Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Constant Piracy Threat To Freight Shipping Continues Unabated

Piracy Update - Spanish Pay Whilst Navy Curses
Shipping News Feature

SOMALIA – News that the Spanish Government had stumped up the requested $3.3 million ransom in return for a trawler and her 36 crew will not aid those in the international community who wish to stem the increasing flow of attacks. Container ships, bulk carriers, tankers and even private yachts, all considered fair game in the fastest growing big maritime business.

At the same time the Spanish were passing the brown envelope, under the baleful gaze of two of her warships, Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope, the First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Service, was telling of his frustration that a British Naval vessel had had to sit and watch a gang of pirates sail into the sunset with the Lynn Rival, the yacht owned by Kent couple the Chandlers, despite having achieved the remarkable task of locating the tiny vessel in the vastness of the ocean. Threats to the couple, already aboard the pirates own vessel meant the naval ship, with its crew of 100 sailors and merchant seamen, had to stand down.

So what is the current situation and how shall the authorities deal with the existing problem and future attacks? There are currently a dozen or more vessels of differing types and from various nations held by Somali pirates. There have been an average of over 30 attacks a month this year and the rate may well now increase with the seasonally improving weather, up from last years average of under 25, most of which were less sophisticated than at present.

The hijacking of the MV Theresa and her North Korean crew on Monday came on the same day as a Ukrainian vessel , carrying armed guards, reportedly beat off pirates armed with rocket propelled grenades and automatic weapons.

So far the weeks tally reads 16th as above (two attacks), 13th three attacks including attempted boarding of a RoRo vessel who sped off alerting coalition forces and a cargo ship fired upon which managed to take evasive action and increased speed to evade capture, 12th in separate incidents two bulk carriers were fired on with assault rifles, the ships both took “self protection” measures and beat off the attacks, 11th the Marshall Islands flagged MV Filitsa, another bulk carrier, was attacked and seized together with 22 crew and taken to an undisclosed location, 10th Attacks with RPG’s and automatic weapons on two container ships in separate incidents. Despite heavy machine gun fire the first vessel used fire hoses to keep the pirates from the decks frustrating several attempts to board her. The second ship accelerated and used undisclosed protection methods to avoid capture.

The list goes on week by week. Despite heroic efforts by coalition forces it would seem that, unless and until there is a unified policy by all nations the pirates unwitting divide and conquer strategy will persistently succeed in accumulating wealth making the trade even more attractive to people who, without it, have very little quality of life.

For previous Pirate updates see    2   3  or type "Pirate" into the news search for alist of all stories.