Monday, April 3, 2017

Worries of Escalation as Somali Pirates Seize Another Ship

Five Year Attack Moratorium Seems to be Over
Shipping News Feature
SOMALIA – It appears, after a five year hiatus, it seems that the scourge of piracy off of Somalia might well be returning. After the seizure of an oil tanker and a fishing dhow two weeks ago reports state that the Al Kaushar an Indian vessel with a crew of eleven, was seized by pirates on the 1 April and is currently headed for the coast of Puntland, one of the semi-autonomous states that have appeared in the wake of Somalia’s long running civil war.

According to a report by the UK Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) organisation another vessel also reported that on 03 April at 0530 UTC a vessel reported being approached by 6 light blue coloured skiffs. As ladders and hooks were sighted on board the vessel raised the alarm and deployed its contingent of armed guards. After circling for some minutes the skiffs left the area.

Details of the latest attack are still sketchy with the original report describing an attack on a dhow, later amended by some press sources to a ‘small cargo ship’ but it seems to have occurred on the narrow strait running between the Somali coast and Socotra island. All the crew are believed to be natives of Mumbai. Whilst larger vessels being attacked always engenders publicity March saw a series of attacks on small local dhows which have passed largely unremarked.

With drought and famine racking East Africa, and the issues of illegal fishing by foreign interests still unresolved to the locals satisfaction it is advised that any vessels transiting the area apply all measures to assure their own protection adopt Best Management Practices (BMP) and liaise with the various naval forces and security organisations operating in the region such as EU NAVFOR.

Photo: A whaler towing a skiff surveyed by EU Navfor frigate FGS Niedersachsen causing the crew to throw boarding ladders into the sea and run for the beach where around 80 people assisted in beaching the two craft before fleeing. Courtesy EU Navfor.