The U.S. Navy fleet ocean tug USNS Catawba provides fuel and fresh water to the merchant ship MV Faina Feb. 6 following
its release by Somali pirates who had been holding it for more than four months. The Belize-flagged cargo ship is owned and
operated by Kaalbye Shipping Ukraine and is carrying a cargo of Ukrainian T-72 tanks and related equipment.
■ Ensure that those who commit acts of piracy are
held accountable by facilitating prosecution of suspected pirates by flag, victim and coastal states.
Within these lines of action, there are “five essential
■ Improving operational and intelligence support to
■ Strengthening judicial frameworks for detention
and prosecution of pirates.
■ Disrupting pirate financial operations.
■ Strengthening commercial shipping self-defense
■ Pursuing diplomatic and public information efforts
to discourage piracy.
Much of the action plan revolves around arriving at
a legal framework to deal with these maritime criminals, or what Capt. Charles D. Michel, chief of the
Coast Guard’s Office of Maritime and International
Law, calls “the end game.”
“It is less an operational problem than it is legality
and logistics,” he said. “What do you do with the
pirates, even if you can get them? Send them back to
Somalia? You don’t have a functioning government
there that can deliver consequences.”
Piracy off the coast of Somalia grew significantly in
2008, with more than 100 attacks and 40 successful
seizures in which hundreds of people were taken
hostage and millions of dollars in ransom paid. In
February, for example, the Ukrainian merchant ship
MV Faina was released with its crew following more
than four months of captivity in the Somali coastal
town of Hobyo. Pirates received $3.2 million in ransom, which was reportedly dropped by plane.
It is widely held that attacks on shipping vessels likely will rise without enhanced international efforts.
Furthermore, piracy is considered a symptom of a wider
lack of security and rule of law in Somalia, according to
a communiqué prepared by the newly established Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS).
“The CGPCS considers its activities as part of wider
international efforts to secure peace and stability in
Somalia,” the group said in the communiqué, issued after
it was established Jan. 14 during a meeting in New York.
More than 24 representatives from nongovernment
organizations (NGOs) and countries formed the group to
facilitate discussion and coordinate action among states
and organizations to suppress piracy off of Somalia.