nomination stopped as the daily fuel ration was seemingly exhausted. A few hours later another captured ship, the York gas ship arrived, and the two ships were last seen heading towards Somalia.

The two men in the life boat were picked up by the Danish frigate and are said to be in as good a condition as could be expected under the circumstances. A Beluga shipping company spokeswoman confirmed that the fate of the rest of the crew remained unknown.

New York Star
On Friday Somali pirates attacked another German ship, the New York Star tanker which belongs to the Hamburg firm Chemikalien Seetransport.

It was attacked by pirates in a speedboat, a firm spokesman said on Saturday. The captain tried avoidance manoeuvres while the crew locked themselves in a safe room. The Dutch frigate De Ruyter came to its aid and soldiers boarded to check for pirates before giving the all-clear.

New York Star will continue its journey from Saudi Arabia to Singapore with its load of naphtha.
MV New York Star photo by Marcel and Ruud Coster from and used iaw the terms of that site.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Egypt: Threat to Suez Canal Raises Concerns

Energy and shipping security issues arise as Egypt's situation muddies - see here:
Crude-oil prices surged 3.4%, to above $89 a barrel.

"That's the most immediate concern, what's happening in Egypt and how that might affect oil prices if the Suez Canal gets closed, which is a real possibility," said Ed Cowart, lead manager of Eagle Asset Management's Large Cap Value and All Cap Value and Equity Income Strategies. He noted if the canal is closed, it could add substantially to the travel time for oil to get from the Middle East to the West.

Shares of tankers and shippers climbed as investors bet on a shutdown of the Suez Canal. Frontline jumped 8.5%, Overseas Shipholding leapt 5.9% and General Maritime advanced 6.9%.
As set out by the U.S. Energy Information Agency, the Suez Canal is a major energy chokepoint:
The Suez Canal is located in Egypt, and connects the Red Sea and Gulf of Suez with the Mediterranean Sea, covering 120 miles. Petroleum (both crude oil and refined products) accounted for 16 percent of Suez cargos, measured by cargo tonnage, in 2009. An estimated 1.0 million bbl/d of crude oil and refined petroleum products flowed northbound through the Suez Canal to the Mediterranean Sea in 2009, while 0.8 million bbl/d travelled southbound into the Red Sea. This represents a decline from 2008, when 1.6 million bbl/d of oil transited northbound to Europe and other developed economies.

Almost 35,000 ships transited the Suez Canal in 2009, of which about 10 percent were petroleum tankers. With only 1,000 feet at its narrowest point, the Canal is unable to handle the VLCC (Very Large Crude Carriers) and ULCC (Ultra Large Crude Carriers) class crude oil tankers. The Suez Canal Authority is continuing enhancement and enlargement projects on the canal, and extended the depth to 66 ft in 2010 to allow over 60 percent of all tankers to use the Canal.
Closure of the Suez Canal and the SUMED Pipeline would divert tankers around the southern tip of Africa, the Cape of Good Hope, adding 6,000 miles to transit.
Additional distance raises shipping costs and slows delivery - possibly leading to temporary shortages.

A graphic presenting the alternative to the Suez Canal from here:

Hat tip: MDB from his comment to a post below.

Somali Pirates: Indian Coast Guard plane chases pirates away off Lakshadweep

Indian Coast Guard Dornier
Indian Coast Guard plane chases pirates away off Lakshadweep:
Pirates closing in on a merchant vessel off the Lakshadweep were thwarted by the Indian Coast Guard Friday with its patrol aircraft chasing the sea brigands away through a timely intervention.

The Bahamas-flagged container carrier, MV CMA CGM Berd (E1 note: ?), was sailing west of the Lakshadweep Islands when the Coast Guard's Dornier on a surveillance sortie noticed two skiffs in its vicinity around 10.30 a.m, a Navy official said.

Arrow points to Lakshadweep Islands
Soon, the aircraft descended to pass over the merchant vessel to check on the suspicious activity.

Noticing the Coast Guard aircraft, the pirates abandoned their plans to attack the merchant vessel and quickly sailed away from there, the navy spokesperson said in a press release.

Prantalay, pirate mother ship (NATO photos)
The patrol aircraft crew also sighted the mother-vessel of the pirates identified as merchant ship Prantalay, in the vicinity.

The navy and the Coast Guard rushed their ships to the location to keep a continuous watch on the movements of Prantalay, the spokesperson said.

'Because of the timely arrival of the aircraft, the merchant vessel is now safe and is heading for its next port of call in East Asia,' he added.

Somali Pirates: NATO Shipping Center Alert 28 Jan 2011

NATO Shipping Centre (NSC):
Alert Update 1033 UTC 28 Jan 11
2 dhows reported, one in position 1127N 06348E at 1033 UTC (observed involved in attack on MV NEW YORK STAR) and the 2nd in position 1119N 06337E at 1033 UTC with 2 skiffs onboard; other tripwires also observed.

ALY ZOULFECAR based on previous mothership activities, it is highly likely that the previously pirated ALY ZOULFECAR remains under the control of pirates and is carrying out mothership activities in the East African shipping lanes between Tanzania and Mozambique.

BELUGA NOMINATION has been pirated north of the Seychelles and is now headed to the Somali coast.

JIN CHUN TSAI 68, GOLDEN WAVE (also known as GEUMMI 305) and one of the PRANTLAYs have left the anchorage and are assessed to be used by pirates in mothership operations; no positions at this time
A week's worth of alerts:
Regarding all of the following warnings: Vessels are advised to use EXTREME CAUTION when navigating within 100NM of the positions in these warnings and maintain maximum CPA to all vessels acting suspiciously.

Alert Number 67/2011
January 28, 2011
Latitude: 11°14N Longitude: 063°28E
At 1041 UTC 28 Jan 2011 a merchant vessel currently under attack by pirates in the above mentioned position.
The pirate group is still in the area.
January 26, 2011
Latitude: 11°14N Longitude: 062°50E
Alert number 066 / 2011.
At 0630 UTC / 26 JAN / a merchant vessel was attacked by 2 skiffs and 1 fishing dhow acting as mothership. The vessel was fired upon by small arms.
***This vessel managed to evade hijack***
The Pirate action group is still in the area.
January 25, 2011
Latitude: 01°45S Longitude: 051°00E
Alert number 065 / 2011.
Reference previous Alert number 064 / 2011.
On the 22nd of January at 1236 UTC a merchant vessel was reported under attack by 1 skiffs] in position 01 49N 056 35E. Weapons were fired upon the vessel. The Vessel was boarded by pirates.
The position of the hijacked vessel is 01°45S 051°00E on the 25th of January at 1700 UTC.
***This vessel has been hijacked*** {Eagle1 note: Ship is Beluga Nomination - see here}
January 22, 2011
Latitude: 01 49N Longitude: 056 35E
Alert Number: 064/2011
At 1236 UTC, 22 Jan 11, a merchant ship vessel was reported under attack by 1 (one) skiff. Weapons were fired upon the vessel. The Pirate Action Group (PAG) is still in the area.
January 22, 2011
Latitude: 09 54N Longitude: 052 56E
Alert Number: 063/2011
A Pirate Action Group (PAG) consisting of the previously pirated MV BLIDA is reported on course 049, speed 8.6 kts. The pirates in control of this vessel are conducting mothership operations.
MV New York Star photo by Marcel & Ruud Coster from and used iaw the terms of that site.

Somali Pirates: Plain Words from Admiral Fox

Reported as Navy admiral urges diligence in fight against pirates, but the points the Admiral makes are more than about diligence:
The U.S. Navy admiral responsible for countering the pirates operating from Somalia said Wednesday that the expanding threat should be addressed with the same rigor applied to counterterrorism.

That's particularly true when it comes to tracing the millions of dollars being paid to ransom captured sailors.

Vice Adm. Mark Fox said he had no "explicit intelligence" that the al-Qaida-connected al Shaba terrorists, who control most of Somalia, are benefiting from the ransom money, but noted that, "I'm loath to hope that there's not" a link.

Fox, the commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command and Fifth Fleet, said the United States and most of the nations cooperating in fighting piracy have used what he termed "the Western approach" to dealing with the ship hijacking, by primarily focusing on the safety of the crew members.

Because of that, with only a few exceptions, force was not used to recover pirated ships. U.S. Navy SEALs killed three pirates who were holding the captain of the Maersk Alabama hostage in 2009, and last year Marines raided the Magellan Star to capture the pirates and rescue the crew. Last week, South Korean commandos recovered a pirated ship, killing most of the pirates.

Fox said he cannot "take off the table" the use of force to resolve a hostage situation.

The admiral said the pirates' increasing use of larger hijacked vessels as "mother ships" to carry the small boats used to raid ships "is a potential game-changer" in the piracy problem.

The Somali pirates initially used skiffs that could not operate in bad weather or go very far offshore. Most of the early pirate attacks were in the nearby Gulf of Aden, the busy shipping route from the Suez Canal and Red Sea into the Indian Ocean. International naval patrols concentrating on that route have virtually eliminated hijackings in the Gulf, he said.

But by using the larger ships, the pirates now are capturing merchant ships more than 1,000 miles away, Fox said. "They are going where we're not," he said.

Because of that far-reaching activity, the number of seamen held hostage by the pirates has jumped from about 350 to 750 since he took command in the summer.
More on use of pirate mother ships here:
"The pirates are changing their modus operandi, taking ships which have been hijacked and sailing them back out into the Somali basin," said EU Naval Force Somalia (EU NAVFOR) spokesman Wing Commander Paddy O'Kennedy. "Their previous way of doing things was very dependent on the weather. Now they are using larger ships, the weather is having much less effect on their operations and they can travel further."

When EU aircraft overflew the vessels, officers at EU NAVFOR's headquarters at a British military base outside London say the pirates swiftly threatened by radio to kill the hostages or lined up prisoners on the deck with guns to their heads.
And a rather excited report on the threat potentially posed by the increasing level of Somali piracy here:
The piracy also threatens supplies of food and fuel destined for the UK. About 29,000 boats sail through the pirate-infested Gulf of Aden each year and a third of the world’s oil travels along the shipping lanes.
Once haphazard, piracy is now well-organised, with claims of dollar ransoms being paid into Dubai bank accounts. The cash is used to buy weapons and villas for the organisers. In Somalia, where there is no proper government or law enforcement, piracy is the main industry.

“There’s no doubt the threat is increasing,” says Cyrus Mody, of the International Maritime Bureau, which monitors attacks and helps to co-ordinate rescues. “The change in tactics, using hijacked vessels, gives the pirates a stable platform and a greater range. By using captured crews to sail ships they also have human shields. More than 30 hijacked vessels are in the hands of pirates. The area now under threat is simply too great for the world’s naval forces to patrol.”

There’s also evidence that the pirates are fitting more powerful engines to small skiffs, making them capable of speeds of up to 25 knots. And whereas in the past monsoon seasons and the accompanying rough seas brought respite, the use of mother ships allows pirates to operate in choppy conditions or sail to calmer waters. It is believed that at least eight captured ships are being used as floating bases.
And here are some docs from the EU MSC(HOAO:
Pirated Vessels

Thursday, January 27, 2011

U.S. Naval Academy: Settles Case with Professor Fleming Involving Criticism of USNA Affirmative Action Policy

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) reports U.S. Naval Academy Settles Complaint With Professor Critical of Its Affirmative Action Policies:
The United States Naval Academy has agreed to a legal settlement with a tenured English professor after a federal investigation uncovered evidence that the Naval Academy violated his First Amendment rights. The professor, Bruce Fleming, had filed a complaint in 2009 with a federal agency, the Office of Special Counsel, claiming that top ranking Naval Academy officials denied him a raise based on his public assertions about the college's race-conscious admissions policies. In a widely circulated newspaper column, Fleming had written that the Naval Academy used an admissions process for minority students that was so much less demanding, it likely violated federal civil rights laws.
Fleming, who had criticized the college's affirmative action policies for several years, issued a statement after the settlement. According to Fleming, "[t]he reason I felt it important to pursue this issue is to ensure that an institution whose military members swear to uphold the Constitution do not infringe the civilian rights to free expression the military is meant to protect."
Your tax dollars at work.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Using weather forecasting to predict pirate operations

That's the topic of a paper presented at the American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting in Seattle on Monday by James Hansen, L. Esher, E. Regnier and W. Lingsch Abstract: Pirate probabilities: On the importance of the dynamic coupling of meteorological and intelligence information for piracy interdiction (91st American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting).

Or, as covered by a local news source, As 3,500 meteorologists meet, one man's forecast: Chance of pirates:
While his colleagues swapped probabilistic equations, James Hansen came to talk about pirates.

Hansen rolled out some math of his own Monday as he explained his work to estimate the likelihood of attacks off the Horn of Africa and other hot spots, using weather data and an understanding of pirate behavior.

"Usually, I'm doing theoretical stuff down in the weeds," said Hansen, a Seattle-area native and applied mathematician at the Naval Research Laboratory in Monterey, Calif. "This is the only project where I can actually show pictures of the impact," he said, projecting images of Somali boatmen armed with missile-launchers and automatic weapons.

Though news coverage of pirate attacks has waned, the problem has worsened, Hansen said. Last year, there were nearly 450 attacks, with 53 ships captured and 1,181 crew members taken hostage. The estimated economic impact of the raids is $10 billion a year.

Even knowing the general location of pirate bases and their favored target areas, it's challenging for Navy and other patrol vessels to be in the right place at the right time, Hansen said.

"The Indian Ocean is really big."

The Navy will begin testing Hansen's model next month to see if it proves useful in helping direct patrol vessels and warn commercial ships when the risk of attack is high.
Thanks to Chris who alerted me to the Seattle Times article and to Sid, who sent on the AMS bit.

As regular readers will have noticed, wind and wave reports have been a part of the analysis done here, by NATO, by the U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence and many others over the past few years of predicting (in rough terms) the potential for piracy activity off Somalia. If Mr. Hansen, et al have devised a better tool, perhaps a more directed prevention of piracy effort will follow.

UPDATE: An example of a weather driven piracy prediction from ONI's Piracy Analysis and Warning Weekly (PAWW) Report dated 20 Jan 2011 (click to enlarge):

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Somali Pirates: Reports of Hijacked Ship

Beluga Nomination
Reports of a ship being hijacked off the Seychelles: Somali pirates seize ship carrying Ukrainians:
Somali pirates have seized a vessel carrying 12 sailors including Ukrainians, Filipinos, Poles and Russians in the Indian Ocean, Ukraine's foreign ministry said on Monday.

The German-owned MV Beluga Nomination was captured 100 kilometres (62 miles) off the Seychelles, a ministry statement said, but it did not indicate the number of nationals from each country.
See also here.

The ship is a 12,500DWT cargo ship. See here. More on the ship here at its operators site.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Somali Pirates: Threaten Korean Hostages Due to Attack

Report by the Chosun Ilbo -Somali Pirates Threaten to Kill Korean Hostages:
Somali pirates on Sunday threatened to kill any Korean sailors they take hostage in the future in revenge against the Korean Navy killing eight pirates on Friday when it stormed a hijacked vessel in the Indian Ocean to rescue the crew.

"We never planned to kill but now we shall seek revenge," a pirate who identified himself as Mohamed told Reuters by phone. "We shall never take a ransom from Korean ships, we shall burn them and kill their crew."

"We shall redouble our efforts. Korea has put itself in trouble by killing my colleagues," he added. The pirate is reportedly from Garad, one of the two pirate havens in Somalia.

More video of the Korean action.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Video of ROK Navy Recapture of Samho Jewelry

Follow up on original post found here, the video released by the ROK Navy of the assault:

Somali Pirates: 23 Jan 11 NATO Shipping Centre Warnings

Japan 555
Found at NATO Shipping Centre:
Alert update 1030 UTC 23 JAN11

Japan 555 (Malaysia 618 / Tai Yuan 227) - is assessed to be used as a mothership and to be involved in the attack on a merchant vessel in pos 14°56N 059°14E at 1023UTC 20 JAN 2011

RENUAR, JIN CHUN TSAI 68, GOLDEN WAVE (also known as GEUMMI 305) and one of the PRANTALAYs have left the anchorage and are assessed to be used by pirates as motherships; no positions at this time, but RENUAR maybe heading to Arabian Sea. No current position for the RENUAR is available.

MV BLIDA is reported at position 08 05N 051 11E on 230904ZJAN11. She is a previously pirated ship, who's pirates are conducting mothership operations as part of a Pirate Action Group.

Weekly assessment 15/1-2011

Gulf of Aden/Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor (IRTC). Over the past week the monsoon did not affect small boat operation in the GoA and skiffs blending in the local traffic to conduct piracy can be expected at any time with little or no warning. Again we have had reports of possible attacks in the western part of the GoA but none of these reports included the use of weapons or any attempt to board and are likely not piracy related. The main piracy threat remains in the central IRTC with one attack on the MT JBU OSLO and two disruptions by counter-piracy units.

Arabian Sea/Greater Somali Basin. Over the past week the northeast monsoon did not have significant affect on the Arabian Sea or Greater Somali Basin. Somali pirates are exploiting the weak monsoon and were extremely active in the northern part of the Somali Basin and the Arabian Sea specifically north of 10 degrees north and west of 65 degrees east with nine attacks and three piratings. Pirates continue to launch the majority attacks from pirate-controlled local dhows primarily Iranian-flagged. Pirated ships have also been used in the same area in particular Tai Yuan 227. This vessel has had her name painted over and currently reads Japan 555. Malaysian and ROK counter-piracy forces were successful in rescuing the MV BUNGA LAUREL and MV SAMHO JEWELRY.

The number of pirated fishing vessels and dhows conducting piracy operations is assessed to be at least four dhow type mother ship pirate attack groups (or PAGs) underway in the western Arabian Sea and three fishing vessel mother ship PAGs, FV TAI YUAN 227 (JAPAN 555), FV JIH CHUN TSAI 68 and one PRANTALAY in the western Arabian Sea possibly northern Somalia Basin. FV GOLDEN WAVE (also known as GEUMMI 305) in assessed to underway and, based on previous voyages, will likely remain in the Somali Basin south of 7 degrees north.

The overall high level of piracy activity in the Arabian Sea and northern Somali Basin is expected to continue through next week. The monsoon is expected to increase in intensity with wave heights increasing to 2m or higher. In those areas the launching of pirate skiffs may be hampered and the approach speeds dampened.

All mariners transiting the Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea are warned that pirates remain active in these areas. Vigilant watches, early detection of vessels manoeuvring to close, early reporting and the adoption of the Best Management Practices are the keys for remaining safe in the Indian Ocean within 15°S and 78°E.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Taking it to the Somali Pirates: Dutch frigate opens fire on pirate ship

Radio Netherlands reports "Dutch frigate opens fire on pirate ship":
The Dutch frigate HNLMS De Ruyter has opened fire on a ship carrying pirates in the Arabian Sea, according to the Dutch Ministry of Defence.

At the end of the afternoon, a helicopter discovered a suspected pirate mother ship 40 kilometres away from the frigate. The ship did not respond to radio signals to identify itself and failed to stop when warning shots were given.

As the Dutch frigate could not be certain there were no hostages on board the pirate ship, marksmen destroyed a skiff on the deck of the mother ship rendering it impossible for the pirates to carry out attacks on other vessels. Pirates off the east coast of Africa often use smaller boats to attack merchant ships in the vicinity of mother ships.

The Dutch, once again, show some creativity (and some common sense) in fighting the Somali pirates.

UPDATE: Photos and a (Babelfish translation) from the Netherlands Defense site on the event:
Pirate Mother Ship: Name on Stern and Bow is Japan 555

Circle on Photo Indicates Location of Pirate Skiff

Warning Shot
Hr. M. The Ruyter acted yesterday in the Arab sea against a mother ship that it is used at piracy action for attacks on passing by sailing through ship.

Skiffs on board of mother ship, were made harmless with precision fire. Hr.Ms. The Ruyter warned mother ship with a shot for the stem.
At the end of the afternoon the Ruyter's helicopter discovered the suspected mother ship about 40 kilometres distance from Hr. M. The Ruyter. The ship suspected of piracy did not respond to radio calls and did not stop after giving warning shots with the ship's gun.

Because of the possible presence of hostages it was not possible overpower the mother ship. Instead, tt was decided to destroy the engine block-system of the skiffs by a sharpshooter of the special forces of the Marines.

By rendering these skiffs harmless, it is impossible for the pirates on board the mother ship to carry out other attacks. At present pirates in the whole Indian ocean use more and more mother ships as from they carry out attacks with skiffs on passing merchantmen.

The presence of hostages on board of the mother ships, makes fighting of this a complicated matter. Eliminating the skiffs is a way pirate activities are disturbed and eliminates the possible harm to hostages. ****

Something to Talk About on Midrats "The Rise of Chinese Sea Power" Sunday 5 pm

What with the visit of the Chinese leader and all, it's a good time to raise this topic:
Episode 55 The Rise of Chinese Sea Power 1/23/2011 - Midrats on Blog Talk Radio:
The last few decades have seen the growing quality and quantity of the People's Republic of China's Navy. Along with this rise has been a maturing of their maritime strategy and their view of what to do with their growing sea power. Join us as we discuss this topic with United States Naval War College Associate Professors Toshi Yoshihara & James R. Holmes, the authors of the book, RED STAR OVER THE PACIFIC: China's Rise and the Challenge to U.S. Maritime Strategy
Sunday, 5pm U.S. Eastern Time. 

Hit the link below.

Listen to internet radio with Midrats on Blog Talk Radio

"Malaysian navy thwarts Somali pirate attack"

Malaysian Navy photo of pirate takedown
Malaysian Navy "commando" team take back a tanker from Somali pirates after the tanker crew took shelter in a "citadel" as reported in Malaysian navy thwarts Somali pirate attack on MISC tanker:
Malaysian navy commandoes thwarted an attempt by Somali pirates to hijack a Malaysian International Shipping Corporation (MISC) tanker early Thursday.

Sources said the commandoes on board the Royal Malaysian Navy's Bunga Mas 5 were on a routine escort mission of MISC's chemical-laden MT Bunga Laurel and another LPG carrier out of the dangerous gulf waters enroute to Singapore.

But hours out of the danger zone, when the RMN would cease their escort, the pirates struck.

At least seven pirates began attacking the MT Bunga Laurel firing their assault rifles and machine guns when trying to board the vessel.

The crew of MT Bunga Laurel activited the alarm and the commandoes, which were about 30km away, reacted immediately by dispatching a helicopter to the scene.

The sources said the commandoes boarded the tanker and subdued the pirates.

They said the swift action saved the 20-odd Malaysian crew and the vessel. At least three pirates were injured in the shoot out with the commandoes.
More here:
State media said the tanker was headed to Singapore with a cargo of oil worth more than 30 million ringgit (10 million dollars) when it was hijacked.

Malaysian navy chief Admiral Abdul Aziz Jaafar said the commandos, who were manning a commercial vessel protecting shipping in the area, responded to the distress call.

He said one of the navy's Fennec attack helicopters was also involved in rescue, according to the New Straits Times newspaper Saturday, which ran a front page picture of the captured pirates held at gunpoint.

"The attack helicopter kept the pirate's mother ship at bay with several rounds of machine-gun fire while the commandos boarded the tanker," he told the paper.

"The pirates were overpowered after a ... gun battle which saw three of them (pirates) suffering gunshot wounds," Abdul Aziz said.

He said the crew were uninjured as they had locked themselves in a safe room after setting off the ship's security alert system.
Summary of pirate attack and recaptures from the Star, Malaysia

Friday, January 21, 2011

South Korea Takes Back Ship from Somali Pirates

Samho Jewelry photo © Henk Noevers from
South Korea chose not to wring its hands in despair over a Somali pirate captured ship and took positive action by storming and recapturing a vessel. Samho Jewelry, recently taken by Somali pirates, as reported in S. Korea rescues hijacked ship from Somali pirates:
Eight pirates were killed in the rescue mission, South Korea said.

South Korea launched a rescue operation before dawn with a Lynx helicopter providing covering fire and a South Korean destroyer, when the pirates left the vessel to hijack a Mongolian ship nearby, media reports stated.

"Three of our soldiers suffered light scratches on their bodies as they were fired upon by pirates on Tuesday," Col. Lee told BBC.

The captain of the ship had been shot but his injuries were not life threatening, he added. The captain had been airlifted to a hospital nearby.
"We will not tolerate any behavior that threatens the lives and safety of our people in the future," South Korean President Lee Myung-bak said in a televised statement.
UPDATE: More from the VOA:
The Norwegian-owned Samho Jewelry was heading to Sri Lanka from the United Arab Emirates when it was seized last Saturday, 650 kilometers southeast of the port of Muscat.
ROK Navy Photo of Operation

Mr. Lee added that other countries assisted with the raid but he did not elaborate. News reports say a navy ship from Oman was on the scene to support the South Korean operation.

On board the Malta-flagged chemical tanker was a crew of 11 Burmese, eight South Koreans and two Indonesians. It is operated by South Korea’s Samho Shipping.

Military officials in Seoul say a South Korean naval destroyer, the Choi Young, with 300 special forces aboard, tailed the hijacked ship for days before moving in early Friday.
300 troops? Probably more like 30.

UPDATE2: Other countries? A clue found in here:
Seoul ordered a destroyer on patrol in the Gulf of Aden to give chase and President Lee ordered "all possible measures" to save the crew.

General Lee said the commandos moved in after receiving information that the "mother ship" for the pirates was leaving a Somali port.

"Since we thought we could be in an extremely difficult situation if the pirates joined forces, we chose today to carry out the operation."

Lee praised the freighter's 57-year-old skipper Suk Hae-Kyun for his prudence. "Pirates sought to take the vessel to the Somalian coast fast but the skipper helped us earn time by manoevering the vessel in a serpentine manner."

To distract the pirates' attention, the destroyer fired warning shots and manoeuvred close to the hijacked vessel. A Lynx helicopter provided covering fire as the commandos stormed the ship.

The Koreans were assisted by a US carrier which also provided a helicopter to transfer the wounded Korean skipper.

"It was breathtaking news," said Suk Hyun-Wook, son of the 58-year-old skipper, describing his response to reports of the raid.
Well, it certainly took away the breath of some pirates.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Enhanced Submarine Invisibilty?

Perhaps a game changer in the world of submarine warfare? Reported here:
Led by mechanical science and engineering professor Nicholas Fang, Illinois researchers have demonstrated an acoustic cloak, a technology that renders underwater objects invisible to sonar and other ultrasound waves.

“We are not talking about science fiction. We are talking about controlling sound waves by bending and twisting them in a designer space,” said Fang, who also is affiliated with the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology.

While materials that can wrap sound around an object rather than reflecting or absorbing it have been theoretically possible for a few years, realisation of the concept has been a challenge. In a paper accepted for publication in the journal Physical Review Letters, Fang’s team describe their working prototype, capable of hiding an object from a broad range of sound waves.
Probably not the best news for your friendly neighborhood sonar tech. They had a hard job anyway.

Super stealth stuff.

Somali Pirates Take Togo Flagged Ship 20 Jan 11

EU MSC(HOA) reports another hijacking MV KHALED MUHIEDDINE K Pirated in the Arabian Sea:
During the afternoon of 20 January, the bulk carrier MV KHALED MUHIEDDINE K was pirated in the North Arabian Sea approximately 330 nautical miles South East of the Omani coastal port of Salalah.

The vessel is Togo flagged and Syrian owned and has a deadweight of 24,022 tonnes. Authorities were made aware of the attack when the master reported being fired upon with small arms and seeing pirates on board. All contact with the vessel was then lost.

The MV KHALED MUHIEDDINE has a crew of 25 (22 Syrian and 3 Egyptian), had registered with MSC(HOA), was reporting to UKMTO and was on passage from Singapore to Hudaydah, in Yemen.

Somali Pirates Grab Mongolian Flagged Ship

The EU MSC(HOA) reports MV HOANG SON SUN pirated in the Indian Ocean:
The MV HOANG SON SUN is believed to have been pirated approximately 520 nautical miles South East of the port of Muscat, Oman. The 22,835-tonne Bulk carrier, which is Mongolian flagged and Vietnamese owned, has a crew of 24 Vietnamese nationals. No further details of the attack are known at this stage.

NATO reports the following activity by Somali pirates for Jan 19 and 20:
January 20 2011

WARNING Gulf of Aden
Latitude: 13°09 N Longitude: 049°14E
Alert number 058 / 2011.
At 200333 UTC / 20 JAN 11 / a merchant vessel was reported under attack by 1 skiff in position 13°09N 049°14E.
1 skiff, color white, with 5 POB, weapons and ladders sighted.
***This vessel managed to evade hijack***
The Pirate action group is still in the area.
January 20 2011
---ALERT UPDATE--- Indian Ocean
Latitude: 20°16N Longitude: 064°39E
Alert number 057/2011.
Reference previous Alert number 056 / 2011.
At 2155 UTC / 19 JAN a merchant vessel was reported under attack by 1 skiff in position 20°16N 064°29E.
1 skiff with 6 pirates, armed, attempting to board with ladder; suspect mother vessel followed.
***This vessel managed to evade hijack***
The Pirate action group is still in the area.
January 19 2011
---ALERT UPDATE--- Indian Ocean
Latitude: 13°28N Longitude: 065°06E
Alert number 055 / 2011.
Reference previous Alert number 054 / 2011.
At 0453 UTC 19 JAN 11 a merchant vessel was reported under attack by 3 skiffs in position 13°28N 065°06E.
[3 skiffs firing with small arms and RPG's]
***This vessel managed to evade hijack***
The Pirate action group is still in the area.
January 19 2011
---ALERT UPDATE--- Somali Basin
Latitude: 03°10N Longitude: 051°11E
Alert number 053/ 2011.
Reference previous Alert number 052/ 2011.
At 2303 UTC 18 JAN 11 a merchant vessel was reported under attack by 1 skiff in position 0310N 051 11E.
***This vessel managed to evade hijack***
The Pirate action group is still in the area.

Click to Enlarge

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A Study on the "Costs of Piracy"

From the One Earth Future organization, "Oceans Beyond Piracy" web site - "The Cost of Piracy" in three pdf units. Their bottom line (which I will examine soon) is that piracy costs the global community somewhere between $7 to $12 billion annually.

From the Executive Summary at the beginning of the full report:
At the end of 2010, around 500 seafarers from more than 18 countries are being held hostage by pirates.1 Piracy clearly affects the world‘s largest trade transport industry, but how much is it costing the world? One Earth Future (OEF) Foundation has conducted a large-scale study to quantify the cost of piracy as part of its Oceans Beyond Piracy project. Based on our calculations, maritime piracy is costing the international economy between $7 to $12 billion,2 per year.
This report details the major calculations and conclusions made in the study. The project focuses on direct (first) order costs, but also includes some estimates of secondary (macroeconomic costs), where data is available. It concentrates on the supply-side costs to both industry and governments. The study set out to analyze the cost of piracy to the Horn of Africa, Nigeria and the Gulf of Guinea, and the Malacca Straits. The focus is inevitably on the costs of Somali piracy because this is the region where contemporary piracy is most highly concentrated and is the greatest source of current data and information.3
From Oceans Beyond Piracy Presentation
 UPDATE2: Is it just me that finds it ironic that pirate ransoms for 2010, estimated at $238 million (page 10 of the full report) are one of the lower costs identified in the report? My math (which may be wrong) says that ransom costs were under 4% of the total costs identified above). Insurance, however, against piracy losses was around 7 to 25%.

UPDATE: Just to put this number in perspective, cargo theft in the U.S. alone has been estimated to be about $30 billion a year -see here.

Further, consider the costs involved in actually taking those actions that might reduce the level of piracy. Hmmm - what would it cost to mount an amphibious operation and stage a punitive raid or more?

1 Countries include: Bangladesh, China, Ghana, Greece, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Korea, Myanmar, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Turkey, Yemen, and Vietnam.
2 Unless otherwise indicated, all dollar costs throughout this paper are in United States (US) dollars.
3 In 2010, 44 successful ship hijackings out of a global total of 48, were conducted by Somali pirates.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Somali Piracy Threat Map for 2010

Nice map by Arun Ganesh of the National Institute of Design, Bangalore found at File:Somalian Piracy Threat Map 2010.png - Wikipedia:

Click to enlarge

Somali Pirates: Greek Owned Ship Taken 17 Jan 2011

EU MSC(HOA) reports MV EAGLE pirated in the Somali Basin:
In the early hours of Monday 17 January, the bulk carrier MV EAGLE was attacked and pirated by a single skiff, with pirates firing small arms and a Rocket Propelled Grenade before boarding the vessel.

The attack occurred in the Gulf of Aden, 490 nautical miles South West of Salaam, Oman. There has been no contact with the ship since the attack.

The MV EAGLE which is Cypriot flagged and Greek owned, has a deadweight of 52,163 tonnes and a crew of 24 Filipinos and was on passage from Aqabar (Jordan) to Paradip (India) when it was attacked. There is no information concerning the condition of the crew. EUNAVFOR is monitoring the situation.
NATO report:
January 17 2011
---ALERT UPDATE--- Somali basin
Latitude: 13°17N Longitude: 061°42 E
Alert number 048 / 2011.
Reference previous Alert number 047 / 2011.
At 0641 UTC / 17 JAN 11 / a merchant vessel was reported under attack by pirates 1x skiff in position 13 17 N 061 42 E
***This vessel has been hijacked***
NATO Alerts 17 Jan 11 North IO