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Global Navies Curb Piracy Off Coast Of Somalia
Bernama
Tuesday, July 16, 2013

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Piracy off the coast of Somalia has dropped significantly for the first time since 2006 due to preventive measures deployed by the foreign warships to thwart such attacks, a global maritime body said.

The report by International Chamber Commerce (ICC) International Maritime Bureau (IMB)'s global piracy report attributes the fall in piracy to actions by the international navies as well as preventive measures by merchant vessels including deployment of privately contracted armed security personnel off the coast of Somalia.

"The navies continue to play a vital role in ensuring this threat is kept under control," IMB Director Pottengal Mukundan.

According to the report, as at June 30, Somali pirates were holding 57 crew members for ransom on four vessels. They were also holding 11 kidnapped crew members on land in unknown conditions and locations.

The report says four of these crew have been held since April 2010 and seven since September 2010. In East Africa's Gulf of Aden and Somalia, eight piracy incidents including two hijackings were recorded in the first six months of 2013, with 34 seafarers taken hostage.

"Two vessels hijacked were recovered by naval action before the pirates could take them to Somalia. Only the navies can take such remedial action after a hijack," said Mukundan.

He said denying the pirates any success is essential to a sustained solution in the piracy which has seen the rise in insurance premiums and cost of goods across the region.

The Horn of Africa has itself also suffered considerably from the impact of piracy. Increased trade costs are estimated two years ago to cost the country 6 million U.S. dollars annually.

This figure does not take into account that Somalia cannot develop and expand its maritime trade and fisheries as long as pirates are allowed to operate in its waters.

Demanding millions of dollars in ransom for captured ships and their crews, Somali pirates had late 2011 intensified operations not just off their own coastline, but further afield in the Red Sea - particularly during the monsoon season in the wider Indian Ocean.

Tankers carrying Middle East oil through the Suez Canal must pass first through the Gulf of Aden. According to maritime officials, about 4 percent of the world's daily oil supply is shipped through the gulf.

Before the capture of key port city of Kismayo by Kenyan soldiers late 2012, the Horn of Africa nation's coastline was considered one of the world's most dangerous stretches of water because of piracy.

"Pirates are known to operate in these waters. Despite the temporary protection provided by the southwest monsoon in some parts of the Arabian Sea, the threats remain and vessels are advised to be vigilant and comply with the industry's Best Management Practices as they transit this area," Mukundan said.

He said the threat is still present and Somali pirates usually attack ships in the northern Somali coast in the Gulf of Aden and southern Red Sea in the Bab El Mandeb TSS.

"All vessels transiting the area are advised to take additional precaution measures and maintain strict 24 hours visual and radar anti-piracy watch using all available means," Mukundan said.

He called on watch keeping crews to lookout for small suspicious boats converging to won vessel.

"Early sightings/detention and accurate assessment will allow Master to increase speed and take evasive maneuvers to escape from the pirates and at the same time request for assistance from various authorities/agencies including the IMB," he said.

The Somali pirates have also extended their attacks to vessels close to the coast of Tanzania, Kenya, Somalia, Yemen and Oman.

In the Gulf of Guinea, in addition to a rise in piracy and armed robbery, 31 incidents so far this year, including four hijackings -- IMB reports a surge in kidnappings at sea and a winder range of ship types being targeted.

"This is a new cause of concern in a region already known for attacks against vessels in the oil industry and theft of gas oil from tankers," says the report.

In April, the report says nine crew members were kidnapped from two container vessels, one of which was 170 nautical miles from the coast.

According to the report, pirates have used mother ships, some of which were smaller off-shore supply vessels hijacked by pirates to conduct the attacks and notes that there continues to be significant under-reporting in attacks -- a phenomenon highlighted by the IMB year on year.

"There has been a worrying trend in the kidnapping of crew from vessels well outside the territorial limits of coastal states in the Gulf of Guinea," Mukundan said.

He said armed pirates in the Gulf of Guinea took 56 sailors hostage and were responsible for all 30 crew kidnappings reported so far in 2013.

He said one person was reported killed and at least another five injured. The report says attacks off Nigeria accounted for 22 of the region's 31 incidents and 28 off the crew kidnappings.

The attacks are being carried out by increasingly well- coordinated Somali gangs armed with automatic weapons and rocket- propelled grenades, maritime officials said.

The Horn of Africa nation has been without a functioning government since 1991, and remains one of the world's most violent and lawless countries.

Combined Task Force 150, a naval alliance dominated by the United States and based in the Gulf of Aden nation of Djibouti, is patrolling an area within the Gulf of Aden to help protect ships from pirates Worldwide, the maritime watchdog recorded 138 piracy incidents in the first six months of 2013 compared with 177 incidents for the corresponding period in 2012.

The report says seven hijackings have been recorded this year compared with 20 in the half of 2012. The number of sailors taken hostage also fell dramatically to 127 in 2013 from 334 in the same period in 2012.


 





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