Piracy attacks keep increasing
The Losing Battle Against Somali Piracy
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The previous page was: "Special Boats Section"
Anti-Piracy: ICC Commercial Crime Services (CCS) is the anti-crime arm of the International Chamber of Commerce. Based in London, CCS is a membership organisation tasked with combating all forms of commercial crime.
Piracy in the Indian Ocean has taken an alarming turn recently,
with the killings of two seized Filipino crewmen and the
hijacking of an oil supertanker with a cargo worth $200m
In a lengthy gun battle in the Arabian Sea last month South
Korean commandos stormed a pirated ship, the Samho Jewelry,
killing eight pirates, capturing five others and freeing all the
The European Union naval force, Navfor, which patrols the area,
is now under mounting pressure to take similar action. Navfor's
spokesman, Wing Commander Paddy O'Kennedy, said: "storming
seized ships put the lives of hostage crew members at risk."
"At the moment our policy is that the safety of the hostages
comes first," he said. "When you use the military, people get
hurt, that's a fact. The captain of the Samho Jewellery, which
is the ship that you are referring to, was shot in the stomach
during that action."
Special Boats Section
One has to ask: is any real progress being made in the fight against piracy off Somalia?
The statistics are not encouraging. "When you get close to ships that have been pirated. They stand the crew on deck, and they put a gun against their head, and that's a pretty strong message for us to stay away.” replied the Wing-Comander.
The rewards are just too tempting for Somali pirates to be deterred by a handful of international warships patrolling over 4m sq km. Currently at least 30 ships are being held, along with more than 700 hostages. And something has changed in the last few months.
The pirates are using around eight so-called mother ships, far
out to sea, they are large captive vessels with hostages onboard that allow them to stay in business during the violent monsoon winds.
What we are dealing with here is a business model that is so
good, that for a matter of tens of thousands of dollars you can
put together a pirate action group, you can send it to sea and
if you are lucky and hit the jackpot, you can come back with a
vessel that within six months will bring you a return of nine-and-a-half million dollars.
"We are the first to admit that we are not deterring piracy."
The days where Blackbeard led the attack from the front have long gone into the throws of the past.
No Powerful Deterrent
Piracy in the Indian Ocean is getting more lucrative and more
violent. On 26th January 2011, Somali pirates, enraged by an attempt to free their hostages, murdered two of the crew as retribution. A third man jumped overboard and drowned. It is a powerful deterrent against warships intervening, once a ship has been captured.
A number of pirates were killed or captured when South Korean
commandos seized this ship "When you get close to ships that
have been pirated they say to us 'stay away or we'll kill the
Piracy off Somalia is a highly organised business. There are
investors, accountants and a pirate leader on land, then of
course, there is the actual attack group that puts to sea.
An genuine pirate notebook, taken from one of the ships they
seized then abandoned. When flipping through the pages, you can
see a detailed ledger, written in Somali, of provisions supplied
to each pirate onboard.
They all have nicknames. One is called Shino, the Chinaman,
another one is called Big Nose. Each man is trained in certain
aspects, some are trained in navigation, some are trained in the
equipment they will have to operate, they are given weapons
training, and they are told all about what type of ship they are
going to board. They are very much aware of the environment that
they will be operating in.
Pirate Attacks 1
Pirate Attacks 2
Fourth Supertanker To Be Siezed
But how does this affect anyone in Britain or Europe, thousands
of miles away? On Wednesday one of the richest-ever cargos of
crude oil was seized off Oman, worth $200m.
The capture of the Greek-owned Irene SL is the fourth time an
oil supertanker has been pirated. We could very quickly be
reaching a point where we're going to have to call for seafarers
to refuse to sail into this area.
Now what will that mean for the world economy? Well that means
ships can't go into the area, that means we have an oil shortage
again, maybe then people would take notice, maybe when the
supermarket shelves will start to empty, when there is no
petrol in the forecourt, then people will realise how critical
the shipping industry is.
R.N. Thwarts Pirates
Chasing The Somali Piracy Money Trail
Piracy off the coast of Somalia has made many people very rich.
A new economy has developed both within Somalia and further
afield, as security companies, lawyers and negotiators reap
huge profits from their involvement.
But finding out what happens to the money delivered as ransom
payments is doubly difficult, first because piracy is a
transnational crime, and second because Somalia is a country
without rules, regulations or a functioning government.
There have been various reports that piracy in Somalia is
attracting big-time criminals from all over the world; that it
is being orchestrated from London; and that in some cases,
scrupulous ship owners themselves are involved. But little
evidence has been provided to back up these claims.
It has also been reported that much of the estimated $80m
(£50m) paid out in ransoms so far this year has been laundered
by organised syndicates in Dubai and other Gulf states.
But this has been strenuously denied by officials in the Gulf,
and people working in maritime intelligence say they have no
real proof that the money laundering or any other large scale
international crime is happening.
There's been a lot of inventive reporting on very slim evidence.
What actually happens to the money is exceedingly opaque, partly
because of the way Somalis communicate with each other, and also
because of the impenetrable way their finance system works.
Established security experts have also suggested that some of
those cashing in on the new growth industry of Somali piracy are
exaggerating its international criminal dimensions in order to
drum up business for themselves.
The experts say that with a decreasing demand for private
security and intelligence in places like Iraq, some companies
and newly-formed "piracy consultants" are trying to sell Somalia
as the new frontier for their operations, basing much of their
information on speculation rather than fact.
In a sense, Somalis do not need to launder the money they make
from piracy because their unique financial system operates on
trust and honour, bypassing banks and other financial
As the system - known as "hawala" - often does not involve
documentation, with most transactions done verbally, there is
no trace or paper trail.
Islamist militias are also believed to be getting some of the
ransom cash. This makes it almost impossible to find out what
happens to money made from ransom payments or any other
transaction in Somalia.
The fact that most ransoms are paid in cash means they simply
disappear into the Somali community, rather than ending up in
banks or other financial bodies.
Although hawala companies in the West and the Arab world have
become more regulated in recent years, it is very difficult to
track the money once it gets to Somalia.
It has been possible to find out something about how the ransom
money is distributed. One thing is clear: the small groups of
pirates who take to sea in speedboats to hijack huge ships do
not get all the money.
"They are the foot soldiers." They are young men, often
teenagers, and they certainly don't end up with all the money.
Pirates that have been interviewed have been reluctant to say
exactly how much money they make from a successful hijacking,
but reports indicate they make tens of thousands of dollars
rather than millions.
This is because piracy has developed into a mini-economy,
employing hundreds of people in north-eastern and central
Somalia, all of whom need their share of the ransom.
Although there is no universal set of rules, a UN report based
on information gathered from pirates based in the north-eastern
village of Eyl, reveals some interesting information about how
the ransom spoils are divided.
The Maritime militia, the pirates involved in actual hijacking
get 30%; the Ground militia, the armed groups who control the
territory where the pirates are based get 10%; the Local
community leaders, the elders and local officials get 10%; the
Financier gets 20% and the Sponsor gets 30%.
The UN report found the payments are shared virtually equally
between the maritime militia, although the first pirate to board
the ship gets a double share or a vehicle.
And compensation is paid to the family of any pirate killed
during the operation. The breakdown shows how ransom money
trickles down to many sections of Somali society.
Government officials and the armed groups that control the
different parts of the country all get their share too.
Some analysts - such as the Kenyan-based security consultant
Bruno Schiemsky - say pirates have given as much as 50% of
their revenue to the Islamist al-Shabab militia in the areas it
controls. However, al-Shabab has stated that it opposes piracy.
There have been consistent reports that officials in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland - the heartland of Somali piracy -
have also been getting cuts.
Somalian civilians bear the brunt of the chaos eclipsing their
failed state. Several officials, including a deputy chief of
police, have been sacked for involvement in piracy.
With so many people receiving a share of the ransom payments -
which average between $1m to $3m (£1.9m) - Somali piracy is
unlikely to attract the involvement of major international
crime syndicates. When you look at the way ransoms are
distributed, there's simply not enough money for big time gangs
to be interested.
However, if piracy continues to grow, there's a possibility that
it will start to attract major criminal elements. It's similar
to the South American drugs trade in the 1970s, which started
off as a relatively small-time operation, and grew into a huge
One country that does seem to be closely involved in Somali
piracy is Yemen. Maritime security experts say the 'mother ships'
from which pirate attacks are launched are often refuelled,
resupplied and even armed in Yemen.
A UN report said: "Members of the Harardhere pirate group have
been linked to the trafficking of arms from Yemen, to the Somali
towns of Harardhere and Hobyo, which have long been two of the
main points of entry for arms shipments destined for armed
opposition groups in Somalia and Ethiopia."
It's likely that the truth about all the money made from piracy
will never be uncovered. What is clear is that several elements
in Somali society are benefiting, and that piracy will remain
an attractive career option as long as the country remains
without a central authority.
But it is wrong to transfer theories about money laundering and
international crime onto Somali piracy.
The problem is unique, and the country is unique, and
speculation will only lead to misguided policies which are
likely to prolong the dangers facing any ship that sails along
the long unruly coast of Somalia.
Spotlight On Pirate "Death"
And The Spotlight On 'Guns For Hire'
The death of a suspected pirate off the coast of Somalia has
drawn attention to the use of armed private security contractors
on board merchant vessels.
The incident, which involved guards aboard the Panamanian-flagged MV Almezaan, is believed to be the first of its kind.
But several organisations, including the International Maritime
Bureau (IMB), have previously expressed concerns over the use of
armed security contractors.
While we understand that owners want to protect their ships, we
don't agree in principle with putting armed security on ships.
Ships are not an ideal place for a gun battle.
The Canadian navy has joined patrols off the Somali coast One
argument is that the use of armed operatives could encourage
pirates to use more violence when taking a ship.
There has been no evidence that there had been much of an
increase in the use of armed guards by merchant ship owners.
Dozens of warships patrol the waters off the Somali coast, but
this has not deterred the pirates.
The amount of ocean to patrol is extremely vast and pirates have
responded to the increased naval presence by moving attacks
farther out to sea. The naval forces are only displacing the
threat - they can't be everywhere at once. Almost the whole of
the Indian Ocean region, some 5 million square nautical miles,
is a security risk.
But the shipping industry has, so far, largely resisted arming
their boats, not least because this would deny them port in
some nations. Furthermore, arming the ships can raise liability
issues and increase insurance costs.
The use of private operatives is not necessary the ship owners
can find other ways to protect themselves, such as boosting
training, carrying out more drills and purchasing equipment that
could prevent pirates boarding a vessel.
Some believe private security guards are not necessary, they
simply muddy the water. They are often foreign to the crew
themselves and they don't know the ship well.
Experts say piracy is just one symptom of Somalia's failed state
many are former soldiers that have been in Iraq or Afghanistan
and they think they can shake the dust off their shoes and make
it as a private security guard. Their day rate is also pretty high.
It is believed their presence, would only lead to more spilt
blood. A report highlighting the issues arising from the use of
armed guards. It pointed out that a fundamental question arose
as to who would authorise the use of force.
The debate on the use of armed guards was one that polarised the
industry. Most industry bodies and ship-owners are against them.
But no ship with an armed guard has been hijacked, so there are
those; particularly those who have had ships hijacked; who
think they are necessary.
Private security companies have come into their own in places
like Iraq and now see the maritime sector as potentially
lucrative. Many have moved across but there is no system of
accreditation, so there is no way of knowing the good from the
Most security operatives are former British servicemen, but
there are also operatives from the US, Australia, New Zealand
and South Africa.
Some firms do provid armed escort vessels, but these did not
have any status in international law. The various conventions
dealing with piracy relate to states and their navies.
The rights that they are given, like the right of innocent
passage relate to military ships. There are also issues over the
use of armed force. The relevant law is the law of the flag
state, but a merchant ship could, for example, be Panamanian and
the escort ship could be, say, UK flagged.
Obviously there were some very good companies that had "robust
rules of engagement". Lethal force for them would come after a
series of steps including warning shots. The good companies
would follow a procedure like that. Normally that would be
enough to deter an attack.
In May 2009, the US Coast Guard drafted a maritime security
directive that would require US-flagged ships sailing around the
Horn of Africa to post guards, with the ship owners having to
submit anti-piracy security plans for approval.
At the time, the Coast Guard's director of prevention policy,
Rear-Admiral James Watson, said that they expected to see
"additional security" that could "involve the use of firearms".
He added that they were "looking for things that work but that
don't make the situation worse." The directive has not yet
passed into law.
For now, the handling of Tuesday's shooting by a private
security operative will be watched closely by legal experts. An
independent inquiry is planned, but first investigators will
need to establish who had jurisdiction - the flag the vessel was
flying, its owners or the nationality of the contractors - and
who was responsible for the security contractors.
Fast Boats Pages
Joe Wezley Pages
Inititive That May Be Preventative
Stainless steel razor wire all around the ship as a piracy
preventative measure might not stop the pirates from getting
aboard; but it certainly would provide DNA clues and keep crew
members away from the sides preventing them from being lost at
As silly as it may sound in Henry VIII's navy, before the cannon
they used to drop heavy stones over the side of a ship from the
forecastls's and poop-decks into any small boats that had any
inclinations of boarding his ships.
The heights of the decks gave the heavy rocks enough momentum to
smash right through the decks of the small craft and render them
usless, scuttling any ideas of attack.
Of course stones and rocks are not presicional objects that can be dispensed with accurately; like ball bearings or a perfectly round object which can be dispensed by machines exactly where they choose; making them fully automotive.
Looking around fun-fairs, we can see game machines that place targets in the correct position; decoys like this, could pop-up or move-along the deck giving the impression of military personnel aboard.
The latest jet fighter pilots fire lots of flares in all
directions to stop the enemy's missiles from hitting their
planes. This preventative method seems crazy but it works in
The latest warships have twin gattling guns that open fire
automatically when a misile is homing in on the part of the
ship the guns are defending. Each gun has its own detection
system which triggers the firing. Avoiding the use of the ship's
If the navy's guns can operate on their own, then surely
Merchant ships could adapt these gun systems, to fire the
airforce's flares in the direction of the pirate threat.
I can't see any pirates wanting to make an attack through a
constant hail of flares; especially with fuel tanks that are
usually exposed. Imagine the pirates fears when faced with a
wall of white fire; it surely has to be the ultimate pirate
deterrant in defence of the ship?
Ideas like these need not be lethal although they could be, this is a dangerous situation that is getting worse - something needs to be done to address the piracy threat and what better way than to keep them at bay!!!
www.icc-ccs.org was the first Anti-Pirates website
www.icc-ccs.org is the main Anti-Pirates web site you can get the latest up-dates of every attack for free. Here you can see a site map of all of the acts of piracy this year. You can become a member of that site and get lots more accurate information.
www.noonsite.com this is an extremely informative web site with up-to-date news and the latest important information for all seafarers. It keeps live up-dates for shipping and blue water sailors.
This web site gives sailors all of the knowledge they require for docking in any port of the world including the cost of each birth at each port.
Because the amount of attacks is unprecedented the European Union is putting a close protection system in place other navies of the world. China and India are uniting in the war to fight the pirates menace.
The plague of pirates is spreading once more; this time going to areas where the buccaneers of old would not go.
www.yachtpiracy.org it here you can purchase a book about the pirates that have been boarding yachts. 'Pirates Aboard' is a book about true facts that have actually happened.
The Link below will be: "Counter Piracy"
"Pirates Trilogy" $20