Piracy Update, 20 November, 2011

Somalia/Gulf of Aden/Indian Ocean:

NATO Reports show at least three attacks and at least three incidents of vessels being approached in a suspicious manner by skiffs that appeared to be pirates, but there were no successful attacks reported.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/3/33/INS_Suvarna.jpg/1024px-INS_Suvarna.jpgINS Suvarna, sister ship of INS Sukanya. Photo: INS SuvarnaM. Mazumdar/ Bharat-Rakshak. Original uploader was Mittal.fdk at en.wikipedia. Permission: CC-BY-SA-3.0.

India continues to deal aggressively with pirates. “The Hindu” reports the actions of the INS Sukanya (1,890 tons full load, 331′ loa) when five skiffs approached vessels in the five ship convoy she was escorting,

“While two of them managed to escape, INS Sukanya successfully intercepted the remaining three boats and…nabbed 26 Somali pirates with six AK 47 rifles, 12 magazines and about 300 rounds of ammunition.

“This is the fifth successful anti-piracy operation conducted by INS Sukanya in the course of her ongoing patrol mission in the Gulf of Aden that commenced in September, the Navy said.”

The uncertainty introduced by the Kenyan invasion of Southern Somalia is having an effect on the ransom pirates are demanding for the ships and crews they currently hold. Ransom demands have been cut as the pirates hope to “close the deal.

There are reports that Ethiopia has also moved troops into Somalia to support the Kenyan invasion.

While Kenya and Ethiopia move against Al Shabaab rebels in the South, there is a report the locals in Puntland are moving against pirates enclaves in the Northeast.

Nigeria/Gulf of Guinea

gCaptain reports three people were kidnapped after eight armed men boarded an offshore supply vessel, the MV C-Endeavour, belonging to Edison Chouest Offshore, off the coast of Nigeria. The report came by email from Kurt Glaubitz, a spokesman for Chevron.

Mekong River:

The attack that left 13 Chinese dead, reported in the last update, has resulted in China dispatching up to 1,000 armed police to work in the territory of Burma, Thailand, and Laos, to protect its trade on the Mekong.

Armed Security Guards:

The Marine Log reports H.R. 2838, the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2011, that recently passed the U.S. House of Representatives, “…strengthens existing authorities against piracy, as well as improves an existing training program to instruct mariners on acceptable use of force against pirates.  It authorizes armed security on vessels carrying government impelled cargo through high risk waters, and includes a report on ways to improve U.S. efforts to track ransom payments and the movement of money through Somali piracy networks.

“‘Somali pirates have vastly expanded the range of their attacks on merchant vessels.  But even more alarming, the pirates have dramatically increased the number and viciousness of their attacks in recent months,’ said LoBiondo (Coast Guard Subcommittee Chairman Frank A. LoBiondo (R-NJ). ‘To protect American seafarers, this legislation will strengthen an existing training program on use of force against pirates.  Additionally, it will provide authority for government agencies to reimburse shippers for armed security aboard vessels carrying U.S. aid to the region.‘”

The Maritime Executive reports there is a growing consensus in the US, that failure to provide armed security may open up ship owners to legal liability for failure to provide seaman with a safe working environment and a seaworthy vessel.

Elsewhere authorities remain unconvinced. The Netherlands is telling its ship owners that, if they use private armed security guards, they could be subject to criminal prosecution.

“Jumbo Shipping from Rotterdam and Vroon Shipping based in Breskens have both said they will carry armed guards while sailing under the Dutch flag.

“The ministry of defence has set up special teams to help combat the threat of piracy but the shipping firms say this is not a solution. ‘You have to order them six weeks in advance and we cannot work like that,’ the Jumbo spokesman said.

“Denmark, Spain, Norway and Britain do allow shipping firms to use private security guards while travelling close to the Somali coast.”