jacked and sailed out from within
the territorial waters of Oman to
Somalia, where she now is. There are
also many cases reported by masters
where multiple skiffs have conducted a coordinated attack against the
vessel,” he said.
The pirates appear to be employing coordinated, multidirectional attacks in a “swarm”
approach, said Gordan Van Hook
of Maersk Lines Ltd.
“Some of the gangs appear to be
using younger members, and some
have shown a propensity toward
violence after successful boarding,” he said.
The pirates have patience, too.
MV Iceberg 1, owned by a Dubai-based company, was released in
October after being held by Somali
pirates for almost 19 months.
These trends can be seen as evidence that the counterpiracy efforts in the region are
having an impact, according to U.K. Royal Navy Lt.
Cmdr. Sam Hearn of the Bahrain-based Combined
Maritime Forces (CMF).
The current measures have forced the pirates to go
farther from home to find likely targets and use more
sophisticated tactics when they do. The pirates are
having fewer successful hijackings and may be becoming more violent out of frustration or desperation.
“Naval forces have become more experienced in recognizing the practices of the Somali pirates and this
has helped the naval forces to disrupt attempted piracy
attacks. As the counterpiracy forces have developed
their experience and tactics, the pirates have also
developed their tactics,” Hearn said.
“The naval forces have become more effective,” Mu-
kundan said. “There appears to be growing coordina-
tion between them.”
“Piracy is a threat to all nations,” Hearn said. “The
Combined Maritime Forces represents 25 nations, of
which 16 are signed up to CMF counterpiracy opera-
tions. Some members of the CMF coalition are also
signed up to counterpiracy operations with EUNAVFOR
[European Union Naval Forces] and NATO. There are
also a growing number of ‘independently deployed’
nations who also patrol the region, including Japan,
Republic of Korea, India, China, Russia and Iran.”
Some officials, however, worry that governments, fac-
ing enormous budget pressures, will curtail their overseas
military commitments, including sending ships to the
Indian Ocean to participate in anti-piracy operations.
Members of the visit, board, search and seizure team from the guided-missile
cruiser USS Anzio investigate a suspicious skiff in rigid-hull inflatable boats as part
of a maritime interdiction operation Sept. 10 in the Gulf of Aden. Anzio is assigned
to Combined Task Force 151, a multinational task formed to conduct counterpira-
cy operations in the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Somali Basin and Arabian Sea.
Joseph Angelo, managing director of the International
Association of Independent Tanker Owners (
INTER-TANKO), which represents independent owners and operators of oil and chemical tankers, is calling for governments to increase their will to eradicate piracy off Somalia.
“The military tells us they would need some 90 ships
to be able to respond to a distress call in the region within one hour. There are many less than that today. We’re
grateful they’re there, but the number of military assets
in the area is woefully inadequate,” Angelo said.
Angelo said the naval forces and law enforcement
partners such as Interpol have been successful in learning about pirates and their tactics from cell phones,
laptops and other evidence taken from them.
“A lot of pirates are released because the nations that
apprehend them do not have the laws on the books to
deal with them. We must immobilize the motherships,
and there must be prosecution of captured pirates,” he
said. “More needs to be done. We need to get to the
people who are financing these piracy operations.”
The U.N. Security Council, in an Oct. 24 resolution,
urged states and international organizations to make pira-
cy a crime and establish anti-piracy courts, and to “share
evidence and information for anti-piracy law enforcement
purposes with a view to ensuring effective prosecution of
suspected, and imprisonment of convicted, pirates.”
The shipping industry recognizes that it, too, has a
major role in eradicating piracy and, with this in mind,
developed guidelines — called Best Management
Practices (BMP) — to advise companies how to avoid,
deter or delay pirate attacks.