Somali piracy: How does it continue?

Bathymetric map of the Indian Ocean

Indian Ocean: Image via Wikipedia

Two contrasting stories about Somali piracy today which makes me wonder whether it continues because technology is not up to it or because of a lack of will or because of legalistic uncertainties on the high seas, or because of something else ?

The Indian Ocean is large and pirate craft are small and Somali war lords are greedy, but is it beyond the capability of all the world’s satellites to detect them and beyond the power of all the world’s navies to put a stop to this? Or are the reported ransoms of many millions being paid out far too readily and far too quickly by  the ship owner’s?

And where does the money trail really lead? And are there any insurance frauds also involved?

Something does not add up.

The Indian Express reports about the sinking of a pirate “mother ship”:

KOCHI: Giving a big blow to Somali pirates, Indian coastal security forces sink Prantalay, a  mother vessel used by the pirates, off the Laskhadweep coast. In a first-of-its-kind mission against pirates in the Indian waters, the Navy and the Coast Guard rescued around 20 fishermen from Thailand and Myanmar, the original crew of Prantalay.

The Coast Guard and the Navy, which had been keeping vigil against the pirates, had identified two skiffs off Lakshadweep coast on Friday morning. It was while responding to a call by MV CMA CGM Verdi, a Bahamas-flagged container ship on Friday morning, that a Coast Guard Dornier aircraft located two skiffs attempting an attack. Seeing the aircraft, the skiffs immediately gave up their piracy attempt and dashed towards the mother vessel Prantalay which hurriedly hoisted the two skiffs on board and set a westerly course to escape from the area. This action cleared all doubts of Prantalay being used by pirates as a mother vessel. While the Coast Guard and the Dorniers continuously tracked Prantalay, Indian Naval Ship Cankarso, a recently commissioned Water Jet Fast Attack Craft which had already been deployed in the area for anti-piracy patrol, was directed  to intercept Prantalay. Around 5 pm, INS Cankarso closed in on Prantalay and made all efforts  to establish communication on the international Mercantile Marine Band, but the vessel did not respond and continued to proceed westwards in its effort to escape.

In keeping with internationally accepted norms, Cankarso fired a warning shot well ahead of Prantalay to compel the ship to stop. Instead of stopping, Prantalay suddenly opened fire on INS Cankarso, which retaliated. Then, a fire broke out on Prantalay and crew were seen jumping overboard. In addition to the fishermen, 15 pirates were also apprehended. INS Cankarso was subsequently joined by INS Kalpeni and CGS Sankalp. Naval and Coast Guard ships and aircraft present in the area searching for any other fishermen/pirates.

And from Germany comes the story of of pirates capturing two ships and attacking a third:

Two sailors on a German ship have been found in a lifeboat after pirates took control of their vessel last weekend in the Indian Ocean. The pirates attacked the Bremen-based Beluga Nomination around 800 sea miles north of the Seychelles, prompting reaction from a Seychelles patrol boat and a Danish warship in the area.
The Seychelles patrol boat fired on the ship killing two pirates and two crew members, reported Der Spiegel on Saturday. Yet it was unable to gain control of the Beluga Nomination, and most of the surviving crew locked themselves into a safe room. At least two others jumped into the free-fall life boat and activated it, plunging into the sea. The day afterwards the Beluga Nomination stopped as the daily fuel ration was seemingly exhausted. A few hours later another captured ship, the York gas ship arrived, and the two ships were last seen heading towards Somalia.
The two men in the life boat were picked up by the Danish frigate and are said to be in as good a condition as could be expected under the circumstances. A Beluga shipping company spokeswoman confirmed that the fate of the rest of the crew remained unknown.
On Friday Somali pirates attacked another German ship, the New York Star tanker which belongs to the Hamburg firm Chemikalien Seetransport. It was attacked by pirates in a speedboat, a firm spokesman said on Saturday. The captain tried avoidance manoeuvres while the crew locked themselves in a safe room. The Dutch frigate De Ruyter came to its aid and soldiers boarded to check for pirates before giving the all-clear. New York Star will continue its journey from Saudi Arabia to Singapore with its load of naphtha.

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One Response to “Somali piracy: How does it continue?”

  1. Piracy increasing off the West African coast « The k2p blog Says:

    […] AFP reports that another Italian tanker has been seized by pirates off the coast of Benin.  It remains inexplicable to me in this world of satellite navigation and GPS and Rapid Reaction Forces and instant news that piracy can still not only continue but actually flourish.   […]

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