Saturday, January 15, 2011

Somali Pirates: NATO Commander Admits Pirates Ahead of NATO

2011 Pirate Attacks in Indian Ocean (from IMB)
Well, one NATO commander sees the problem with a Somali pirate force that is inside NATO's OODA loop, as reported at Smarter Somali pirates thwarting navies, NATO admits :
Somali pirates' use of "mother ships" to attack their prey is complicating foreign navies' efforts to improve safety in the Indian Ocean, a senior anti-piracy commander said Friday.

Somalia's expanding army of pirates are increasingly launching their attacks from large, already hijacked vessels that offer greater physical protection during boarding and whose kidnapped crews act as human shields.

Speaking to reporters in the Kenyan port of Mombasa where his NATO flagship was docked, Commodore Michiel Hijmans said few pirates were still using their rudimentary skiffs to board vessels.

One form of "Mother Ship"
"Pirates have gone high tech and few use speed boats. They have switched to usage of mother ships," said Hijmans, who currently commands NATO's Ocean Shield anti-piracy mission.

"We cannot attack mother ships without proper planning since most of them have hostages on board," said the Dutch navy commander.

Hijmans also explained that pirates operating on large hijacked vessels were able to extend their area of operation when on the prowl and were no longer confined to their coastal hideouts during monsoon seasons.

"The pirates can operate in the sea for long as they load the mother ships with enough food, fuel and militant weapons ready for a hijacking spree," he said.

"Pirates are getting smarter every hour... Pirates do not give up unless they cannot board or are threatened. I'm afraid that the war on piracy might not be won until there is a stable government in Somalia," he said.

Hijmans said Somali pirates were currently holding 28 ships and 654 crew members.
I have called the use of these mother ships the "Somali Pirate Navy."

See here, here, and here for more on the "mother ship" problem. See also the NATO Shipping Centre site here.

In light of the use of larger mother ships, my earlier thoughts on blockading Somali pirate ports as a method of containing their activities is under review.

The other options that I currently see place innocent shipping crews at some risk.


  1. Anonymous6:54 PM

    The ENTIRE anti-piracy effort in the IO should be put under the Operational Control of the RUSSIAN NAVY. They alone seem to have the will to fight piracy in a way commensurate with what piracy is. namely international terrorism at sea.
    Evey other "coalition" member has succumbed to the politically correct hog-tied "catch and release" pirate-pampering method.
    Pirates and their vessels and their shore-side hide-outs / compounds need to be destroyed on sight. Continually soft-shoeing the piracy problem, continually playing to the pirates strengths and demands only makes it worse.

  2. Not going to happen.


  3. IF we know where they (big motherships) are, then they can be targeted, right? At least put under constant surveillance, then countered. If we don’t want to sink them because crews are onboard then other actions can be taken. Here is where a weaponized Sea Fighter would come in handy. It could be vectored, arrive quickly and with NECC or MRF teams capture the pirated mothership. What am I missing?
    Before someone asks, the LCS are too far from IOC. The USN needs a new platform now!

  4. Russian Navy: You're doing it right!

    What would Tyler Durden do? (WWTDD): Q-SHIPS. Attack me and you become shark snacks. No media, no NATO/EUNAVFOR/CJTF-X IO. Just quietly gone and the pirates back at base will think you've flipped your skiff or went AWOL.

    LEESEA: didn't understand half of that: NECC, MRF, NERF, SMURF. (my fault, admittedly) By the time the USN gets (another) new platform, Somalia will be a model democracy!

  5. Mia Culpa: I commented on a comment instead of your post "Another NATO Commander Admits Failure".

    Why should Hijmans be any more successful that his other NATO supremos like McChrystal or Patraeus?

    Like an addict that wants to recover, admitting the problem is the first step to getting better. Wasn't it just in December that the same organization was finally getting a handle on the problem? What kind of spin is that? A bad one.

    The reason that this hasn't totally spiralled out of control and shut down the whole GoA and access to the Persian Gulf is because of two things; the merchant fleet implementing BMP(X) and there are just not enough pirates to shut it all down. Probably the later, though.

    The navies have little claim to any (limited) success; especially when considering what it costs taxpayers to have them done so little.
    Yes, this is just a symptom of what happens on shore, etc, etc. But there is an ever yawning vacuum of insecurity of the Eastern African coast. And business, just like nature, will always fill a void. So when enough is enough, the Blackwaters of this world will create a crimson tide. Doesn’t matter if it will be ship riders or private flotillas; they’ll keep their clients safer than the Commodore Hijmans’ ever can; or his predecessors did and successors will.

    I don’t think that hitting the pirate bases is viable solution, either. Because whatever (little?) anti-pirate sentiment exists, will be snuffed out by the deaths of women and children that invariably get caught in the crossfire. The deaths of (true) non-combatants couldn’t, and still can’t, be prevented in Iraq or Afghanistan where we have boots on the ground eyeballing a target. What chance is there of doing that where there are no boots? Rely on some local “trusted” agent?

    Navy: blockade the pirate ports.

    Security guys: guard your ships.

    UN/AMISOM: continue doing… nothing. You’re doing THAT right.