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Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Things About Pirates

First, from gCaptain, The Evolving US Piracy Policy:
The [U.S.] Dept. of State believes the best action plan is to deprive the pirates of ransom revenues, however it is very hard to track the money. The NSC [U.S. National Security Council] calls for disrupting bases in Somalia, but no action has been taken. Under UNCLOS, piracy is a crime of universal jurisdiction, yet prosecution is a matter of national “soft” laws. The multinational character of the Flags of Convenience (FOC) system complicates the situation where there’s no clear national responsibilities. Navies who capture pirates often can’t find States willing to prosecute. The area pirates operate are too vast for navies to enforce, and military assets are urgently needed elsewhere (particularly Afghanistan and Iraq). Pirates continue to attack less than one-half percent of shipping, and of those, have a 30% success rate. The Dept. of Defense argues that due to the relatively low number of incidents, merchant shipping needs to play a larger role in its own defense. It’s noted in all cases where private security teams are employed, they have success- fully kept pirates from boarding, making ships a hard target. Use of armed ships is contrary to BMPs, however, the ships that have 100% record of deterring pirate attacks are the ones that ignore the BMPs. Many Port states are against use of arms, which can create difficulties in ports of call.
Evolving policy? Sounds like the NSC has made this high visibility issue a low priority item. Which may make sense from the U.S. point of view since so few (okay, none) of the captured ships and merchant sailors are U.S. Of course, there is that "freedom of the seas" aspect that keeps some U.S. Navy ships out there bobbing about . . .

Shiptalk has a couple of post up about torture of Somali pirate captives "Human Costs" and "Holding Back". The first contains the not-so-surprising news that Somali pirates are not good hosts to their captives and are pretty rough in their piracy efforts:
The Oceans Beyond Piracy Project has gathered to fight this seeming lack of public concern/knowledge. Their study, “The Human Cost of Somali Piracy”, was launched on June 6 at Chatham House in London. The study’s findings indicate that during 2010:

• 4,185 seafarers were attacked with firearms and rocket propelled grenades.

• 342 seafarers were rescued from citadels (ships’ reinforced security rooms).

• 1,090 seafarers were taken hostage.

• 516 seafarers were used as human shields.

• As many as 488 seafarers were subjected to abuse or torture.

The cost of piracy is high for seafarers. Both successful and unsuccessful attacks expose seafarers to dangerous experiences with the potential for long-term physical and psychological trauma.
Somali pirates with hostages
The second Shiptalk post has to do with a security firm asserting that there is a "cover up" of sorts concerning the treatment of pirate hostages:
A security company speaking at a conference has claimed that shipowners are holding back some of the worst news about the treatment of seafarers taken hostage by Somali pirates.
Why a cover up? To not "alarm" seafarers heading into the pirate zone . . .

On another piracy front, the International Maritime Bureau has issued some warnings about piracy in the South China Sea (an area I've been neglecting lately), as set out here:
A global maritime watchdog warned ships traversing the South China Sea bordering Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore following the hijack of three tugboats and a barge in recent weeks.

Noel Choong, head of the International Maritime Bureau's, or IMB's piracy reporting center based in Kuala Lumpur, said alerts have been sent to ships in the area amid a sudden rash of hijackings.

"We are sending out this alert as these are the first three hijackings of vessels in the South China Sea this year," he said. "Normally pirates in the area are opportunistic as they rob a ship and flee but the hijacking of a vessel requires planning so we believe a syndicate is involved," Choong added.
A report on a missing tug (one of the above attacks) from the IMB's Live Piracy Report:
  • 2011/232
  • Wed May 25 2011
  • Tug
  • Kuching to Port Klang
  • Hijacked
  • 25.05.2011: NS : enroute from Kuching to port Klang, South China Sea.
    The tug towing a barge departed Kuching on 24.5.2011 with eta port Klang 30.05.2011.
    The tug and barge failed to arrive at the discharge port and the owners attempt to contact the tug was futile. On 02.6.2011 the barge was located by a Malaysian warship. The crew members were rescued by a fishing vessel. The tug is still missing.
About a year ago a hijacked tug was recovered in the Philippines undergoing an identity change, as set out here.

As usual, there are numerous reports in Southeast Asia, West Africa and South America of various anchored or moored vessels being boarded by robbers who either steal material from the vessels they board and/or rob the crew of their personal belongings.

UPDATE: In addition to the reports in Southeast Asia of moored or anchored vessels being boarded and robbed, in the last couple of weeks, there have been boardings and robberies of vessels underway in an area near Singapore, noted in ReCAAP reports:
(Report 12-11) On 30 May 11 at or about 0129 hrs, a Singapore-registered tanker Dong Jiang was underway at approximately 30 nm east of Horsburgh Lighthouse (01° 19.30' N, 104° 54.50' E) when six robbers boarded the vessel. The robbers stole cash and other valuables before they escaped. The vessel was enroute from Tanjung Pelapas, Malaysia to Balongan, Indonesia at the time of the incident. The crew was not injured.
(Report 13-11) On 2 Jun 11 at or about 0530 hrs, a Mongolia-registered general cargo ship Shipinco I
was underway at approximately 1.9 nm west of Batu Berhanti buoy (01° 10.76' N, 103° 50.87' E) when five robbers boarded the vessel. Armed with long knives, they robbed the Master, 3rd Officer and Chief Cook, and escaped with cash and the crew’s personal belongings including watches, mobile phones and clothing. The crew was not injured.
(Report 14-11) On 6 Jun 11 at or about 2315 hrs, an Indonesian-registered LPG tanker Asian Gas was
underway at approximately 3.65 nm southeast of Raffles Lighthouse (01° 9.06' N, 103° 48.0' E) when eight masked robbers from one speed boat boarded the vessel at the starboard quarter. Armed with long knives, they robbed the crew and escaped after taking with them laptops, mobile phones and undetermined amount of cash. The crew was not injured.
ReCAAP Report Map for Last 3  Incidents

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