Sunday, July 31, 2011

Somali Pirates: Death Threats - Nothing Changes

Shiptalk and others (see gCaptain) -report a Somali pirate "Killing Pledge":
It is increasingly being reported that pirates are changing their attitude and as they look to apply every greater pressure to get ransoms paid they are claiming that ”killing hostages has now become part of the rules”. According to media reports, the pirates are stating that if a rescue is attempted they will immediately kill hostages.
So, how is that a change in the status quo? I have always assumed that the only thing keeping the pirates on captured vessels alive was the threat they pose to the hostage crews they hold. Otherwise, a team of special forces boards the ships and it's "AMF" to the pirates.

So, not much news here in my view. Sometimes the level of media cluelessness amazes me. After all, these same pirates are shooting weapons at ship crews already, almost like they would mean to kill someone.

Perhaps we should warn the pirates that if they start killing hostages we are going visit their home villages with malice. Malice like this:

Photo from Spectre Association

That might be too threatening, though.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Maritime Security: Arctic Unpreparedness

The U. S. Coast Guard Commandant points out a problem with our ability to operate in the Arctic, where vast new resources may lie as noted in Admiral Papp: USCG Not Ready for Arctic:
“Operations in the Arctic’s extreme cold, darkness and ice-infested waters require specialized equipment, infrastructure and training. Our current Arctic capabilities are very limited. We have only one operational ice breaker. We do not have any coastal or shoreside infrastructure. Nor do we have a seasonal base to hanger our aircraft or sustain our crews.”
Refreshing honesty. If the U.S. Navy had a rep there, he or she would have had to echo and add to Admiral Papp's comments because the Navy lacks even a single ice breaker . . .

This has been looked at before on this site. See The Northeast Passage -Shorter, Faster, Avoids Somali Pirates and Adds to Maritime Security Concerns and Land rush under the ice and the links therein.

You may note that the U.S., Canada, Denmark, Norway and Russia all border the Arctic Ocean.

Full text of Admiral Papp's comments:

In a perfect world, everyone would play nice in the Arctic and there would never be any accidents or other events that the Coast Guard should respond to. However, . . .

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Somali Pirates: Sympathy is a tough sell . . .

A piece reporting on a book contains this look at how the pirates view themselves -
"Somalia's pirates don't see themselves as pirates. Displaying admirable public relations savvy, they call themselves "saviors of the sea" or "coast guards.""
- found at Do Somali pirates have legitimate gripe? get short shrift from some of the paper's readers in the comments section to the article. Sample comments:
"Unarmed ships are attacked and seized in international waters. Including pleasure vessels. Ransom is demanded. Sounds like piracy to me."

"OK so we'll paint "saviors of the sea" on the side of the next torpedo."

"Not many things us Americans agree on, but this could be it. Pirates of any country should be hounded, chased and killed."
It looks like that "admirable public relations savvy" faces a really tough sell in trying to make this about "truth, justice and the 'Somali pirate way.'"

I wonder where the report is on how the 400 or so hostages being held by the pirates feel about the Somali "saviors of the sea?"

Monday, July 25, 2011

Pirates of the Gulf of Guinea

Area circled in red is Gulf of Guinea
Italian tanker Anema e Core seized by pirates off Benin:
Pirates have hijacked an Italian diesel tanker off Benin in western Africa in an attack of the kind more usually associated with Somalia.

Assailants boarded the RBD Anema e Core early on Sunday in the Gulf of Guinea, officials in Benin and Italy confirmed.

Benin's navy said it was following the hijacked ship while Italy's foreign ministry liaised with its owner in Naples.

Three pirates managed to board the ship 23 nautical miles (43km) south of Cotonou, the economic capital of Benin, Italian media said.

"Everything is being done to trace the pirates as quickly as possible," Maxime Ahoyo, commander of Benin's navy, told reporters in Cotonou.

The Gulf of Guinea has become increasingly important for its potential energy reserves which have attracted international interests, BBC West Africa correspondent Thomas Fessy reports from Dakar.
If this is a new trend, it's worrisome.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Psychics in the Navy?

Who really knows the amazing powers of Navy men?

From an naval officer who blogs at The Mellow Jihadi, a look into the amazing world of Navy "psychics" in You Gettin’ Anything?.

Now, go get me a bucket of steam and a can of relative bearing grease. We need to get ready for the mail buoy.

US Coast Guard: Island Rescue

Island where missing party was found
Reported as 15 rescued after stranded on a Pacific island :
When nine adults and six children left on their 28-foot skiff from Chuuk State to Ruo Island in the Federated States of Micronesia, they didn’t expect to run into problems. But when they didn’t arrive as planned, a search began immediately thanks to their careful planning.

“Filing of a float plan with family or friends should be a part of every boater’s routine,” said Leif Wigman-Nilsson, a watchstander at Coast Guard Sector Guam. “In this case, the concerned parties ashore were well aware of when this vessel was to depart, when it was to arrive and the route that it was taking. This information was key to getting the Coast Guard and other rescue agencies into the right place at the right time to effect this rescue.”
Arrow points to general area of rescue (click to enlarge)

After more than 76 hours of searching across more than 18,000 miles, their boat was found overturned near an island, which was approximately eight miles from their original destination. All 15 boaters were found safe and in good health on the small uninhabited atoll.

An HC-130 Hercules airplane from Air Station Barbers Point, Oahu, Hawaii and a U.S. Navy P-3 Orion long-range search aircraft from Okinawa, Japan, along with commercial mariners transiting the area, several local boaters and other international partners conducted the joint international search effort.

“This type of coordination makes immediate searches possible in a search and rescue area of responsibility that mirrors the size of the continental United States,” said Lt. Gregg Maye, chief of Sector Guam’s command center.

Once word spread that the missing people were found, other local boaters came to their aid providing them food and water. The Coast Guard Cutter Assateague arrived on scene early this morning to rescue the survivors.
BZ to everyone involved!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Christmas Tsunami of 2004 Worsened by "Stiff Sediments"

From Wikipedia
Odd geological formation made the 2004 tsunami worse, according to research reported by the University of Texas in "Stiff Sediments Made 2004 Sumatra Earthquake Deadliest in History" :
An international team of geoscientists has discovered an unusual geological formation that helps explain how an undersea earthquake off the coast of Sumatra in December 2004 spawned the deadliest tsunami in recorded history.

Instead of the usual weak, loose sediments typically found above the type of geologic fault that caused the earthquake, the team found a thick plateau of hard, compacted sediments. Once the fault snapped, the rupture was able to spread from tens of kilometers below the seafloor to just a few kilometers below the seafloor, much farther than weak sediments would have permitted. The extra distance allowed it to move a larger column of seawater above it, unleashing much larger tsunami waves.

"The results suggest we should be concerned about locations with large thicknesses of sediments in the trench, especially those which have built marginal plateaus," said Sean Gulick, research scientist at The University of Texas at Austin's Institute for Geophysics. "These may promote more seaward rupture during great earthquakes and a more significant tsunami."

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Pirate Attacks: Red Sea and Bab al Mandab

Pirate attacks continue in the Gulf of Aden areas, although the continuing high winds appear to be posing a problem for pirates in all but a few areas.

Recent NATO map of attacks:

The reddish areas show most recent attacks, listed below from NATO Shipping Centre (numnwsvwb2): SOMALIA PIRACY UPDATE as of 21 JULY 2011:
21 JULY 2011
Latitude: 13'29 N Longitude: 042' 36E
Vessel "MV F Blue" was attacked by armed skiff at approximately 1118Z. Skiff in F BLUE attack described as white hull with red zig zag on side of vessel. Skiff was reported having 8 POB. Last position of skiff 1330N 04235E.

JULY 20, 2011
Latitude: 1327 N Longitude: 04239 E
Alert Number 204 / 2011
Alert Type: ATTACK
On 20 JUL 2011 at 1548 UTC, a merchant vessel was fired upon by 6 pirates in a skiff at position 1327 N 04239E.
*** The vessel managed to evade hijack ***
The Pirate Attack Group is still in the area.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

China and the South China Sea: Back to the "Cow's Tongue"

Red dashed line is the "Cow's Tongue"
There are a couple of things floating about the internet involving China and its assertion of claims to a large chunk of the South China Sea - a topic that I remind you has been discussed here and on Midrats on several occasions (see China: "The Cow's Tongue", Midrats (Dr. Michael Auslin in first part of show) and, more recently, A War of Words Over the South China Sea).

Senator James Webb has taken on this South China Sea issue as "America's Munich Moment":
So when the senator opines that the United States is ‘approaching a Munich moment with China’ in the South China Sea, it’s worth taking his words seriously.

He levels an incendiary charge. If this is a Munich moment in the making, who are the protagonists? Webb seemingly casts China in the part of Nazi Germany, an aggressive, acquisitive power bent on increasing its geopolitical sway at small states’ expense. This makes President Hu Jintao the counterpart to German dictator Adolf Hitler. President Barack Obama plays the part of Neville Chamberlain, the British prime minister who traded away much of Czechoslovakia in 1938 in the hope of slaking Hitler’s land hunger.
Americans seldom follow Southeast Asian politics, despite the importance of this maritime crossroads to US and global commerce. Filipino leaders maintain that the 1951 security treaty between Manila and Washington covers maritime territorial claims in the South China Sea. Would Americans fight to defend such claims, or are they, like Czech sovereignty for the Western powers in 1938, a secondary affair?

As noted here. the U.S. Senate has taken a stand on the South China Sea by passing a resolution condemning the use of force in the disputed waters in Southeast Asia. See, from Senator Webb's website, U.S. Senate Unanimously “Deplores” China’s Use of Force in South China Sea:
The text of S.Res.217 is below:

Title: Calling for a peaceful and multilateral resolution to maritime territorial disputes in Southeast Asia.

Whereas, on June 9, 2011, 3 vessels from China, including 1 fishing vessel and 2 maritime security vessels, ran into and disabled the cables of an exploration ship from Vietnam, the VIKING 2;
Whereas that use of force occurred within 200 nautical miles of Vietnam, an area recognized as its Exclusive Economic Zone;
Whereas, on May 26, 2011, a maritime security vessel from China cut the cables of another exploration ship from Vietnam, the BINH MINH, in the South China Sea in waters near Cam Ranh Bay;
Whereas, in March 2011, the Government of the Philippines reported that patrol boats from China attempted to ram 1 of its surveillance ships;
Whereas those incidents occurred within disputed maritime territories of the South China Sea, including the Spratly Islands, composed of 21 islands and atolls, 50 submerged land atolls, and 28 partly submerged reefs over an area of 340,000 square miles, and the Paracel Islands, a smaller group of islands located south of China’s Hainan Island;
Whereas China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia, and Brunei have disputed territorial claims over the Spratly Islands, and China and Vietnam have a disputed claim over the Paracel Islands;
Whereas the Government of China claims most of the 648,000 square miles of the South China Sea, more than any other nation involved in those territorial disputes;
Whereas, in 2002, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and China signed a declaration on the code of conduct of parties in the South China Sea;
Whereas that declaration committed all parties to those territorial disputes to “reaffirm their respect for and commitment to the freedom of navigation in and overflight above the South China Sea” and to “resolve their territorial and jurisdictional disputes by peaceful means, without resorting to the threat or use of force”;
Whereas the South China Sea contains vital commercial shipping lines and points of access between the Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean;
Whereas, although not a party to these disputes, the United States has a national economic and a security interest in ensuring that no party uses force unilaterally to assert maritime territorial claims in East Asia;
Whereas, in September 2010, the Government of China also deliberately provoked a controversy within the waters of the Senkaku Islands, territory under the legal administration of Japan in the East China Sea;
Whereas the actions of the Government of China in the South China Sea have also affected United States military and maritime vessels transiting through international air space and waters, including the collision of a fighter plane of the Government of China with a United States surveillance plane in 2001, the harassment of the USNS IMPECCABLE in March 2009, and the collision of a Chinese submarine with the sonar cable of the USS JOHN MCCAIN in June 2009;
Whereas, like every nation, the United States has a national interest in freedom of navigation and open access to the maritime commons of Asia;
Whereas the Government of the United States expressed support for the declaration by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and China in 2002 on the code of conduct of parties in the South China Sea, and supports a collaborative diplomatic process by all claimants for resolving the various territorial disputes without coercion;
Whereas the United States has a national interest in freedom of navigation and in unimpeded economic development and commerce;
Whereas, on October 11, 2010, Secretary Gates maintained “The United States has always exercised our rights and supported the rights of others to transit through, and operate in, international waters.”;
Whereas, on June 3, 2011, at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, Secretary Gates stated that “[m]aritime security remains an issue of particular importance for the region, with questions about territorial claims and the appropriate use of the maritime domain presenting on-going challenges to regional stability and prosperity”;
Whereas, on June 4, 2011, at the Shangri-La Dialogue, Liang Guanglie, the Defense Minister from China, said, “China is committed to maintaining peace and stability in the South China Sea.”;
Whereas, on June 11, 2011, the Government of Vietnam held a live-fire military exercise on the uninhabited island of Hon Ong, 25 miles off the coast of Vietnam in the South China Sea; and
Whereas, on June 11, 2011, Hong Lei, the Foreign Ministry spokesman of China, stated, “[China] will not resort to force or the threat of force” to resolve the territorial dispute: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That the Senate—
(1) reaffirms the strong support of the United States for the peaceful resolution of maritime territorial disputes in the South China Sea, and pledges continued efforts to facilitate a multilateral, peaceful process to resolve these disputes;
(2) deplores the use of force by naval and maritime security vessels from China in the South China Sea;
(3) calls on all parties to the territorial dispute to refrain from threatening force or using force to assert territorial claims; and
(4) supports the continuation of operations by the United States Armed Forces in support of freedom of navigation rights in international waters and air space in the South China Sea.
Now comes Vietnam to assert its complaints against China's encroachment into what it asserts are Vietnamese waters, in The East Sea: Seizing opportunity, getting out of danger:
If we look at the map of the East Sea, the territorial water sovereignty of each country and the international maritime order have been clearly clarified under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982 (UNCLOS).

China's Nine-Dotted Line Map
But why China dares to put forward the U-shape line to claim up to 80 percent of the East Sea – which could only happen if the wheel of history have reversed to the time before the World War II; when Vietnam, the Philippines and the countries around the East Sea were not recognized as independent nations and when Vietnamese, Filipino and other peoples did not have independence and freedom?
In that context, China has two options: 1) Cooperating with other super powers in the world, led by the US, to supply goods for maintaining the international order, the stability and prosperity development based on cooperation and global trade; 2) replacing the US and the US’ strategic allies (West Europe and Japan) to set up the new world order and new military alliance headed by the US in order to force others to obey the new order.

In fact, China has chosen the second. This process began by trampling on the UNCLOS in order to turn the East Sea into its pond. It is uneasy for China to realize that ambition because: 1) it abolishes the sovereignty of countries around the East Sea and goes on the contrary with the trend of the time (the campaign to struggle for independence for nations after the fascism was defeated). 2) In the long run, it can make a bad precedent for appropriating the rights of free navigation and maritime safety on international sea routes. Other countries (except for China) will have to pay fees or be fined or banned from using international sea routes or air routes, which are controlled by China.

The key point here is the clear difference between international maritime routes and maritime routes in China’s waters. When politic or interest conflicts occur, China can use its control right to ban related countries from traveling in the East Sea, though in principle, China commits maintaining free navigation. This will not happen if China cannot impose its real control on the waters bordered by the U-shape line.

The sovereignty disputes in the East Sea are not a bilateral matter, but the issue of regional and international security. China understands it very clearly and China understands that the US, Japan, West Europe and other superpowers in the world, like Russia and India also know its plot.

This game shows adventure in the strategy that China is pursuing. Carefully analyzing that game will create international agreement to solve the East Sea disputes, which China makes up into “bilateral conflicts” on the “indisputable sovereignty” in which China is the victim.
Now, with heads turning toward the U.S. to be a presence, ask yourself, "What fleet do we need?"

And, make no mistake, this is all about naval power and power projection.

Publicity Seekers Get Stopped by Israeli Sea Blockade

Dignite/Al Karama off some shore somewhere
After only getting 10% of their 10 boat publicity "flotilla" (that's 1 boat) to sail toward Gaza, international publicity seekers were stunned to find out that Israel means it when it announces that it is continuing to enforce a sea blockade off Gaza as reported in Israeli navy surrounds Gaza-bound French yacht. Even better, the boat seems to be suffering some sort of communication blackout so that international publicity seeking whining cannot be heard or seen live:
Israeli warships on Tuesday surrounded a French yacht carrying pro-Palestinian activists as they neared the coast of Gaza in a bid to breach the Israeli blockade, an organiser told AFP.

Organisers said Israeli navy vessels had surrounded the Dignite/Al Karama in international waters, some 40 nautical miles off the Gaza shoreline, at around 0630 GMT and all communications were cut shortly afterwards.

News that Israel had stopped the ship was roundly denounced by Gaza's Hamas rulers, who decried it as "a new act of Zionist piracy."

"The boat is surrounded by at least three Israeli ships and since 9:06 am (0706 GMT) all the communications have been jammed. We can't get in touch with them by phone or by Internet," French organiser Julien Rivoire told AFP by phone from Paris.

In a separate statement, the organisers urged the French government "to take its responsibilities and to protect the passengers, and to call on Israel not resort to violence."

The Israeli military confirmed it had made contact with the boat, which is carrying 16 people, including three crew members and three journalists.

"The Israel navy is currently in a dialogue with the activists on board the Al Karama in an attempt to dissuade them from continuing on their route into an area under a maritime security blockade," a statement said.

"The Israel navy will allow the organisers and passengers to re-route at any point, prior to the boarding of Israel navy soldiers."

Activists on board the ship were told they will not be allowed to reach Gaza under any circumstances and advised to change course for the Egyptian port of El-Arish, an Israeli military source told AFP.

"They contacted the boat and said: 'We won't let you reach Gaza under any circumstances, but you can head for El-Arish if you want,'" he quoted the naval commandos as saying.

The international political effort and the other efforts (see also here) leading up to the sailing of this one boat and the non-sailing of the other 9 has been interesting to watch. For those of you unfamiliar with the "law" of blockade, read this from the San Remo Manual setting out the appropriate blockade rules for parties to an armed conflict:
93. A blockade shall be declared and notified to all belligerents and neutral States. 94. The declaration shall specify the commencement, duration, location, and extent of the blockade and the period within which vessels of neutral States may leave the blockaded coastline. 95. A blockade must be effective. The question whether a blockade is effective is a question of fact. 96. The force maintaining the blockade may be stationed at a distance determined by military requirements.97. A blockade may be enforced and maintained by a combination of legitimate methods and means of warfare provided this combination does not result in acts inconsistent with the rules set out in this document. 98. Merchant vessels believed on reasonable grounds to be breaching a blockade may be captured. Merchant vessels which, after prior warning, clearly resist capture may be attacked. 99. A blockade must not bar access to the ports and coasts of neutral States. 100. A blockade must be applied impartially to the vessels of all States. 101. The cessation, temporary lifting, re-establishment, extension or other alteration of a blockade must be declared and notified as in paragraphs 93 and 94. 102. The declaration or establishment of a blockade is prohibited if: (a) it has the sole purpose of starving the civilian population or denying it other objects essential for its survival; or(b) the damage to the civilian population is, or may be expected to be, excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated from the blockade. 103. If the civilian population of the blockaded territory is inadequately provided with food and other objects essential for its survival, the blockading party must provide for free passage of such foodstuffs and other essential supplies, subject to: (a) the right to prescribe the technical arrangements, including search, under which such passage is permitted; and(b) the condition that the distribution of such supplies shall be made under the local supervision of a Protecting Power or a humanitarian organization which offers guarantees of impartiality, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross. 104. The blockading belligerent shall allow the passage of medical supplies for the civilian population or for the wounded and sick members of armed forces, subject to the right to prescribe technical arrangements, including search, under which such passage is permitted.
So, the question you have to ask yourself is, "Are Israel and Hamas-governed Gaza in a state of armed conflict?"

The FreeGaza.org side of the sage of the sailing of Dignité :
It is in large part because the Dignité commenced its voyage from a French port and the French government refused to interfere with this civilian human rights initiative that the ship continues its mission. The Dignité and its passengers – from France, Canada, Greece, Sweden, and Tunisa – represent a flotilla that was delayed by acts of sabotage and by an egregious act of complicity by the Greek government with Israel’s human rights violations and policy towards Gaza that the International Committee of the Red Cross determined to be “collective punishment.” But they also represent the steadfastness and determination of the flotilla movement to sail until the blockade is broken. The idea that Freedom Flotilla II could be stopped misunderstands the nature of this non-violent movement and its strength of purpose.

Despite most of the ships being unable to leave Greek ports, the flotilla nonetheless managed to highlight the vicious nature of Israel’s policy towards Gaza. Israeli leaders showed their willingness to use intimidation, lies, economic blackmail, threats of violence, and sabotage to stop boats that Israeli military officials admitted would not be carrying weapons. This clearly demonstrates that Israel’s blockade of Gaza is not based on “security”, but is meant to punish the Palestinian people, denying their freedom and keeping them cut off from the rest of the world.
A blockade by definition is designed to "cut off" an armed adversary from the rest of the world, except as provided by the San Remo Manual.

It should also be noted that Egypt has opened its border to Gaza thus mooting much of the "cut off from the world" argument.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Somali Pirates Bothering Scientific Research

Image credit – CSIRO
Australian and U.S. navies will have to pick up a new mission - protecting and deploying environmental data collecting buoys from Somali pirates as reported in this press release - Indian Ocean pirates impede climate observations:
Australian scientists have sought the help of the United States and Australian navies to plug a critical gap in their Argo ocean and climate monitoring program caused by Somali pirates operating in the western Indian Ocean.

"We have not been able to seed about one quarter of the Indian Ocean since the increase in the piracy and that has implications for understanding a region of influence in Australian and south Asian weather and climate," says CSIRO Wealth from Oceans Flagship scientist, Dr Ann Thresher.

Over 30 nations contribute to the multi-million dollar Argo project, in which 3,000 robotic instruments provide near real-time observations of conditions such as heat and salinity in the top 2,000 metres of the ocean.

Australia, through CSIRO and the Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS), ranks second among countries based on the number of profilers providing data, with more than 325 profilers reporting to international data centres from the Indian, Pacific and Southern Oceans and the Tasman Sea. At nearly two metres in length the drifting profilers, or 'floats', are programmed to drift at 1000m for 10 days, then fall to 2000m and sample as they ascend to the surface to upload their data to satellites.

Although the Argo project offers shipping and defence benefits, its primary objective is to monitor ocean heat and salinity patterns that drive the climate and monsoonal systems which bring rain to Australia.

Dr Thresher said the program is heavily reliant on commercial shipping and research and chartered vessels to deploy the instruments.
At nearly two metres in length the drifting profilers, or 'floats', are programmed to drift at 1000m for 10 days, then fall to 2000m and sample as they ascend to the surface to upload their data to satellites.

"With the region north of Mauritius being a no-go area for most vessels due to pirate activity, we have approached the US and Australian navies to assist us in deployments of around 20 profilers, including 10 provided by the United Kingdom Argo project.

"This level of international and military cooperation is tremendously important to us in building a sustainable operating ocean-borne system that is providing the data at the core of current weather and climate observations and prediction," Dr Thresher said.

CSIRO is shipping one profiler to Florida for deployment by the US Navy, and is asking the Royal Australian Navy for help deploy another eight instruments in the area of highest risk.

A 20-metre South African yacht, Lady Amber, is under charter to CSIRO and has successfully deployed seven instruments near Mauritius in the Western Indian Ocean. Her working area, however, was severely restricted by pirate activity in this area and the positions of several profilers had to be changed to accommodate these restrictions. She will deploy another 15 instrument as she transits between Mauritius and Fremantle, where she will pick up another 39 floats for deployment northwest of the Australian North West Shelf – an area thankfully free of piracy.

It's not just a job . . .

As Sean W., who sent an email on this topic, noted, ". . . [T]he pirates are really in trouble now since they're messing with the global warming people!"

CSIRO is the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation.

Somali Pirates: Small Oil Tanker Taken in Gulf of Aden

EUNavFor Photo
Late on the morning of 16 July, it was reported by the owners that the MV JUBBA XX, a laden tanker, had been pirated in the northern Indian Ocean, on her regular route from the United Arab Emirates to the port of Berbera, Somalia.

On the morning of 17 July, the vessel was located by a Maritime Patrol aircraft 100 nautical miles north-west of Socotra Island, heading to the northern Somali coast. Little information is available at present but it is reported that 9 suspected Somali pirates are on board MV JUBBA XX.

Hijack Location
The MV JUBBA XX is a UAE owned and flagged oil tanker, deadweight of 4831 tonnes, with a crew of 16 (1 Sri Lankan, 5 Indian, 3 Bangladesh, 1 Sudanese, 1 Myanmar, 1 Kenyan and 4 Somali). There is no information on the condition of the crew and the vessel was not registered with MSCHOA at the time of the pirating. EUNAVFOR continues to monitor the situation.
NATO report:
JULY 17, 2011
Latitude: 1348 N Longitude: 05125 E
Alert Number 203 / 2011
At 0742UTC / 16 JUL 11 / a Merchant Vessel was reported hijacked approximately 220nm off of SOCOTRA, Vessels position as of 0813 UTC 17 Jul is 13 48 N 051 25 E
***The vessel was hijacked***
The Pirate Attack Group is still in the area.
In case you have forgotten, here's the EU list of ships being held by pirates (you can get your own copy here):
Pirated Vessel 18.07
UPDATE: Some more food for thinking about pirate success garnered from IMB's Live Piracy Report:
275-11 16.07.2011: 0340 UTC: Posn: 13:36.3N - 050:17.3E, Gulf of Aden.
Six pirates in a skiff chased a bulk carrier underway. Master raised alarm, crew proceeded to citadel and security guards on board fired a hand flare. The pirates continued to chase the ship and closed to a distance of 300 metres from the ship. The security guards fired a warning shot upon sighting guns, RPG and ladder's on the skiff. The pirates aborted the attempted attack and moved away. Incident reported to the warship.
273-11 13.07.2011: 0717 UTC: Posn: 12:44N – 043:18E, Bab el Mandeb straits, Red Sea. Pirates armed with guns in two skiffs chased and approached a chemical tanker underway. Master mustered crew and ship’s security team was deployed to the bridge wings. On sighting the security team, the pirates aborted the attack and moved away.
Is there a lesson to be learned?

Something like, "Low, slow and unarmed is no way to go through pirate waters?"

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Somali Pirates Sliding Into Terrorism: The New Ploy - Pirate "Death Reparation" Claims

Lately, capturing ships at sea and holding the crews and ships for ransom is not the only line of business the Somali pirates pursue.

They now have taken that threatening the hostages they hold to influence the governmental policy of the nations fighting the pirates. See Somali Pirates Demand Compensation from South Korea :
A South Korean captain who is being held by Somali pirates says his captors are demanding that the South Korean government pay them compensation for pirates killed by its navy.

Captain Pak Hyeon contacted VOA by phone Friday, saying the pirates want Seoul to pay compensation for eight dead comrades and release another five held prisoner. He said the pirates have not named a price.
This is not the first threat of retaliation against the South Koreans. Back in January 2011, there was this:
Somali pirates threatened yesterday to kill any South Korean seamen they took hostage, in revenge for the killing of eight pirates by South Korean troops who stormed a hijacked vessel.
The claim for money in reparations for pirates killed by naval forces is simply an extension of that threat, as the implied threat is "pay up or else."

Previously, Somali pirates threatened the Indian government in a similar fashion:
A pirate in Somalia threatened Indian sailors and the government with targeted attacks in retaliation for the arrests.
A self-described pirate in Somalia who gave his name as Bile Hussein said the arrests will lead to "trouble" for Indian sailors and ships.

"They better release them, considering their people traveling in the waters, or we shall jail their people like that," he said. "We are first sending a message to the Indian government of releasing our friends in their hands or else they have to be ready for their citizens to be mistreated in the near future."
As the Somali pirates and their management begin to attempt to influence the policies of the governments that take action against their depredations, the pirates are sliding rapidly from illegal businesses that funnel some money to terrorist organizations into flat out maritime terrorist entities albeit of a semi-commercial nature.

After all, the basic definition of terrorism is "the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes."

The "political purpose" of the pirates? To be left alone to ply their trade without the threat of violence against them.

Of course, some of the lame justifications previously offered by the pirates for their actions also reach the "terrorist" threshold.

What next? A demand that armed guards be removed from merchant ships "or else hostages will die?" A demand that the escort navies withdraw? A demand for payments of tribute?

Will the world submit to this blackmail? Speaking of slippery slopes . . .

Friday, July 15, 2011

Somali Pirates: Goat Ship Roped?

Unconfirmed report that Somali pirates seize livestock vessel:
Somali pirates have hijacked a vessel carrying livestock off the shores of the semi-autonomous region of Puntland, a local official said.

The vessel was sailing from Bosasso in Somalia and to the United Arab Emirates, Hassan Farah Jamac, Puntland's commerce and industry minister told Reuters late on Thursday.

"It was carrying a lot of goats from Bosasso," Jamac said. "We are very sorry about that. Our forces are now preparing to rescue the boat with the help of the foreign navies.
Piracy and goat rustling . . . get a rope.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

River Pirates of the Danube

Romanian 'Pirates' Pester Bulgarian Ships on Danube River:
Romanian pirates have attacked by boats the Bulgarian ship "St Apostol Andrey" at the 128th kilometer on the Danube river.

The Bulgarian daily "Trud" (Labor) cites the captain of the ship, Nencho Anchev, who says 1 ton of barley from the cargo has been stolen.

The incident happened late Sunday night, neat the Romanian city of Braila, where the ship came to anchor. The crew noticed the loss in the morning.

"No one hear[d] anything during the night. It is just three of us working 12-hour shifts, so we do not have a night guard," Anchev says.
Bralia riverside
Anchev further voices outrage that the European Commission is pouring money in border police cutters for Romania all while the Danube River remains unprotected from pirates' raids, adding such incidents were common occurrence.
Seriously? Someone unloads a ton of grain and the crew sleeps through it?

Piracy at Sea and Issues with Armed Guards on Merchant Ships

Reportedly this burning ship was attacked while waiting to embark private armed guards
Eric Kulisch writing at American Shipper on Hard target: Maersk Alabama incident highlights growing use of armed guards.:
Governments and the private sector are grappling with the fact that each ocean carrier and security team develops its own protocols. A major concern for maritime industry stakeholders is that there are no universal rules of engagement for private contractors on cargo ships.
What are his ROE?
The IMO on May 20 issued preliminary guidelines for vessel operators, owners and captains, as well as flag states, to consider as they develop corporate and national policies governing qualifications for security service providers and how they should conduct themselves. The effort is intended to prevent rogue outfits from shooting indiscriminately and potentially killing or injuring an innocent boater or suspected pirates that have not taken any threatening action. A tragic accident could create legal liability for the shipping company, either from civil suits seeking damages or even criminal prosecution by governments for violations of national or international laws. And some worry that escalating violence will force pirates, who often fire small arms and rocket-propelled grenades more to intimidate a captain into stopping rather than trying to kill, to react more aggressively if they believe they will be shot at for approaching a vessel without exhibiting hostile intent.
Lawyers note that authorizing the use of lethal force against a suspicious vessel that is approaching without first giving verbal notice, or a warning shot, could open an individual to assault charges by a coastal state.
“Even the police when they show up have to identify themselves before they shoot you,” said Michael Frodl, an attorney who advises insurance interests about piracy and provides analytical services for a broader maritime clientele.
And unlike in the military, there is no sovereign immunity for officers that authorize lethal force and wind up killing innocent civilians.
The legal boundaries regarding self-protection at sea are murky, especially when trying to determine whether the law of the flag state or the nearest coastal state applies.
The "rules of engagement" for private security forces should require lots of planning including a good understanding of the intended route and current location of the ship being guarded. Experience counts.

UPDATE: See also this:
. . . Further, in territorial waters, it will also be necessary to comply with the laws of a coastal or port state. The dangers of not doing so are obvious; in the event of unlawful death or injury, there is a risk that security personnel could be prosecuted for murder or serious injury by the flag state or any other state asserting legal jurisdiction for the crime. In regions such as the Straits of Malacca, unlawful use of force in response to a pirate attack in the region could potentially expose the security personnel to criminal sanctions in Singapore, Indonesia or Malaysia, depending on the location of the vessel at the time. Additionally, there is a risk that the master, the security company, or other parties could be prosecuted as accessories to any unlawful killing or injury caused by the security personnel.
Sometime soon a book about private security companies, to which I have contributed a chapter on some of the legal issues involved, will be available - it's at the publishers.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Navy Establishes Program Executive Office for Littoral Combat Ships

A complete and unedited press release titled, Navy Establishes Program Executive Office for Littoral Combat Ships:
From Naval Sea Systems Command Office of Corporate Communications

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The Navy established the Program Executive Office, Littoral Combat Ships (PEO LCS), during a ceremony at Washington Navy Yard, July 11.

"The littoral combat ship is a critical shipbuilding program and demands the very best skill and effort from government and industry teams," said Asst. Secretary of the Navy (Research, Development and Acquisition) Sean J. Stackley in a memo establishing the new PEO. "To ensure that we deliver this program to the fleet successfully, I am establishing a new Program Executive Office, Littoral Combat Ships that will align several program offices into one consolidated PEO, focused entirely on achieving that result. This action takes efforts that are currently managed across multiple organizations, and integrates design and development and tests, trials and evaluations under one roof. PEO LCS will have authority across all aspects of the program."

RADM Murdoch

Led by Rear Adm. James Murdoch, the new PEO provides a single program executive responsible for acquiring and maintaining the littoral mission capabilities of the LCS class from start to finish, beginning with procurement, and ending with fleet employment and sustainment.

"I am excited by the challenge of leading this historic effort to provide the Navy with new and highly capable warships equipped with extraordinary aviation features, large payload capacities and flexible environments for future missions - all contained within a fast, stable and efficient seaframe to support the Navy's needs today and tomorrow," said Murdoch.

E. Anne Sandel has been named as the executive director.

Acquisition and maintenance of the sea-frame and mission modules were previously overseen by two different PEOs - PEO Ships and PEO Littoral and Mine Warfare (PEO LMW), respectively. With the creation of PEO LCS, PEO LMW has been disestablished and resident LCS program functions have been transitioned to the new PEO. Non-LCS program functions from PEO LMW have been realigned within Naval Sea Systems Command and existing PEOs.

LCS and its mission modules have been developed under a different strategy for shipbuilding using modular capability, minimal manning and new sustainment concepts. That strategy and the unique aspects of LCS lend themselves to a PEO structure that takes into account the complexity of a system-of-systems approach. Realignment to co-locate the shipbuilding and mission modules programs, together with fleet introduction, is designed to optimize program communication and increased programmatic synergy.

The new PEO LCS will include the following Program Offices: LCS (PMS 501), Remote Minehunting System (PMS 403), Unmanned Maritime Systems (PMS 406), LCS Mission Modules (PMS 420), Mine Warfare (PMS 495), and essential fleet introduction program and functional offices, such as test and evaluation and aviation integration.

The LCS is an entirely new breed of U.S. Navy warship. A fast, agile, and networked surface combatant, LCS's modular, focused-mission design will provide combatant commanders the required warfighting capabilities and operational flexibility to ensure maritime dominance and access for the joint force. LCS will operate with focused-mission packages that deploy manned and unmanned vehicles to execute missions as assigned by combatant commanders.

LCS will also perform special operations forces support, high-speed transit, maritime interdiction operations, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and anti-terrorism/force protection. While complementing capabilities of the Navy's larger multi-mission surface combatants, LCS will also be networked to share tactical information with other Navy aircraft, ships, submarines, and joint units.
Now, you are all experienced with large bureaucracies . . . whatever could such a move mean? Heh. At least it's some action apparently designed to get this thing under control.

Good luck, RADM Murdoch. Herding cats is just so much fun.

What was it Mark Twain wrote about the man said as he was being tarred and feathered and ridden out of town on a rail? Something like, "if it weren't for the honor and glory of the thing, I'd just as soon walk."

On the other hand, it may be worth noting that the tag assigned to the admiral's photo on his official Navy page is "thumb_mad%20dog.jpg" . . .

Monday, July 11, 2011

Navy: First Line of Defense

After discussion of the U.S. Navy post-WWI fleet and the innovations creatively applied by the Navy to develop a "Navy Second to None" despite (or because of) treaty limitations on Midrats: The General Board - here's a look at the 1935 Navy . . . among them a "floating nest of fighting eagles."

Only a couple of more days to donate to Valour IT:
Team Navy

Friday, July 08, 2011

Navy Training

Some people's boot camp went better than others.

Now will you drop a couple of bucks in the direction of Valour IT?

Team Navy

Crude Oil Prices

Interesting chart from Chart of the Day:
Today's chart illustrates that most oil price spikes coincided with Middle East crises and often preceded or coincided with a US recession. The logic behind this is that a Middle East crisis can potentially disrupt an already tight oil supply and thereby drive crude oil prices higher. Also, rising oil / energy prices can, among other things, increase costs within the global economy's supply / distribution chain and thereby contribute to inflation which can in turn encourage governments to halt or reduce any plans to stimulate the economy.

 So, you'd think that a government sitting on some of the world's largest reserves of energy (see here) would be pushing development of that energy to ease the "tight oil supply" so as to unleash its plans to "stimulate the economy," wouldn't you?

Wouldn't you?

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Old Navigator Pron: Star Identification

Back in the days before Satnav, Omega, Loran - it was the navigation team's job to pick out the stars and get a good celestial fix so the ship's position could be determined and bad things like reefs and islands avoided.

Somewhere I hope QM2 Sprague and my old navigation gang are enjoying the lifetime worth of beers they earned as we naviguessed our way about the Western Pacific and those other waters as we found Fiji and New Zealand right where they were supposed to be. No navigator ever had a better set of QMs and I hope I told them that at the time.

Now, my dad was an Air Force navigator who was curious about the "Navy Way" of navigation and was surprised to learn we didn't use bubble sextants and only shot stars at dawn and dusk (except for sun lines, of course). I told him our ships didn't go fast enough for more frequent fixes to make much difference, unlike his aircraft.

Now for the bad pun - it's your chance to be a star and shine by donating to Valour IT and helping wounded soldiers, sailors and Marines (see here).

Team Navy

Somali Pirates: Oil Tanker On Fire and Adrift Due to Pirate Attack

U.S. Navy cruiser rescues crew of burning oil tanker as set out here:
US Navy personnel in small boat come to aid of merchant sailors in orange life raft while ship burns in background. U.S. Navy photo by Chief Intelligence Specialist Raynald Lenieux/ Released

At 0027Z July 6, a distress call was issued by the Marshall Islands-owned, Liberian-flagged, Motor Vessel Brilliante Virtuoso approximately 20nm south west of Aden, Yemen, stating that they believed they were under attack by suspected pirates and required assistance.

The Brilliante Virtuoso, a 144,000 tonne, fully laden, Very Large Crude Carrier (VLCC) was travelling eastbound from Suez through the Gulf of Aden.

Shortly after the suspected attack, the Brilliant Virtuoso reported a fire on board which was beyond their control and that their intention was to abandon ship.

U.S. Navy photo by Chief Intelligence Specialist Raynald Lenieux/ Released
The US guided missile cruiser, USS Philippine Sea (CG 58), operating under Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), responded to the distress call. When the Philippine Sea arrived on the scene, they observed smoke coming from the superstructure of the ship and that the crew had abandoned ship in a life-raft. The Philippine Sea found no evidence of pirates and concentrated their efforts on assisting the crew members.

USS Philippine Sea
The owner of Brilliante Virtuoso confirmed that the crew of 26 were all Filipino and all have been recovered safely by the Philippine Sea. CMF will continue to assist as appropriate.
More, early, reports:

Oil Tanker on Fire, Adrift After Pirate Attack:
The oil tanker Brillante Virtuoso is on fire after being attacked by Somali pirates Wednesday morning.

Sources in the Kenyan Navy say a fire broke out in the crew quarters and on the bridge during the attack forcing both the crew and the pirates to abandon the vessel
NATO reported location of burning tanker
NATO report here:
JULY 6, 2011
Latitude: 12 29N Longitude: 04444E
Alert Number 201/2011
At 0023Z/06 July / A merchant vessel was attacked but not taken at the position indicated, currently the vessel is ablaze and dead in the water.
UPDATE 7 July: Reportedly, the fire is out and the tanker is being towed:
The 144,000 dwt VLCC Brilliante Virtuoso is under tow by two tugs after pirates set fire to the accomodations structure with an RPG.

GAC Protective Solutions reports that the Brillante Virtuoso, which is owned by Suez Fortune Investment Ltd., was carrying a million barrels of oil when it was boarded earlier on July 6, around 20 miles from the coast of Aden. The vessel was traveling from Ukraine to China and was due to call in to Aden harbor to collect armed guards before transiting through the rest of the Gulf of Aden.

GAC Protective Solutions says it is likely that the tanker's crew managed to gather in a citadel or safe room when the attack took place, while pirates frustrated at not being able to reach them set fire to the accommodations block, possibly in an attempt to intimidate other shipping operators that the use of safe rooms can still incur danger.

Gun Pron: Big Gun Training

Well, if it takes gun pron, it takes gun pron:

Now will you drop a couple of bucks in the direction of Valour IT?

Team Navy


Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Sins of the Past: "Dutch state 'responsible for three Srebrenica deaths'"

Unexpectedly, Dutch court rules : Dutch state 'responsible for three Srebrenica deaths', opening the path to responsibility for another 8000 deaths?
A court in the Netherlands has ruled the Dutch state was responsible for the deaths of three Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims) during the 1995 Srebrenica massacre in Bosnia.

The Dutch were in charge of the UN "safe area" in July 1995 when Bosnian Serb forces overran it and killed 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys.

The Dutch government has always said its troops were abandoned by the UN.

The ruling was unexpected, and may open the way for other compensation claims.

"The court ruled that the Dutch state is responsible for the death of these men because Dutchbat [Dutch UN troops] should not have handed them over," a spokeswoman for the court in The Hague said.
Perhaps "a little responsible" would be a better phrase, as the Bosnian Serbs are the ones who did the killing of the Bosniaks and the Dutch force was in a tough spot.

UN Secretary General wrote in 2009:
Today, we pay tribute to the victims of a terrible crime -– the worst on European soil since the Second World War. Throughout the world, this date is marked as a grim reminder of man’s inhumanity to man.

We express our solidarity with the families and friends of those whose lives were brutally taken 10 years ago, and with the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

As they grieve, so we grieve.

As they cry out for truth and justice, so must we continue the fight, no matter how long it takes, to secure a full and proper reckoning.

Our first duty is to uncover, and confront, the full truth about what happened.

For us who serve the United Nations, that truth is a hard one to face.

We can say -- and it is true -- that great nations failed to respond adequately.

We can say -- and it is also true -- that there should have been stronger military forces in place, and a stronger will to use them.

We can say -- and it is undeniable -- that blame lies, first and foremost, with those who planned and carried out the massacre, or who assisted them, or who harboured and are harbouring them still.

But we cannot evade our own share of responsibility.

As I wrote in my report in 1999, we made serious errors of judgement, rooted in a philosophy of impartiality and non-violence which, however admirable, was unsuited to the conflict in Bosnia. That is why, as I also wrote, “the tragedy of Srebrenica will haunt our history forever”.
You might want to read the timeline available here (I have no idea of its total accuracy) for the situation the Dutch battalion was placed in and then not supported by the UN or NATO.

You might ask yourself on you would have carried out the duties of the Dutch commander on the ground if you were in his shoes.

A War of Words Over the South China Sea

China responds to the U.S. Senate resolution concerning the South China Sea as set out in China slams US resolution on Spratlys dispute:
China yesterday slammed the passage of a US Senate resolution condemning the use of force in the disputed waters in Southeast Asia, saying it “turns a blind eye to facts.”

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said the US resolution “confuses right and wrong, and thus does not hold water.”

“We hope relevant US senators do more for regional peace and stability,” a transcription of Hong’s press briefing in Beijing read.

Hong said the dispute with the Philippines and other Southeast Asian countries revolves around islets and reefs comprising Spratly Islands, which the Chinese call Nansha. There are also disputes over demarcation of territories, he said.

He stressed that concerned parties should settle their differences bilaterally through direct negotiation.

Hong said free navigation in the South China Sea has never been affected by the disputes.

The US Senate resolution calls on all parties to resolve relevant disputes through multilateral and peaceful means.

It also said the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) should be the basis for resolving the dispute and calls on the US armed forces to take action to ensure free navigation in the South China Sea and West Philippine Sea.

The Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) lauded the resolution sponsored by senators Jim Webb and Jim Inhofe.

“It is imperative for concerned parties to take concrete steps to ease tensions in the area through dialogues and diplomacy. We urge all claimant-countries to seriously consider our proposal to transform the area from a zone of dispute into a Zone of Peace, Freedom, Friendship and Cooperation (ZoPFF/C),” the DFA said.

In introducing the resolution, Webb said it is now time for the US to “back (its) policy with action.”
Some background to this sea, island and reef dispute and that map that appears above at China: "The Cow's Tongue" and the links therein.

Monday, July 04, 2011

"Destroyermen" - 1970's style

Please donate to Valour-IT. See here.
Team Navy

Look out, I may be forced to show the exciting film, "The Kingsbury Thrust Bearing" down the road.

UPDATE: I should note that the film above represents a very different Navy than the one those of us who participated in the Gulf of Tonkin Yacht Club knew.

Recent Attacks on Shipping (to 4 July 11)

Rough sea conditions in their main operating areas, along with the presence of naval forces and armed security guards on some merchant ships, have slowed the Somali pirates somewhat, however, there is still a whole lot of pirate-like activity around the world, as seen in the reports below.

From IMB's Live Piracy Reports
04.07.2011: 0415 LT: Posn: 06:05.9S – 106:53.0E, Tg. Priok port, Jakarta, Indonesia. Three robbers armed with knives boarded a berthed bulk carrier during discharging operations via the shore side cargo net. Duty crew noticed the robbers near the forward store and informed the D/O who raised the alarm. The duty crew tried to stop the robbers from stealing but was threatened with a knife. The robbers lowered the stolen properties into a small boat on the sea side and escaped.

01.07.2011: 2341 LT: Posn: 01:16.6N – 104:12.8E, around 3.7nm south of Tg. Ayam, Malaysia. Robbers in four fast moving boats attempted to board a bulk carrier underway. Alarm raised, fire hoses activated, all deck lights switched on, anti-piracy crew directed searchlights towards the boats, evasive manoeuvres carried out in the restricted TSS lane and VTIS Singapore informed. After several attempts, the boats aborted the attack and moved away.
01.07.2011: 1835 UTC: Posn: 01:31.6N – 104:32.2E, South China Sea. Duty officer onboard a tug towing a barge sighted three pirates armed with knives. Alarm raised and crew alerted. Upon hearing the alarm, the pirates escaped in their speed boat. A search was conducted and no pirates were found onboard and nothing was stolen. The tug continued her passage.(see below for ReCAAP discussion)
30.06.2011: 0630 UTC: Cat Lai anchorage, Vietnam. While at anchor, the duty officer onboard a container ship noticed two boats approaching the vessel. He instructed the duty ABs to investigate. The persons in the boat pretended to be fishermen trying to sell fish, phone cards fruits etc. The boat people engaged the Abs for nearly 30 minutes before moving away. It was later discovered that ship stores had been stolen from the forward stores. Attempts to contact port control was futile.
30.06.2011: 0205 UTC: Posn: 06:00N – 002:29E: Cotonou anchorage, Benin.
Armed robbers in a speed boat boarded a product tanker during STS operations, stole ship’s and crew properties and escaped. For safe STS operations the vessel had to remove the razor wire surrounding the vessel. The robbers used this to their advantage and gained access to the vessel.

29.06.2011: 1530 UTC: Posn: 13:17N – 042:59E, around 21nm NE of Assab, Eritrea,Red Sea. Two skiffs with six pirates in each skiff approached a chemical tanker underway. Master raised alarm, crew alerted and commenced manoeuvring. At a distance of 100 meters a ladder and weapons were sighted in the skiff. Onboard security team fired warning shots and the pirates aborted the attack.

Earlier incident of RPG armed pirates
26.06.2011: 0910 UTC: Posn: 21:42N – 060:29E: Around 62nm SE of Ras al Hadd, Oman. (Off Somalia) Two skiffs with five pirates in each chased a bulk carrier underway. The pirates fired RPGs at the vessel. The pirates managed to hook on the ladder onto the ships rail however due to evasive manoeuvres and using sea and swell to advantage coupled with razor wire and response from coalition navies the pirates aborted the attempt and moved away. A grey hulled mother vessel approximately 40meters in length was reported in the vicinity.

From Maritime Safety Information:
Red arrows point to attacks
A. (U) GULF OF GUINEA: A chemical tanker was hijacked 26 June off of Cotonou, Benin.
B. (U) ARABIAN SEA: Bulk carrier (SAGAR RATAN) experienced an attempted boarding 26 June approximately 72NM southeast of Sur, Oman.
C. (U) GULF OF GUINEA: A tanker was robbed 24 June while anchored at the Cotonou anchorage, Benin.
D. (U) GULF OF GUINEA: A chemical tanker was hijacked 24 June approximately 12NM southeast of Cotonou, Benin.
E. (U) GULF OF GUINEA: A vessel was robbed 23 June approximately 11NM southeast of Cotonou, Benin.
F. (U) ATLANTIC OCEAN: A refrigerated cargo vessel was robbed 23 June while anchored in the Matadi anchorage, Democratic Republic of the Congo.
G. (U) INDONESIA: A bulk carrier was robbed 22 June while anchored in the Surabaya anchorage, Indonesia.
and more information from the Anti-Shipping Activity Messages
Oman area attack, all close together and on sea lane
Date of Occurrence: 06/26/2011 Reference Number: 2011-310 Geographical Subregion: 62 Geographical Location: 21° 42' 00" N 60° 29' 00" E Aggressor: PIRATES Victim: BULK CARRIER Description: RAS AL HADD, OMAN: Two skiffs with five pirates in each chased a bulk carrier underway. The pirates fired rpgs at the vessel. The pirates managed to hook on the ladder onto the ships rail however due to evasive maneuvers and using sea and swell to advantage coupled with razor wire and response from coalition navies the pirates aborted the attempt and moved away. A grey hulled mother vessel approximately 40 meters in length was reported in the vicinity.

Date of Occurrence: 06/26/2011 Reference Number: 2011-311 Geographical Subregion: 62 Geographical Location: 21° 45' 00" N 60° 31' 00" E Aggressor: PIRATES Victim: MERCHANT VESSEL Description: ARABIAN SEA: Merchant vessel attacked in vicinity 21-45N 060-31E at 0949z on 26 Jun. Vessels are advised to keep 100 miles clear of this position and to exercise extreme caution.

Date of Occurrence: 06/24/2011 Reference Number: 2011-309 Geographical Subregion: 57 Geographical Location: 6° 08' 35" N 2° 28' 16" E Aggressor: PIRATES Victim: MERCHANT VESSEL Description: 12 MILES OFF COTONOU, BENIN: Four robbers in a speed boat boarded the vessel. All crew went into the citadel, but robbers managed to capture the 2nd engineer before he could enter the citadel. Seeing this, the Master presented himself to the robbers as well. The robbers took the Master and 2nd engineer and stole ship's and crew's cash. Personal belongings were taken, during this time the Master and the 2nd engineer were also hit by the robbers. Port control was contacted but received no response. At the time of the incident the vessel was undergoing STS operations and had to remove the razor wire to enable smooth operations. The robbers took advantage of this and gained access to the vessel.

Date of Occurrence: 06/24/2011 Reference Number: 2011-307 Geographical Subregion: 62 Geographical Location: 21° 03' 00" N 60° 12' 00" E Aggressor: PIRATES Victim: CHEMICAL TANKER Description: 74 MILES EAST OF GHALAT, OMAN: Two skiffs with six pirates in each chased and attempted to attack a chemical tanker underway. Master raised alarm, increased speed and took evasive maneuvers. The onboard security fired warning shots resulting in the pirates aborting the attempted attack and moved towards their mother vessel. The mother vessel was observed picking up the two skiffs.

Date of Occurrence: 06/24/2011 Reference Number: 2011-306 Geographical Subregion: 57 Geographical Location: 6° 09' 35" N 2° 32' 00" E Aggressor: PIRATES Victim: CHEMICAL TANKER Description: COTONOU, BENIN: Twelve armed pirates boarded a chemical tanker drifting in preparation for STS operations. They took hostage all crewmembers and hijacked the tanker. The tanker was released after 17 hours. Awaiting further details.

Benin attacks
Date of Occurrence: 06/24/2011 Reference Number: 2011-308 Geographical Subregion: 57 Geographical Location: 6° 15' 54" N 2° 33' 24" E Aggressor: PIRATES Victim: TANKER Description: COTONOU ANCHORAGE, BENIN: About ten robbers armed with guns and knives in a speed boat were seen approaching an anchored tanker with STS fenders alongside. Duty officer raised alarm, activated the SSAS and called port control but received no response. Four robbers boarded the tanker via the STS fenders, entered the bridge and took the Master to his cabin and stole ship's cash and personal belongings. Later the duty officer was taken to his cabin as well as all the other crew cabins and stole crew personal belongings. At this time the crew were threatened. Some crew were also beaten. All the robbers left the tanker at 0330 local time. Port control was called again but there still was no answer.

DR of Congo Attack

Date of Occurrence: 06/23/2011 Reference Number: 2011-302 Geographical Subregion: 57 Geographical Location: 5° 52' 00" S 13° 24' 43" E Aggressor: PIRATES Victim: REFRIGERATED CARGO SHIP Description: MATADI ANCHORAGE, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Robbers boarded and stole ship stores from an anchored refrigerated cargo vessel on three occasions between 0500 local and 0740 local time. Duty crew spotted the robbers and raised the alarm on each occasion resulting in the robbers jumping overboard and escaping in a waiting boat. No response received from port authority when called on VHF. [Note by E1: Interesting as it appears to be a river attack]
Closer view of DR Congo reported attack area

Date of Occurrence: 06/23/2011 Reference Number: 2011-303 Geographical Subregion: 72 Geographical Location: 7° 11' 30" S 112° 43' 30" E Aggressor: PIRATES Victim: BULK CARRIER Description: SURABAYA ANCHORAGE, INDONESIA: Robbers boarded an anchored bulk carrier from the stern as the duty crew was taking routine rounds forward. They stole ship's stores and escaped. When the duty crew reached the stern, he found ship's stores missing and raised the alarm. Port control and local agents informed.
For those of you unfamiliar with it, ReCAAP is The Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia, an international agreement (and organization) devoted to fighting piracy in the Malacca Strait and other parts of the South Asian waters. Since its implementation, piracy in the area has decreased. ReCAAP keeps a watchful eye on the South China Sea, too, and recently, in a Special Report dated 29 June 11 (pdf download) that notes an apparent pattern of hijacking ocean going tugs:
5. A total of 11 incidents of hijacking and missing vessels were reported between
2008 and 2011, comprising two incidents in 2008, one incident in 2009, three incidents in 2010 and five incidents in 2011 (up to June 2011).
6. Except for the incident involving tanker Blue Ocean 7 on 21 May 08, all the other 10 incidents involved tug boats. Tug boats are vulnerable targets as they tend to operate nearer to coast (on coastal voyages), slow moving, with low free board and less crew onboard.
Vicinity of 1 July tug  attack off Malaysia (click to enlarge)
The report goes on to analyze the patterns, report the economic basis for the hijackings (newer boats preferred to old because they sell for more), suggest tug boat security rules and it has maps detailing the prime attack areas. Interesting read.

The 1 July thwarted attack set out  in red above appears to fall into this pattern of criminality.

You may recall the hijacked tug, Atlantic 5, found being renamed in the Philippines as set out in my post here.