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|It has been suggested that this article be split into articles titled Anti-piracy measures in Somalia and Piracy in Somalia, accessible from a disambiguation page. (March 2014)|
Piracy off the coast of Somalia has been a threat to international shipping since the second phase of the Somali Civil War in the early 21st century. Since 2005, many international organizations, including the International Maritime Organization and the World Food Programme, have expressed concern over the rise in acts of piracy. Piracy has impeded the delivery of shipments and increased shipping expenses, costing an estimated $6.6 to $6.9 billion a year in global trade according to Oceans Beyond Piracy (OBP). According to the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW), a veritable industry of profiteers has also risen around the piracy. Insurance companies, in particular, have profited from the pirate attacks, as insurance premiums have increased significantly.
A United Nations report and several news sources have suggested that piracy off the coast of Somalia was caused in part by illegal fishing. According to the DIW and the U.S. House Armed Services Committee, the dumping of toxic waste in Somali waters by foreign vessels also severely constrained the ability of local fishermen to earn a living. In response, the fishermen began forming armed groups to stop the foreign ships. They eventually turned to hijacking commercial vessels for ransom as an alternate source of income. In 2009, a survey by WardheerNews found that approximately 70 percent of the local coastal communities at the time "strongly support[ed] the piracy as a form of national defense of the country's territorial waters". The pirates also believed that they were protecting their fishing grounds and exacting justice and compensation for the marine resources stolen. Some reports have suggested that, in the absence of an effective national coast guard following the outbreak of the civil war and the subsequent disintegration of the Armed Forces, local fishermen formed organized groups in order to protect their waters. This is reflected in the names adopted by some of the pirate networks, such as the National Volunteer Coast Guard, which are testimony to the pirates' initial motivations. However, as piracy became substantially more lucrative, other reports have speculated that financial gain became the primary motive for the pirates.
Combined Task Force 150, a multinational coalition task force, took on the role of fighting piracy off the coast of Somalia by establishing a Maritime Security Patrol Area (MSPA) within the Gulf of Aden. The increasing threat posed by piracy has also caused concern in India since most of its shipping trade routes pass through the Gulf of Aden. The Indian Navy responded to these concerns by deploying warships in the region on October 2008. In September 2008, Russia announced that it too would join international efforts to combat piracy. Some reports have also accused certain government officials in Somalia of complicity with the pirates, with authorities from the Galmudug administration in the north-central Hobyo district reportedly attempting to use pirate gangs as a bulwark against Islamist insurgents from the nation's southern conflict zones. However, according to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, both the former and current administrations of the autonomous Puntland region in northeastern Somalia appear to be more actively involved in combating piracy. The latter measures include on-land raids on pirate hideouts, and the construction of a new naval base in conjunction with Saracen International, a UK-based security company. By the first half of 2010, these increased policing efforts by Somali government authorities on land and international naval vessels at sea reportedly contributed to a drop in pirate attacks in the Gulf of Aden from 86 a year prior to 33, forcing pirates to shift attention to other areas such as the Somali Basin and the wider Indian Ocean. By the end of 2011, pirates managed to seize only four ships off the coast of Somalia, 22 fewer than the 26 they had captured in each of the two previous years. They also attempted unsuccessful attacks on 52 other vessels, 16 fewer than the year prior. As of 5 September 2014, the pirates were holding no major vessels for ransom, though still had an estimated thirty-seven hostages from three previous merchant hijackings.
According to another source, there were 151 attacks on ships in 2011, compared with 127 in 2010 – but only 25 successful hijacks compared to 47 in 2010. Pirates were holding 10 vessels and 159 hostages in February 2012. In 2011, pirates earned $146m, an average of $4.87 million per ship. An estimated 3,000 to 5,000 pirates operated; by February 2012 1,000 had been captured and were going through legal processes in 21 countries. According to the European Union Naval Force (EU NAVFOR), intensified naval operations had by February 2012 led to a further drop in successful pirate attacks in the Indian Ocean, with the pirates' movements in the region at large also significantly constrained. About 25 military vessels from the EU and NATO countries, the United States, China, Russia, India and Japan patrolled approximately 8.3M km2 (3.2 million sq miles) of ocean, an area about the size of Western Europe. On 16 July 2012, the European Union launched a new operation, EUCAP Nestor. An analysis by the Brussels-based Global Governance Institute urged the EU to commit onshore to prevent piracy. By September 2012, the heyday of piracy in the Indian Ocean was reportedly over. Backers were now reportedly reluctant to finance pirate expeditions due to the low rate of success, and pirates were no longer able to reimburse their creditors. According to the International Maritime Bureau, pirate attacks had by October 2012 dropped to a six-year low, with only one ship attacked in the third quarter compared to thirty-six during the same period in 2011. By December 2013, the US Office of Naval Intelligence reported that only 9 vessels had been attacked during the year by the pirates, with zero successful hijackings. Control Risks attributed this 90% decline in pirate activity from the corresponding period in 2012 to the adoption of best management practices by vessel owners and crews, armed private security onboard ships, a significant naval presence, and the development of onshore security forces.
In the early 1980s, prior to the outbreak of the civil war in Somalia, the Somali Ministry of Fisheries and the Coastal Development Agency (CDA) launched a development program focusing on the establishment of agricultural and fishery cooperatives for artisanal fishermen. It also received significant foreign investment funds for various fishery development projects, as the Somali fishing industry was considered to have a lot of potential owing to its unexploited marine stocks. The government at this time permitted foreign fishing through official licensing or joint venture agreements, forming two such partnerships in the Iraqi-Somali Siadco and Italian-Somali Somital ventures.
After the collapse of the central government in the ensuing civil war, the Somali Navy disbanded. With Somali territorial waters undefended, foreign fishing trawlers began illegally fishing on the Somali seaboard and ships from big companies started dumping waste off the coast of Somalia. This led to the erosion of the fish stock. Local fishermen subsequently started to band together to protect their resources. After seeing the profitability of ransom payments, some financiers and former militiamen later began to fund pirate activities, splitting the profits evenly with the pirates. In most of the hijackings, the pirates have not harmed their prisoners.
Combined Task Force 150, a multinational coalition task force, subsequently took on the role of fighting piracy off the coast of Somalia by establishing a Maritime Security Patrol Area (MSPA) within the Gulf of Aden. However, many foreign naval vessels chasing pirates were forced to break off when the pirates entered Somali territorial waters. To address this, in June 2008, following a letter from the Somalian Transitional Federal Government (TFG) to the President of the UN Security Council requesting assistance for the TFG's efforts to tackle acts of piracy off the coast of Somalia, the UN Security Council unanimously passed a declaration authorizing nations that have the consent of the Transitional Federal Government to enter Somali territorial waters to deal with pirates. On the advice of lawyers, the Royal Navy and other international naval forces have often released suspected pirates that they have captured because, although the men are frequently armed, they have not been caught engaging in acts of piracy and have thus not technically committed a crime.
Due to improved anti-piracy measures the success of piracy acts on sea decreased dramatically by the end of 2011 with only four vessels hijacked in the last quarter versus 17 in the last quarter of the preceding year. In response, pirates resorted to increased hostage taking on land. The government of the autonomous Puntland region has also made progress in combating piracy, evident in recent interventions by its maritime police force (PMPF).
In part to further curtail piracy activity, the London Somalia Conference was convened in February 2012.
According to the International Maritime Bureau, pirate attacks in the Indian Ocean had by October 2012 dropped to a six-year low. Attempted hijackings fell from 237 in 2011 to 75 the following year, with successful attacks plummeting from 28 in 2011 to 14 in 2012. Additionally, only 1 ship was attacked in the third quarter of 2012 compared to 36 during the same period in 2011.
Somali pirates have attacked hundreds of vessels in the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean region, though most attacks do not result in a successful hijacking. In 2008, there were 111 attacks which included 42 successful hijackings. However, this is only a fraction of the up to 30,000 merchant vessels which pass through that area. The rate of attacks in January and February 2009 was about 10 times higher than during the same period in 2008 and "there have been almost daily attacks in March", with 79 attacks, 21 successful, by mid-April. Most of these attacks occurred in the Gulf of Aden but subsequently the pirates increased their range and started attacking ships as far south as off the coast of Kenya in the Indian Ocean. Below are some notable pirate events which have garnered significant media coverage since 2007.
On 28 May 2007, a Chinese sailor was killed by the pirates because the ship's owners failed to meet their ransom demand. On 5 October 2008, the United Nations Security Council adopted resolution 1838 calling on nations with vessels in the area to apply military force to repress the acts of piracy. At the 101st council of the International Maritime Organization, India called for a United Nations peacekeeping force under unified command to tackle piracy off Somalia. (There has been a general and complete arms embargo against Somalia since 1992.)
In November 2008, Somali pirates began hijacking ships well outside the Gulf of Aden, perhaps targeting ships headed for the port of Mombasa, Kenya. The frequency and sophistication of the attacks also increased around this time, as did the size of vessels being targeted. Large cargo ships, oil and chemical tankers on international voyages became the new targets of choice for the Somali hijackers. This is in stark contrast to the pirate attacks which were once frequent in the Strait of Malacca, another strategically important waterway for international trade, which were according to maritime security expert Catherine Zara Raymond, generally directed against "smaller, more vulnerable vessels carrying trade across the Straits or employed in the coastal trade on either side of the Straits."
On 19 November 2008, the Indian Navy warship INS Tabar sank a suspected pirate mothership. Later, it was claimed to be a Thai trawler being hijacked by pirates. The Indian Navy later defended its actions by stating that they were fired upon first.
On 21 November 2008, BBC News reported that the Indian Navy had received United Nations approval to enter Somali waters to combat piracy.
On 8 April 2009, four Somali pirates seized the Maersk Alabama 240 nautical miles (440 km; 280 mi) southeast of the Somalia port city of Eyl. The ship was carrying 17,000 metric tons of cargo, of which 5,000 metric tons were relief supplies bound for Somalia, Uganda, and Kenya. On 12 April 2009, United States Navy SEAL snipers killed the three pirates that were holding Captain Richard Phillips hostage aboard a lifeboat from the Maersk Alabama after determining that Captain Phillips' life was in immediate danger. A fourth pirate, Abdul Wali Muse, surrendered and was taken into custody. On 18 May, a federal grand jury in New York returned a ten-count indictment against him.
On 20 April 2009, United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton commented on the capture and release of 7 Somali pirates by Dutch Naval forces who were on a NATO mission. After an attack on the Handytankers Magic, a petroleum tanker, the Dutch frigate De Zeven Provinciën tracked the pirates back to a pirate "mother ship" and captured them. They confiscated the pirates' weapons and freed 20 Yemeni fishermen whom the pirates had kidnapped and who had been forced to sail the pirate "mother ship". Since the Dutch Naval Forces were part of a NATO exercise, but not on an EU mission, they lacked legal jurisdiction to keep the pirates so they released them. Clinton stated that this action "sends the wrong signal" and that additional coordination was needed among nations.
On 23 April 2009, international donors pledged over $250 million for Somalia, including $134 million to increase the African Union peacekeeping mission from 4,350 troops to 8,000 troops and $34 million for Somali security forces. Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon told delegates at a donors' conference sponsored by the UN that "Piracy is a symptom of anarchy and insecurity on the ground", and that "More security on the ground will make less piracy on the seas." Somali President Sharif Ahmed pledged at the conference that he would fight piracy and to loud applause said that "It is our duty to pursue these criminals not only on the high seas, but also on terra firma". The Somali government has not gone after pirates because pirate leaders currently have more power than the government. It has been estimated by piracy experts that in 2008 the pirates gained about $80 million through ransom payments.
On 8 November 2009, Somali pirates threatened that a kidnapped British couple, the Chandlers, would be "punished" if a German warship did not release seven pirates. Omer, one of the pirates holding the British couple, claimed the seven men were fishermen, but a European Union Naval Force spokesman stated they were captured as they fired AK-47 assault rifles at a French fishing vessel. The Chandlers were released on 14 November 2010 after 388 days of captivity. At least two ransom payments, reportedly over GBP 500 000, had been made.
In April 2010, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) alluded to possible covert and overt action against the pirates. CIA officials had been publicly warning of this potential threat for months. In a Harpers Magazine article, a CIA official said, "We need to deal with this problem from the beach side, in concert with the ocean side, but we don't have an embassy in Somalia and limited, ineffective intelligence operations. We need to work in Somalia and in Lebanon, where a lot of the ransom money has changed hands. But our operations in Lebanon are a joke, and we have no presence at all in Somalia".
In early May 2010, Russian special forces retook a Russian oil tanker that had been hijacked by 11 pirates. One died in the assault, and a week later Russian military officials reported that the remainder were freed due to weaknesses in international law but died before reaching the Somali coast. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev had announced the day the ship was retaken that "We'll have to do what our forefathers did when they met the pirates" until a suitable way of prosecuting them was available.
On 11 May 2010 Somali pirates seized a Bulgarian-flagged ship in the Gulf of Aden. The Panega, with 15 Bulgarian crew members aboard, was en route from the Red Sea to India or Pakistan. This was the first such hijacking of a Bulgarian-flagged ship. On 12 May 2010, Athens announced that Somali pirates had seized a Greek vessel in the Gulf of Aden with at least 24 people on board, including two Greek citizens and some Filipinos. The vessel, sailing under the Liberian flag, was transporting iron from Ukraine to China.
On 14 January 2011, while speaking to reporters, Commodore Michiel Hijmans of the Royal Netherlands Navy stated that the use of hijacked vessels in more recent hijackings had led to increased range of pirating activities, as well as difficulty to actively thwart future events due to the use of kidnapped sailors as human shields.
On 15 January 2011 thirteen Somali pirates seized the Samho Jewelry, a Maltese-flagged chemical carrier operated by Samho Shipping, 650 km southeast of Muscat. The Republic of Korea Navy destroyer Choi Young shadowed the Samho Jewlry for several days. In the early morning of 21 January 2011, 25 ROK Navy SEALs on small boats launched from the Choi Young boarded the Samho Jewelry while the Choi Youngs Westland Super Lynx provided covering fire. Eight pirates were killed and five captured in the operation; the crew of 21 was freed with the Captain suffering a gunshot wound to the stomach.
On 28 January 2011, an Indian Coast Guard aircraft while responding to a distress call from the CMA CGM Verdi, located two skiffs attempting a piracy attack near Lakshadweep. Seeing the aircraft, the skiffs immediately aborted their piracy attempt and dashed towards the mother vessel, MV Prantalay 14 – a hijacked Thai trawler, which hurriedly hoisted the two skiffs on board and moved westward. The Indian Navy deployed the INS Cankarso which located and engaged the mothership 100 nautical miles north of the Minicoy island. 10 pirates were killed while 15 were apprehended and 20 Thai and Burmese fishermen being held aboard the ship as hostages were rescued.
Within a week of its previous success, the Indian Navy captured another hijacked Thai trawler, MV Prantalay 11 and captured 28 pirates aboard in an operation undertaken by the INS Tir pursuant to receiving information that a Greek merchant ship had been attacked by pirates on board high-speed boats, although it had managed to avoid capture. When INS Tir ordered the pirate ship to stop and be boarded for inspection, it was fired upon. The INS Tir returned fire in which 3 pirates were injured and caused the pirates to raise a white flag indicating their surrender. The INS Tir subsequently was joined by CGS Samar of the Indian Coast Guard. Officials from the Indian Navy reported that a total of 52 men were apprehended, but that 24 are believed to be Thai fishermen who were hostages of the 28 African pirates.
In late February 2011, piracy targeting smaller yachts and collecting ransom made headlines when four Americans were killed aboard their vessel, the Quest, by their captors, while a military ship shadowed them. A federal court in Norfolk, Virginia, sentenced three members of the gang that seized the yacht to life imprisonment. On 24 February 2011 a Danish family on a yacht were captured by pirates.
In March 2011, the Indian Navy intercepted a pirate mother vessel 600 nautical miles west of the Indian coast in the Arabian Sea on Monday and rescued 13 hostages. Sixty-one pirates have also been caught in the operation carried out by Navy's INS Kalpeni.
In late March 2011, the Indian Navy seized 16 suspected pirates after a three-hour-long battle in the Arabian Sea, The navy also rescued 16 crew members of a hijacked Iranian ship west of the Lakshadweep Islands. The crew included 12 Iranians and four Pakistanis.
On 5 January 2012, an SH-60S Seahawk from the guided-missile destroyer USS Kidd, part of the USS John C Stennis Carrier Strike Group, detected a suspected pirate skiff alongside the Iranian-flagged fishing boat, Al Molai. The master of the Al Molai sent a distress call about the same time reporting pirates were holding him captive.
A visit, board, search and seizure team from the Kidd boarded the dhow, a traditional Arabian sailing vessel, and detained 15 suspected pirates who had been holding a 13-member Iranian crew hostage for several weeks. The Al Molai had been hijacked and used as a "mother ship" for pirate operations throughout the Persian Gulf, members of the Iranian vessel's crew reported.
Most of the pirates are young. An official list issued in 2010 by the Somali government of 40 apprehended pirate suspects noted that 80% (32/40) were born in Somalia's southern conflict zones, while only 20% (8/40) came from the more stable northern regions. As of 2012, the pirates primarily operated from the Galmudug region in the central section of the country. In previous years, they largely ventured to sea from ports in the northeastern Puntland province, until the regional administration launched a major anti-piracy campaign and established a maritime police force (PMPF).
According to a 2008 BBC report, the pirates can be divided into three main categories:
The closest Somali term for 'pirate' is burcad badeed, which means "ocean robber". However, the pirates themselves prefer to be called badaadinta badah or "saviours of the sea" (often translated as "coastguard").
The methods used in a typical pirate attack have been analyzed. They show that while attacks can be expected at any time, most occur during the day; often in the early hours. They may involve two or more skiffs that can reach speeds of up to 25 knots. With the help of motherships that include captured fishing and merchant vessels, the operating range of the skiffs has been increased far into the Indian Ocean. An attacked vessel is approached from quarter or stern; RPGs and small arms are used to intimidate the operator to slow down and allow boarding. Light ladders are brought along to climb aboard. Pirates then will try and get control of the bridge to take operational control of the vessel.
The pirates get most of their weapons from Yemen, but a significant number come from Mogadishu, Somalia's capital. Weapons dealers in the capital receive a deposit from a hawala dealer on behalf of the pirates and the weapons are then driven to Puntland where the pirates pay the balance. Various photographs of pirates in situ indicate that their weapons are predominantly AKMs, RPG-7s, AK47s, and semi-automatic pistols such as the TT-30. Additionally, given the particular origin of their weaponry, they are likely to have hand grenades such as the RGD-5 or F1.
The funding of piracy operations is now structured in a stock exchange, with investors buying and selling shares in upcoming attacks in a bourse in Harardhere. Pirates say ransom money is paid in large denomination US$ bills. It is delivered to them in burlap sacks which are either dropped from helicopters or cased in waterproof suitcases loaded onto tiny skiffs. Ransom money has also been delivered to pirates via parachute, as happened in January 2009 when an orange container with $3 million cash inside was dropped onto the deck of the supertanker MV Sirius Star to secure the release of ship and crew. To authenticate the banknotes, pirates use currency-counting machines, the same technology used at foreign exchange bureaus worldwide. According to one pirate, these machines are, in turn, purchased from business connections in Dubai, Djibouti, and other areas. Hostages seized by the pirates usually have to wait 45 days or more for the ships' owners to pay the ransom and secure their release.
In 2008, there were also allegations that the pirates received assistance from some members of the Somali diaspora. Somali expatriates, including some members of the Somali community in Canada, reputedly offered funds, equipment and information.
According to the head of the UN's counter-piracy division, Colonel John Steed, the Al-Shabaab group in 2011 increasingly sought to cooperate with the pirate gangs in the face of dwindling funds and resources for their own activities. Steed, however, acknowledged that he had no definite proof of operational ties between the pirates and the Islamist militants. Detained pirates also indicated to UNODC officials that some measure of cooperation with Al-Shabaab militants was necessary, as they have increasingly launched maritime raids from areas in southern Somalia controlled by the insurgent outfit. Al-Shabaab members have also extorted the pirates, demanding protection money from them and forcing seized pirate gang leaders in Harardhere to hand over 20% of future ransom proceeds. It has been suggested that al-Qaeda have received funding from pirate operations. A maritime intelligence source told CBS News that it was "'inconceivable' to Western intelligence agencies that al Qaeda would not be getting some financial reward from the successful hijackings". They go on to express concern about this funding link being able to keep the group satisfied as piracy gains more publicity and higher ransoms.
Both positive and negative effects of piracy have been reported. In 2005, a liquefied petroleum tanker, MV Feisty Gas, was hijacked and ransomed for $315,000 after being held for about two weeks. In 2009, pirate income derived from ransoms was estimated at around 42.1 million euros (about $58 million), rising to $238 million in 2010. The average ransom had risen to $5.4 million in 2010, up from around $150,000 in 2005. However, by 2011, pirate ransom income dropped to $160 million, a downward trend which has been attributed to intensified counter-piracy efforts.
Besides the actual cost of paying ransoms, various attempts have been made at gauging indirect costs stemming from the piracy; especially those reportedly incurred over the course of anti-piracy initiatives.
During the height of the piracy phenomenon in 2008, local residents complained that the presence of so many armed men made them feel insecure and that their free spending ways caused wild fluctuations in the local exchange rate. Others faulted them for excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages and khat.
A 2010 report suggested that piracy off the coast of Somalia led to a decrease of revenue for Egypt as fewer ships use the Suez canal (estimated loss of about $642 million), impeded trade with neighboring countries, and negatively impacted tourism and fishing in the Seychelles. According to Sky News, around 50% of the world's containers passed through the Horn of Africa coastline as of 2012. The European Union Naval Force (EU NAVFOR) has a yearly budget of over 8 million Euros earmarked for patrolling the 3.2 million square miles.
A 2011 report by Oceans Beyond Piracy (OBP) suggested that the indirect costs of piracy were much higher and estimated to be between $6.6 to $6.9 billion, as they also included insurance, naval support, legal proceedings, re-routing of slower ships, and individual protective steps taken by ship-owners.
Another report from 2011 published by the consultancy firm Geopolicity Inc. investigated the causes and consequences of international piracy, with a particular focus on such activity off the coast of Somalia. The paper asserted that what began as an attempt in the mid-1990s by Somali fishermen to protect their territorial waters has extended far beyond their seaboard and grown into an emerging market in its own right. Due to potentially substantial financial rewards, the report hypothesized that the number of new pirates could swell by 400 persons annually, that pirate ransom income could in turn rise to $400 million per year by 2015, and that piracy costs as a whole could increase to $15 billion over the same period.
According to a 2012 investigative piece by the Somalia Report, the OBP paper and other similar reports that attempt to calibrate the global cost of piracy produce inaccurate estimates based on a variety of factors. Most saliently, instead of comparing the actual costs of piracy with the considerable benefits derived from the phenomenon by the maritime industry and local parties capitalizing on capacity-building initiatives, the OBP paper conflated the alleged piracy costs with the large premiums made by insurance companies and lumped them together with governmental and societal costs. The report also exaggerated the impact that piracy has had on the shipping sector, an industry which has grown steadily in size from 25,000 billion tonnes/miles to 35,000 billion tonnes/miles since the rise of Indian Ocean piracy in 2005. Moreover, the global costs of piracy reportedly represent a small fraction of total maritime shipping expenses and are significantly lower than more routine costs, such as those brought on by port theft, bad weather conditions or fuel-related issues. In the United States alone, the National Cargo Security Council estimated that between $10–$15 billion were stolen from ports in 2003, a figure several times higher than the projected global cost of piracy. Additionally, while the OBP paper alleged that pirate activity has had a significantly negative impact on regional economies, particularly the Kenyan tourism industry, tourist-derived revenue in Kenya rose by 32% in 2011. According to the Somalia Report investigation, the OBP paper also did not factor into its calculations the overall decline in successful pirate attacks beginning in the second half of 2011, a downward trend largely brought about by the increasing use of armed guards. According to Admiral Terence E. McKnight, ransom demands and payments have risen exponentially and the financers and pirates decided they are willing to wait as long as it takes to receive "high seven-figure payouts".
Some benefits from the piracy have also been noted. In the earlier years of the phenomenon in 2008, it was reported that many local residents in pirate hubs such as Harardhere appreciated the rejuvenating effect that the pirates' on-shore spending and restocking had on their small towns, a presence which often provided jobs and opportunity when there were comparatively fewer. Entire hamlets were in the process reportedly transformed into boomtowns, with local shop owners and other residents using their gains to purchase items such as generators for uninterrupted electricity. However, the election of a new administration in 2009 in the northeastern Puntland region saw a sharp decrease in pirate operations, as the provincial authorities launched a comprehensive anti-piracy campaign and established an official maritime police force (PMPF). Since 2010, pirates have mainly operated from the Galmudug region to the south. According to the Somalia Report, the significant infrastructural development evident in Puntland's urban centers has also mainly come from a combination of government development programs, internal investment by local residents returning to their home regions following the civil war in the south, and especially remittance funds sent by the sizable Somali diaspora. The latter contributions have been estimated at around $1.3–$2 billion a year, exponentially dwarfing pirate ransom proceeds, which total only a few million dollars annually and are difficult to track in terms of spending.
Additionally, impoverished fishermen in Kenya's Malindi area in the southeastern African Great Lakes region have reported their largest catches in forty years, catching hundreds of kilos of fish and earning fifty times the average daily wage as a result. They attribute the recent abundance and variety of marine stock to the pirates scaring away predatory foreign fishing trawlers, which have for decades deprived local dhows of a livelihood. According to marine biologists, indicators are that the local fishery is recovering because of the lack of commercial-scale fishing.
Piracy off the coast of Somalia also appears to have a positive impact on the problem of overfishing in Somali waters by foreign vessels. A comparison has been made with the situation in Tanzania further to the south, which is also affected by predatory fishing by foreign ships and generally lacks the means to effectively protect and regulate its territorial waters. There, catches have dropped to dramatically low levels, whereas in Somalia they have risen back to more acceptable levels since the beginning of the piracy.
Piracy off the coast of Somalia has reportedly produced some casualties. According to many interviewed maritime security firms, ship owner groups, lawyers and insurance companies, fear of pirate attacks has increased the likelihood of violent encounters at sea, as untrained or overeager vessel guards have resorted to shooting indiscriminately without first properly assessing the actual threat level. In the process, they have killed both pirates and sometimes innocent fishermen as well as jeopardized the reputation of private maritime security firms with their reckless gun use. Since many of the new maritime security companies that have emerged often also enlist the services of off-duty policemen and former soldiers that saw combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, worries of a "Blackwater out in the Indian Ocean" have only intensified.
Of the 4,185 seafarers whose ships had been attacked by the pirates and the 1,090 who were held hostage in 2010, a third were reportedly abused. Some captives have also indicated that they were used as human shields for pirate attacks while being held hostage.
According to Reuters, of the 3,500 captured during a four-year period, 62 died. The causes of death included suicide and malnutrition, with 25 of the deaths attributed to murder according to Intercargo. In some cases, the captives have also reported being tortured. Many seafarers are also left traumatized after release.
According to the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW), a veritable industry of profiteers has also risen around the piracy. Insurance companies, in particular, have profited from the pirate attacks, as insurance premiums have increased significantly. DIW reports that, in order to keep premiums high, insurance firms have not demanded that ship owners take security precautions that would make hijackings more difficult. For their part, shipping companies often do not comply with naval guidelines on how best to prevent pirate attacks in order to cut down on costs. In addition, security contractors and the German arms industry have profited from the phenomenon.
The former UN envoy for Somalia, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, has stated that "because there is no (effective) government, there is ... much irregular fishing from European and Asian countries," and that the UN has what he described as "reliable information" that European and Asian companies are dumping toxic and nuclear waste off the Somali coastline. However, he stresses that "no government has endorsed this act, and that private companies and individuals acting alone are responsible". In addition, Ould-Abdallah told the press that he approached several international NGOs, such as Global Witness, to trace the illicit fishing and waste-dumping. He added that he believes the toxic waste dumping is "a disaster off the Somali coast, a disaster (for) the Somali environment, the Somali population", and that what he terms "this illegal fishing, illegal dumping of waste" helps fuel the civil war in Somalia since the illegal foreign fishermen pay off corrupt local officials or warlords for protection or to secure counterfeit licenses. Ould-Abdallah noted that piracy will not prevent waste dumping:
I am convinced there is dumping of solid waste, chemicals and probably nuclear (waste).... There is no government (control) and there are few people with high moral ground[...] The intentions of these pirates are not concerned with protecting their environment. What is ultimately needed is a functioning, effective government that will get its act together and take control of its affairs.—Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the UN envoy for Somalia
Somali pirates which captured MV Faina, a Ukrainian ship carrying tanks and military hardware, accused European firms of dumping toxic waste off the Somali coast and declared that the $8m ransom for the return of the ship will go towards cleaning up the waste. The ransom demand is a means of "reacting to the toxic waste that has been continually dumped on the shores of our country for nearly 20 years", Januna Ali Jama, a spokesman for the pirates said. "The Somali coastline has been destroyed, and we believe this money is nothing compared to the devastation that we have seen on the seas."
These issues have generally not been reported in international media when reporting on piracy. According to Muammar al-Gaddafi, "It is a response to greedy Western nations, who invade and exploit Somalia's water resources illegally. It is not a piracy, it is self defence."
Pirate leader Sugule Ali said their motive was "to stop illegal fishing and dumping in our waters ... We don't consider ourselves sea bandits. We consider sea bandits [to be] those who illegally fish and dump in our seas and dump waste in our seas and carry weapons in our seas." Also, the independent Somali news-site WardherNews found that 70 percent "strongly supported the piracy as a form of national defence of the country's territorial waters".
Following the Indian Ocean tsunami of December 2004, there have emerged allegations that after the outbreak of the Somali Civil War in late 1991, Somalia's long, remote shoreline was used as a dump site for the disposal of toxic waste. The huge waves which battered northern Somalia after the tsunami are believed to have stirred up tonnes of nuclear and toxic waste that was illegally dumped in Somali waters by several European firms – front companies created by the Italian mafia. The European Green Party followed up these revelations by presenting before the press and the European Parliament in Strasbourg copies of contracts signed by two European companies—the Italian Swiss firm, Achair Partners, and an Italian waste broker, Progresso—and representatives of the warlords then in power, to accept 10 million tonnes of toxic waste in exchange for $80 million (then about £60 million). According to a report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) assessment mission, there are far higher than normal cases of respiratory infections, mouth ulcers and bleeding, abdominal hemorrhages and unusual skin infections among many inhabitants of the areas around the northeastern towns of Hobbio and Benadir on the Indian Ocean coast—diseases consistent with radiation sickness. UNEP continues that the current situation along the Somali coastline poses a very serious environmental hazard not only in Somalia but also in the eastern Africa sub-region.
In 1992, reports ran in the European press of "unnamed European firms" contracting with local warlords to dump toxic waste both in Somalia and off Somalia's shores. The United Nations Environment Program was called in to investigate, and the Italian parliament issued a report later in the decade. Several European "firms" — really front companies created by the Italian mafia — contracted with local Somali warlords to ship hundreds of thousands of tons of toxic industrial waste from Europe to Somalia.—Troy S. Thomas, Warlords rising: confronting violent non-state actors
Under Article 9(1)(d) of the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal, it is illegal for "any transboundary movement of hazardous wastes or other wastes: that results in deliberate disposal (e.g. dumping) of hazardous wastes or other wastes in contravention of this Convention and of general principles of international law".
According to Nick Nuttall of the United Nations Environmental Programme, "Somalia has been used as a dumping ground for hazardous waste starting in the early 1990s, and continuing through the civil war there", and "European companies found it to be very cheap to get rid of the waste, costing as little as $2.50 a tonne, where waste disposal costs in Europe are closer to $1000 per tonne."
At the same time, foreign trawlers began illegally fishing Somalia's seas, with an estimated $300 million of tuna, shrimp, and lobster being taken each year, depleting stocks previously available to local fishermen. Through interception with speedboats, Somali fishermen tried to either dissuade the dumpers and trawlers or levy a "tax" on them as compensation, as Segule Ali's previously mentioned quote notes. Peter Lehr, a Somalia piracy expert at the University of St. Andrews, says "It's almost like a resource swap", Somalis collect up to $100 million a year from pirate ransoms off their coasts and the Europeans and Asians poach around $300 million a year in fish from Somali waters. The UK's Department for International Development (DFID) issued a report in 2005 stating that, between 2003 and 2004, Somalia lost about $100 million in revenue due to illegal tuna and shrimp fishing in the country's exclusive economic zone by foreign trawlers.
According to Roger Middleton of Chatham House, "The problem of overfishing and illegal fishing in Somali waters is a very serious one, and does affect the livelihoods of people inside Somalia [...] the dumping of toxic waste on Somalia's shores is a very serious issue, which will continue to affect people in Somalia long after the war has ended, and piracy is resolved". To lure fish to their traps, foreign trawlers reportedly also use fishing equipment under prohibition such as nets with very small mesh sizes and sophisticated underwater lighting systems.
Under Article 56(1)(b)(iii) of the Law of the Sea Convention:
"In the exclusive economic zone, the coastal State has jurisdiction as provided for in the relevant provisions of this Convention with regard to the protection and preservation of the marine environment".
Article 57 of the Convention in turn outlines the limit of that jurisdiction:
"The exclusive economic zone shall not extend beyond 200 nautical miles from the baselines from which the breadth of the territorial sea is measured".
According to Amedeo Policante, a researcher from Goldsmiths College, University of London: "The devastating effect of these types of corporate-led form of capital accumulation cannot be overstated in a region where, according to the most recent reports of the UNEP, over 30 million people are dependent on maritime and coastal resources for their daily livelihoods. Nevertheless, there was little or no international will to insist on the implementation of the United Nations Conventions on the Law of the Sea, which banish both over-fishing and toxic dumping in oceanic waters. This form of illegality – despite the environmental disruption and the high cost in human life it implied – was not perceived as an existential threat by states and it was therefore left unchecked. Only when piracy appeared in the region the lack of effective sovereign control over the Gulf of Aden was problematized".
|It has been suggested that this section be split into a new article titled Anti-piracy measures in Somalia. (Discuss) Proposed since January 2013.|
The fourth volume of the handbook: Best Management Practices to Deter Piracy off the Coast of Somalia and in the Arabian Sea Area (known as BMP4) is the current authoritative guide for merchant ships on self-defense against pirates. The guide is issued and updated by a consortium of interested international shipping and trading organizations including the EU, NATO and the International Maritime Bureau. It is distributed primarily by the Maritime Security Centre – Horn of Africa (MSCHOA) – the planning and coordination authority for EU naval forces (EUNAVFOR). BMP4 encourages vessels to register their voyages through the region with MSCHOA as this registration is a key component of the operation of the International Recommended Transit Corridor (IRTC) (the navy-patrolled route through the Gulf of Aden). BMP4 also contains a chapter entitled "Self-Protective Measures" which lays out a list of steps a merchant vessel can take on its own to make itself less of a target to pirates and make it better able to repel an attack if one occurs. This list includes doing things like ringing the deck of the ship with razor wire, rigging fire-hoses to spray sea-water over the side of the ship (to hinder boardings), having a distinctive pirate alarm, hardening the bridge against gunfire and creating a "citadel" where the crew can retreat in the event pirates get on board. Other unofficial self-defense measures that can be found on merchant vessels include the setting up of mannequins posing as armed guards or firing flares at the pirates.
Though it varies by country, generally peacetime law in the 20th and 21st centuries has not allowed merchant vessels to carry weapons. As a response to the rise in modern piracy, however, the U.S. government changed its rules so that it is now possible for U.S.-flagged vessels to embark a team of armed private security guards. Other countries and organisations have similarly followed suit. This has given birth to a new breed of private security companies who provide training and protection for crew members and cargo and have proved effective in countering pirate attacks. The USCG leaves it to ship owners' discretion to determine if those guards will be armed. Seychelles has become a central location for international anti-piracy operations, hosting the Anti-Piracy Operation Center for the Indian Ocean. In 2008, VSOS became the first authorized armed maritime security company to operate in the Indian Ocean region.
With safety trials complete in the late 2000s, laser dazzlers have been developed for defensive purposes on super-yachts. They can be effective up to 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) with the effects going from mild disorientation to flash blindness at closer range.
In February 2012, Italian Marines based on the tanker Enrica Lexie allegedly fired on an Indian fishing trawler off Kerala, killing two of her eleven crew. The Marines allegedly mistook the fishing vessel as a pirate vessel. The incident sparked a diplomatic row between India and Italy. Enrica Lexie was ordered into Kochi where her crew were questioned by officers of the Indian Police. The fact is still sub juris and its legal eventual outcome could influence future deployment of VPDs, since states will be either encouraged or discouraged to provide them depending on whether functional immunity is ultimately granted or denied to the Italians.
Another similar incident has been reported to have happened in the Red Sea between the coasts of Somalia and Yemen, involving the death of a Yemeni fisherman allegedly at the hands of a Russian Vessel Protection Detachment (VPD) on board a Norwegian-flagged vessel.
However, despite VPD deployment being controversial because of these incidents, according to the Associated Press, during a United Nations Security Council conference about piracy "U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice told the council that no ship carrying armed guards has been successfully attacked by pirates" and "French Ambassador Gerard Araud stressed that private guards do not have the deterrent effect that government-posted marine and sailors and naval patrols have in warding off attacks".
The military response to pirate attacks has brought about a rare show of unity by countries that are either openly hostile to each other, or at least wary of cooperation, military or otherwise.
Currently there are three international naval task forces in the region, with numerous national vessels and task forces entering and leaving the region, engaging in counter-piracy operations for various lengths of time. The three international task forces which compose the bulk of counter-piracy operations are Combined Task Force 150 (whose overarching mission is Operation Enduring Freedom), Combined Task Force 151 (which was set up in 2009 specifically to run counter-piracy operations) and the EU naval task force operating under Operation Atalanta. All counter-piracy operations are coordinated through a monthly planning conference called Shared Awareness and Deconfliction (SHADE). Originally having representatives only from NATO, the EU, and the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) HQ in Bahrain, it now regularly attracts representatives from over 20 countries.
As part of the international effort, Europe plays a significant role in combating piracy off the coast of the Horn of Africa. The European Union under the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) launched EU NAVFOR Somalia – Operation Atalanta (in support of Resolutions 1814 (2008), 1816 (2008), 1838 (2008) and 1846 (2008) of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC)). This operation is working to protect humanitarian aid and reduce the disruption to the shipping routes and the de-stabilising of the maritime environment in the region. To date, 26 countries have brought some kind of contribution to the operation. 13 EU Member States have provided an operational contribution to EU NAVFOR, either with ships, with maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft, or with Vessel Protection Detachment (VPD) team. This includes France, Spain, Germany, Greece, Sweden, Netherlands, Italy, Belgium, United Kingdom (also hosting the EU NAVFOR Operational headquarters), Portugal, Luxembourg, Malta and Estonia. 9 other EU Member States have participated in the effort providing military staff to work at the EU NAVFOR Operational Headquarters (Northwood Headquarters – UK) or onboard units. These are Cyprus, Romania, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Ireland and Finland. Finally, 4 non-EU Member States, Norway (which has also provided an operational contribution with a warship regularly deploying), Croatia, Ukraine and Montenegro, have so far also brought their contribution to EU NAVFOR.
At any one time, the European force size fluctuates according to the monsoon seasons, which determine the level of piracy. It typically consists of 5 to 10 surface combatants (naval ships), 1 to 2 auxiliary ships and 2 to 4 maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft. Including land-based personnel, Operation Atalanta consists of a total of around 2,000 military personnel. EU NAVFOR operates in a zone comprising the south of the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden and the western part of the Indian Ocean including the Seychelles, which represents an area of 2,000,000 square nautical miles.
Additionally, Other non-NATO and non-EU countries have, at one time or another, contributed to counter-piracy operations. Australia, China, India, Iran, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, Russia, Thailand, and Saudi Arabia have all sent ships, surveillance aircraft or personnel to the region, sometimes joining with the existing CTFs, sometimes operating independently. there are, and have been, several naval deployments by non-multinational task forces in the past. Some notable ones include:
On 29 May 2009, Australia pledged its support, redirecting Australian warship HMAS Warramunga from duties in the Persian Gulf to assist in the fighting of piracy.Royal Australian Air Force Lockheed P-3 Orion surveillance planes patrol the ocean between the southern coast of Oman and the Horn of Africa. The anti-piracy flights are operated from UAE.
On 26 December 2008, China dispatched two destroyers Haikou (171), Wuhan (169) and the supply ship Weishanhu (887) to the Gulf of Aden. A team of 16 Chinese Special Forces members from its Marine Corps armed with attack helicopters were on board. Subsequent to their initial deployment, China has maintained a three-ship flotilla of two warships and one supply ship in the Gulf of Aden by assigning ships to the area on a three-month basis.
The Danish Institute for Military Studies has in a report[dead link] proposed to establish a regionally based maritime unit: a Greater Horn of Africa Sea Patrol, to carry out surveillance in the area to secure free navigation and take on tasks such as fishery inspection and environmental monitoring. A Greater Horn of Africa Sea Patrol would comprise elements from the coastal states – from Egypt in the north to Tanzania in the south. The unit would be established with the support of the states that already have a naval presence in the area.
In February 2010, Danish special forces from the Absalon freed 25 people from the Antigua and Barbuda-flagged vessel Ariella after it was hijacked by pirates off the Somali coast. The crew members had locked themselves into a store-room.
To protect Indian ships and Indian citizens employed in seafaring duties, the Indian Navy commenced anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden from 23 Oct 8. A total of 21 IN ships have been deployed in the Gulf of Aden since 8 Oct. In addition to escorting Indian-flagged ships, ships of other countries have also been escorted. Merchant ships are currently being escorted along the entire length of the (490 nm long and 20 nm wide) Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor (IRTC) that has been promulgated for use by all merchant vessels. A total of 1181 ships (144 Indian flagged and 1037 foreign flagged from different countries) have been escorted by IN ships in the Gulf of Aden since 8 Oct. During its deployments for anti-piracy operations, the Indian naval ships have prevented 15 piracy attempts on merchant vessels.
In response to the increased activity of the INS Tabar, India sought to augment its naval force in the Gulf of Aden by deploying the larger INS Mysore to patrol the area. Somalia also added India to its list of states, including the U.S. and France, which are permitted to enter its territorial waters, extending up to 12 nautical miles (22 km; 14 mi) from the coastline, in an effort to check piracy. An Indian naval official confirmed receipt of a letter acceding to India's prerogative to check such piracy. "We had put up a request before the Somali government to play a greater role in suppressing piracy in the Gulf of Aden in view of the United Nations resolution. The TFG government gave its nod recently". India also expressed consideration to deploy up to four more warships in the region. On 14 March 2011, the Indian navy reportedly had seized 61 pirates and rescued 13 crew from the vessel, which had been used as a mother ship from where pirates launched attacks around the Indian Ocean. Meanwhile, a Bangladeshi ship hijacked by pirates last year was freed after a ransom was paid.
On 28 January 2009, Japan announced its intention of sending a naval task force to join international efforts to stop piracy off the coast of Somalia. The deployment would be highly unusual, as Japan's non-aggressive constitution means Japanese military forces can only be used for defensive purposes. The issue has been controversial in Japan, although the ruling party maintains this should be seen as fighting crime on the high seas, rather than a "military" operation. The process of the Prime Minister of Japan, Taro Aso, giving his approval is expected to take approximately one month. However, the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) and the Japanese government face legal problems on how to handle attacks by pirates against ships that either have Japanese personnel, cargo or are under foreign control instead of being under Japanese control as current Article 9 regulations would hamper their actions when deployed to Somalia. It was reported on 4 February 2009, that the JMSDF was sending a fact-finding mission led by Gen Nakatani to the region prior to the deployment of the Murasame-class destroyer JDS DD-106 Samidare and the Takanami-class destroyer JDS DD-113 Sazanami to the coast of Somalia with a 13-man team composed of Japanese Ministry of Defense personnel, with members coming from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the JMSDF to visit Yemen, Djibouti, Oman, and Bahrain from 8 to 20 February. Both JMSDF vessels are units of the 8th Escort Division of the 4th Escort Flotilla based in Kure, Hiroshima Prefecture. The JMSDF's special forces unit, the Special Boarding Unit is also scheduled to potentially deploy to Somalia. The SBU has been deployed alongside the two destroyers to Somalia on 14 March 2009. According to JMSDF officials, the deployment would "regain the trust of the shipping industry, which was lost during the war." The JMSDF task force would be deployed off the coast of Somalia for 4 months. In its first mission, the Takanami-class destroyer JDS DD-113 Sazanami was able to ward off pirates attempting to hijack a Singaporean cargo ship. In addition, JMSDF P-3Cs are to be deployed in June from Djibouti to conduct surveillance on the Somali coast. The House of Representatives of Japan has passed an anti-piracy bill, calling for the JMSDF to protect non-Japanese ships and nationals, though there are some concerns that the pro-opposition House of Councillors may reject it. The Diet of Japan has passed an anti-piracy law that called for JMSDF forces to protect all foreign ships traveling off the coast of Somalia aside from protecting Japanese-owned/manned ships despite a veto from the House of Councillors, which the House of Representatives has overturned. In 2009, the destroyers Harusame and DD-154 Amagiri left port from Yokusuka to replace the two destroyers that had been dispatched earlier on March 2009. Under current arrangements, Japan Coast Guard officers would be responsible for arresting pirates since SDF forces are not allowed to have powers of arrest.
The South Korean navy is also making plans to participate in anti-piracy operations after sending officers to visit the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet in Bahrain and in Djibouti. The South Korean cabinet had approved a government plan to send in South Korean navy ships and soldiers to the coast of Somalia to participate in anti-pirate operations. The ROKN was sending the Chungmugong Yi Sun-sin class destroyer DDH 976 Munmu the Great to the coast of Somalia. The Cheonghae Unit task force was also deployed in Somalia under CTF 151.
Norway announced on 27 February 2009, that it would send the frigate HNoMS Fridtjof Nansen to the coast of Somalia to fight piracy. Royal Norwegian Navy Fridtjof Nansen joined EU NAVFOR's international naval force in August.
In April 2011, the Portuguese Air Force contributed to Operation Ocean Shield by sending a P-3C which had early success when on its fifth mission detected a pirate whaler with two attack skiffs.
Due to their proximity to Somalia, the coast guard of Seychelles has become increasingly involved in counter-piracy in the region. On 30 March 2010, a Seychelles Coast Guard Trinkat-class patrol vessel rescued 27 hostages and sank two pirate vessels.
The Spanish Air Force deployed P-3s to assist the international effort against piracy in Somalia. On 29 October 2008, a Spanish P-3 aircraft patrolling the coast of Somalia reacted to a distress call from an oil tanker in the Gulf of Aden. In order to deter the pirates, the aircraft flew over the pirates three times as they attempted to board the tanker, dropping a smoke bomb on each pass. After the third pass, the attacking pirate boats broke off their attack. Later, on 29 March 2009, the same P-3 pursued the assailants of the German navy tanker Spessart, resulting in the capture of the pirates.
The Swiss government calls for the deployment of Army Reconnaissance Detachment operators to combat Somali piracy with no agreement in Parliament as the proposal was rejected after it was voted. Javier Solana had said that Swiss soldiers could serve under the EU's umbrella.
Brian Murphy (Associated Press) reported on 8 January 2009 that Rear Admiral Terence E. McKnight, U.S. Navy, is to command a new multi-national naval force to confront piracy off the coast of Somalia. This new anti-piracy force was designated Combined Task Force 151 (CTF-151), a multinational task force of the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF). The USS San Antonio was designated as the flagship of Combined Task Force 151, serving as an afloat forward staging base (AFSB) for the following force elements:
In January 2012, U.S. military forces freed an American and a Danish hostage after a gun battle with pirates during a night-time helicopter raid in Somalia. Two U.S. helicopters attacked the site where the hostages were being held, 12 miles north of the town of Adado. Nine pirates were killed. There were no U.S. casualties.
In May 2012, EU Navfor conducted their first raid on pirate bases on the Somali mainland, destroying 5 pirate boats. The EU forces were transported by helicopter to the bases near the port of Harardhere, a well-known pirate lair. The operation was carried out with the full support of the Somali government.
Southern African waters are becomingly an increasingly attractive alternative to the more protected Eastern African sea lanes. The recent rise in counter-piracy patrols is pushing more pirates down the coast line into unprotected areas of the Indian Ocean, which will require the joint navies' current patrols to widen their search area.
A maritime conference was also held in Mombasa to discuss the rising concern of regional piracy with a view to give regional and world governments recommendations to deal with the menace. The International Transport Workers Federation (ITWF) organised the regional African maritime unions' conference, the first of its kind in Africa. Godfrey Matata Onyango, executive secretary of the Northern Corridor Transit Coordination Authority said, "We cannot ignore to discuss the piracy menace because it poses a huge challenge to the maritime industry and if not controlled, it threats to chop off the regional internal trade. The cost of shipping will definitely rise as a result of the increased war insurance premium due to the high risk off the Gulf of Aden."
|This article's factual accuracy may be compromised due to out-of-date information. (October 2010)|
Vessels, aircraft and personnel whose primary mission is to conduct anti-piracy activities come from different countries and are assigned to the following missions: Operation Ocean Shield (NATO and partner states), Atalanta (EU and partner states), Combined Task Force 151, independent missions of China, India, Iran, Japan, Malaysia[clarification needed], and Russia. Additionally resources dedicated for the War on Terror missions of Combined Task Force 150 and Enduring Freedom – Horn of Africa also operate against the pirates.
|Country||Mission||Sailors||Ships||Cost [Mil of USD per annum]||Start||End|
|Royal Australian Navy||Combined Task Force 150||~250||1 frigate (as part of Operation Slipper duties)|
2 AP-3C Orion maritime surveillance aircraft
|Belgian Navy||Operation Atalanta||170||1 Frigate Louise-Marie||?||1 Sep 2009|
20 Oct 2010
|16 Dec 2009|
20 Jan 2011
|Bulgarian Navy||Operation Ocean Shield||130||Wielingen class frigate 41 Drazki||?||?||?|
|Royal Canadian Navy||Operation Ocean Shield||240||Halifax-class frigate HMCS Fredericton (FFH 337)||?||November 2009||4 May 2010|
|Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy||1st Escort Task Group/Task Group 169:869;|
2nd Escort Task Group/Task Group 167:866;
3rd Escort Task Group/Task Group 529:806;
4th Escort Task Group/Task Group 525:788;
5th Escort Task Group/Task Group 168:825;
6th Escort Task Group/Task Group 998:981;
7th Escort Task Group/Task Group 530:788;
8th Escort Task Group/Task Group 526:796;
9th Escort Task Group/Task Group 169:878;
10th Escort Task Group/Task Group 171:875;
11th Escort Task Group/Task Group 113:779;
12th Escort Task Group/Task Group 548:788;
13th Escort Task Group/Task Group 570:787;
14th Escort Task Group/Task Group 112:736;
15th Escort Task Group/Task Group 999:853
16th Escort Task Group/Task Group 546:660;
17th Escort Task Group/Task Group 150:810;
18th Escort Task Group/Task Group 989:800
including navy and/or marine special forces personnel
|1st Escort Task Group/Task Group 169: DDG-169 Wuhan (Type 052B Luyang I (Guangzhou) class destroyer), DDG-171 Haikou (Type 052C Luyang II (Lanzhou) class destroyer), AOR-887 Weishanhu (Type 903 Fuchi (Qiandaohu) class replenishment ship);|
2nd Escort Task Group/Task Group 167: DDG-167 Shenzhen (Type 051B Luhai class destroyer), FFG-570 Huangshan (Type 054A Jiangkai II class frigate), AOR-887 Weishanhu (Type 903 Fuchi (Qiandaohu) class replenishment ship);
3rd Escort Task Group/Task Group 529: FFG-529 Zhoushan (Type 054A Jiangkai II class frigate), FFG-530 Xuzhou (Type 054A Jiangkai II class frigate), AOR-886 Qiandaohu (Type 903 Fuchi (Qiandaohu) class replenishment ship);
4th Escort Task Group/Task Group 525: FFG-525 Ma'anshan (Type 054 Jiangkai I (Ma'anshan) class frigate), FFG-526 Wenzhou (Type 054 Jiangkai I (Ma'anshan) class frigate), FFG-568 Chaohu (Type 054A Jiangkai II class frigate), AOG-886 Qiandaohu (Type 903 Fuchi (Qiandaohu) class replenishment ship);
5th Escort Task Group/Task Group 168: DDG-168 Guangzhou (Type 052B Luyang I (Guangzhou) class destroyer), FFG-568 Chaohu (Type 054A Jiangkai II class frigate), AOR-887 Weishanhu (Type 903 Fuchi (Qiandaohu) class replenishment ship);
6th Escort Task Group/Task Group 998: LPD-998 Kunlun Shan (Type 071 Yuzhao class amphibious transport dock), DDG-171 Lanzhou (Type 052C Luyang II (Lanzhou) class destroyer), AOR-887 Weishanhu (Type 903 Fuchi (Qiandaohu) class replenishment ship);
7th Escort Task Group/Task Group 530: FFG-529 Zhoushan (Type 054A Jiangkai II class frigate), FFG-530 Xuzhou (Type 054A Jiangkai II class frigate), AOR-886 Qiandaohu (Type 903 Fuchi (Qiandaohu) class replenishment ship);
8th Escort Task Group/Task Group 526: FFG-525 Ma'anshan (Type 054 Jiangkai I (Ma'anshan) class frigate), FFG-526 Wenzhou (Type 054 Jiangkai I (Ma'anshan) class frigate), AOR-886 Qiandaohu (Type 903 Fuchi (Qiandaohu) class replenishment ship);
9th Escort Task Group/Task Group 169: DDG-169 Wuhan (Type 052B Luyang I (Guangzhou) class destroyer), FFG-569 Yulin (Type 054A Jiangkai II class frigate), AOR-885 Qinghaihu (Type 908 Fusu (Qinghaihu) class replenishment ship);
10th Escort Task Group/Task Group 171: DDG-171 Haikou (Type 052C Luyang II (Lanzhou) class destroyer), FFG-571 Yuncheng (Type 054A Jiangkai II class frigate), AOR-885 Qinghaihu (Type 908 Fusu (Qinghaihu) class replenishment ship);
11th Escort Task Group/Task Group 113: DDG-113 Qingdao (Type 052 Luhu class), FFG-538 Yantai (Type 054A Jiangkai II class frigate), AOR-887 Weishanhu (Type 903 Fuchi (Qiandaohu) class replenishment ship);
12th Escort Task Group/Task Group 548: FFG-548 Yiyang (Type 054A Jiangkai II class frigate), FFG-549 Changzhou (Type 054A Jiangkai II class frigate), AOR-886 Qiandaohu (Type 903 Fuchi (Qiandaohu) class replenishment ship);
13th Escort Task Group/Task Group 570: FFG-568 Hengyang (Ex-Chaohu, Type 054A Jiangkai II class frigate), FFG-570 Huangshan (Type 054A Jiangkai II class frigate), AOR-885 Qinghaihu (Type 908 Fusu (Qinghaihu) class replenishment ship);
14th Escort Task Group/Task Group 112: DDG-112 Harbin (Type 052 Luhu class), FFG-528 Mianyang (Type 053H3 Jiangwei II class frigate), AOR-887 Weishanhu (Type 903 Fuchi (Qiandaohu) class replenishment ship);
15th Escort Task Group/Task Group 999: LPD-999 Jinggang Shan (Type 071 Yuzhao class amphibious transport dock), FFG-572 Hengshui (Type 054A Jiangkai II class frigate), AOR-889 Taihu (Type 903 Fuchi (Qiandaohu) class replenishment ship);
16th Escort Task Group/Task Group 546: FFG-527 Luoyang (Type 053H3 Jiangwei II class frigate), FFG-546 Yancheng (Type 054A Jiangkai II class frigate), AOR-889 Taihu (Type 903 Fuchi (Qiandaohu) class replenishment ship);
17th Escort Task Group/Task Group 150: DDG-150 Changchun (Type 052C Luyang II (Lanzhou) class destroyer), FFG-549 Changzhou (Type 054A Jiangkai II class frigate), AOR-890 Chaohu (Type 903 Fuchi (Qiandaohu) class replenishment ship);
18th Escort Task Group/Task Group 989: LPD-989 Changbai Shan (Type 071 Yuzhao class amphibious transport dock), FFG-571 Yuncheng (Type 054A Jiangkai II class frigate), AOR-890 Chaohu (Type 903 Fuchi (Qiandaohu) class replenishment ship)
|?||1st Escort Task Group/Task Group 169: 26 January 2009;|
2nd Escort Task Group/Task Group 167: 15 April 2009;
3rd Escort Task Group/Task Group 529: 1 August 2009;
4th Escort Task Group/Task Group 525: 27 November 2009;
5th Escort Task Group/Task Group 168: 18 March 2010 (FFG-568 Chaohu on 21 December 2009);
6th Escort Task Group/Task Group 998: 14 July 2010;
7th Escort Task Group/Task Group 529: 23 November 2010;
8th Escort Task Group/Task Group 526: 18 March 2011;
9th Escort Task Group/Task Group 169: 23 July 2011;
10th Escort Task Group/Task Group 171: 19 November 2011;
11th Escort Task Group/Task Group 113: 17 March 2012;
12th Escort Task Group/Task Group 548: 18 July 2012;
13th Escort Task Group/Task Group 570: 23 November 2012;
14th Escort Task Group/Task Group 112: 13 March 2013;
15th Escort Task Group/Task Group 999: 22 August 2013;
16th Escort Task Group/Task Group 546: 20 December 2013;
17th Escort Task Group/Task Group 150: 18 April 2014;
18th Escort Task Group/Task Group 989: 23 August 2014
|1st Escort Task Group/Task Group 169: 15 April 2009;|
2nd Escort Task Group/Task Group 167: 1 August 2009;
3rd Escort Task Group/Task Group 529: 27 November 2009;
4th Escort Task Group/Task Group 525: 18 March 2010;
5th Escort Task Group/Task Group 168: 20 July 2010;
6th Escort Task Group/Task Group 998: 20 November 2010;
7th Escort Task Group/Task Group 529: 11 November 2010;
8th Escort Task Group/Task Group 526: 21 July 2011;
9th Escort Task Group/Task Group 169: 15 November 2011;
10th Escort Task Group/Task Group 171: 17 March 2012;
11th Escort Task Group/Task Group 113: 18 July 2012;
12th Escort Task Group/Task Group 548: 23 November 2012;
13th Escort Task Group/Task Group 570: 13 March 2013;
14th Escort Task Group/Task Group 112: 22 August 2013(FFG-528 Mianyang on 25 August 2009);
15th Escort Task Group/Task Group 999: 20 December 2013;
16th Escort Task Group/Task Group 546: 18 April 2014;
17th Escort Task Group/Task Group 150: 23 August 2014
|Royal Danish Navy||Operation Ocean Shield|
|300||2 (Command and Support Ship HDMS Absalon (L16); Patrol Ship HDMS Thetis (F357);|
HDMS Esben Snare (L17)
|Finnish Navy||Operation Atalanta||120||1 (FNS Pohjanmaa)||(11.6 mil EUR)||5 January 2011|
1 February 2011
|French Navy||Operation Ocean Shield or Operation Atalanta|
|?||Germinal, Floréal, La Fayette, avisos, Améthyste||?||?||?|
|German Navy||Operation Atalanta||ca. 300||1 (Frigate Lübeck (F214))||60 (45 Mio. EUR)||8 December 2008||1 December 2012|
|Greek Navy||Operation Ocean Shield||176–196||4||?||?||?|
|Indian Navy||540||Frigate INS Tabar (F44)|
Destroyer INS Mysore (D60)
Frigate INS Godavari
|1||23 Oct 2008||?|
|Islamic Republic of Iran Navy||?||Bandar Abbas; Naghdi; Jamaran||1||?||?|
|Italian Navy||Operation Ocean Shield|
|240||1 (D560 Durand de la Penne)||?||?||?|
|Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force||400||1st Escort Division:DD-113 Sazanami, DD-106 Samidare|
2nd Escort Division:DD-102 Harusame, DD-154 Amagiri,
3rd Escort Division:DD-110 Takanami, DD-155 Hamagiri
4th Escort Division:DD-111 Onami, DD-157 Sawagiri
5th Escort Division:DD-101 Murasame, DD-153 Yugiri
6th Escort Division:DD-112 Makinami, DD-156 Setogiri
7th Escort Division:DD-104 Kirisame, DD-103 Yudachi
8th Escort Division:DD-105 Inazuma, DD-113 Sazanami
9th Escort Division:DD-106 Samidare, DD-158 Umigiri
10th Escort Division:DD-110 Takanami, DD-111 Onami
11th Escort Division:DD-101 Murasame, DD-102 Harusame
12th Escort Division:DD-107 Ikazuchi, DD-157 Sawagiri
|?||14 March 2009|
6 July 2009
13 October 2009
29 January 2010
10 May 2010
23 August 2010
1 December 2010
15 March 2011
20 June 2011
11 October 2011
21 January 2012
11 May 2012
|16 August 2009|
29 November 2009
18 March 2010
2 July 2010
15 October 2010
18 January 2011
9 May 2011
11 August 2011
3 December 2011
12 March 2012
5 July 2012
|Republic of Korea Navy||Combined Task Force 151||300||1 Destroyer (Currently Choi Young DDH-981)||1||16 April 2009||?|
|Royal Malaysian Navy||unknown||Support Ship Bunga Mas 5||3||?||?|
|Royal Netherlands Navy||Operation Atalanta||174–202||HNLMS De Zeven Provinciën||1||26 March 2009||August 2010|
|Pakistan Navy||Combined Task Force 150||177||PNS Badr||?||?||?|
|Portuguese Navy||Operation Ocean Shield||180||1 (Frigate NRP Corte Real – NATO flotilla flagship)||?||June 2009||January 2010|
|Romanian Navy||Operation Atalanta||236||1 (Type 22 frigate F-221 Regele Ferdinand)||?||1 October 2012||7 December 2012|
|Russian Navy||~350||3 (Destroyer Admiral Panteleyev (BPK 548), Salvage Tugboat, Tanker||?||April 2009||?|
|Republic of Singapore Navy||Combined Task Force 151||240||LST RSS Persistence (209)||?||24 April 2009||?|
|Royal Saudi Navy||Operation Ocean Shield||?||?||?||?||?|
|Spanish Navy||Operation Ocean Shield|
|423||2 Frigates (F86 Canarias and F104 Méndez Núñez)||?||?||?|
|Swedish Navy||Operation Atalanta||152||3 (OPV HSwMS Carlskrona)||?||14 April 2010|
6 April 2013
|15 November 2010|
|Royal Thai Navy||Combined Task Force 150||371 including 20 marine special warfare task force||2 (OPV HTMS Pattani; Replenishment Ship HTMS Similan)||8.757 (270 Mil THB)||10 September 2010||14 January 2011|
|Turkish Navy||Operation Ocean Shield|
|503||2 (Frigates TCG Giresun (F 491), TCG Gokova (F 496))||?||?||?|
|Royal Navy||Operation Ocean Shield|
|Ukrainian Navy||Operation Ocean Shield, Operation Atalanta||180||1 ( U130 Hetman Sahaydachniy)||?||10 October 2013|
3 January 2014 
|3 January 2014|
26 February 2014
|United States Navy||Operation Ocean Shield, Combined Task Force 150, Combined Task Force 151||?||US 5th Fleet||?||?||?|
Between 2009 and 2010, the government of the autonomous Puntland region in northeastern Somalia enacted a number of reforms and pre-emptive measures as a part of its officially declared anti-piracy campaign. The latter included the arrest, trial and conviction of pirate gangs, as well as raids on suspected pirate hideouts and confiscation of weapons and equipment; ensuring the adequate coverage of the regional authority's anti-piracy efforts by both local and international media; sponsoring a social campaign led by Islamic scholars and community activists aimed at discrediting piracy and highlighting its negative effects; and partnering with the NATO alliance to combat pirates at sea. In May 2010, construction also began on a new naval base in the town of Bandar Siyada, located 25 km west of Bosaso, the commercial capital of Puntland. The facility is funded by Puntland's regional government in conjunction with Saracen International, a UK-based security company, and is intended to assist in more effectively combating piracy. The base will include a center for training recruits, and a command post for the naval force. These numerous security measures appear to have borne fruit, as many pirates were apprehended in 2010, including a prominent leader. Puntland's security forces also reportedly managed to force out the pirate gangs from their traditional safe havens such as Eyl and Gar'ad, with the pirates now primarily operating from Hobyo, El Danaan and Harardhere in the neighboring Galmudug region.
Following a Transitional Federal Government-Puntland cooperative agreement in August 2011 calling for the creation of a Somali Marine Force, of which the already established Puntland Maritime Police Force (PMPF) would form a part, the Puntland administration resumed training of PMPF naval officials. The Puntland Maritime Police Force is a locally recruited, professional maritime security force that is primarily aimed at fighting piracy off the coast of Somalia, safeguarding the nation's marine resources, and providing logistics support to humanitarian efforts. Supported by the United Arab Emirates, PMPF officials are also trained by the Japanese Coast Guard.
Government officials from the Galmudug administration in the north-central Hobyo district have also reportedly attempted to use pirate gangs as a bulwark against Islamist insurgents from southern Somalia's conflict zones; other pirates are alleged to have reached agreements of their own with the Islamist groups, although a senior commander from the Hizbul Islam militia vowed to eradicate piracy by imposing sharia law when his group briefly took control of Harardhere in May 2010 and drove out the local pirates.
By the first half of 2010, these increased policing efforts by Somali government authorities on land along with international naval vessels at sea reportedly contributed to a drop in pirate attacks in the Gulf of Aden from 86 a year prior to 33, forcing pirates to shift attention to other areas such as the Somali Basin and the wider Indian Ocean.
The government of Somaliland, a self-declared republic that is internationally recognized as an autonomous region of Somalia, has adopted stringent anti-piracy measures, arresting and imprisoning pirates forced to make port in Berbera. According to officials in Hargeisa, Somaliland's capital, the Somaliland Coast Guard acts as an effective deterrent to piracy in waters under its jurisdiction.
Following the seizure by Somali pirates of an Egyptian ship and a Saudi oil supertanker worth $100 million of oil, the Arab League, after a meeting in Cairo, has called for an urgent summit for countries overlooking the Red Sea, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Somalia, Jordan, Djibouti and Yemen. The summit would offer several solutions for the piracy problem, in addition to suggesting different routes and looking for a more secure passageway for ships.
Another possible means of intervention by the Red Sea Arab nations' navy might be to assist the current NATO anti-piracy effort as well as other navies.
In June 2008, following a letter from the Somalian Transitional Federal Government (TFG) to the President of the UN Security Council requesting assistance for the TFG's efforts to tackle acts of piracy off the coast of Somalia, the UN Security Council unanimously passed a declaration authorizing nations that have the consent of the Transitional Federal Government to enter Somali territorial waters to deal with pirates. The measure, which was sponsored by France, the United States and Panama, lasted six months. France initially wanted the resolution to include other regions with pirate problems, such as West Africa, but were opposed by Vietnam, Libya and most importantly by veto-holding China, who wanted the sovereignty infringement limited to Somalia.
The UN Security Council adopted a resolution on 20 November 2008, that was proposed by Britain to introduce tougher sanctions against Somalia over the country's failure to prevent a surge in sea piracy. The US circulated the draft resolution that called upon countries having naval capacities to deploy vessels and aircraft to actively fight against piracy in the region. The resolution also welcomed the initiatives of the European Union, NATO and other countries to counter piracy off the coast of Somalia. US Alternate Representative for Security Council Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo said that the draft resolution "calls on the secretary-general to look at a long-term solution to escorting the safe passage of World Food Programme ships." Even Somalia's Islamist militants stormed the Somali port of Harardheere in the hunt for pirates behind the seizure of a Saudi supertanker, the MV Sirius Star. A clan elder affiliated with the Islamists said "The Islamists arrived searching for the pirates and the whereabouts of the Saudi ship. I saw four cars full of Islamists driving in the town from corner to corner. The Islamists say they will attack the pirates for hijacking a Muslim ship."
On 17 December 2008, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted a tougher resolution, allowing for the first time international land and sea occupations in the pursuit of pirates. Four ships, a Chinese fishing boat, a Turkish cargo ship, a Malaysian tug, and a private yacht were seized by pirates that same day. Resolution 1851 takes current anti-piracy measures a step further.
A Russian drafted resolution, Security Council Resolution 1918, adopted on 27 April 2010, called on all states to criminalise piracy and suggested the possibility of establishing a regional or international tribunal to prosecute suspected pirates.
Pursuant to resolution 1976 and resolution 2015, both adopted in 2011, the United Nations Security Council has called for more structured international support for Somalia's Transitional Federal Government as well as Puntland and other regional authorities in Somalia in creating counter-piracy special courts, laws, prisons and policing capabilities. Resolution 1976 also encourages regional and federal actors to engage in more effective marine resource defence against illegal fishing and toxic waste dumping in areas under their jurisdiction.
On 19 November 2012 UN Security Council held an open meeting discuss piracy. The debate, which was the first held by the Security Council about this subject, was called by Indian Ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri and heard more than 40 speakers from different countries and international organizations.
There have been reports of pirates repelled by private initiatives. One such case would have occurred by the end of 2008, by armed personnel of transportation entrepreneur Barthe Cortes. VSOS, a Seychelles based company was authorized in 2008 by the authorities of Seychelles to operate armed maritime security guards. From this strategic hub the company extends its operations throughout the Indian Ocean.
Other vessel owners and shipping line companies have also hired private security outfits for assistance. One such firm is Espada Logistics and Security Group based in San Antonio, Texas, whose security officers provide on-board protection from a ship's point of entry to its point of destination. They also offer anti-piracy training en route to the Gulf of Aden, and have teamed up with African Shipping Lines, a leading international shipping line company, to provide security to vessels traveling along the coast of East Africa. Another private venture is MUSC, which specializes in counterpiracy and ship security.
As of 21 May 2012, Nick Maroukis of Triton Risk MSS states that not a single vessel with armed privately contracted maritime security contractors has been successfully hijacked by the pirates. A table of incidents from October to December 2011 shows pirate successes against armed and unarmed vessels. Pirates have steadily ventured further across the Lloyd's Joint War Committee (JWC) designated high risk area (HRA) in order to evade naval patrols and search for easier targets. This is just one example of how pirates adapt their tactics to counter-piracy measures. Triton Risk MSS has produced a short analysis which highlights other probable shifts in pirate tactics, techniques and procedures in 2012/13. The maritime security industry has been actively trying to introduce self-regulation for private contracted armed security companies (PCASP) since 2010. Main industry actors are: Security Association for the Maritime Industry (SAMI) and the International Association of Maritime Security Professionals (IAMSP). Governmental initiatives include the UN's International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the Swiss government's International Code of Conduct (ICOC) initiative. As of spring 2012, one of the largest ship owners/operators organizations, BIMCO, has launched another initiative to bring standards into the maritime security industry though use of PCASP contracts for its members (called GUARDCON) and ISO accreditation and certification standards for PCASPs.
In June 2008, following a letter from the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia (TFG) to the President of the UN Security Council requesting assistance for the Somali authorities' efforts at tackling acts of piracy in the Indian Ocean, the UN Security Council unanimously passed a declaration authorizing nations that have the consent of the Somali government to enter Somali territorial waters to deal with pirates.
Suspected pirates captured in international waters have been tried in various countries. The Somali government questioned the authority of foreign countries to prosecute the pirates abroad. In response, the European Union attempted to focus the prosecutions closer to the Horn of Africa littoral by involving nearby territories.
In January 2011, a report by UN Special Advisor on piracy Jack Lang proposed that two special anti-piracy courts should be established in the stable northern Puntland and Somaliland regions of Somalia. It also recommended that a Somali extraterritorial tribunal be created in neighbouring Tanzania. This prospective court would be subject to Somali law and function, but would be based outside Somalia due to the conflict that was then taking place in the southern part of the country. However, the latter proposal was rejected by the Somali authorities. This, along with legal, financial and security-related concerns, prompted the US government to also oppose the recommendation of a Somali extraterritorial tribunal. A British House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee report issued in January 2012 likewise rejected the idea as well as that of an international court, and recommended instead that special anti-piracy courts operating under national laws in nearby states should be established.
In 2011, the autonomous Puntland and Somaliland regions of Somalia each reached a security-related memorandum of understanding with the Seychelles. Following the framework of an earlier agreement signed between the Transitional Federal Government and the Seychelles, the memorandum called for the transfer of convicted pirates to prison facilities in Puntland and Somaliland. The TFG and the two regional administrations later signed a similar cooperative agreement with Mauritius in 2012, with the island nation scheduled to take on pirate suspects for trial and prosecution starting in June of the year.
Kenya concurrently began serving as an additional location for trials of pirate suspects. In October 2012, its Court of Appeal stated that the country's courts could try pirates captured on international waters, as universal jurisdiction permitted all states to do so. In January 2013, the Somali government indicated that pirates interned in Kenya would be transferred to Somalia. The plan was conceived by the Somali authorities, although no specific date for the transfer was announced.
As Somalia further develops its courts and prison facilities in coordination with the UNODC Counter Piracy Program, pirates held in other territories are expected to be transferred for domestic detention.
In May 2010, a Yemeni court sentenced six Somali pirates to death and jailed six others for 10 years each, for hijacking a Yemeni oil tanker, killing one cabin crew member and leaving another missing in April 2009.
In May 2010, another Somali, Abduwali Muse, pled guilty in a New York federal court to seizing a United States-flagged ship Maersk Alabama and kidnapping its captain and was sentenced to 33 years imprisonment.
The first European trial of alleged Somali pirates opened in the Netherlands in May 2010. They were arrested in the Gulf of Aden in January 2009, when their high-speed boat was intercepted by a Danish frigate while allegedly preparing to board the cargo ship Samanyolu, which was registered in the Dutch Antilles. The pirates were sentenced to five years in prison, which was less than the maximum possible sentence. It is unlikely the men will be returned to Somalia after their sentence, as Somalia is considered too dangerous for deportation. One of the five has already applied for asylum in the Netherlands. Consequently, there are concerns that trials in European courts would encourage, rather than deter, pirates. However, trials are continuing in Europe. More recently in Paris, November 2011, five men were sentenced to between four and eight years; one man was acquitted. A trial also continues in Hamburg, Germany. In Italy, nine Somali pirates had been tried and sentenced to prison terms of 16 and 19 years. They had been found guilty of attempted kidnapping for extortion and illegal possession of firearms, in connection with 10 October 2011 attack and seizure of an Italian-owned cargo vessel, the Montecristo.
On 1 April 2010, the USS Nicholas (FFG-47) was on patrol off the Somali coast when it took fire from men in a small skiff. After chasing down the skiff and its mothership, US military captured five Somalis. Judge Raymond A. Jackson, a Federal District Court judge in Norfolk, Virginia threw out the piracy charge, which dates from enactment in 1819 when piracy was defined only as robbery at sea. The penalty for piracy is mandatory life in prison. The U.S. government appealed the ruling. In March 2011 the five Somalis were sentenced to life for piracy to run consecutively with the 80-year term. In the same month 13 Somalis and one Yemeni suspected of hijacking and killing four Americans aboard a yacht made their first appearance in federal court in Norfolk.
On 28 January 2011, pursuant to the naval engagement of the pirate mother vessel MV Prantalay (a hijacked Thai trawler) by the INS Cankarso, the Indian Navy and the Indian Coast Guard killed 10 pirates and apprehended 15, while rescuing 20 Thai and Burmese fishermen that were held aboard the ship as hostages. The rescued fishermen were sent to Kochi while the 15 pirates, of Somali, Ethiopian and Kenyan origin, were taken to Mumbai. The Mumbai Police confirmed that they registered a case against the pirates for attempt to murder and various other provisions under the Indian Penal Code and the Passports Act for entering the Indian waters without permission.
In May 2012, a U.S. federal appeals court upheld the convictions of five pirates, a decision which prosecutors described as the first United States-based piracy convictions in 190 years.
In October 2013, Mohamed Abdi Hassan ("Afweyne") was arrested in Belgium for having allegedly masterminded the 2009 hijacking of the Belgian dredge vessel Pompei, abducted its crew, and participated in a criminal organization. According to federal prosecutor Johan Delmulle, Hassan was responsible for the hijacking of dozens of commercial ships from 2008 to 2013. He is currently awaiting trial in Bruges, the first prosecution of a pirate leader by the international community.
By December 2013, the US Office of Naval Intelligence reported that only 9 vessels had been attacked during the year by the pirates, with zero successful hijackings. Control Risks attributed this 90% decline in pirate activity from the corresponding period in 2012 to the adoption of best management practices by vessel owners and crews, armed private security onboard ships, a significant naval presence, and the development of onshore security forces.
In January 2014, the MV Marzooqah initially sent out a distress signal indicating that it was under attack by pirates in the Red Sea. However, the container vessel turned out instead to have been seized by Eritrean military units as it entered Eritrea's territorial waters.
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