A container with an apparent ransom payment is dropped to pirates holding the Saudi Arabian oil supertanker MV Sirius
Star Jan. 9 in the Gulf of Aden. The ship, which was transporting 2 million barrels of oil, was overcome by a small gang
of pirates in November while traveling about 520 miles off the coast of Kenya. It was freed soon after the $3 million
ransom was received. The pirates had been asking for $25 million.
CTF-151 is a spin-off of CTF-150, established at the
start of Operation Enduring Freedom to conduct maritime security operations in the Gulf of Aden, the Gulf of
Oman, the Arabian Sea, Red Sea and the Indian Ocean.
“It’s fair to say that piracy started as a very low-scale
operation. It certainly is not low scale now. It is organized crime at a much higher level,” said Canadian Navy
Commodore Bob Davidson, who served as CTF-150
commander for three months in 2008.
Davidson, who was addressing a gathering at the
Canadian Embassy in Washington Dec. 19, said that
during his command, CTF-150 stopped 11 pirate
attacks and thwarted countless others.
The piracy problem has sparked debate in recent
months about whether militaries around the world
should be more active in addressing the problem, he said.
“The military has a key role to play in the short term
to allow industry to adapt, but the long-term solution
is going to have to be industry,” Davidson said.
“The issue has gotten the attention from the highest
levels of the U.S. government,” said Sean T. Connaughton, maritime administrator at the Department of
Transportation’s Maritime Administration (MARAD).
Indeed, the new U.S. counterpiracy action plan,
“Countering Piracy Off the Horn of Africa: Partnership
and Action Plan,” released by the White House Jan. 14,
calls upon the departments of State, Defense and
Justice; the U.S. Navy, Coast Guard and MARAD; and
other agencies, to play a part in protecting American
trade interests and reaffirming the nation’s anti-piracy
policies, MARAD officials said.
MARAD’s multipurpose mission involves ensuring
the safe and secure passage of the nation’s domestic
and foreign waterborne commerce. As the agency
accountable to U.S. commercial shippers and Merchant
Mariners, MARAD also is a key counterpiracy resource
in the United States.
The agency’s Web site provides updated information
and advisories counseling mariners on procedures for
transiting the 2. 5 million square miles in the Gulf of
Aden and along Somalia’s east coast, serving to a certain degree as a counterpart to the International
Maritime Bureau (IMB) Piracy Reporting Centre, an
operation of the International Chamber of Commerce’s
Commercial Crime Services.
Connaughton said the new action plan reflects portions of U.N. Resolution 1851, also passed in December.
“The resolution authorized force against the pirates
both at sea as well as potentially ashore,” he said. “In
that resolution was the establishment of a ‘Contact
Group’ on Somali piracy that will consist of 22 nations
and four international organizations.”