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calendar   Monday - February 11, 2013

Wait, is this a rhetorical question?

I must be getting slow, when Rich K has to bring a Somali pirates story to my attention. I missed this one, because the story is that ... there is no story.

“Have hired guns finally scuppered Somali Pirates?”

ABOARD RMS QUEEN MARY (Reuters) - Posted between septuagenarian passengers in deck chairs, lookouts stand watch over the Gulf of Aden, scanning the horizon for pirates.

After more than half a decade of Somali men attacking Indian Ocean shipping from small speedboats with AK-47s, grappling hooks and ladders, the number of attacks is falling fast.

The last merchant ship to be successfully hijacked, naval officers monitoring piracy say, was at least nine months ago. It’s a far cry from the height of the piracy epidemic two years ago, when several ships might be taken in a single week to be traded for airdropped multi-million dollar ransoms.

But as the Queen Mary 2, one of the world’s most recognisable ocean liners, passes through the Red Sea, Indian Ocean and out towards Dubai, its owners and crew are taking few chances.

Like many merchant vessels, the QM2 now carries armed private contractors when passing through areas of pirate risk.

Cunard will not discuss precise security arrangements. But contractors on other vessels routinely carry M-16-type assault rifles and sometimes belt-fed machine guns, often picked up from ships acting as floating offshore armouries near Djibouti and Sri Lanka.
...
The only confirmed attack this year, Goodes said, was on a merchant vessel in early January as it sailed towards the Kenyan port of Mombasa. On-board private security guards repelled the assault after a 30 minute firefight.

According to the European Union anti-piracy task force EU NAVFOR, 2012 saw only 36 confirmed attacks and a further 73 “suspicious events” - incidents in which a crew report a suspicious craft that might be pirate but could also be simply an innocent fishing boat. That itself was a substantial fall from 2011, with 176 attacks and 166 “suspicious events”.

Only five ships were captured in 2012, down from 25 in 2011 and 27 in 2010.

“This is an important year,” says Lieutenant Commander Jacqueline Sheriff, spokeswoman for EU NAVFOR. “We will find out whether this fall in piracy is really sustainable.”

image

Maybe I should start paying attention to the west coast of Africa, where all the current pirate action is.  The Somalis had their moment, but it seems to be over. The Nigerians are just ramping up. Here is a hijacking that happened a few days before this story was posted ... and is over already.

ABIDJAN (Reuters) - A Luxembourg-flagged, French-owned petroleum products tanker hijacked off Ivory Coast at the weekend has been released, and its crew of 17 are safe, the vessel’s owner said on Wednesday.

SEA-Tankers, which owns the vessel Gascogne, lost contact with the ship around 130 km (80 miles) off the coast on Sunday in what the International Maritime Bureau later said was an attack by Nigerian pirates.

It was the second tanker hijacking in Ivorian waters in the last three weeks. Armed hijackings have been on the rise in the Gulf of Guinea, which is second only to the waters off Somalia for piracy.

However, policing of the waters off Nigeria, Benin and Togo is increasing and Ivory Coast, with a poorly trained and equipped navy, is becoming a new target for Nigerian pirates.

“SEA-Tankers are pleased to report that product tanker Gascogne has been released,” the company said in a statement. “All 17 seafarers are reported safe.” It said two injured crew were being taken care of.
...
France’s Foreign Ministry said the tanker had been released late on Tuesday after the pirates took it to Forcados in Nigeria and siphoned off around 200 tonnes of its cargo of diesel fuel. It said the ship was now heading for Lome in Togo.
...
Unlike Somali pirates who hold vessels and their crews for ransom, Nigerian groups mainly target ships carrying refined petroleum products that are easily sold on the local black market.
...
Three tankers have been targeted in attacks in the Gulf of Guinea in the past week, prompting the International Maritime Bureau to issue a security warning for the region.

Two of the incidents occurred off Nigeria, with one attempted hijacking claiming the life of a crew member early on Monday.


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 02/11/2013 at 07:40 PM   
Filed Under: • Pirates, aarrgh! •  
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Oh, and here's some kind of visitor flag counter thingy. Hey, all the cool blogs have one, so I should too. The Visitors Online thingy up at the top doesn't count anything, but it looks neat. It had better, since I paid actual money for it.
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