A Piracy SitRep

Articles by two experts confirms most of the analysis of piracy presented on this site.  They are typically well-reasoned and supported article from Proceedings, IMO one of the best of the American military journals.  I recommend reading it in full.  For a contrary view (there are always at least 2 perspectives on such things, at the edge of the known), Galrahn provides a critique of Patch’s article.  Last, Feffer explains why the “terrorist ally with pirates” theory is bunk.

  1. The Overstated Threat“, John Patch (Commander, U.S. Navy, Retired), Proceedings, December 2008
  2. What Makes Piracy Work?“, Virginia Lunsford (associate professor of history, US Naval Academy), Proceedings, December 2008
  3. Piracy Exploits Our Strategic and Tactical Flaws, Galrahn, posted at Information Dissemination, 1 December 2008
  4. Monsters vs. Aliens“, John Feffer, TomDispatch, 21 April 2009 — Why Terrorists and Pirates Are Not About to Team Up Any Time Soon.

All are excellent.  Here are excerpts for #1 and #4, which just sketch out the authors’ reasoning.

Excerpts

(1)  The Overstated Threat“, John Patch (Commander, U.S. Navy, Retired), Proceedings, December 2008 — Excerpt:

It is too easy to confuse piracy with water-borne terrorist acts. Don’t believe the hype and consider the source. Modern pirates bear little resemblance to popular romantic Hollywood characters. Increasingly violent and greedy, their actions seem an affront to the very ideals of Western civilization. Armchair admirals and politicians are quick to shake their fists, avowing, “Something must be done.” Maritime industry is quick to follow, with unsettling incident accounts and dire financial projections. Yet, more informed analysis of piracy reveals that the impact in blood and treasure is altogether minimal.

Indeed, common misperceptions abound. While maritime piracy incidents capture media attention and generate international calls for action, the piracy threat is in fact overstated. It is nothing more than high-seas criminal activity, better addressed by law enforcement agencies than warships. As a localized nuisance, it should not serve to shape maritime force structure or strategy.

The distinction between piracy and terrorism is neither semantic nor academic. If piracy, the responsibility lies with local law enforcement officials, not the military. But maritime terrorism means scrambling the Navy.

No Link, No Evidence

A critical contemporary myth to debunk is the alleged nexus between piracy and international terrorism. Serious scholars and analysts view with circumspection any assertions of this linkage. For instance, …

Marginal Impact

Piracy of course has costs, both human and economic. …

Overall, however, the consequences to maritime commerce are surprisingly minimal, though precise figures on the losses in commercial shipping are not available. The Center for Strategic and International Studies estimated that in 2001, piracy cost the industry $16 billion, but some analysts dispute this figure and it pales beside larger estimates of total global maritime trade, regardless. A 2006 assessment of the risks of piracy indicated shipping industry losses were relatively small in relation to the total volume of ocean transports. The study IISS cites above asserted “truth be told, losses are so low that there is little incentive for the shipping industries even to make a serious collective effort to tackle it.” So why all the hand wringing over piracy? …

Widely Held Misperceptions

Even as the facts fail to support allegations of terrorist linkages or dire economic consequences, governments, pundits, and the media continue to hype the “threat.” …

Only the Symptoms

Gray hulls bristling with weapons and sensors designed for conventional war are simply ill equipped to handle piracy—and are better assigned elsewhere. The recent situation off Somalia is a telling example. …

Source of Piracy is Ashore

Pirate cells, especially more organized groups, require a network of support on land. Logistics, communications, weapons, money exchange, and marketing of stolen goods are all requirements managed ashore. Pirate groups usually exploit local villages or communities, but sometimes—as in Somalia—these provide the support network itself, or at least benefit significantly. Yet, targeting pirate infrastructure inland is no easy task: sovereignty, laws of armed conflict, and rules of engagement typically prevent unilateral actions. This is especially frustrating off Somalia, …

{Two sections follow discussing solutions}

Piracy Threat in Context

In its current form and scope, piracy threatens no vital U.S. national security interests. It is in no way comparable to legacy threats that shape national strategy, such as terrorism or weapons of mass destruction proliferation. Hence, it is inherently disingenuous to inflate the piracy “threat” to justify either force structure or maritime strategic underpinnings.

As such, maritime policy and strategy deliberations and crisis course of action planning efforts should consider this reality. In this context, more U.S. anti-piracy options emerge—including no military response at all. America has long championed freedom of the seas, but it is perchance time that the many flag states and private companies enjoying the benefits of the global maritime commons contribute to the costs of keeping it secure. Because the U.S. Navy lacks the resources to effectively accomplish even a fraction of its assigned missions, treating piracy for what it is—criminal activity—should lessen the demands on an already overtaxed American Fleet.

(4)  Monsters vs. Aliens“, John Feffer, TomDispatch, 21 April 2009 — Why Terrorists and Pirates Are Not About to Team Up Any Time Soon.

Introduction from Tom Engelhardt

Sometimes, it seems as if all U.S. global geopolitics boils down to little more than a war for money within the Pentagon. In the best of times, each armed service still has to continually maintain and upgrade its various raisons d’être for the billions of dollars being poured into it; each has to fight — something far more difficult in economic hard times — to maintain or increase its share of the budgetary pie.

Excerpt:

In the comic books, bad guys often team up to fight the forces of good. … And the Somali pirates, who have dominated recent headlines with their hijacking and hostage-taking, join hands with al-Qaeda to form a dynamic evil duo against the United States and our allies. We’re the friendly monsters — a big, hulking superpower with a heart of gold — and they’re the aliens from Planet Amok.

In the comic-book imagination of some of our leading pundits, the two headline threats against U.S. power are indeed on the verge of teaming up. The intelligence world is abuzz with news that radical Islamists in Somalia are financing the pirates and taking a cut of their booty. Given this “bigger picture,” Fred Iklé urges us simply to “kill the pirates.” Robert Kaplan waxes more hypothetical. “The big danger in our day is that piracy can potentially serve as a platform for terrorists,” he writes. “Using pirate techniques, vessels can be hijacked and blown up in the middle of a crowded strait, or a cruise ship seized and the passengers of certain nationalities thrown overboard.”

Chaotic conditions in Somalia and other countries, anti-state fervor, the mediating influence of Islam, the lure of big bucks: these factors are allegedly pushing the two groups of evildoers into each other’s arms. “Both crimes involve bands of brigands that divorce themselves from their nation-states and form extraterritorial enclaves; both aim at civilians; both involve acts of homicide and destruction, as the United Nations Convention on the High Seas stipulates, ‘for private ends,'” writes Douglas Burgess in a New York Times op-ed urging a prosecutorial coupling of terrorism and piracy.

We’ve been here before. Since 2001, in an effort to provide a distinguished pedigree for the Global War on Terror and prove the superiority of war over diplomacy, conservative pundits and historians have regularly tried to compare al-Qaeda to the Barbary pirates of the 1800s. They were wrong then. And with the current conflating of terrorism and piracy, it’s déjà vu all over again.

Misreading Piracy

Unlike al-Qaeda, the Somali pirates have no grand desire to bring down the United States and the entire Western world. They have no intention of establishing some kind of piratical caliphate. Despite Burgess’s claims, they are not bent on homicide and destruction. They simply want money.

Most of the pirates are former fisherman dislodged from their traditional source of income by much larger pirates, namely transnational fishing conglomerates. When a crippled Somali government proved incapable of securing its own coastline, those fishing companies moved in to suck up the rich catch in local waters. “To make matters worse,” Katie Stuhldreher writes in The Christian Science Monitor, “there were reports that some foreign ships even dumped waste in Somali waters. That prompted local fishermen to attack foreign fishing vessels and demand compensation. The success of these early raids in the mid-1990s persuaded many young men to hang up their nets in favor of AK-47s.”

The New GWOT

… The War on Terror lives on, of course, in the Obama administration’s surge in Afghanistan, the CIA’s campaign of drone attacks in the Pakistani borderlands, and the operations of the new Africa Command. However, the replacement phrase for GWOT, “overseas contingency operations,” doesn’t quite fire the imagination. It’s obviously not meant to. But that’s a genuine problem for the military in budgetary terms.

Enter the pirates, who from Errol Flynn to Johnny Depp have always been a big box-office draw. As the recent media hysteria over the crew of the Maersk Alabama indicates, that formula can carry over to real life. Take Johnny Depp out of the equation and pirates can simply be repositioned as bizarre, narcotics-chewing aliens.

Then it’s simply a matter of the United States calling together the coalition of the willing monsters to crush those aliens before they take over our planet. And you thought “us versus them” went out with the Bush administration.

About the author

John Feffer is the co-director of Foreign Policy In Focus at the Institute for Policy Studies. His writings can be found at his website, and you can subscribe to his weekly e-newsletter World Beat here.

Afterword

If you are new to this site, please glance at the archives below.  You may find answers to your questions in these.

Please share your comments by posting below.  Per the FM site’s Comment Policy, please make them brief (250 words max), civil, and relevant to this post.  Or email me at fabmaximus at hotmail dot com (note the spam-protected spelling).

For more information from the FM site

To read other articles about these things, see the FM reference page on the right side menu bar.  Of esp relevance to this topic:

Posts on the FM site about maritime affairs:

  1. DoD Death Spiral – the US Navy version, 31 January 2008
  2. Update to the “Navy Death Spiral”, 22 April 2008
  3. A lesson in war-mongering: “Maritime Strategy in an Age of Blood and Belief”, 8 July 2008
  4. A step towards building a Navy we can afford, 16 July 2008
  5. “Amphibious Ships are the Dreadnoughts of the modern maritime era”, 2 September 2008 
  6. All about Pirates!, 12 December 2008
  7. More about pirates: why we no longer “hang them high”, 5 January 2009

15 thoughts on “A Piracy SitRep

  1. Too bad we don’t have a genuine two-party political system, so that these refreshing dissenting views from the hackneyed myths of public policy could actually be the substance of public debate.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: They are the subject of public debate. A small public, and totally unconnected by any political mechanism to what the government does. Unfortunately. Still, it is a start. A small one, but we can hope for more in the future.

  2. Galrahn:

    The tactical nature of piracy requires the US Navy to reevaluate both the shape of maritime force structure and the way we look at our force structure in the context of strategy, and if we fail to do so, we will not be prepared for the challenges of the 21st century.

    We consolidate capabilities into larger and larger ships that number fewer and fewer, and thus reduce our capability to disperse enough ships to enforce security. What is the small deployable vessel that can sustain itself for a week at sea conducting security operations off an ungoverned coast? That manned node in the networked force doesn’t exist today, and without it the US Navy has left itself open to the irregular capabilities of a dispersed enemy force best represented tactically by the camouflaged, blended local population pirate vessels operating off the Somalian coast.

    The fundamental problem is that our current navy is ill-equipped to respond to commerce raiding. The Somali pirates are harbingers of that sort of activity to come.

  3. Patch’s argument reminds me of why the Air Force was so ill-prepared and ineffective in the early parts of both the Korean and Vietnam wars. Its culture then was all about nuclear bombers, just as the Navy’s culture today is (mostly) blue-water maritime supremacy.

    Instead of pondering their irrelevance and what to do about it (the Navy certainly has resources that, if proper strategy and tactics were devised, could make a big impact), he disses piracy as a “law enforcement problem” not worthy of the attention of the mighty U.S. Navy. This is how organizations become irrelevant.

  4. From the article: “Gray hulls bristling with weapons and sensors designed for conventional war are simply ill equipped to handle piracy—and are better assigned elsewhere.”

    This is telling. First, it seems evident that he is correct that a Navy Destroyer or Cruiser is ill suited to combating privacy. Second, where is this Destroyer better assigned? It seems the only role that our modern navy is capable of is that of a mobile missle and aircraft platform.

    While I agree that simply parking a bunch of ships off the coast of Somalia will do little to solve the piracy issue, isn’t one of the core roles of the US Navy to combat waterborn piracy abroad?
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    Fabius Maximus replies: The answer to your question can be found in the writings of Fred Reed: “Fred: A True Son of Tzu“, 23 January 2007 — The 12 maxims for military success. See #8:

    “(8) It is a good idea to bracket your exposure. Be ready for wars past and future, but not present. The Pentagon does this well. Note that the current military, an advanced version of the WWII force, is ready should the Imperial Japanese Navy return. It also has phenomenally advanced weaponry in the pipeline to take on a space-age enemy, perhaps from Mars, should one appear. It is only the present for which the US is not prepared.”

  5. According to wikipedia there are 55 Arleigh Burke destroyers in active service with an additional 6 to come online. What is the marginal utility of one additional billion dollar destroyer – how much more additional protection from China, Russia, et. al., does that 56th destroyer provide us? It approaches 0.

    I agree that one of the core roles of the Navy, perhaps the core role, is to secure our commerce. I also agree the piracy problem is minimal – for now. However with trade declining worldwide I think more and more people will turn to piracy. For the $1.3b price tag of one destroyer we could easily purchase a thousand gunboats which are far better suited to thwarting pirates.

  6. Absolutely, the piracy problem is “minimal”, when seen from a bottom-line perspective. It’s not a “terrorist” threat, and it costs comparatively little. From an economic perspective, the best solution is simply to keep paying those ransoms

    Or, more precisely, from our economic perspective, taking a laid-back perspective of piracy certainly seems the yield the best ROI. But that is a self-centered, short-term perspective. (Do we have another kind?) The “just pay ’em off” approach to the piracy problem glosses over a few uncomfortable facts. For example, just who are we paying off? What are they doing with the money? What is the impact of this money in the regions from which the pirates operate?
    One consequence is that the pirate gangs—who are definitely “non-state entities”—are very powerful local forces. They have more money with which to buy influence, and more fire-power to compel cooperation, than any (admittedly flimsy) aspiring state governments in their homelands. Regardless of whether we call these people “terrorists” or not, I’d say we’re financing one side in a 4th generation war. We are adding (yet again) to the instability of the region.

    Another point is that successful businesses attract entrepreneurs. I’m sure that just about every 16 year old boy in Somalia wants to become a pirate, for it’s obviously the road to riches and power. It seems to me that if we continue to reward the pirates, the problem will grow. Is it really wise to wait until the bean-counters tell us we’re losing money before we look for a way to deal with the problem?

    For a start, perhaps we could find better uses for the money we’re now paying the pirates, like financing more innocuous lines of business to attract those 16 year olds. Maybe we could try to strengthen local forces for order, regardless of whether they have the word “Islamic” in their names.

    And yes, if we stop paying ransom, some military action against the land bases of the pirates will become necessary. I don’t think it would be that hard, and it would have two positive outcomes: first, the hostages (and stolen ships) would be freed, but more importantly, if it were done right, the pirates would start to look like losers. What we want is for local communities to look upon pirates as trouble-magnets, and make them unwelcome. And we want those kids to think that piracy is a bad business to go into.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: I believe the recommendation of most experts is to seek an on-land solution, using aid money and other inducements (perhaps some use of force, if necesssary) to motivate the local governments. Helping rebuilt the local fishing grounds, destroyed by developed nations’ fleets, might also help. The cost of these would probably be a fraction of a military solution.

  7. It occurs to me that whenever the politicians and pundits have ever weighed in on topics familiar to me, in my case water treatment, chemical process, and equipment manufacturing, I often quickly realized they were completely full of shit. Still, in areas less familiar to me, like piracy, I always gave them the benefit of the doubt. Now, with the internet,(this blog is a perfect example), experts from many fields are comparing notes in public view, and the overarching effect is that, collectively, we are beginning to realize our leadership and the media pundits who validate them, are full of shit about nearly everything, and pretty much all of the time.

  8. From a 2nd tier maligned (on this blog at least!) Telegraph: “Somali pirates ‘helped by intelligence gathered in London’“, Daily Telegraph, 11 May 2009 — Somali pirates are being aided by intelligence gathered by associates living in Britain, it has been claimed.

    Spanish media reported that a document produced by a European military intelligence agency claims that pirates are targeting specific ships identified by a team of “well-placed advisers” in London.

    These “consultants” are in constant satellite telephone contact with pirate commanders on land, who can then pass details of the layout of the vessel, its crew, route and cargo to their colleagues at sea, it states. On some occasions, they can even spend days in advance training for an specific attack.

    A Spanish radio station, Cadena SER, quoted the document in a report yesterday. “The information provided voluntarily by merchant ships transiting the area to various international agencies has now landed in the pirates’ hands,” the document said.

    Captains of hijacked ships have said after their experience that the pirates knew in great detail the nationalities of the crew, the ship’s position, its layout and its destination.”

    Re: ““there were reports that some foreign ships even dumped waste in Somali waters. That prompted local fishermen to attack foreign fishing vessels and demand compensation. The success of these early raids in the mid-1990s persuaded many young men to hang up their nets in favor of AK-47s.”

    I read weeks ago – sorry no link – that there is quite a lot more to it than just ‘some foreign ships dumping waste’ and that essentially the fishing industry there – which is basically one that feeds ordinary people versus being a major ‘industry’ – was going under. That being the context, it is perhaps a mite debatable as to who the real ‘pirates’ are. The inference in the above quote that they found terrorism more appealing than fishing, although no doubt true for some young bucks, is probably rather condescending in general.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: The destruction of the Somalia fishing industry has been mentioned several times on this site as one cause of their turn to piracy. Unlike most articles about the Somali pirates, which assume that they watched “Captain Blood” and said “That’s cool; let’s do it.” As usual, the War Nerd gives the important details:

    These guys used to be humble fishermen, till the Taiwanese and Korean trawlers took advantage of the fact that Somalia has no government to scoop every last sculpin out of the waters they used to fish. No government means no coast guard, so who was going to stop them? Well, karma went out and traded in its fishing boats for a few fast outboards and some Yemeni guns, and made a career move into the piracy business. Now they are what the NT would call “fishers of men.” And getting rich off it, bling and all the nomad girls you can buy.

    Also, who maligned the Daily Telegraph? To say it is a 2nd tier paper is an objective fact about their business niche, not a criticism. They probably make more money than the New York Times.

  9. One of my best friends (30+years) is the master of a G-Class, US flagged. Satellite time is expensive, so I only sent the first article, deeming it the best. This was his response-

    Yea, this is a good article. One interesting development in Somalia piracy is that the local Muslim leaders and elders are shunning the pirates because the debauchery – drugs, alcohol, whores – that all the wealth is bringing. So we have that going for us. The Alabama was unfortunate but at least it brought attention to the problem.

    Just got back to work last week. Currently on a great circle to Gibraltar, pass north of the Azores tomorrow night, be in Port Said 21 May.

    The rest of it is OT. I noticed a few other things about the articles: First, International Maritime ‘Law’ is correctly pronounced International Maritime ‘Suggestion’. Second, no one is claiming responsibility for keeping accurate records dealing with incidents at sea, including piracy. Every sentence has a caveat like “we presume this”, or “we estimate that”, even the obligatory “experts disagree”. I’ll bet the insurers are up to date- they are the experts at risk assessment. I’m headed that way, and I sent my buddy a few more quetions too.

  10. Telegraph Sidebar: Ok, I guess I don’t know the non-maligning use of the term ‘2nd tier’. From the infamous Wikipedia about the DT:

    “In January 2009, the Telegraph was the highest selling British ‘quality’ paper, with a certified average daily circulation of 842,912. This compared with a circulation of 617,483 for The Times, 358,844 for The Guardian, and 215,504 for The Independent.[3] According to a MORI survey conducted in 2005..”

    If it outsells the others, how can calling it ‘2nd tier?’ not be demeaning. I know this is not important, but it’s a ‘best friend of my father’s’ type of issue; hint: ‘Sir Perry’)

    As to the genesis of these ‘terrorists/pirates’, although you have referenced it, the lead articles for this thread sort of glossed over that aspect, being more interested in the ‘how to deal with terrorists’ and suchlike angle. Causes are important since addressing them is usually the best way to find appropriate solutions. Clearly the problem here is that endemic lawlessness in the international maritime environment engendered reciprocal banditry on the part of local peasantry who, essentially, were getting royally screwed. The solution is some sort of international law there which will allow them to get compensation, principally in the form of having their waters cleaned back up and, presuming the damage is not more or less terminal as is the case with much of the NorthEastern fishing banks, giving them back their traditional, valid and honorable way of life.

    I doubt a bunch of crazed AK-47 wielding Somali fisherman popping off rounds in god-forsaken dens of iniquity have the wherewithal to put together a good legal case in the Hague or Beijing or wherever they would have to do it. Only other solutions: piracy or abject surrender.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: I believe most of this is wrong, in the sense of “not even remotely close.”

    (1) “the lead articles for this thread sort of glossed over that aspect,”
    This was the key point discussed in two of the articles.

    (2) “I doubt a bunch of crazed AK-47 wielding Somali fisherman”
    The assumption is that the nation of Somalia, aided by major nations, could act before an international forum.

    (3) “If it outsells the others, how can calling it ‘2nd tier?'”
    The discussion was about quality, not circulation. Note I specifically said that the Telegraph probably was more profitable than the NY Times. Readers Digest has a circulation many times larger than TIME, Newsweek, or US News & World Reports. Do you therefore consider it of higher quality?

  11. Alright, if I am wrong about those lead articles, I am wrong. Have not gone through them again and perhaps was muddled when posting. It happens, even to philosophers like myself who are right 99% of the time!

    About the Telegraph: I think you are just plain wrong. Certainly that is not how it was regarded by Londoners up until recently, i.e. like the Reader’s Digest, Mail, Sun or Mirror. This is one of the top tier high quality papers and has been for well over a century. I originally thought that by second tier you meant it had low sales or something and frankly was surprised to find it outsells the Times, but then again not all that surprised since the Times has gone much more in the populist direct the past decade or so, i.e. is much more like the Sun and Daily Mail etc. The Telegraph isn’t. Stop! Will say no more about it! Stop!
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    Fabius Maximus replies: These things are subjective. Note this admiring article in the BBC: “The UK’s ‘other paper of record’“, BBC, 19 January 2004. On the other hand, this more closely matches my view: “Paper Tiger – Strange days at the Daily Telegraph“, Bryan Curtis, Slate, 25 October 2006 — Excerpt:

    “Founded in 1855, the Telegraph has always been a heady mix of high and low. Its editorial page is a Tory Party institution, issuing terse edicts on foreign policy, immigration, and the military and occasionally intervening in disputes between the surviving Thatcherites. (Such is its connection to the Tories that any deviations from the party line inevitably brought indignant telephone calls from Westminster.) And yet the “footman’s paper,” as it used to be known, can be as accommodating to sleaze and celebrity swooning as any of London’s down-market titles. Earlier this month, a front-page story and photo in the Telegraph alerted readers to this important news: Scarlett Johansson had announced that she had herself tested twice-yearly for HIV. “The Telegraph’s clever popular appeal is masquerading as a quality newspaper for a mass audience,” says Kim Fletcher, who was the editorial director of Telegraph Group Limited from 2003 to 2005.”/blockquote>

    British papers are easy to understand, as explained in this scene of “Yes, Minister” — Excerpt:

    PM Hacker: “Don’t tell me about the press. I know exactly who reads the papers. The Daily Mirror is read by people who think they run the country; The Guardian is read by people who think they ought to run the country; The Times is read by people who actually do run the country; the Daily Mail is read by the wives of the people who run the country; the Financial Times is read by people who own the country; The Morning Star is read by people who think the country ought to be run by another country; and The Daily Telegraph is read by people who think it is.”

    Sir Humphrey: “Prime Minister, what about the people who read The Sun?”

    Bernard: “Sun readers don’t care who runs the country, as long as she’s got big tits.”

  12. Report from the Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC) of the International Maritime Bureau, which is part of the Commercial Crime Service — an arm of the International Chamber of Commerce.

    Pirate attacks off Somalia already surpass 2008 figures“, 12 May 2008

    The total number of pirate attacks in the Gulf of Aden and off east-coast Somalia so far in 2009 has already overtaken the figure for all of 2008, according to statistics collated by the International Maritime Bureau’s Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC). In 2008, there were 111 incidents including 42 vessels hijacked. So far in 2009, there have been 29 successful hijackings from 114 attempted attacks.

    The Gulf of Aden has been the site of a total of 71 attacks so far in 2009, of which 17 resulted in successful hijacks. In 2008, there were 32 hijacks from a total of 92 attacks. This year has seen a surge in activity off the east coast of Somalia, with 43 attacks so far compared to 19 in the whole year 2008.

    There has also been an increase in the number of vessels fired upon in these regions. In 2008, there were 39 instances of vessels taking fire from pirates. Already this year, there have been 54 cases.

    IMB Director Pottengal Mukundan commented: “The reduction in successful hijackings can be partly attributed to the presence of international navies in the region. The level of attempted attacks, however, shows that the pirate gangs have not been perturbed by this presence and, if anything, have stepped up operations in order to secure a higher success rate. The number of cases in which shots were fired could indicate an increased willingness on the part of the pirates to use aggression to meet their ends.”

    In 2008, a total of 815 crew members were taken hostage from vessels hijacked in the Gulf of Aden and off the east coast of Somalia. The total number of hostages taken in these regions during 2009 already stands at 478.

    The IMB has urged all ship masters, owners and other interested parties to report all incidents of actual and attempted piracy, armed robbery and suspicious activity to the PRC. These reports are promptly relayed to law enforcement agencies and governments in order to trigger the appropriate action and evaluate the severity of the problem in their waters.

  13. Well let’s see here. The USCG is requiring all US shipping companies to submit anti-piracy plans by 26 May. They may require that all US flag ships traveling around the horn of Africa (Somalia) take guards – private, military, armed or not – this is not worked out yet. Companies necessarily have to have custom plans because there are so many variables between ships, companies, charterers and so forth. There are inaccuracies in statistics because so many attacks go unreported. If you’re attacked and get away, it’s easier to just proceed than to do all the paperwork. We have specific anti-piracy measures in effect when traveling through high risk waters. The specific measures are somewhat secret even though they are not very elaborate. Another interesting thing is that the pirates are now getting outside investors.

  14. That was such a good reply about the DT that I shall simply say no more. As someone who doesn’t have much respect for the main broadsheets anyway, it’s not really like I have an axe to grind here, but I simply didn’t understand what ‘second tier’ meant. Still don’t really (in the sense that how can one define ‘first tier’ anyway given how shi***y they all are on many levels), but I cheerfully concede because of the excellent quality of those two snippets. Thanks for the exchange!

  15. This appears to be nothing more than simple migration. According to the PRC, in 2005 the vast majority of attacks are in the South East Asia/Indian Sub Continent. By 2006, they are equal to the rest of the world. By 2007, they have more actual attacks, but Somalia now has more actual attempts. By 2008, attacks drop dramatically, and now the east coast of Africa is on top- with increasing activity on the west coast. By 2009 almost all activity near SE Asia/Indian SC has ceased, and the east coast of Africa explodes, and surprisingly the west coast of Africa is more calm. I may be a simpleton, but it appears as though someone yanked all of the pushpins and stuck them off the coast of east Africa. The fishing/garbage dumping excuse now seems academic- it may have been an earlier ‘concern’, but the pirates are now using it as a battle cry for recruiting purposes. This, IMO is how it all started- searching for greener pastures. Hat tip to the one who spotted my earlier mistake and fixed it quickly and professionally.

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