30 April 2009

Rescued captain to testify on piracy

Richard Phillips, the captain of the Maersk Alabama who was held captive by Somali pirates, testifies before the Sen. Foreign Relations Committee. Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) is looking for ways to confront piracy off the Coast of Somalia.

Link to Article

CSPAN3 at 2:30. C'mon...CSPAN, Pirates, and Policy...it's a trifecta of awesomeness for me.

29 April 2009

SKY News: Cruise Ship Hero Fought Off Pirates With Deck Chair

Link to Article

A British vacationer is being hailed a hero after he thwarted gun-toting pirates attacking a cruise ship — by throwing a deck chair at them.

You Are Being Lied to About Pirates

Link to Article

Who imagined that in 2009, the world's governments would be declaring a new War on Pirates? As you read this, the British Royal Navy - backed by the ships of more than two dozen nations, from the US to China - is sailing into Somalian waters to take on men we still picture as parrot-on-the-shoulder pantomime villains. They will soon be fighting Somalian ships and even chasing the pirates onto land, into one of the most broken countries on earth. But behind the arrr-me-hearties oddness of this tale, there is an untold scandal. The people our governments are labeling as "one of the great menace of our times" have an extraordinary story to tell -- and some justice on their side

28 April 2009

BBC: Somali vigilantes capture pirates

Regional leaders at Alula and Bargaal in Somalia's northern Puntland region told the BBC they have put together a militia of fishermen to catch pirates.

They decided to act as they were fed up with their fishing vessels being seized at gunpoint by the ocean-going bandits.

Link to Article

27 April 2009

CNN Wire: Maersk Alabama crew member suing company

A crew member on a U.S.-flagged cargo ship captured by pirates off the coast of Somalia is suing his employers, claiming they sent him into pirate-infested waters without adequate protection, his attorney said Monday.

Richard Hicks of Royal Palm Beach, Florida, a crew member on the Maersk Alabama, was set to file suit Monday against Waterman Steamship Corp. and Maersk Line Limited, according to the attorney, Terry Bryant.

A spokeswoman for Mobile, Alabama-based Waterman Steamship Corp. said she did not know about the suit and did not immediately comment. A spokeswoman for Maersk Line Limited did not immediately return a call from CNN seeking comment.

Link to Article

Attacks reach 44 in worst month for piracy since records began

Link to Article

Piracy is enjoying its busiest month since modern records began, official figures show. With three days still to go, there have been 44 attacks on ships around the world – four more than in the whole of March, itself a record-breaking month.

The latest incident happened yesterday morning when a German grain carrier, the Malta-flagged MV Patriot, and 17 crew were seized by armed men in the Gulf of Aden. The crew were said to be unhurt.

Records kept by the International Maritime Bureau, which monitors commercial crime at sea, show that in all there were 102 attacks worldwide in the first three months of 2009, almost twice as many as a year ago.

The seas off Somalia and the Gulf of Aden have become the most dangerous in the world, seeing 61 incidents from January to March, 10 times as many as during the same period in 2008. Since then, the seizing of the US-operated container ship the Maersk Alabama has hit the headlines.

Piracy has become Somalia's only boom industry, netting about $50m (£34m) a year for one of the world's poorest countries. "All you need is three guys and a little boat, and the next day you're millionaires," said Abdullahi Omar Qawden, once a captain in the country's now defunct navy.

Somali pirates free Yemeni ship

Link to Article

Somali pirates intensify piracy despite high seas crackdown

Link to Article

NAIROBI, April 26 (Xinhua) -- Somali pirates are apparently intensifying attacks this week in defiance of the international crackdown on the high seas banditry.

In their latest attacks, the pirates took a Yemeni tanker on Sunday in the Gulf of Aden off the coast of the Arabian Peninsula.

The Qana was seized in a shooting duel between Yemeni coast guards and the assailants. At least three Somali pirates and two Yemeni guards were wounded in the fight over the tanker.

The attack was the second reported within hours after Somali pirates opened fired at an Italian cruise ship with nearly 1,000 passengers on board on Saturday night north of the Seychelles.

Somalia Parliament Demands Answers for Controversial Maritime Agreement with Kenya

Link to Article

The Somalia parliament is expected to demand answers today from President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed's new government over a recently signed controversial Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Kenya. The agreement, which was signed in early April, involved their maritime boundary, but it ignited heated debate in the Somali government over its legality. Somalia's parliament expressed deep concerns about the agreement, saying the accord does not have a legal basis as long as it is not ratified by the national legislature.

Somali parliamentarian Ismail Ahmed Nur told VOA that most Somalis are deeply suspicious about the pact with Nairobi.

23 April 2009

AP: 18 Somalis in court as Kenya holds pirate trials

Shabbily dressed and solemn, 18 Somali men nabbed at sea and hauled ashore by European navies crowded into a Mombasa courthouse Thursday to face piracy charges that could put them behind bars for life.

Kenya appeared to be ramping up prosecutions amid talk of establishing an international piracy tribunal in the country that borders Somalia, the lawless epicenter of a flourishing pirate industry off the Horn of Africa.

CNN: Somali PM: Anti-pirate patrols not working

Somalia's prime minister told CNN Thursday that the international naval patrols in the Gulf of Aden are not solving the problem of piracy in the region.

Link to Article

The European Union and several nations, including the United States, have naval forces in the region to protect vessels against pirate attacks. The head of EU naval forces in the waters off Somalia said he believes navies can defeat pirates on the high seas, but ultimately restoring long-term stability to Somalia will be what stops the attacks.

Still, Rear-Admiral Philip Jones told CNN, "It'll be a long period of time before that's successful, and we must be ready to secure the seas until that's in place."

*Shocker- an article about anti-piracy patrols not working. This problem has no easy fix. It reminds me of the chicken-egg causality problem. Will piracy stop because Somalia is stable or will Somalia become stable by thwarting criminal activity? The answer- ideally and obviously- is that both need to happen because both have impacts/consequences on each other. A stable government will help in the long term while the international patrols can help in the short term. The lack of a stable form of government (one that can make and enforce laws effectively) is making it easy for pirates. It seems they will only face prosecution if they get picked up by those international navies patrolling their waters. So these foreign patrols, while they may have a small success rate, do provide some of the needed enforcement that a lawless nation cannot provide.

I like the "idea" of this article in that the focus is on the ineffectiveness of current measures. It's not that I am happy for this, it's just paints a realistic picture of the problem. (Again, it's not an easy fix!!) For me, it goes back to the pirate-hunting reality show. I hope that when this show debuts, they focus on the fact that all their missions will not be successful and that the problem is much larger than criminals on boats.

22 April 2009

GMANews: DFA says ban to Gulf of Aden unavoidable

Link to Article

The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs is appealing for understanding from the shipping industry for the government’s deployment ban to the Gulf of Aden, saying it is a necessary measure to curb the spiking number of Filipino seafarers being kidnapped by Somali pirates.

23 RP seamen freed after five months in Somalia

Link to Article

The 23 Filipino crew of the chemical tanker MT Stolt Strength were finally released by Somali pirates after more than five months in captivity, radio dzBB reported Tuesday.

Nobody Knows How Old This Pirate Is

Link to Article

Nobody Knows How Old This Pirate Is

Photo: Getty Images

Recently dispirited pirate Abduwali Abdukhadir Muse sat in a Manhattan federal court yesterday as everyone tried to figure out how old he really is. Since Somalia has basically no government, and warlords are not known for their record-keeping skills, the investigation hinged mostly on dubious speculation.

• Muse's father testified over the phone from Somalia that his son was born on November 20, 1993, which would make him 15. But he didn't really know the birth dates of his other sons, so the judge decided he was full of it.

• According to prosecutors, Muse told interrogators that he was 15, 19, and 26. But then he apologized for lying and admitted he was "between 18 and 19."

• Muse's mother claims he's 16.

• Muse's defense lawyers ostensibly believe that he's 15.

20 April 2009

Ship fights off attack; Pirates free food aid ship

Link to Article

Somali pirates attacked a Maltese flagged-ship before dawn Monday with rocket-propelled grenades, but the ship escaped unharmed, a NATO spokesman said.

And in a rare case of good news, Somali pirates released a Lebanese-owned cargo ship after only a few days after they found out it was headed to pick up food aid for hungry Somalis.

Monday's attack on the MV Atlantica took place 30 miles (48 kilometers) off the coast of Yemen in the Gulf of Aden, said Lt.-Cmdr. Alexandre Santos Fernandes, a spokesman for the NATO alliance.

MSNBC: Somalia's godfathers: ransom-rich pirates

Coastal villagers find blessings and ruin at hands of sea robbers.

Link to Article

*From the washingtonpost.com via msnbc.com

16 April 2009

CSPAN: Combating Piracy off the Somali Coast

Check www.cspan.org for re-airings of this speech.

Vice Admiral Kevin Cosgriff spoke on combating piracy on the Somali coast. Vice Admiral Kevin J. Cosgriff (Ret.), Former Commander of the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (CENTCOM) & the U.S. 5th Fleet. The speech was hosted by the Middle East Institute.

I caught part of it today and found it informative.

15 April 2009

Somali pirates hit another US-flagged cargo ship


Pirates attacked a US-flagged cargo ship off the coast of Somalia with rockets and automatic weapons yesterday, but failed to board the craft, the ship's owner and the US military said.

The crew of the Liberty Sun was unharmed, but the vessel suffered damage, according to a statement from Liberty Maritime Corp, of Lake Success, N.Y. The ship immediately requested help from the US Navy, which sent forces, the statement said.

14 April 2009

Somali Pirates Make Hijacking Home Music Videos

Link to Article

Video taken by Somali pirates of a ship they have hijacked.  These videos are taken to prove to the ransom payers that the ship and hostage crew are still in good shape.  Plus who can go wrong with some hijacking jams?

While editing a paper

While editing a paper for a presentation tomorrow i came across this quoute, quite possibly one of my favorite and the reason why the work Amanda I are doing is so important.

In a recent article from the Huffington Post, a “Golden Age’ pirate expert tried to compare the two ages of piracy and stated that the current age is ruining the myth of the pirate. “Adds Richard Zacks, author of the best-seller Pirate Hunter: The True Story of Captain Kidd

"I think the Somali pirates are spoiling piracy for the rest of us. Even authors such as yours truly who have spent years in rare book rooms chronicling authentic pirates can't help but have a little Treasure Island/Johnny Depp/Capt. Jack Sparrow in our psyches. I mean, many of the pirate myths are indeed accurate: foul-mouthed, lecherous, booze-crazed youngish men on the prowl for under-manned merchant ships full of portable treasure, preferably gold. I'm sorry but these little motorboats full of Kalashnikov-toting Somalis, ready to negotiate a cell phone ransom, just don't make for a good new chapter for Robert Louis Stevenson."”

CNN: Pentagon looks to move battle against pirates ashore

Link to Article

Pentagon planners are preparing a variety of options for dealing with Somali pirates, and a United Nations resolution gives them the authority to conduct operations inside Somalia.

Dear Hillary...

So we have 5 dead pirates (2 killed by the French, 3 by Americans) one captured pirate who will potentially stand trial in the US.

We also have 4 pirated ships and 60 hostages.

Therefore: Pirates 60 (with in 24 hours) --> NATO/EU/UN 5( in 1 week)

Point Pirates.

Somali pirates step up hijacking spree

Link to Article

Hours later a NATO spokeswoman said a second freighter, flying a Togolese flag, had been seized by pirates off the Horn of Africa, the 10th hijacking in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean since the start of the month.

"I can confirm that a second cargo ship, the Sea Horse has been seized," said spokeswoman Shona Lowe from NATO's Northwood maritime command centre in England.

She could not provide details on the numbers or nationalities that had been aboard the ship nor how many remained in danger.

The pirates attacked the vessel "on three or four skiffs," she said.

Undeterred Somali pirates hijack 3 more ships

Link to Article

The latest trophy for the pirates was the M.V. Irene E.M., a Greek-managed bulk carrier sailing from the Middle East to South Asia, said Noel Choong, who heads the International Maritime Bureau's piracy reporting center in Kuala Lumpur.

The Irene was attacked and seized in the middle of the night Tuesday — a rare tactic for the pirates.

U.S. Navy Lt. Nathan Christensen, spokesman for the Bahrain-based 5th Fleet, said the Irene was flagged in the Caribbean island nation of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and carried 23 Filipino crew. Choong reported a crew of 21, and there was no immediate way to reconcile the figures.

On Monday, Somali pirates also seized two Egyptian fishing boats in the Gulf of Aden off Somalia's northern coast, according to Egypt's Foreign Ministry, which said the boats carried 18 to 24 Egyptians total.

Spike Goes Pirate Hunting With US Navy

Link to Article

"These often-violent hijackings off the coast of eastern Africa not only pose a grave threat to the lives of sailors taking cargo through the region, but are also starting to add an exorbitant amount to the cost of worldwide trade."

*Agreed. But we do not need a reality show to explain that. What's next "Real World: Gulf of Aden"?

“With ‘Pirate Hunters: USN,’ our goal is to capture that drama for the TV audience in order to highlight the heroic work undertaken by the US Navy every day in this fight against terrorism.”

*I don't even know where to begin to comment on that. Maybe just "It's a poor choice." Or "Sensationalizing the issue will not help fix the problem". or " Camera crews might just give the pirates more targets to shoot at." Or "Get prepared for a less than stellar success rate?" (let's be real- they will probably only show 'successful' interdictions' or thrilling near misses and not give a complete picture of the actual issue.)

GMANews: After swift rescue of US captain, fate of 98 Filseamen remains in limbo

Link to Article

"The International Maritime Bureau said there were 260 crewmembers on 14 hijacked ships being held off the coast of Somalia as of Tuesday. Six of these hijacked vessels have a total of 98 Filipino seafarers involved."

“The entire incident is sensationalized because an American was held hostage," Ramirez told GMANews.TV in an interview. “[But] when the number of Filipinos abducted by pirates swelled to 100, there was no reaction."

*I completely agree. Ships manned by international crews (the majority of which are Filipino) keep commerce alive in this global economy in the transporting of goods, many of which can be vital to national/business interests, including American. When these attacks occur, the media barely noticed, even when American interests were at stake. When an American crew is hijacked, piracy is suddenly brought to the forefront (cue dramatic music intro and the CNN Somali Pirates graphic). It was a serious situation, and I commend the first officer from the Alabama for explaining to reporters that this issue is currently active even though they have been saved. The Alabama was not an isolated incident- it is a global crisis.

Talking to people this weekend and explaining that the Alabama was just one small piece of the piracy puzzle and that over 200 other seafarers were held hostage, people were shocked. Many did not believe me. It is sad to know that some people only believe it is news if it can be condensed to a 3 minute segment on Andersoon Cooper 360 (no disrespect to AC360). Hate it to break it to people, but all the important news going on in this global economy cannot be fully explained in a single 1 or 2 hour news broadcast, regardless of news agency/reporter.

CNN: Sailor: World needs to 'wake up' to piracy

Link to Article

"Right now there are ships being taken. At sea, it's a global community. It doesn't come down to nations."
-First Officer from the Maersk Alabama

"The pirates have a great business model that works for them: See ships, take ransom, make millions,"
-Adm. Rich Gurnon, Mass. Maritime Academy

CNN: Protecting against piracy difficult in vast area

Link to Article

Efforts to protect ships from pirates in the waters off Somalia's east coast face a tremendous challenge: The vastness of the area makes it difficult to get to ships that are in danger.

*For some reason, I don't think the "vastness of the area" is the only tremendous challenge.

"Unfortunately, they found themselves in a position where they could start piracy in the region and it's become a virus," Voss told CNN. "It's easy money ... and once it gets into a culture, it's very difficult to get out, and the only way to get it out is attack on multiple levels."
-Chris Voss, former FBI international kidnapping negotiator, on Somalia


CNN: Pirates Seize Greek Ship

Pirates hijacked a 35,000-ton Greek-owned bulk carrier in the Gulf of Aden on Tuesday, the European Union's Maritime Security Center said.

Link to Article

13 April 2009

How to Catch a Pirate: Readers’ Ideas

Link to Article

Everything You Need to Know About What Went Down With the Pirates Yesterday

Link to Article

US sea capt. freed from pirates in swift firefight

Link to Article

U.S. Navy snipers opened fire and killed three pirates holding an American captain at gunpoint, delivering the skipper unharmed and ending a five-day high-seas hostage drama on Easter Sunday.

Capt. Richard Phillips was in "imminent danger" of being killed before snipers shot the pirates in an operation authorized by President Barack Obama, Vice Adm. Bill Gortney said.

He said the pirates were armed with AK-47s and small-caliber pistols and were pointing the rifles at the captain when the commander of the nearby USS Bainbridge gave the order to open fire.

Gortney, the commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, said the White House had given "very clear guidance and authority" to take action if Phillips' life was in danger.

A look at ships still held by Somali pirates

Link to Article

April 11: Italian tugboat seized with 16 crew members aboard: 10 Italians, five Romanians and a Croatian.

_ April 9: Yemeni fishing boat Shugaa Almadhi with 13 crew hijacked.

_ April 6: British-owned bulk carrier, the Malaspina Castle, hijacked in the Gulf of Aden. It is carrying iron and has a crew of 24 from Bulgaria, the Philippines, Russia and Ukraine. Lloyd's Marine Intelligence Unit says the ship is owned by Navalmar U.K. Ltd. and managed by BNavi SpA of Italy.

_ April 4: German 20,000-ton freighter Hansa Stavanger seized 400 miles (645 kilometers) off the Somali coast. It has 24 crew members on board: 5 Germans, 3 Russians, 2 Ukrainians, 2 Filipinos and 12 Tuvalus. It is owned by Hamburg-based Leonhardt & Blumberg Schiffahrtsgesellschaft mbH & Co.KG.

_ April 4: Taiwanese ship, Win Far 161, seized near the Seychelles islands. It has a crew of 30, including 17 Filipinos, six Indonesians, five Chinese and two Taiwanese.

_ March 25: Panama-registered, Greek-owned Nipayia with 18 Filipino crew members and a Russian captain is seized by pirates. The Nipayia is managed by Athens-based Lotus Shipping.

Somali pirates a far cry from buccaneers of old

Link to Article

They've been described as "noble heroes" by sympathetic Somalis, denounced as criminals by critics. But the word most used to describe the men holding an American captain off the Horn of Africa is "pirate" — conjuring images of sword-wielding swashbucklers romanticized by Hollywood.

The 21st century reality, though, is a far cry from that. There are no treasure-laden islands or Blackbeards in this part of the world, no wooden schooners flying skull and crossbones flags.

High seas hostage drama could conclude in US court

Link to Article

Whether a U.S. citizen is taken hostage at a downtown bank branch or on the high seas, federal authorities can claim the authority to capture suspects and prosecute them in U.S. courts.

That means, if the Somali pirates holding a U.S. cargo ship captain hostage in the Indian Ocean make it off their small lifeboat alive, they may have to answer to the FBI.

U.S. law applies to any crime committed aboard a U.S. ship, or aboard any ship when the victim is a U.S. citizen.

11 April 2009

CNN: Pirates hijack Italian tugboat in Gulf of Aden

An Italian tugboat sent a distress call to a NATO ship Saturday before it was hijacked by pirates in the Gulf of Aden

Link to Article

What about the Filipinos? Piracy focus seen as hypocritical

Link to Article

MOMBASA, Kenya (Reuters) - The international community is showing hypocrisy by suddenly focussing on Somali piracy because of the capture of one American, a regional maritime group said on Saturday.

10 April 2009

BBC: French Hostages Freed off Somalia

*Pirates will seize any vessel if there is a chance for payment- whether through monetary means or goods. This article describes the capture of a yacht that had been previously warned not to sail through those waters. From yachts to container ships- to vessel is immune to seizure in this area.

One French hostage has died and four others have been freed in a rescue operation by French troops on a yacht off Somalia, French officials say.

Two pirates were killed in the operation and three were captured, the French presidency says.

Two French couples had been seized with a child, who was among those freed from the yacht, Tanit, seized last week.

The operation came after a US captain made an unsuccessful overnight bid to escape from another seized vessel.

Captain Richard Phillips managed to jump overboard off the lifeboat on which he was being held by pirates, US media reported.

But his attempt to reach a nearby US military ship was thwarted before it could come to his aid.

US troops in the area are continuing to monitor Mr Phillips' situation. He was captured after a struggle on his ship, Maersk Alabama, which also remains in the hands of pirates.

Reports said the French rescue operation was not thought to be in the vicinity of the US fleet and the Maersk Alabama.

Warnings 'unheeded'
The French operation to free those on board the Tanit began six days after the yacht was seized, the office of President Nicolas Sarkozy said.

Earlier in the week Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner had left open the possibility that troops could launch an effort to free the French hostages, telling reporters French officials knew the location of the Tanit.

However, it also emerged that the families on board the yacht, which was reported to be heading down to Zanzibar, off the coast of Tanzania, were urged not to travel through the Gulf of Aden.

The region has become a haven for pirates and is the scene of frequent seizures and attacks on international shipping.

A spokesman for the French foreign ministry said the couple - named as Chloe and Florent Lemacon - were "repeatedly warned" not to travel through the area.

"It is difficult to understand why these warnings were not heeded," spokesman Eric Chevallier said.

FOX News: Pirates Reportedly Demand Ransom After U.S. Ship Captain Tries to Escape

A Somali negotiator said Friday pirates holding American ship captain Richard Phillips hostage want a ransom and are ready to kill Phillips if attacked.

Link to Article

Virginian-Pilot: Navy, pirates: More than ships passing in the night

The article below is about the Norfolk, Virginia-based guided missle destroyer Bainbridge. This vessel has been leading the United States' anti-piracy mission in the Indian Ocean. Points to take note of are that this task force has only been active since January of this year and that U.S. Navy officers are only beginning to better understand pirate operations. This is interesting because piracy is not new phenomena.

*More on that to come...


For covering more than 1.1 million square miles of sea, Navy sailors have gotten a surprising amount of face time with Somali pirates.
Since the Navy created an anti-piracy task force in January, pirates have attacked 58 ships off the Somali coast, with 17 successful captures, according to the Navy. In several cases, Navy ships from various nations have thwarted the attacks.

U.S. Navy officers who have recently returned from the region say the Navy is beginning to better understand pirate operations.

Capt. Mark Young, executive officer of the cruiser Vella Gulf, said the U.S. officials learned a great deal during negotiations with Somalis for the release of the Ukrainian ship Faina.

The Norfolk-based cruiser, which returned in March, captured 16 suspected pirates during its deployment. "They are highly motivated and, to a certain extent, desperate people," said Young, who will assume command of the Vella Gulf later this month.

The pirates are supported by a major network back in Somalia, he said. They have access to the Internet on shore and know where merchant ships are most likely to transit. They also have the advantage of being "a very, very small target in a very, very large area," he said.

Ensign Carrie Muller, boarding officer on the amphibious ship San Antonio, led more than a dozen boarding parties during two months in the task force.

The San Antonio's seizure of several explosives aboard a cargo ship was a high point of the deployment, she said. It gave the sailors valuable experience and led to more volunteers for the boarding teams, she said.
Sailors also had to learn how to distinguish between legitimate fishing vessels and attackers, said Lt. j.g. Rich Laraway, boarding officer on the Vella Gulf. "It's a patience game," he said.

09 April 2009

TIME - Why the Pirates are Winning the Battle of the Seas

When the statistics showed a drop in piracy attacks off the coast of Somalia early this year, shipping companies and the foreign navies patrolling the Gulf of Aden thought they might finally be winning the battle of the Indian Ocean. But the past few days have proved that any talk of "mission accomplished" is premature.

The past week saw at least six attacks, culminating with the seizure of an American-flagged cargo ship with a crew of 20. Though the crew quickly regained control of the ship, the pirates are still holding the captain, Richard Phillips, hostage. (See pictures of the brazen pirates of Somalia.)

There are several reasons for the spike in attacks. For impoverished Somalis, who appear to be behind most of the attacks, massive ransom payouts in recent months have proved that the piracy trade is perhaps their best route out of despair and hopelessness. It now appears that the earlier drop in attacks had more to do with the weather than with the international show of force. "There are new pirates all the time," Abdi Timo-Jile, a pirate himself, told TIME from his home in the central city of Garowe. "We people are not afraid. There is death every day."

Pirates, ex-pirates and pirate recruiters tell TIME that even with all the international attention, the tough talk from leaders around the world and the presence of warships from 20 or so of the most powerful navies, the lure of the piracy trade remains as strong as ever. It only takes a few pirates to hijack a massive vessel, and shipping companies continue to pay out ransoms — in some cases more than $3 million — to secure the release of those precious cargo carriers. Given Somalia's miserable state, the temptation is irresistible. (See the top 10 audacious acts of piracy.)

It doesn't help that Somalis have a marked aversion to foreign forces. Fiercely conservative and suspicious of outsiders, the country bristled under the failed U.N. peacekeeping mission in the early 1990s and the Ethiopia occupation over the past few years. "The sea and the land are the same," says Abdinaser Biyokulule, a pirate recruiter in the pirate haven of Bossaso. "Foreign troops did not succeed on land, so they will not succeed in the sea either."

Stepped-up patrols around the Gulf of Aden were designed to intimidate the pirates. But the recent attacks, including hijackings and attempted hijackings hundreds of miles farther down the East African coastline, show that the Somalis are just changing tactics and moving away from the heavily patrolled gulf. "It's not that the navies have been unsuccessful," says Tony Mason, secretary-general of the London-based International Chamber of Shipping. "You can almost argue that they've been too successful, so the pirates have decided it's easier to go after targets in the Indian Ocean because the navies are not there and it's a much, much more difficult area to patrol because there's an awful lot more sea." (See pictures of Somalia's modern piracy.)

The international community was hopeful in March when Kenya agreed to try suspected pirates in its courts. That, experts said, would provide a deterrent and at least impose some sense of rule of law off Somalia's coasts. Yet the threat of arrest has done nothing to dissuade the pirates. "Not even 0.2% of the total pirates are arrested, so anybody who is at all intelligent can understand that arrest does not bring fear," says Maryam Jama, a pirate recruiter in Bossaso. "If you get arrested, in prison the others will say, 'Do not worry, you will be out and then hijack another ship with good luck.' "

AP: Modern Day Piracy Information

Link to Interactive AP Graphics

Great illustrations from the Associated Press on Modern Day Piracy. Toggle between "Global Piracy", "How Attacks Happen", and " Somali Incidents" for more information.

Many people wonder how such large ships can come under siege from such small vessels. In answering this question, I found the "How Attacks Happen" node especially helpful. It also provides information on LRAD and Secure-Ship technologies.

Commentary on the UNCOLS and recent Resolutions

In reality the United Nations Charter on the Laws of the Sea is not a true law as there is no "international law," there is no legal body to back the law and no recourse for those who commit acts against the laws. UN Resolutions 1814, 1816, 1838, 1846, and 1851 call for mutlilateral action from those who have the capabilities to protect the delivery of humanitarian aid shipments and to ensure the safety of commercial maritime routes in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden. UN Resolution 1851 in particular notes with concern the lack of capacity, domestic legislation, and clarity about how to dispose of pirates after their capture. So the UN has recognized the failure of "International Law" in deterring piracy, however, due to the capacity of the UN not being able to impose or implement laws, the best that they can do it to recommend action. UN Resolution 1851 also calls for a regional mechanism for cooperation for the Somalia/ Gulf of Aden situation, similar to the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (RECAAP) in South East Asia.

Here is a brief clip from a paper the Amanda Paez and I wrote December of 2007

The successes of ReCAAP and the success of Operation Sea Dragon need to be spread throughout other hot spots of piracy across the waters. Networks of maritime countries in Africa need to work together to form some type of network to deter the pirate activities that are taking place on the coast. If the governments of Africa cannot work together, it may be beneficial to countries to develop an operation such as Operation Sea Dragon to protect shippers. Pirates off the coast of Somalia are pirating ships full of humanitarian aid. This aid is essential for the struggling people of Somalia. If concerned nations do not act, this piracy will continue and aid will not reach those in need. The waters off of Somalia will also be a hot spot for transportation terrorist and rouges. It is time for concerned nations to come together and develop a learning- information sharing network off the coast of Africa to help the shipper of cargo and oil be safe and to get aid to those in need.

Hmm, Obama (or Hillary), and time now, I'd appreciate that call!

Somali Piracy Exposes Weakness in UN Law of the Sea

Link to Article

Father Of Crew Member Sees 'Murphy's Law' At Work

Link to Article

By Steve Brown

BOSTON - April 09, 2009 - Richard Phillips and his second in command, Shane Murphy, are graduates of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy in Buzzards Bay.

WBUR talked with the father of the Maersk Alabama's chief officer.

Joe Murphy sees some irony in his son's situation.

"That's Murphy's Law, isn't it," Joe Murphy says. "I teach maritime security. I have my son come in to talk about it and then he gets hijacked."

The elder Murphy has been a professor at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy for nearly a quarter of a century.

He teaches future mariners how to defend a ship from pirates using small arms including handguns, rifles and shotguns.

Just two weeks ago, Murphy had his son Shane speak to his students about life on the high seas and about the the very real danger of pirates.

"He was here to try and give them some hands-on experience," Murphy explains. "We can teach them knowledge -- I can't teach them experience, as to what they can expect.

"He made it abundantly clear that this is a day to day activity, that it's increasing, that it's not going to stop, and that potentially you can have a real serious problem in very short order."

Joe Murphy says lessons in ship security intensified after 9/11. And the threats from pirates are in no way like the romanticized images of swashbuckling marauders.

I would agree that everybody has the Johnny Depp kind of concept that these are the Pirates of the Carribbean," Murphy says. "They're not. These are hardened criminals, and you know they're not above using any tactic to achieve the means that they have intended."

Murphy says maritime piracy is evolving, and the counter-tactics that mariners utilize are in response to what is taking place on the sea.

Oh the irony. And yes, thank you for pointing out that Johnny Depp is not a real pirate. That is the point of one of my chapters in my dissertation!

08 April 2009

why exactly would one trust pirates in a swap? They are pirates for goodness sake. There is no parley or code of conduct among these men anymore.

Pirates hold U.S. ship's skipper, officer aboard says

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Developing Story From CNN


American crew retakes hijacked ship, Pentagon says

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From CNN

US seeks details on Americans taken as hostages

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Across the national security establishment, the United States urgently sought answers Wednesday for the first pirate attack against American citizens in recent memory — an American-flag ship hijacked off the coast of Somalia.

President Barack Obama's chief spokesman said the White House was assessing a course of action. Press secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters that officials there monitoring the incident closely. Said Gibbs: "Our top priority is the personal safety of the crew members on board."

The White House offered no other immediate details about what actions it was considering.

A senior Navy official said the administration was talking to the shipping company to learn "the who, what, why, where and when" of the incident in which the Maersk Alabama and a crew of some 20 people was seized by pirates.

This official refused to say what, if any, plans the U.S. had for trying to free the ship and its hostages. Officials said they didn't know whether a ransom demand had been made by the pirates.

"Now we're in the information gathering phase, really ... sharing information with the company," the Navy official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the record while facts remained sketchy.

Reports coming into the Pentagon said carried varying estimates of the number of American crew members. Some said 21, others said 19. It was not immediately clear the nature of the ship's cargo is, although one report said that it might be food aid.

Though the ship is the sixth seized within a week in the dangerous region around Africa, Cmdr. Jane Campbell, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Navy's Bahrain-based 5th Fleet, said it was the first pirate attack "involving U.S. nationals and a U.S.-flagged vessel in recent memory."

A second Defense Department official, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said he had no information on the number of pirates or any details of the attack.

But a third official, asked if there were any casualties during the hijacking, said United Kingdom maritime officials had been able to contact the vessel and were told "everyone is OK."

The crew first reported being under attack, then said that pirates had already boarded the ship, according to "talking points" prepared by the U.S. government for briefing reporters about the situation.

Though the company has had some Defense Department contracts it was not on a Pentagon job when attacked, the talking points said.

The hijacking comes one day after international maritime officials issued a warning on the area.

Following a series of attacks off the eastern coast of Somalia, the Combined Maritime Forces issued an advisory Wednesday highlighting several recent attacks that occurred hundreds of miles off the Somali coast and stating that merchant mariners should be increasingly vigilant when operating in those waters.

"While the majority of attacks during 2008 and early 2009 took place in the Gulf of Aden, these recent attacks off the eastern coast of Somalia are not unprecedented," the advisory provided by Navy officials in Washington said. "An attack on the large crude tanker Sirius Star in November 2008 occurred more than 450 nautical miles off the southeast coast of Somalia."

The advisory said the "scope and magnitude of problem cannot be understated."

The nearest ship from the international coalition working against pirates in the region was hundreds of miles away from the Maersk Alabama.

Associated Press reporters Matthew Lee and Ben Feller contributed to this story.

Somali pirates seize Danish-owned ship: US Navy

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Somali pirates seized a Danish-owned and US-flagged ship off Somalia on Wednesday with 20 American crew on board, the US Navy and the shipowner said, in the sixth maritime hijacking in five days

Somali pirates capture Florent Lemaçon and family

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Ship carrying 20 Americans hijacked off Somalia

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From CNN

06 April 2009

IMB Weekly Piracy Report now a live report

The International Maritime Bureau has replaced their weekly piracy reports with a live update feed of when and where a pirate attack has taken place.
Example Below:

02.04.2009: 1300 UTC: Posn: 13:51.1N – 051:14.2E, Gulf of Aden.

Two speed boats, blue and white in colour, with 3 or 4 persons onboard approached a bulk carrier underway at over 20 knots. The speed boats came as close as 0.40 nm. The Master sounded the general alarm and whistle. An Indian warship was informed. Two helicopters from Japan and India responded and the pirates aborted their attempt on sighting the helicopters.

static map

Link to IMB Live Report

This link is also under the links section!

Beating Somali Pirates at Their Own Game

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Pirates should be prosecuted as criminals, says US consul general

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Pirates Seize German Vessel After Failed Raid On Israeli Ship

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Pirates attack Israeli ship off Somalia

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Somali Pirates Seize More Ships