29 September 2009

Pirates attack ship off Mogadishu - Ghana Broadcasting Corporation

Pirates attack ship off Mogadishu - Ghana Broadcasting Corporation: "

Ghana Broadcasting Corporation

Pirates attack ship off Mogadishu
Ghana Broadcasting Corporation
Somali pirates have boarded a ship heading for Mogadishu harbour and shot dead its Syrian captain, officials say. The captain had refused the pirates' ...

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Somali pirate attacks up after monsoon lull: US Navy - Washington Post

Somali pirate attacks up after monsoon lull: US Navy - Washington Post: "


Somali pirate attacks up after monsoon lull: US Navy
Washington Post
Attacks were picking up after the lull of several months, as the monsoon season was ending and seas were no longer high enough to prevent pirates from ...
EU says war on Somali pirates not overThe Associated Press
Pirate attacks off Somali coast rising: US NavyAFP
Pirate Attacks on the Rise Off SomaliaSystems
DAWN.com -eTaiwan News -Earthtimes (press release)
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23 September 2009

Australian navy thwarts Somali pirates: officials

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SYDNEY — An Australian warship intercepted Somali pirates stalking a merchant ship in the Gulf of Aden and confiscated a cache of weapons including a grenade launcher, officials said Wednesday.

Commander Ivan Ingham said officers from his ship HMAS Toowoomba boarded the pirate ship after responding to a distress call in the Gulf on Sunday night.

A surveillance plane and helicopter sent ahead of the Toowoomba confirmed reports from the merchant ship BBC Portugal that it was being chased by a high-speed vessel full of armed men, he said.

"On reaching the suspect vessel Toowoomba launched her boarding team to investigate, search, disarm and seize," Ingham said.

"The boarding party was instructed to disarm the suspect pirates and confiscate their lethal military weapons."

A rocket-propelled grenade launcher, six AK47 assault rifles and a G3 assault rifle were taken, as well as a large quantity of ammunition.

The men said they were from Somalia but denied planning to attack the Portugal, despite being seen disposing of a ladder as the helicopter and plane approached, Ingham said.

Once the pirate ship had been cleared of weapons he said the Toowoomba confirmed it had sufficient food, water and fuel for the return journey to Somalia and ordered them out of the shipping zone.

"The quick response by HMAS Toowoomba ... ensured that the incident did not escalate into a direct attack on the merchant vessel," said Ingham.

It was the ship's first such encounter since arriving in the Gulf of Aden from the Northern Arabian Sea on an anti-piracy mission two weeks ago, he added.

Pirates have carried out more than 100 attacks in the key shipping lane that links the Indian Ocean with the Mediterranean through the Suez Canal since the start of this year.

Australia is among a raft of navies from around the world that have sent vessels to the area to combat the threat.

Shipowners Want Protection From Pirates

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The U.S. Navy came to the aid of American ships in April when they were attacked by pirates off the coast of Africa. Now, the shipowners are battling their rescuers, as Congress considers whether to require the Navy to protect American ships traversing high-risk waters.

Maritime companies have been lobbying lawmakers for such help for months, warning that the United States can't afford to let its commercial ships be seen as easy targets by seafaring criminals. In June, the House passed language in a defense authorization bill ordering the military to provide protection. But Navy officials are pushing back, arguing that the ships should be responsible for their own safety -- and, so far, the Senate seems to be listening.

Ship attacks in South China Sea hit five-year high

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KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Increased naval patrols in the Straits of Malacca have forced pirates in Asia to move their operations to the South China Sea, where the number of attacks on ships is at a five-year high, an official said Tuesday.

At least 10 ships were attacked in the South China Sea so far this year, the latest on Saturday when six pirates boarded a Singapore-registered liquefied petroleum gas tanker, said Amy Fang of the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia, or ReCAAP.

18 September 2009

Somali Pirate Sorties Are Being Thwarted, Naval Forces Say - Bloomberg

Somali Pirate Sorties Are Being Thwarted, Naval Forces Say - Bloomberg: "

Somali Pirate Sorties Are Being Thwarted, Naval Forces Say
16 (Bloomberg) -- Somali pirates are venturing out again as monsoon winds abate and are being met by an increased naval presence that has been able to ...

Teen Somali piracy suspect appears in NY court

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NEW YORK — The prosecution of a Somali teenager accused of leading a pirate attack on an American cargo ship off the coast of Africa was taken off the fast track Thursday after a lawyer said more time will be needed to translate some Somali recordings into English.

Abdiwali Abdiqadir Muse appeared briefly in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, where he was brought after his arrest aboard the U.S.-flagged Maersk Alabama in April.

Authorities say Muse was the only surviving pirate of a group that he led in an attack off the coast of Africa on the cargo ship, which was carrying humanitarian supplies.

During a three-minute hearing before U.S. District Judge Loretta A. Preska, Muse listened through earphones as a translator relayed the words of lawyers who reached agreement to delay further court proceedings in the case until Jan. 12.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Farbiarz said some documents obtained by prosecutors to be turned over to the defense reflect statements made by Muse.

Philip Weinstein, a lawyer for Muse, said the defense was still waiting to receive more materials from prosecutors before telling the court what arguments it plans to make on behalf of Muse.

"There are a number of recordings in Somali. All of those have to be translated," Weinstein said.

Muse, wearing his prison blue uniform over a brown T-shirt, spoke quietly into a headset just before the court proceeding began to confirm to the translator that he could hear him. He smiled as he left the courtroom under guard. At a court appearance earlier this year, he wept.

Muse, who grew up destitute in Somalia, has pleaded not guilty to piracy, hostage-taking and other charges. If convicted of the most serious charge, Muse could face a mandatory sentence of life in prison.

His lawyers have denied the government's claim that Muse is 18. His family has said Muse is as young as 15.

The FBI has said in court papers that Muse "conducted himself as the leader of the pirates" on April 8 when he boarded the Maersk Alabama 280 miles off the Somali coast.

It said he fired his AK-47 assault rifle at the captain, Richard Phillips before the captain was held for several days on an enclosed lifeboat as three U.S. warships and a helicopter camped out at the scene.

After Muse was taken aboard a U.S. Navy ship, Navy snipers shot three pirates as one of them held an AK-47 to Phillips' back on the lifeboat.

15 September 2009

US signing anti-piracy agreement at UN for Somalia

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UNITED NATIONS — The United States and four other nations signed onto an international plan to fight piracy off the coast of Somalia, committing Wednesday to playing a leadership role in protecting one of the world's busiest shipping routes.

The so-called "New York Declaration" signed by U.S. Deputy Ambassador Rosemary DiCarlo and her counterparts from Britain, Cyprus, Japan and Singapore is an attempt to pool resources and agree on the best ways of deterring the Somali pirates who prey on vessels passing between Europe and Asia.

"We realize that the fight against piracy in the Horn of Africa region cannot be solved entirely at sea," DiCarlo said. Other needed measures, she said, involve nations adopting legal mechanisms to prosecute suspected pirates and Somalia improving its capacity to police its own territory.

Though it is a nonbinding political document, proponents say it will commit ship registry nations to adopt "best management practices" for ship security such as increased lookouts, raised ladders and emergency fire pumps readied to repel boarders.

It was first proposed in May by Panama, the Bahamas, Liberia and the Marshall Islands, four of the world's biggest ship registries. Those nations signed the declaration previously.

In Washington, Andrew Shapiro, the assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs, told the ComDef 2009 defense policy conference on Wednesday that the document represents what Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has called "a 21st century solution to the 17th century problem" of piracy.

Clinton said during a visit in August to Nairobi, Kenya, that the U.S. would provide more aid for Somalia, which is home to terrorists, drug smugglers and Islamist extremists.

By signing, the United States says the Coast Guard and U.S. shipping companies will continue adopting measures to protect themselves against piracy that comply with the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code.

A group of almost 40 nations and international organizations including the U.S., China, Britain and France planned to gather Thursday at U.N. headquarters in New York for their fourth major session on deterring Somali piracy.

They are meeting to discuss how best to coordinate international naval patrols and other security measures and how to discourage the secretive payments to pirates who often demand — and receive — multimillion dollar ransoms.

Another item drawing attention is cooperation on interdiction and prosecution of suspected pirates.

Somalia's lawless coastline and 18-year civil war makes it a haven for pirates. Sailors typically are released from their captured vessels only after payment of a ransom. Somali pirates captured more than 100 ships last year, and attacks have increased this year.

DiCarlo said there have been 138 pirate attacks off the Horn of Africa so far this year, of which 33 have succeeded. But the safety practices that the U.S. and other nations are promoting "contributed to preventing many of the other criminal assaults from succeeding," she said.

AP: North Korean cargo ship fire bombs Somali pirates

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Somali pirates tried but failed to hijack a North Korean cargo ship when crew members fought back with improvised fire bombs and sped away, a maritime official said Tuesday

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14 September 2009

BBC: Somali pirates release Greek ship

Somali pirates have released a Greek-owned ship hijacked five months ago and freed its 21 Filipino crew members, officials and pirates have said.

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08 September 2009

Pirate-plagued Somalia trains 500 navy recruits - The Associated Press

Pirate-plagued Somalia trains 500 navy recruits - The Associated Press: "


Pirate-plagued Somalia trains 500 navy recruits
The Associated Press
MOGADISHU, Somalia — Pirate-plagued Somalia took a step toward policing its own shores with the graduation of its first 500 naval recruits Tuesday. ...
Pirate-plagued Somalia trains 500 navy recruitsThe Associated Press

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Laser gun to be used against Somali pirates


The device is powerful enough to incapacitate pirates up to 1,000 yards away, while leaving them physically unscathed.

The Laser Dazzle System has been created to help ship owners fend off the pirate gangs that have seized a number of vessels off the coast of East Africa.

Military boats have been armed with similar gadgets for years, but the defence manufacturer BAE Systems is now making them available for use on cruise ships and tankers.

Other anti-piracy tools being unveiled at the Defence Systems & Equipment International exhibition at the ExCeL centre in London's Docklands this week include a radar that can detect a dinghy from 15 miles away, and another device that can close down a vessel's engine remotely.

"We can put radar on the ships which looks over the horizon and can see a rubber boat. When it gets a bit nearer we can turn the engine off,? Dick Olver, BAE Systems's chairman, told the Daily Express.

Nick Stoppard, the firm's director of solutions development, added: ?Piracy is on the rise. Attacks in 2008 were double those of the previous year. There is a clear need for better methods to help ships identify and evade the pirates before an attack occurs.?

There were 130 attempted hijackings by Somalian pirates in the first six months of this year, 19 more than during all of 2008.

An EU flotilla has been sent to patrol the waters ? considered the most dangerous in the world ? after a spate of high-profile attacks.

Somali pirates 'demand $20 mln' for Turkish ship


ANKARA ? Somali pirates holding a Turkish bulk carrier for nearly two months have demanded 20 million dollars (14 million euros) for the release of the vessel and its 23-man Turkish crew, a company lawyer said Monday.

"The ransom they asked for is 20 million dollars, but negotiations on kidnappings such as these usually end with agreement on 10 to 20 percent of the amount asked," Nilgun Yamaner, who represents the owner of the ship, told AFP.

"In our case, that amounts to a figure between two to four million dollars," she added.

Yamaner said she believed they were close to a deal with the pirates, but refused to say the figure her client, the Istanbul-based Horizon Shipping, was negotiating for the ship.

The bulk carrier Horizon 1 was seized on July 8 as it was sailing from Saudi Arabia to Jordan with 33,000 cubic metres of sulphide.

Pirates directed the ship to the port of Eyl in northern Somalia's breakaway Puntland region, where it has been anchored since.

The crew were in good condition and had regular telephone contact with their families, Yamaner said.

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.

More than 130 merchant ships were attacked last year, a rise of more than 200 percent on 2007, according to the Kuala Lumpur-based International Maritime Bureau's Piracy Reporting Centre.

07 September 2009

Navy kills suspected pirate

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Berlin - The German navy shot dead a suspected pirate off the coast of Somalia on Monday after a boat carrying five men failed to heed warning shots, the German military said.
"After an exchange of fire, one of the men on the boat was critically wounded and died despite immediate medical treatment," a statement said.
The suspected pirates threw weapons overboard after the exchange and officials are now inspecting their boat, the statement added.
The German frigate involved - the Brandenburg - was participating in the European Union's Atalanta mission in the lawless Gulf of Aden waters off Somalia.
The mission aims to curb attacks by pirates threatening one of the world's busiest maritime trade routes.
More than 130 merchant ships were attacked last year, a rise of more than 200% on 2007, according to the Kuala Lumpur-based International Maritime Bureau's Piracy Reporting Centre.
Atalanta's commanding officer authorised opening fire, designed to stop the boat from manoeuvring, the statement said.

Somali govt detains hostages freed by pirates

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MOGADISHU, Somalia — A deal to swap three hostages held by Somali pirates with 23 prisoners accused of piracy was halted by Somali authorities who say they were not informed of the plan, officials said Monday.
It appeared to be the first attempt to exchange hostages for prisoners in Somalia's multimillion-dollar pirate industry. Hostages are usually only released after a ransom payment.
The 23 suspected Somali pirates had been held in the Seychelles after being detained by international warships on anti-piracy missions. On Monday, the Seychelles government issued a statement saying the suspects were released because the government lacks evidence needed to prosecute them.
"We do not have sufficient evidence for a trial to take place, and based on that we have respected international laws and repatriated them to their homeland," said Minister Joel Morgan, who was mandated by Seychelles' president to work on the country's piracy portfolio. The Seychelles is an island nation located southeast of Somalia's coastline.
But Somali authorities say the 23 were released and flown to Somalia aboard two private planes as part of a deal to free three sailors from the Seychelles who had been held since their yacht was seized in February. The yacht later sank in bad weather.
The governor of Somalia's Mudug region, Ahmed Ali Salad, said the planes' crews misinformed authorities about the nature of their mission, claiming they were carrying humanitarian supplies.
Ahmed Elmi Karash, the aviation minister in Somalia's semiautonomous northern region of Puntland, said the 23 suspects disembarked from the two planes there late Sunday and that the three former hostages boarded the planes, which were then detained by Somali officials while refueling. The seven crew members flying the two planes also were held.
Pirates captured more than 100 ships last year, and attacks off Somalia's pirate-infested coastline are expected to increase dramatically in coming months as the monsoon season ends.
The plague of pirates has attracted warships from nations as diverse as Japan, America, Germany and Portugal. When the warships capture suspected pirates, the prisoners are often delivered to nearby Kenya or the Seychelles for trial.

06 September 2009

The Pentagon's Newest Weapon Against Pirates

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The U.S. military plans to deploy its newest warplane against one of the world's oldest threats, sending unmanned Reaper drones to the Seychelles islands to deal with pirates menacing seagoing commerce in the Indian Ocean. Fighting pirates off the coast of Africa was one of the founding missions of the U.S. Marines two centuries ago; today, in a sign of the changing face of warfare, the mission of protecting maritime trade routes falls to ground-bound desk jockeys remotely operating high-tech flying machines.(See pictures of dramatic rescues from pirates.)

"The Seychelles have been increasingly concerned about piracy in their waters," says Vince Crawley, a spokesman for U.S. Africa Command, explaining October's "Ocean Look" deployment. Although the military won't say how many of the drones are being sent, Crawley says there will be enough to have one flying every day from the archipelago of more than 100 islands that lie nearly 1,000 miles off Africa's east coast. About 75 U.S. personnel are bound for the Seychelles' Mahe regional airport to support the mission, which is expected to last several months.

The prime source of piracy in the area is the failed state of Somalia. There have been more than 135 pirate attacks originating from the Somali coast so far this year — more than the total number for 2008 — and 28 vessels have been successfully commandeered. While the annual monsoon season has recently reduced the number of attacks, observers fear that the peril will rise again with the calming of the weather. The Seychelles legislature recently approved a pact with the U.S. allowing closer military cooperation. "Our isolated geographic position and our limited economic and military resources will never allow us to patrol our vast territorial waters," a Seychelles lawmaker said during the July debate on the measure. Piracy has become "one of the most well-organized and profitable crimes in this part of the world," she continued, adding that "foreign military help in patrol and surveillance of our waters is today a necessity."(Read "As Somali Pirates Get Bolder, Policing Them Gets Tougher.")

The drone flights will complement patrols by naval vessels from NATO member states and other allied countries, as well as by a pair of patrol planes being dispatched by the E.U. to the Seychelles. Also, the coast guard of the Seychelles will deploy two vessels on alternate weeklong cruises to deter pirates. And about 60 French marines are aboard 10 French tuna-fishing boats off the Seychelles, planning to stay there through the end of the fishing season in October.

It's not firepower but endurance that is needed to prevail over pirates. Ships can survey only a tiny swath of the sea, and previous ship-launched drones and land-based manned aircraft lack the Reaper's capacity to remain aloft for up to 14 hours. The drone's 66-ft. (20 m) wingspan can launch the 5-ton aircraft on missions covering more than 3,000 miles (about 4,800 km). "This makes it an ideal platform for observing the vast ocean and maritime corridors in the Indian Ocean region and assisting in counterpiracy efforts," Crawley says.

Outfitted with a variety of cameras and other sensors to detect suspected pirates, the drone is controlled from the ground via satellite links. While the MQ-9 Reaper can carry a variety of bombs and missiles, those flying out of the Seychelles won't be armed. "We're just following the conventions of international law," Crawley says. "If you have a suspected vessel, you board it and investigate it" instead of blowing it up.

The Reaper, with its unblinking eye, could help capture pirates who too often have been able to slip away. Last month, for example, a band of Somali marauders freed a 20,000-ton German cargo ship after seizing it and its crew in April between the Seychelles and Kenya. The pirates managed to escape with a $2.7 million ransom even though a German frigate, lurking nearby, arrived on the scene within 12 minutes of the pirates' departure from the cargo vessel. "The pirates took over all the belongings of the 24 crew members, including toothbrushes," Torsten Ites, captain of the frigate Brandenburg, told Agence France-Presse. "We had to provide medical assistance to the crew members, including dental services, as they had stayed for some time without brushing their teeth." Among other things, then, each Reaper deployed in the Seychelles may be the equivalent of $12 million worth of dental insurance for sailors plying the sea routes off the Horn of Africa.

Spanish Fleet Narrowly Escapes Pirate Attack

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The owners of a Spanish fishing fleet say one of their boats narrowly escaped a suspected pirate attack off the Seychelles by using radar and quick evasive action.

Jose Luis Jauregi, director of Echebastar Fleet, said Friday that the Alakrana tuna fishing ship set sail from the island's capital, Victoria, on Aug. 31 and was fishing in international waters about 600 miles from Somalia.

The Alakrana's crew of 30 detected a dot on the radar approaching them rapidly on Thursday and decided to zigzag. When they failed to break free of the powerful approaching speedboat, the captain ordered his ship to sail away at full power.

Pirate attacks worldwide more than doubled in the first half of 2009 amid a surge in the Gulf ofAden and off Somalia.

02 September 2009

Delhi concerned: Trained Pak men 'guiding' pirates off Somalia coast

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Authorities have confirmed the first case of alleged Pakistani involvement with Somali pirates in a revelation that has raised concerns here about a possible link between piracy and suspected terrorist groups.

On April 28, a Russian warship apprehended 12 Pak nationals — along with Somali pirates — for attempting to attack a tanker off Somalia’s coast.

An investigation, sources said, pointed to Pak nationals having played a 'lead' role. Their nationality was confirmed through identity cards and “evidence” was handed over on May 8 to MSS Rehmat, a Pakistan Maritime Security Agency ship, 12 miles of Gwadar.

It’s being examined by Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency.

Pak first claimed that these men were fishermen but three months on, there is no word on the probe.

India has two warships in the Gulf of Aden.

Another banner pirate season

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