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calendar   Thursday - April 14, 2011

Not Too Surprising

Stats: 1Q 2011 Worst Year For Piracy




Sea piracy worldwide hit a record high of 142 attacks in the first quarter this year as Somali pirates become more violent and aggressive, a global maritime watchdog said Thursday.

Nearly 70 percent or 97 of the attacks occurred off the coast of Somalia, up sharply from 35 in the same period last year, the International Maritime Bureau’s piracy reporting center in Kuala Lumpur said in a statement.

Attackers seized 18 vessels worldwide, including three big tankers, in the January-March period and captured 344 crew members, it said. Pirates also murdered seven crew members and injured 34 during the quarter.

“Figures for piracy and armed robbery at sea in the past three months are higher than we’ve ever recorded in the first quarter of any past year,” said the bureau’s director Pottengal Mukundan.

He said there was a “dramatic increase in the violence and techniques” used by Somali pirates to counter increased patrols by international navies, putting large tankers carrying oil and other flammable chemicals at highest risk to firearm attacks.

A further 45 vessels were boarded, and 45 more reported being fired upon.
...
In a recent show of force, the Indian navy captured 61 Somali pirates on a hijacked ship off India’s west coast.

Elsewhere, nine incidents were reported off Malaysia, including the hijacking of a tug and barge off Tioman Island.

Five incidents were recorded for Nigeria and three attacks against vessels in Lagos.

I am not sure if “floating burglary” counts as piracy. In Indonesia and off the west coast of Africa, most of the reported criminal activity is of bandits who break into ships in port, but there have been hijackings in those areas too.

The numbers above are for the January to March period; since then there have been at least a dozen more attacks. When I look through the ICC reports one thing stands out: ships that can defend themselves even a little bit don’t get robbed or hijacked. Here’s one that did, and got away from a whole swarm of pirates:

A passenger ship underway noticed a group of about 20 skiffs near the port bow at a distance of 3nm. Five skiffs were seen to break out from this group and head towards the vessel. At a distance of around 600-700 meters the armed security team noticed around five to seven pirates armed with RPG and guns were seen in each skiff and instructed all crew members to stay inside the ship. As the skiffs approached closer the security team fired warning shots and the skiffs moved away. At the same time three more skiffs approached the vessel from the starboard side at a distance of 800 meters. The security team noticed arms on board these skiffs and fired warning shots when the skiffs closed to a distance of 600 – 300 meters. The pirates aborted the attempted attack and moved away. Master informed a warship in the vicinity and all ships in the area via VHF channel16.

And here’s one that didn’t:

About ten pirates armed with weapons boarded a general cargo ship underway. The ten crew members went into the citadel and requested for assistance. Pirates managed to get access into the citadel and took hostage the crew members and took command of the vessel.

The passenger ship was just outside the Straits of Hormuz, just beyond the Persian Gulf in the Gulf of Oman. This is just about the busiest shipping lane in the world; with all the world’s navies patrolling the area, you’d think it would be wall to wall coverage, armed to the teeth. Yet a whole squadron of pirates lay in wait like a gang of muggers in an alley, and once informed, the navies did not engage in a turkey shoot.

The bulk carrier was several hundred miles to the east, 30nm off of Ras al Masirah along the Omani coast east of Yemen.


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 04/14/2011 at 07:46 AM   
Filed Under: • Pirates, aarrgh! •  
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