Piracy Update, Feb. 8, 2012

British Royal Marines from Fort Victoria taking down a Pirate mother ship as reported in the last update–looks a lot like a Caribbean drug bust. Helicopter firing warning shots across the bow of a small vessel. Two RHIBs conduct an armed boarding. (I would have thought they would have wanted at least one asset keeping a lookout on the disengaged side of the vessel.)

Somalia and the Indian Ocean:

There is a good breakdown of the expenses incurred in dealing with the threat of piracy, estimated at $7B to $12B. Perhaps surprisingly, it is not the pirates who profit most from piracy, but the insurance and private security companies.

Since our last piracy update on January 13, the waters off Somalia have been relatively quiet. NATO reports only two unsuccessful attack and a hand full of possibly pirate related activity reports. The period has actually been pretty hard on the pirates.

Seals rescued an American and a European being held in Somalia, killing nine of their captors.

Potential adversaries are cooperating. Reportedly India, China, and Japan have started to coordinate their convoying efforts to allow more regular and consistent protection. (more here)

Meanwhile the Dutch have again deployed a submarine to the area as an intelligence, surveillance, and recon asset.

Actually prosecuting suspected pirates is still a challenge. gCaptain looks at the record here. More here. The Seychelles, mindful of the effect pirates have had on their economy, is accepting some of these cases, including those recently captured by the British Royal Fleet Auxiliary Fort Victoria.

We keep hearing that the solution to the piracy problem is on land. Looks like Somalia may have rich oil reserves. If that is true, there may be sufficient motivation to bring civilization to Somalia at last.

Gulf of Guinea (West Africa):

Nigeria is outsourcing at least part of its Maritime Security to private contractors. Sounds like there may be reason to question the motivation of the contract.

South East Asia:

Much more on the fresh water piracy incident that left 13 dead on the Mekong River in October.

Armed Security Teams:

Rather than allowing private security firms to protect their flag vessels, the Dutch assign teams of marines and they successfully drove off an attack, possibly with causalities among the pirates.

3 thoughts on “Piracy Update, Feb. 8, 2012

  1. gCaptain generally does a good job in reporting on piracy, but in this instance, he’s falling for the same tired – and incorrect – lines used to explain why more pirates aren’t prosecuted.

    The real reason more pirates aren’t prosecuted is simple – lack of political will in the flag states whose ships are directly affected. Once you successfully prosecute a pirate, he must be incarcerated. Once he serves his sentence, he must be released, and since most countries won’t return such an individual to Somalia against their will, given the ungoverned nature of Somalia, guess what? Yes, you have a new legal resident.

    It isn’t rocket science, despite those that would lead you to believe otherwise.

  2. I think you are miss reading the gCaptain report and seeing some of the quotations from others as the authors position. In fact he agrees with you. His last paragraph, “We conclude that gathering evidence to secure a successful prosecution for piracy is challenging. However, not all claims made by the Government about the difficulty in securing evidence were wholly convincing: when pirates are observed in boats with guns, ladders and even hostages, it beggars belief that they cannot be prosecuted, assuming that states have the necessary laws in place and the will to do so. We urge the Government to pursue alternative means of securing suitable evidence (such as photos or video recordings of pirates with equipment, and supplying witness testimony by videolink). We urge the Government to engage with regional states to agree consistent and attainable rules on evidence required for a piracy prosecution.”

    • No, he misses the point. Governments don’t need “alternative means of securing suitable evidence.” The international community has developed standard evidence collection guides.

      It isn’t problems with evidence that prevent flag states from stepping up and prosecuting when they should. While there are those rare cases where the evidence is so scant that a prosecution is impossible, the overarching problem is simple – lack of political will.

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