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The Threat of Modern Piracy- A Merged Thread

Somali pirates seize two ships

AFP 9 hours ago (September 18 2008)

MOGADISHU (AFP) — Somali pirates seized a Greek ship and a Hong Kong-flagged vessel in the latest in a string of attacks that have prompted calls for international action, officials said on Thursday.

Pirates armed with rockets seized the freighter Centauri with a crew of 25 Filipinos some 200 miles south of Mogadishu on Thursday.

"The pirates attacked and boarded the ship, she was en route to Kenya with a crew of 25 on board," said Noel Choong, head of the International Maritime Bureau's (IMB) Piracy Reporting Centre in Kuala Lumpur.

He said pirates were now targeting ships on the eastern side of Somalia.

Hijackers also took the Hong Kong-flagged Great Creation on Wednesday with its 25 crew -- 24 Chinese and one Sri Lankan. The ship was headed to the Indian port of Pipavav from Tunisia, said Andrew Mwangura who runs the Kenya chapter of the Seafarers Assistance programme.

Mwangura told AFP the ship was being taken to Eyl, a pirate lair in Somalia's northern breakaway state of Puntland.

A representative of the firm that owns Centauri said "all the crew are fine" but declined to give more details.

Meanwhile, a World Food Programme-chartered ship carrying some 4,000 tonnes of food aid arrived at Mogadishu port Thursday escorted by a Canadian frigate.

The Golina, escorted by the frigate Ville de Quebec, will spend four days offloading its cargo as the escort vessel returns to the Kenya port of Mombasa to escort a second ship.

According to the IMB, 55 ships have been attacked off Somalia since January and 11 are still being held for ransom when news of the Great Creation's capture was reported.

This week, French commandos freed a couple who were held hostage on their yacht in the region and French President Nicolas Sarkozy called for an international offensive against piracy.

Last year, the pirates had been operating on Somalia's east coast, but then shifted to the north, in the Gulf of Aden, before again recently switching back to the Indian Ocean.

Somalia's long coastline is infested with pirates, making the Gulf of Aden and neighbouring areas in the Indian Ocean among the most dangerous waters in the world.

In recent months, a Djibouti-based multinational taskforce has been patrolling the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea, where a pirate mothership is believed to be operating.

Mwangura of the Seafarers Assistance programme said the latest attack was evidence that pirates could play cat and mouse with foreign navies. "They are changing locations due to the heavy concentration of navy ships" near the Gulf of Aden, he told AFP.

Operating from wooden boats that are difficult to detect on radar, the heavily-armed former coast guards turned pirates flit along with ease.

"At times when the sea is rough, they are camouflaged by the waves," Simon Tousignant, the second-lieutenant of the Canadian frigate Ville de Quebec, told AFP on board the ship.

The Ville de Quebec has been escorting UN relief food from the Kenyan port of Mombasa to the war-riven Somali capital of Mogadishu since Tuesday.

The sea bandits, whose numbers Mwangura says have risen to about 1,000 elude capture due to their rapid and unpredictable attacks.

Once aboard, an operation that takes about 20 minutes, the hijackers are almost untouchable with hostages under their command.

"They've got at least two mother ships at sea and they launch speed boats from these two cargos (vessels) to hijack other ships," Mwangura explained.

With rampant piracy and rising insecurity in the Horn of Africa nation, sea transport is the last lifeline of some 3.2 million Somalis in need of food aid.

Somalia has been without an effective central authority since the 1991 ouster of president Mohamed Siad Barre set off a deadly power struggle.

Edited to increase font in quote
Life in Somalia's pirate town
By Mary Harper BBC Africa analyst  Page last updated at 15:10 GMT, Thursday, 18 September 2008 16:10 UK

Whenever word comes out that pirates have taken yet another ship in the Somali region of Puntland, extraordinary things start to happen.

There is a great rush to the port of Eyl, where most of the hijacked vessels are kept by the well-armed pirate gangs.

People put on ties and smart clothes. They arrive in land cruisers with their laptops, one saying he is the pirates' accountant, another that he is their chief negotiator.

With yet more foreign vessels seized off the coast of Somalia this week, it could be said that hijackings in the region have become epidemic.

Insurance premiums for ships sailing through the busy Gulf of Aden have increased tenfold over the past year because of the pirates, most of whom come from the semi-autonomous region of Puntland.

In Eyl, there is a lot of money to be made, and everybody is anxious for a cut.

Entire industry

The going rate for ransom payments is between $300,000 and $1.5m (£168,000-£838,000).

A recent visitor to the town explained how, even though the number of pirates who actually take part in a hijacking is relatively small, the whole modern industry of piracy involves many more people.

"The number of people who make the first attack is small, normally from seven to 10," he said.

"They go out in powerful speedboats armed with heavy weapons. But once they seize the ship, about 50 pirates stay on board the vessel. And about 50 more wait on shore in case anything goes wrong."

Given all the other people involved in the piracy industry, including those who feed the hostages, it has become a mainstay of the Puntland economy.

Eyl has become a town tailor-made for pirates - and their hostages.

Special restaurants have even been set up to prepare food for the crews of the hijacked ships.

As the pirates want ransom payments, they try to look after their hostages.

When commandos from France freed two French sailors seized by pirates off the Somali coast this week, President Nicolas Sarkozy said he had given the go-ahead for the operation when it was clear the pirates were headed for Eyl - it would have been too dangerous to try to free them from there.

The town is a safe-haven where very little is done to stop the pirates - leading to the suggestion that some, at least, in the Puntland administration and beyond have links with them.

Many of them come from the same clan - the Majarteen clan of the president of Somalia's transitional federal government, Abdullahi Yusuf.

Money to spend

The coastal region of Puntland is booming.

Fancy houses are being built, expensive cars are being bought - all of this in a country that has not had a functioning central government for nearly 20 years.

Observers say pirates made about $30m from ransom payments last year - far more than the annual budget of Puntland, which is about $20m.

When the president of Puntland, Adde Musa, was asked about the reported wealth of pirates and their associates, he said: "It's more than true".

Now that they are making so much money, these 21st Century pirates can afford increasingly sophisticated weapons and speedboats.

This means that unless more is done to stop them, they will continue to plunder the busy shipping lanes through the Gulf of Aden.

They even target ships carrying aid to feed their compatriots - up to a third of the population.

Warships from France, Canada and Malaysia, among others, now patrol the Somali coast to try and fend off pirate attacks.

An official at the International Maritime Organisation explained how the well-armed pirates are becoming increasingly bold.

More than 30% of the world's oil is transported through the Gulf of Aden, and even though the pirates lack the means to hijack huge tankers, there are reports that they have fired at them.

"It is only a matter of time before something horrible happens," said the official.

"If the pirates strike a hole in the tanker, and there's an oil spill, there could be a huge environmental disaster".

It is likely that piracy will continue to be a problem off the coast of Somalia as long as the violence and chaos continues on land.

Conflict can be very good for certain types of business, and piracy is certainly one of them.

Weapons are easy to obtain and there is no functioning authority to stop them, either on land or at sea.
NOW there's a job for our navy.

Hmmm. The HMCS VDQ (Ville de Quebec) already belongs to us no? What's needed off the coast of Somalia is a whole lot more than what we can provide ... and a whole lot more than what's already being provided by various nations already, unfortunately.
Todate, it sure sounds like nobody wants to do anything but slap the pirate's proverbial hands...

Wanted: countries to stand guard on ships
Rob Crilly The Times September 20, 2008

Aid officials gave warning yesterday that time was running out to feed millions of people at risk of starvation in Somalia, where a war-ravaged population faces its worst humanitarian crisis in 17 years.

Piracy and lawlessness in the capital, Mogadishu, have long made aid operations extremely hazardous. Yesterday, as port workers unloaded sacks of sorghum from a Panamanian-registered cargo ship, United Nations officials said that they desperately needed naval vessels to provide escorts for future aid shipments. At the end of the month the Canadian Navy will withdraw its frigate, HMCS Ville de Quebec, from the region, leaving cargo ships with no defence against the pirates.

Denise Brown, deputy country director of the World Food Programme in Somalia, said that tonnes of food were being brought in to South Africa with no means to deliver it to people in need. “We do not have a firm offer for any naval escort and we have 45,000 tonnes of food which needs to be distributed in October,” she told The Times by telephone from Nairobi.

Three WFP-contracted ships were hijacked during 2005 and 2006, but none has been seized since the escorts began last year. Frigates from France, Denmark and the Netherlands have each taken a turn.

Two decades of clan violence, warlord power struggles and repeated droughts have left millions of people hungry. This year the rains were well below average – the fourth successive failure - as drought swept the entire Horn of Africa.

Fighting has intensified in recent months as Islamist fighters seized key towns from a weak, interim government, adding thousands more to a displaced population.

At the same time, a global food and fuel crisis has sent the price of staples soaring by as much as 600 per cent in parts of the country.

The result is that almost half of Somalia’s population of seven million people - most desperately poor - is in desperate need of food deliveries.

Analysts believe that all the factors are in place for a disaster on the scale of the 1991-93 famine that killed hundreds of thousands of people.

In all, about 150,000 tonnes of food are needed to feed the country for the rest of the year. Ms Brown said that deliveries by sea were crucial. “This is a critical lifeline. Without a ship we would only have 10 per cent of our requirements in Somalia,” she said.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation’s Food Analysis Unit said recently: “All information indicates that the key factors driving this humanitarian crisis will continue to worsen over the coming months.”

The solution is simple:

You get caught committing piracy, you die. Right there and then.

Perhaps the answer is a Coalition of various countries with not just Naval assets but some SOF assets as well to carry out some targeted neutralization of various Pirates and their modes of transport.
Thanks Cdn Aviator.

Clint Eastwood as one of his cowboy characters said it best:

"Some folks need a good killin"
BulletMagnet said:
Perhaps the answer is a Coalition of various countries with not just Naval assets but some SOF assets as well to carry out some targeted neutralization of various Pirates and their modes of transport.

We are never in the full picture, perhaps its already happening....
Somali pirates hijack an Iranian ship only to start dying due to its cargo?

Mystery surrounds hijacked Iranian ship
By NICK GRACE September 22, 2008 12:20 PM

A tense standoff is underway in northeastern Somalia between pirates, Somali authorities, and Iran over a suspicious merchant vessel and its mysterious cargo. Hijacked late last month in the Gulf of Aden, the MV Iran Deyanat remains moored offshore in Somali waters and inaccessible for inspection. Its declared cargo consists of minerals and industrial products, however, Somali and regional officials directly involved in the negotiations over the ship and who spoke to The Long War Journal are convinced that it was heading to Eritrea to deliver small arms and chemical weapons to Somalia's Islamist insurgents.


The MV Iran Deyanat is owned and operated by the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) - a state-owned company run by the Iranian military that was sanctioned by the U.S. Department of the Treasury on September 10, shortly after the ship's hijacking. According to the U.S. Government, the company regularly falsifies shipping documents in order to hide the identity of end users, uses generic terms to describe shipments to avoid the attention of shipping authorities, and employs the use of cover entities to circumvent United Nations sanctions to facilitate weapons proliferation for the Iranian Ministry of Defense.


Suspicion has also been cast on the ship's crew, half of which is almost entirely staffed by Iranians - a large percentage of Iranian nationals for a standard merchant vessel. Somali officials say that the ship has a crew of 29 men, including a Pakistani captain, an Iranian engineer, 13 other Iranians, 3 Indians, 2 Filipinos, and 10 Eastern Europeans, possibly Croatian.

The MV Iran Deyanat was brought to Eyl, a sleepy fishing village in northeastern Somalia, and was secured by a larger gang of pirates - 50 onboard and 50 onshore. Within days, pirates who had boarded the ship developed strange health complications, skin burns and loss of hair. Independent sources tell The Long War Journal that a number of pirates have also died. "Yes, some of them have died. I do not know exactly how many but the information that I am getting is that some of them have died," Andrew Mwangura, Director of the East African Seafarers' Assistance Program, said Friday when reached by phone in Mombasa.

CBC Radio just (08:10 Eastern) reported that Canada will continue to patrol the Horn of Africa. It sounds like VDQ will remain on station for now, anyway.
E.R. Campbell said:
CBC Radio just (08:10 Eastern) reported that Canada will continue to patrol the Horn of Africa. It sounds like VDQ will remain on station for now, anyway.

Seems the appropriate thing to be doing at this point in time.

Wondering if/when we are going to go in and get our hostage back - it'd be nice to pull off (dare I say it) a "France Move" on this one.


U.S. ship fires shots toward boats off Somalia
Story Highlights
Warning shots fired after two boats raise suspicions of piracy

Boats were approaching a U.S. Navy refueling ship

Warning shots land in water and boats turn away, military says

Pirates known to prowl waters off African nation of Somalia

(CNN) -- Security forces aboard a U.S. naval vessel fired warning shots toward two approaching small boats off the Somali coast Tuesday, the U.S. military said Wednesday.

The rounds landed in the water, prompting the boats to turn around, and no casualties were reported, the military news release said.

It is unclear whether the boats were trying to attack the 41,000-ton USNS John Lenthall, the military said.

"It is clear they were not following the international rules of the road observed by mariners around the globe," it said.

The release noted that the location of the incident, the types of boats involved and the maneuvering were all "consistent with reports from previous attacks on merchant vessels in the region."

The USNS John Lenthall is one of 14 "fleet replenishment oilers" in the Military Sealift Fleet Support Command, according to a U.S. Navy Web site. Oilers refuel Navy ships at sea and any aircraft they may be carrying.

Attacks by pirates have increased dramatically off the northern coast of Somalia in the past year, prompting the United States and other nations to step up patrols in the region.

In May, the U.S. Navy warned merchant ships to stay at least 200 miles off the Somali coast. But the U.S. Maritime Administration warns that pirates sometimes issue false distress calls to lure ships closer to shore.

The pirates are often armed with automatic rifles and shoulder-fired rockets, according to warnings from the agency.

E.R. Campbell said:
CBC Radio just (08:10 Eastern) reported that Canada will continue to patrol the Horn of Africa. It sounds like VDQ will remain on station for now, anyway.

Can anyone shed any light on this?

I know I heard it; I stopped what I was doing to listen. The reporter said Canada had agreed to extend VDQ's stay on station, in the region, at the request of the World Food Programme because, as the WFP said, no other nation is willing to take on the task. But I have found/heard/read nothing since.
E.R. Campbell said:
Can anyone shed any light on this?

I know I heard it; I stopped what I was doing to listen. The reporter said Canada had agreed to extend VDQ's stay on station, in the region, at the request of the World Food Programme because, as the WFP said, no other nation is willing to take on the task. But I have found/heard/read nothing since.

Mr Campbell,

Does this answer your question?

Norwegian warship to fight pirates off Somalia - report
09/22/2008 | 05:26 PM


KNM Fridtjof Nansen

OSLO, Norway - Norway’s new warship called Fridtjof Nansen will be deployed off the coast of Somalia to fight pirates operating in the area, according to Norwegian newspaper VG.

VG said the new super frigate would be stationed in the Gulf of Aden east of the mouth of the Red Sea by next spring. The Fridtjof Nansen is among the five Norwegian frigates that are being built in Spain by Nevanti Ship Yards.

On Sunday, pirates hijacked Greek ship MV Captain Stephanos with 19 crew members on board composed of 17 Filipinos, a Chinese, and a Ukranian.

Norway armed forces chief Sverre Diesen was quoted in the report as saying that the the first of the new frigates was tasked to guard the gulf against sea bandits.

Diesen reportedly said that a clear mandate from the UN and a political approval at home were needed for the project to go ahead.

The Gulf of Aden, along with the Straits of Malacca, has become the site of frequent pirate attacks, with 24 cases reported between April and June.

On Sept. 6, suspected Somali pirates attacked Norwegian tanker Front Voyager with Filipino and Russian seamen on board. The crew used water cannons to fend off the pirates from climbing up the tanker while waiting for the arrival of Danish Naval vessel Absalon that managed to capture the pirates.

On Aug. 21, Somali pirates held captive nine Filipinos and four other foreign nationals who were on board a German-owned container ship near the Gulf of Aden. They were freed after almost a month in captivity.

According to reports, the International Maritime Bureau received eight incidents of pirate attacks in African waters since the beginning of September. - Gloria Grejalde, GMANews.TV


CougarDaddy said:
Mr Campbell,

Does this answer your question?

That seems to make sense as the UN stated on Sunday the 21st that no nation had yet stepped up to take the VDQs spot on this mission:

As well, there's nothing announced on the link here ([url=http://www.un.org/apps/news/latest-headlines.asp#22]United Nations Website - latest news & press releases), which is unusual as the VDQ tasking is to protect the UN's World Food Program shipments from pirates. Wierd.