The good news is: While the number of attacks is up, the pirates are succeeding less frequently so that the number of seizures is down compared with last year. Armed guards seem to be effective and more countries are allowing them. The bad news is: The situation in Somalia is if anything worse than before. Pirates are now routinely torturing crew members in order to extort ever larger payments from ship owners, and Somali style piracy has metastasized, spreading to the West Coast of Africa.
Navy Times Reports:
“Sea piracy worldwide surged to 266 attacks in the first half this year, up 36 percent from a year ago, as Somali pirates became bolder and raided more vessels, a global maritime watchdog said Thursday. Sixty-one percent, or 163 of the attacks globally, were carried out by Somali pirates largely in the Arabian Sea frequented by crude oil tankers, the International Maritime Bureau’s piracy reporting center in Kuala Lumpur said in a statement. This was up from 100 attacks by Somali pirates in the same period last year.”
“…However, the bureau said Somali pirates hijacked only 21 ships, down from 27 in the first half last year…”
Placing armed guards to protect against pirates has apparently been 100% successful. Now the practice is gaining acceptance and shippers are seeking a vetting process to identify reputable providers. China’s giant Cosco Shipping is planning to place guards on their ships.
Conditions in Somalia that lead to the creation of the problem seem no closer to a solution. Hunger in the region has driven many from their homes. Al Shabaab is saying it is really not that bad, but the largest refugee camp in the world located just across the Border in Kenya, built for 90,000, but now approaching 450,000, has been declared full. At least the piracy problem has apparently allowed some fishing stocks to rebuild.
A Terrorism suspect with links to Al Shabaab and Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, who had been held aboard a US Navy ship for months, is to be tried in New York City.
An alliance of maritime organizations calling themselves “Save Our Seafarers” is attempting to raise awareness of the fate of seaman in the hands of the pirates, and seeking more effective measures to deal with the problem.
Lloydslist.com is reporting, “SOMALI pirates holding South Korean seafarers are demanding the release of pirates held by the South Korean authorities, as well as compensation for the deaths of some of their colleagues earlier this year, as a precondition for the captives’ freedom.”
The Navy Times report sited above goes on to state,
“Also this year, a wave of violent and highly organized attacks has hit the coast of West Africa.
“Twelve tankers were attacked off Benin since March in an area that was free of pirates last year, the bureau said. Five of the vessels were hijacked and forced to sail to unknown locations where pirates ransacked and stole the ship equipment and oil cargo, it said.
“In neighboring Nigeria, the bureau said it was informed of six incidents but it was aware there were at least 11 other attacks not reported by ships.”
Both Informationdissemination.net and eaglespeak.us are discussing the spread of piracy to the west coast of Africa. In most cases these have been simple robberies, but most recently they have seized an Italian flagged tanker off Benin, just West of Nigeria where the former USCGC Chase is headed. BBC notes:
“The US … hopes to import about a quarter of its oil supplies from the region by 2015.”
Galrahn at informationdissemination points out that
“Regrettably, West Africa presents a number of irregular challenges that cannot just be wished away: growing piracy; insurgent groups bent on disrupting the flow of oil; an increasingly militant Islamist movement in northern Nigeria (Boko Haram); and a burgeoning narcotics trade that in part, supports AQIM’s broadening reach across North Africa. AFRICOM’s naval requirements are growing, and US force structure is not. It’s past time to buy ships we can afford in a quantity that can meet current and future demands for maritime security operations and security force assistance.”
Sounds like there will be an increased demand for CG services in West Africa.