31 August 2009

Arroyo to seek Africa help vs pirates - Inquirer.net

Arroyo to seek Africa help vs pirates - Inquirer.net: "

Voice of America

Arroyo to seek Africa help vs pirates
A total of 42 Filipino seamen are still in the custody of Somali pirates. Different rebel groups now run most of Somalia even though a transitional federal ...
GMA vows to work on protection of RP sailors from piratesManila Bulletin
Arroyo seeking help for sailorsBusiness Mirror
PGMA off to Libya to attend African Union Peace and Security SummitPhilippine Information Agency

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What do the pirates of yore tell us a... - New Yorker

What do the pirates of yore tell us a... - New Yorker: "

New Yorker

What do the pirates of yore tell us about their modern counterparts?
New Yorker
Pirates had strict but unconventional codes of behavior, and some historians claim them as early progressives—with ...


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27 August 2009

Somali pirates open fire on US navy helicopter

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MANAMA — Somali pirates aboard a captured vessel have opened fire on a US navy helicopter on the high seas as it carried out a surveillance mission over the boat, the navy said on Thursday.
There were no reported casualties or damage from the incident which occurred on Wednesday morning off the pirate-infested coast of Somalia, said a statement from the Bahrain-based US Naval Forces Central Command.
"Somali pirates aboard the motor vessel (M/V) Win Far fired what appeared to be a large calibre weapon at a US navy SH-60B helicopter," the statement said.
"The helicopter was conducting a routine surveillance flight of M/V Win Far, currently held at anchorage by Somali pirates south of Garacad, Somalia, when the incident occurred," it added.
The shooting came as the helicopter returned to the USS Chancellorsville, where a video recording of the incident was noted, it said, adding that during the flight the crew was unaware of the attack.
The navy identified the Win Far as a Taiwanese-flagged vessel which was seized by pirates earlier this year.
"Over the past 135 days it has been used as a 'mother ship' to conduct other known pirate attacks, most notably the US-flagged Maersk-Alabama in April," it said.
According to the US navy, the pirates are holding hostage more than 30 crew members of the Win Far.
So far this year, there have been 114 attempted attacks on merchant vessels in the region, 29 of them successful, according to the US navy.
The world's naval powers have deployed dozens of warships to the lawless waters off Somalia over the past year to curb attacks by pirates threatening one of the world's busiest maritime trade routes.

24 August 2009

Somalia: Naval Patrol Seizes Weapons From Pirate Suspects

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Naval patrols fired warning shots to stop suspected pirates in the Gulf of Aden at the weekend, later seizing ladders, rifles and rocket-propelled grenades.
The European Union Naval Force for Somalia said in a news release that a Japanese maritime patrol aircraft spotted a skiff on Saturday which was carrying seven people, a ladder and large amounts of fuel. The skiff was about 80 nautical miles east of Aden and five nautical miles from merchant shipping.

A Norwegian warship gave chase and a Dutch warship sent a helicopter to follow the skiff. When the occupants of the skiff tried to get away, the helicopter crew fired warning shots.
Norwegian sailors using fast, rigid-hulled inflatable boats boarded the skiff and seized and disposed of the weapons. But, according to the EU force's news release, "due to the lack of positive evidence of a pirate attack, the skiff and its crew were finally released."

18 August 2009

US weighs arming ships to ward off pirates - North County Times

US weighs arming ships to ward off pirates - North County Times: "

US weighs arming ships to ward off pirates
North County Times
That standoff, which transfixed the American public, ended with the killing of three pirates by Navy SEAL snipers and the release of the vessel's captain, ...
SEA TRANSPORTATION: Armed Security Troops Added To Merchant Ship CrewsStrategy Page
Piracy and Environment: Risks and ResponsesRed, Green, and Blue

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Eight 'pirates' arrested over ship hijack but questions remain - Telegraph.co.uk

Eight 'pirates' arrested over ship hijack but questions remain - Telegraph.co.uk: "


Eight 'pirates' arrested over ship hijack but questions remain
Eight "pirates" have been arrested by the Russian authorities on suspicion of hijacking the cargo ship Arctic Sea by posing as stranded sailors whose engine ...
'Pirated' cargo ship found near Cape Verde islandsguardian.co.uk
Missing ship Arctic Sea found off Cape Verde - pirate suspects ...GenevaLunch
We'll find pirate ship, says envoyPress and Journal
AOL Canada -Voice of America -Telegraph.co.uk
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Egyptian fisherman fought pirates with Somali help - The Associated Press

Egyptian fisherman fought pirates with Somali help - The Associated Press: "


Egyptian fisherman fought pirates with Somali help
The Associated Press
Hassan Khalil, the owner of fishing vessel Momtaz 1, persuaded the pirates to let him on his boat after giving a down payment of $200000 to the pirates' ...
Somali pirates find 7 bodies, blame EgyptiansGarowe Online
Egyptian fishermen who fought off pirates expected home SaturdayEarthtimes (press release)
Pirate-fighting Egypt boat owner gets hero welcomeThe Associated Press

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16 August 2009

Somali pirates find 7 bodies, blame Egyptians

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OSSASO, Somalia (Reuters) - Somali pirates found seven dead colleagues floating in the ocean on Saturday and vowed to take revenge against Egyptian fishermen they say killed them during an escape, an associate of the pirates said.

The 34 fishermen had been held hostage by the pirates since April, but they managed to overpower their guards on Thursday and fled in their two fishing vessels after a gun battle.

Two of their captors were killed during that shoot-out, and the pirates said the Egyptians took several others with them.

"We have found seven of our dead colleagues floating in the sea," said the associate, who gave his name as Farah, by telephone from one of the gangs' strongholds, Las Qoray.

"The Egyptian crew members killed them ... we used to welcome them and treat the Egyptians better than other hostages, but if we capture more of them we shall get our revenge."

Sea gangs from the failed Horn of Africa state have made tens of millions of dollars in ransoms targeting shipping using the strategic Gulf of Aden that links Europe to Asia.

14 August 2009

Have pirates now struck off Europe?

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Late last month, a cargo ship with a load of timber and a Russian crew of 15 radioed home a location off the coast of Portugal. It hasscheduled to make port in Algeria on August 4 to deliver its cargo.

But all attempts to raise the ship on radio or locate its emergency beacon have failed. “Unfortunately, the location of the ship is still not known,” Viktor Matveyev, the director of Solchart, a company in Finland that operates the ship, said by telephone on Wednesday. “There have been no communications and no signals from the instrument that transmitted the ship’s location.” And on Thursday, Reuters quoted him as saying, “My view is that it is most likely that the vessel has been hijacked.”

Though details are still murky, word of the missing ship has conjured images of the brazen pirate raids frequent in the Gulf of Aden off Somalia’s coast.

Before the ship disappeared, the captain radioed that unidentified men claiming to be police officers had raided the ship, but he said they had released it. A news anchor for Russia’s NTV television called the Arctic Sea the “first ship captured by pirates in Europe.”

Amid the fears of a possible hijacking, Russia’s president, Dmitri Medvedev, ordered his defense minister to personally take charge of the search, the Kremlin website said on Wednesday. Warships from the Russian Black Sea Fleet have already joined the search.

Shoot at the pirates? West weighs arming ships

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ISTANBUL — Challenging a global aversion to guns aboard ships, France has put troops on tuna boats in the Indian Ocean, and Belgium is offering military units to its merchant vessels off the Horn of Africa. Now, U.S. lawmakers are weighing similar action to fight piracy.

Opponents fear such moves will escalate the violence and raise a minefield of legal issues.

In June, the U.S. House of Representatives passed an amendment that would require the Department of Defense to put armed teams on U.S.-flagged ships passing through high-risk waters, specifically around the Horn of Africa where Somali pirates have become a scourge of world shipping.

The amendment now goes to the Senate. A separate bill introduced last month would grant immunity from prosecution in American courts to any "owner, operator, time charterer, master, or mariner who uses force, or authorizes the use of force, to defend a vessel of the United States against an act of piracy."

Both measures face tough debate — U.S. military resources are spread thin and onboard weapons, especially in the hands of civilian crew, are seen as an extreme option.

"Work and watch-keeping take up most of a seafarer's day," Sam Dawson of the International Transport Workers' Federation, which represents hundreds of unions, told The Associated Press by e-mail. "The practice, handling and use of weapons would be a duty too far."

But there is a strong push for action following the April seizure of the MV Maersk Alabama.

That standoff, which transfixed the American public, ended with the killing of three pirates by Navy SEAL snipers and the release of the vessel's captain, Richard Phillips.

The wider potential fallout from the Western initiatives is uncertain because countries such as the Philippines, which supplies most of the world's ship crews, don't have the resources to protect them. Besides, the laws of many nations prevent vessels from carrying weapons, historically for fear they would be used by mutineers.

A range of maritime groups and insurers oppose arming ships because of liability issues and fears that violence could provoke an arms race with the pirates. Still, some ship-owners hire private guards; Israeli commercial boats are believed to routinely carry arms.

"What the Americans do will not necessarily lead the way in terms of the global shipping industry," said Daniel Sekulich, the Toronto-based author of "Terror on the Seas: True Tales of Modern Day Pirates."

Sekulich said a global trend could take hold if international groups such as the U.N. International Maritime Organization develop a comprehensive approach to arming ships. In the meantime, he said, the U.S. initiatives could encourage a "two-tiered or three-tiered system" in which a few wealthy nations protect ships flying their flags, while pirates prey on softer targets.

International patrols, including U.S., European, Chinese, Russian and Indian ships, have reduced the success rate of Somali attacks. But with ransoms running into millions of dollars, pirates have adapted, raiding boats far into the Indian Ocean.

Advocates say onboard teams with weapons would deter or defeat ragtag bands of pirates in flimsy skiffs. On April 25, pirates tried to board the Italian cruise liner MSC Melody as it headed in the Indian Ocean from southern Africa to Europe, but Israeli private guards opened fire and the assailants departed.

For opponents, the worst-case scenario is pirates getting bigger weapons.

"It's something that could actually stoke up the attacks, take the attacks to a higher level," said Andrew Linington of London-based Nautilus International, a union that represents 24,000 mariners, most of whom work on British- or Dutch-registered ships.

But internal polling among Nautilus members has indicated a "hardening of attitudes" in recent months, with more calling for armed protection, Linington said.

This summer, the Netherlands turned down a plea from parliament to put marines on especially vulnerable, slow-moving Dutch vessels threatened by Somali pirates. The refusal was based on fear that pirates could react more violently if they spot weapons and that wounded marines would not get medical care at sea.

Belgium, however, decided in early May to offer an onboard detachment of at least eight troops for euro115,000 ($162,000) a week per unit to its commercial vessels, but so far there has been only one taker, according to Defense Ministry spokesman Kurt Verwilligen.

The French government signed a deal with a tuna fishermen's union in June allowing for military protection of tuna boats in the Indian Ocean during the fishing season, according to Lt. Col. Phillippe de Cussac, a military spokesman. No attacks have been reported so far.

Global pirate attacks more than doubled in the first half of 2009 to 240, from 114 in the same period last year, according to the International Maritime Bureau. A surge of raids in the Gulf of Aden and off the east coast of Somalia accounted for many attacks, though waters off Nigeria are a serious trouble spot.

The Somali attacks are in a lull because seas are rough, but are expected to increase around the end of this month when the weather should improve.

The measure to put military guards on U.S.-flagged ships passed in the House by a vote of 389-22.

In testimony in May, Arthur J. Volkle Jr., vice president of American Cargo Transport, Inc., said private guards were already on his group's ships in the Gulf of Aden and the Persian Gulf. He said the best way to protect U.S.-flagged ships was by deploying military teams to avoid "regulatory shortfalls, liability concerns, and international reluctance to permit armed merchant vessels into their ports."

Phillips, the Maersk Alabama captain, has testified that senior crew members should have access to weapons, though he acknowledged that even this limited approach opens "thorny" issues. Maritime experts say some seafarers travel with small arms, but don't declare them.

The separate bill granting immunity has yet to go to a House vote. It would direct Washington to negotiate deals through the U.N. maritime agency to provide similar exemptions from liability in other countries, as well as to ensure armed U.S. crews can enter foreign ports.

But implementing the measure could be difficult because the U.N. agency discourages onboard weapons.

Associated Press writers Robert Wielaard in Brussels, Arthur Max in Amsterdam and Angela Charlton in Paris contributed to this report.

Egyptian crews overpower Somali pirates, kill 2

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MOGADISHU, Somalia — The crew of two Egyptian fishing vessels wielding machetes and tools attacked Somali pirates who had held them hostage for four months, killing at least two of them, according to a pirate and businessman Friday.

The Egyptian crew overpowered the pirates, seizing some of their guns before sailing away from Somalia's coast, said Miraa, who was one of the pirates on board the fishing vessels.

Miraa, who gave only his nom de guerre, said the fight took place near the northern Somalia coastal town of Las Qorey. The town is off the Gulf of Aden, one of the world's busiest waterways where Somali pirates carry out most of their attacks.

Said Jama Hussein, a businessman in the small town of Las Qorey, said fishermen told him the Egyptian ships left Thursday. He said the crew, who number up to 24, apparently took some of the pirates hostage.

Miraa said "they attacked us with machetes and other tools, seized some of our guns and then fought with us.

"I could see two dead bodies of my colleagues lying on the ship," Miraa told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. "I do not know the fate of the nine others."

The most prominent case of a hijacked crew fighting back pirates was in April when an American crew fought their Somali captors until their crew's captain offered himself as a hostage in a bid to save their lives.

The captain was later released after U.S. navy snipers shot his captors and captured one of them.

Somali pirates seized the two Egyptian vessels in mid-April and at the time some Egyptian officials suggested the ships may have been targeted for illegally fishing off Somalia's coast.

Somalia's coast is rich with fish including red snapper, barracuda and tuna and rampant illegal fishing triggered piracy attacks years ago with the pirates saying they were seeking to protect the livelihoods of local fishermen.

Somali pirates hold less than 10 vessels.

10 August 2009

CNN: Pirates free Italian ship after 4 months

Pirates released an Italian ship four months after they seized it, Italy's foreign minister announced Sunday.

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03 August 2009

BBC: Pirates release German cargo ship

A German-flagged cargo ship captured by Somali pirates and held for nearly four months has been released after a ransom was paid, officials say.

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CNN: Pirates release Malaysian tugboat after seven months

Somali pirates have released a Malaysian tugboat and 11 crew members after holding them for more than seven months, an international business group reported Monday.

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