Piracy in Somalia: Wikis


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A collage of "B-Wasy's" Somali pirates, armed with AKM assault rifles, RPG-7 rocket-propelled grenade launchers and semi-automatic pistols
Pirates holding the crew of the Chinese fishing vessel Tian Yu No. 8, guarding the crew on the bow

Piracy off the Somali coast has been a threat to international shipping since the beginning of the Somali Civil War in the early 21 century.[1] Since 2005, many international organizations, including the International Maritime Organization and the World Food Programme, have expressed concern over the rise in acts of piracy.[2] Piracy has contributed to an increase in shipping costs and impeded the delivery of food aid shipments. Ninety percent of the World Food Programme's shipments arrive by sea, and ships have required a military escort.[3] According to the Kenyan foreign minister, Somali Falla have received over US$150 million in ransom during the 12 months prior to November 2008.[4]

Clashes have been reported between Somalia's Islamist fighters (who are opposed to the Transitional Federal Government (TFG)) and the pirates.[5] In August 2008, Combined Task Force 150, a multinational coalition task force, took on the role of fighting Somali piracy by establishing a Maritime Security Patrol Area (MSPA) within the Gulf of Aden.[6] The increasing threat posed by piracy also caused significant concerns in India since most of its shipping trade routes pass through the Gulf of Aden. The Indian Navy responded to these concerns by deploying a warship in the region on October 23, 2008.[7][8] In September 2008, Russia announced that it too will soon join international efforts to combat piracy.[9]

On October 5, 2008, the United Nations Security Council adopted resolution 1838[10] calling on nations with vessels in the area to apply military force to repress the acts of piracy.[11] At the 101st council of the International Maritime Organization, India called for a United Nations peacekeeping force under unified command to tackle piracy off Somalia.[12] (There has been a general and complete arms embargo against Somalia since 1992.)

In November 2008, Somali pirates began hijacking ships well outside the Gulf of Aden, perhaps targeting ships headed for the port of Mombasa, Kenya.[13] The frequency and sophistication of the attacks also increased around this time, as did the size of vessels being targeted. Large cargo ships, oil and chemical tankers on international voyages became the new targets of choice for the Somali hijackers. This is in stark contrast to the pirate attacks which were once frequent in the Straits of Malacca, another strategically important waterway for international trade, which were according to maritime security expert Catherine Zara Raymond, generally directed against “smaller , more vulnerable vessels carrying trade across the Straits or employed in the coastal trade on either side of the Straits.”[14]

There are discussions under way to begin an aggressive covert operation against the pirates. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has been publicly warning of this potential threat for months. In a Harpers Magazine article, a CIA official stated, "We need to deal with this problem from the beach side, in concert with the ocean side, but we don't have an embassy in Somalia and limited, ineffective intelligence operations. We need to work in Somalia and in Lebanon, where a lot of the ransom money has changed hands. But our operations in Lebanon are a joke, and we have no presence at all in Somalia."[15]



During the Siad Barre regime, Somalia received aid from Denmark, Great Britain, Iraq, Japan, Sweden, USSR, and West Germany to develop its fishing industry. Cooperatives had fixed prices for their catch, which was often exported due to the low demand for seafood in Somalia. Aid money improved the ships and supported the construction of maintenance facilities.[16] After the fall of the Barre regime, the income from fishing decreased due to the Somali Civil War.

Also, there was no coast guard to protect against fishing trawlers from other countries illegally fishing and big companies dumping waste which killed fish in Somali waters. This led to the erosion of the fish stock. Local fishermen started to band together to protect their resources[17]. Due to the clan-based organization of Somali society, the lack of a central government, and the country's strategic location at the Horn of Africa, conditions were ripe for the growth of piracy in the early 1990s.

Armed pirates in the Indian Ocean near Somalia. After the picture was taken, the vessel’s crew members opened fire on U.S. Navy ships and the ship's crew members returned fire. One suspected pirate was killed and 12 were taken into custody.

Precise data on the current economic situation in Somalia is scarce but with an estimated per capita GDP of $600 per year, it remains one of the world's poorest countries.[18] Millions of Somalis depend on food aid and in 2008, according to the World Bank, as much as 73% of the population lived on a daily income below $2.[19][20] These factors and the lucrative success of many hijacking operations have drawn a number of young men toward gangs of pirates, whose wealth and strength often make them part of the local social and economic elite. Abdi Farah Juha who lives in Garoowe (100 miles from the sea) told the BBC, "They have money; they have power and they are getting stronger by the day. [...] They wed the most beautiful girls; they are building big houses; they have new cars; new guns."[21]

Some pirates are former fishermen, whose livelihoods were hurt by foreign ships illegally fishing in Somali waters.[22] After seeing the profitability of piracy, since ransoms are usually paid, warlords began to facilitate pirate activities, splitting the profits with the pirates.[23] In most of the hijackings, the bandits have not harmed their prisoners.[24] The attackers generally treat their hostages well in anticipation of a big payday to the point of hiring caterers on the shores of Somalia to cook spaghetti, grilled fish and roasted meat that will appeal to a Western palate. They also keep a steady supply of cigarettes and drinks from the shops on shore.[25]

The Transitional Federal Government has made some efforts to combat piracy, occasionally allowing foreign naval vessels into Somali territorial waters[26].[citation needed] However, more often than not, foreign naval vessels chasing pirates were forced to break off when the pirates entered Somali territorial waters.[27][28] The government of Puntland has made more progress in combating piracy, evident in recent interventions.[29]


Summary of recent events

On November 21, 2008 BBC News reported that the Indian Navy had received United Nations approval to enter Somali waters to combat piracy.[30]

On April 8, 2009, four Somali pirates seized the Maersk Alabama 240 nautical miles (440 km; 280 mi) southeast of the Somalia port city of Eyl.[31] The ship was carrying 17,000 metric tons of cargo, of which 5,000 metric tons were relief supplies bound for Somalia, Uganda, and Kenya.[32][33] On April 12, 2009, United States Navy SEALs snipers killed the three pirates that were holding Captain Richard Phillips hostage aboard a lifeboat from the Maersk Alabama after determining that Captain Phillips' life was in immediate danger.[34][35][36] A fourth pirate, Abdul Wali Muse, surrendered and was taken into custody.[37][38] Then on May 18, a federal grand jury in New York returned a ten-count indictment against him.[39]

On April 20, 2009 United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton commented on the capture and release of 7 Somali pirates by Dutch Naval forces who were on a NATO mission.[40] After an attack on the Handytankers Magic, a petroleum tanker, the Dutch frigate De Zeven Provincien tracked the pirates back to a pirate "mother ship" and captured them.[40][41] They confiscated the pirates weapons and freed 20 Yemeni fishermen who the pirates had kidnapped and who had been forced to sail the pirate "mother ship".[40][41] Since the Dutch Naval Forces were part of a NATO exercise but were not on an EU mission they lacked legal jurisdiction to keep the pirates so they released them.[40] Clinton stated that this action "sends the wrong signal" and that additional coordination was needed among nations.[40]

On April 23, 2009 international donors pledged over $250 million for Somalia which include $134 million to increase the African Union peacekeeping mission from 4,350 troops to 8,000 troops and $34 million for Somali security forces.[42][43] Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon told delegates at a donors' conference sponsored by the U.N. that "Piracy is a symptom of anarchy and insecurity on the ground," and that "More security on the ground will make less piracy on the seas."[42][43] Somali President Sharif Ahmed pledged at the conference that he would fight piracy and to loud applause said that "It is our duty to pursue these criminals not only on the high seas, but also on terra firma,".[42][43] The Somali government has not gone after pirates because pirate leaders currently have more power than the government.[42][43] It has been estimated by piracy experts that in 2008 the pirates gained about $80 million through ransom payments.[42][43]

On November 8, 2009, Somali pirates threatened that a kidnapped British couple would be "punished" if a German warship did not release seven pirates.[44] Omer, one of the pirates holding the British couple, claims that the seven men are fishermen but a European Union Naval Force spokesman says that they were captured as they fired AK-47 assault rifles at a French fishing vessel.[44]

On January 30, 2010, the British couple kidnapped by Somali pirates have been held for 100 days and in a video the kidnapped woman Rachel Chandler was shown "almost skeletally thin".[45] A Somali pirate by the name of Noor has said that the British couple will be shot if the pirates do not receive a ransom of $3 million by March 1, 2010.[45][46]



Puntland area in Somalia

Most pirates are aged 20–35 years old and come from the region of Puntland, in northeastern Somalia. The East African Seafarers' Association estimates that there are at least five pirate gangs and a total of 1,000 armed men.[47] According to a BBC report, the pirates can be divided into three main categories:

  • Local Somali fishermen, considered the brains of the pirates' operations due to their skill and knowledge of the sea. Most think that foreign boats have no rights to cruise next to the shore and destroy their boats.
  • Ex-militiamen who used to fight for the local clan warlords, used as the muscle.
  • Technical experts who operate equipment such as GPS devices.[21]

According to Globalsecurity.org, there are four main groups operating off the Somali coast. The National Volunteer Coast Guard (NVCG), commanded by Garaad Mohamed, is said to specialize in intercepting small boats and fishing vessels around Kismayo on the southern coast. The Marka group, under the command of Yusuf Mohammed Siad Inda'ade, is made up of several scattered and less organized groups operating around the town of Marka. The third significant pirate group is composed of traditional Somali fishermen operating around Puntland and referred to as the Puntland Group. The last set are the Somali Marines, reputed to be the most powerful and sophisticated of the pirate groups with a military structure, a fleet admiral, admiral, vice-admiral and a head of financial operations.[48]

Effects and perceptions

There have been both positive and negative effects of the pirates' economic success. Local residents have complained that the presence of so many armed men makes them feel insecure, and that their freespending ways cause wild fluctuations in the local exchange rate. Others fault them for excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages and khat.[21]

On the other hand, many other residents appreciate the rejuvenating effect that the pirates' on-shore spending and re-stocking has had on their impoverished towns, a presence which has oftentimes provided jobs and opportunity when there were none. Entire hamlets have in the process been transformed into veritable boomtowns, with local shop owners and other residents using their gains to purchase items such as generators -- "allowing full days of electricity, once an unimaginable luxury."[25]

Local fishermen in the Malinde area of neighbouring Kenya have reported their largest catches in forty years, catching hundreds of kilos of fish and earning fifty times the average daily wage as a result. They attribute the recent abundance of marine stock to the pirates scaring away the large factory trawlers of foreign fishing fleets, which it's claimed have for decades deprived local dhows of a livelihood. Marine biologists agree, saying that the indicators are that the local fishery is recovering because of the lack of commercial scale fishing. [49]

Weaponry and funding

The pirates get most of their weapons from Yemen, but a significant amount come from Mogadishu, Somalia's capital. Weapons dealers in the capital receive a deposit from a hawala dealer on behalf of the pirates and the weapons are then driven to Puntland where the pirates pay the balance.[21] Various photographs of pirates in situ indicate that their weapons are predominantly AKM, RPG-7 and semi-automatic pistols such as the TT-30.[50][51] Additionally, given the particular origin of their weaponry, they are likely to have hand grenades such as the RGD-5 or F1.

The funding of piracy operations is now structured in a stock exchange, with investors buying and selling shares in upcoming attacks in a bourse in Harardhere.[52] Pirates say ransom money is paid in large denomination US dollar bills. It is delivered to them in burlap sacks which are either dropped from helicopters or cased in waterproof suitcases loaded onto tiny skiffs. Ransom money has also been delivered to pirates via parachute, as happened in January 2009 when an orange container with $3 million cash inside it was dropped onto the deck of the supertanker MV Sirius Star to secure the release of ship and crew.[53] To authenticate the banknotes, pirates use currency-counting machines, the same technology used at foreign exchange bureaus worldwide. According to one pirate, these machines are, in turn, purchased from business connections in Dubai, Djibouti, and other areas.[25] Hostages seized by the pirates usually have to wait 45 days or more for the ships' owners to pay the ransom and secure their release.[4]

Somali pirates allegedly get help from the Somali diaspora. Somali expatriates, including reputedly some among the 200,000 Somalis living in Canada, offer funds, equipment and information.[54]

Sovereignty and environmental protection

The UN envoy for Somalia, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, has stated that "because there is no (effective) government, there is ... much irregular fishing from European and Asian countries,"[55] and that the UN has "reliable information" that European and Asian companies are dumping toxic and nuclear waste off the Somali coastline.[56] However, he stresses that "no government has endorsed this act, and that private companies and individuals acting alone are responsible."[56] In addition, Ould-Abdallah told the press that he believes the toxic waste dumping is "a disaster off the Somali coast, a disaster (for) the Somali environment, the Somali population," and that what he terms "this illegal fishing, illegal dumping of waste" helps fuel the civil war in Somalia since the illegal foreign fishermen pay off corrupt local officials or warlords for protection or to secure counterfeit licenses.[55] However, Ould-Abdallah noted that piracy will not prevent waste dumping: "The intentions of these pirates are not concerned with protecting their environment," and "What is ultimately needed is a functioning, effective government that will get its act together and take control of its affairs."[56] These issues have generally not been reported in international media when reporting on piracy.[57] Pirate leader Sugule Ali said their motive was "to stop illegal fishing and dumping in our waters... We don't consider ourselves sea bandits. We consider sea bandits [to be] those who illegally fish and dump in our seas and dump waste in our seas and carry weapons in our seas." [58] Also, the independent Somalian news-site WardherNews found that 70 percent "strongly supported the piracy as a form of national defence of the country's territorial waters".

Waste dumping

Following the massive tsunami of December 2004, there have emerged allegations that after the outbreak of the Somali Civil War in the late 1991s, Somalia's long, remote shoreline was used as a dump site for the disposal of toxic waste. The huge waves which battered northern Somalia after the tsunami are believed to have stirred up tonnes of nuclear and toxic waste that was illegally dumped in Somali waters by several European firms. The European Green Party followed up these revelations by presenting before the press and the European Parliament in Strasbourg copies of contracts signed by two European companies—the Italian Swiss firm, Achair Partners, and an Italian waste broker, Progresso—and representatives of the warlords then in power, to accept 10 million tonnes of toxic waste in exchange for $80 million (then about £60 million). According to a report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) assessment mission, there are far higher than normal cases of respiratory infections, mouth ulcers and bleeding, abdominal haemorrhages and unusual skin infections among many inhabitants of the areas around the northeastern towns of Hobbio and Benadir on the Indian Ocean coast—diseases consistent with radiation sickness. UNEP continues that the current situation along the Somali coastline poses a very serious environmental hazard not only in Somalia but also in the eastern Africa sub-region.[59][60]

Under Article 9(1)(d) of the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal, it is illegal for "any transboundary movement of hazardous wastes or other wastes: that results in deliberate disposal (e.g. dumping) of hazardous wastes or other wastes in contravention of this Convention and of general principles of international law".[61]

According to Nick Nuttall of the United Nations Environmental Programme, "Somalia has been used as a dumping ground for hazardous waste starting in the early 1990s, and continuing through the civil war there," and "European companies found it to be very cheap to get rid of the waste, costing as little as $2.50 a tonne, where waste disposal costs in Europe are something like $1000 a tonne." [56][62]

Illegal fishing

At the same time, illegal trawlers began fishing Somalia's seas with an estimated $300 million of tuna, shrimp, and lobster being taken each year depleting stocks previously available to local fishermen. Through interception with speedboats, Somali fishermen tried to either dissuade the dumpers and trawlers or levy a "tax" on them as compensation. In an interview, Sugule Ali, one of the pirate leaders explained "We don't consider ourselves sea bandits. We consider sea bandits (to be) those who illegally fish and dump in our seas." Peter Lehr, a Somalia piracy expert at the University of St. Andrews says "It's almost like a resource swap, Somalis collect up to $100 million a year from pirate ransoms off their coasts and the Europeans and Asians poach around $300 million a year in fish from Somali waters."[22][63]

According to Roger Middleton of Chatham House, "The problem of overfishing and illegal fishing in Somali waters, is a very serious one, and does affect the livelihoods of people inside Somalia […] the dumping of toxic waste on Somalia’s shores is a very serious issue, which will continue to affect people in Somalia long after the war has ended, and piracy is resolved."[64] To lure fish to their traps, foreign trawlers reportedly also use fishing equipment under prohibition such as nets with very small mesh sizes and sophisticated underwater lighting systems.[55]

Under Article 56(1)(b)(iii) of the Law of the Sea Convention:

"In the exclusive economic zone, the coastal State has jurisdiction as provided for in the relevant provisions of this Convention with regard to the protection and preservation of the marine environment".

Article 57 of the Convention in turn outlines the limit of that jurisdiction:

"The exclusive economic zone shall not extend beyond 200 nautical miles from the baselines from which the breadth of the territorial sea is measured".[65]

Chronology of selected attacks

Somali pirates have attacked dozens of vessels with a fraction of those attacks resulting in a successful hijacking. In 2008 there were 111 attacks which included 42 successful hijackings.[66] The rate of attacks in January and February 2009 was about 10 times higher than during the same period in 2008 and "there have been almost daily attacks in March",[66] with 79 attacks[67], 21 successful, by mid April. Most of these attacks occur in the Gulf of Aden but the Somali pirates have been increasing their range and have started attacking ships as far south as off the coast of Kenya in the Indian Ocean.[68][69]

Anti-piracy measures

Military presence

The military response to pirate attacks has brought about a rare show of unity by countries that are either openly hostile to each other, or at least wary of cooperation, military or otherwise. Military counter-piracy operations are conducted by naval ships from the Combined Task Force 150 (CTF-150), Russia, China and India. Countries of the CTF-150 share information during the monthly Shared Awareness and Deconfliction (SHADE) meetings, a mechanism established in December 2008 [70].

In response to the increased activity of the INS Tabar, India sought to augment its naval force in the Gulf of Aden by deploying the larger INS Mysore to patrol the area. Somalia also added India to its list of states, including the U.S. and France, who are permitted to enter its territorial waters, extending up to 12 nautical miles (22 km; 14 mi) from the coastline, in an effort to check piracy.[71] An Indian naval official confirmed receipt of a letter acceding to India's prerogative to check such piracy. "We had put up a request before the Somali government to play a greater role in suppressing piracy in the Gulf of Aden in view of the United Nations resolution. The TFG government gave its nod recently."[72] India also expressed consideration to deploy up to four more warships in the region.[73][74]

Similarly, Russia also chose to send more warships to combat piracy near Somalia. This announcement followed the International Maritime Bureau terming the menace as having gone "out of control."[75] Germany said it was willing to add 1,400 troops to join an E.U. mission in the area that would begin in December. Africom commander, General William Ward, added that the United States was concerned about the rise in piracy, and was involved in multilateral efforts to provide security, "The United States is participating in those activities currently, but again, that is not specifically being controlled by the United States Africa Command."[76]

European naval vessels have operated against piracy either independently, or as part of Combined Task Force 150. As a result of increased piracy, the European Union has established Operation Atalanta, to co-ordinate the European naval response to piracy and maintain international law in international waters in the region.

A maritime conference was also held in Mombasa to discuss the rising concern of regional piracy with a view to give regional and world governments recommendations to deal with the menace. The International Transport Workers Federation (ITWF) organised the regional African maritime unions’ conference, the first of its kind in Africa. Godfrey Matata Onyango, executive secretary of the Northern Corridor Transit Coordination Authority said that "We cannot ignore to discuss the piracy menace because it poses a huge challenge to the maritime industry and if not controlled, it threats to chop off the regional internal trade. The cost of shipping will definitely rise as a result of the increased war insurance premium due to the high risk off the Gulf of Aden."[77] Pakistan offered the services of Pakistan Navy to the United Nations in order to help combat the piracy in Somalia "provided a clear mandate was given."[78]

On December 26, 2008, China dispatched three warships (Haikou (171), Wuhan (169) and the supply ship Weishanhu) to the Gulf of Aden. A team of 16 Chinese Special Forces members from its Marine Corps armed with attack helicopters were on board[79][80]. Since then, China has maintained a three-ship flotilla of two warships and one supply ship in the Gulf of Aden by assigning ships from the South Sea Fleet and/or East Sea Fleet to the Gulf of Aden on a three monthly basis.

Norway announced on 27 February 2009, that it would send the frigate Fridtjof Nansen to the coast of Somalia to fight piracy. Royal Norwegian Navy Fridtjof Nansen joins EU's international naval force in August.[81] As of December 18, 2008, naval ships from eleven NATO, four SCO, and 4 other countries have been deployed in the region in order to serve as escorts and to deter acts of piracy:. As of May 29, 2009, Australia pledged its support, re-directing Australian Warship, HMAS Warramunga (FFH 152) from duties in the Persian Gulf to assist in the fighting of Piracy. [82]

Current fleet of vessels in operation

Country Alliance Sailors Ships Cost [Mil of USD per annum] Start End
Australia Royal Australian Navy ANZUS


~250 1 (HMAS Toowoomba)  ? June 2009  ?
Bulgaria Bulgarian Navy[85][86][87] NATO 130 Wielingen class frigate 41 Drazki  ?  ?  ?
Canada Canadian Navy NATO 240 HMCS Fredericton  ? November 2009  ?
People's Republic of China People's Liberation Army Navy [88] SCO ~800
including PLA marines
1st Flotilla: Haikou (Type 052C/DDG-171), Wuhan (Type 052B/DDG-169), Weishanhu (Qiandaohu Class/887)
2nd Flotilla: Shenzhen (Type 051B/DDG-167), Huangshan (Type 054A/FFG-570), Weishanhu (Qiandaohu Class/887)
3rd Flotilla: Zhoushan (Type 054A/FFG-529), Xuzhou (Type 054A/FFG-530), Qiandaohu (Qiandaohu Class/886)
4th Flotilla: Ma'anshan (Type 054/FFG-525), Wenzhou (Type 054/FFG-526), Qiandaohu (Qiandaohu Class/886, Chaohu (Type 054A/FFG-568))
 ? Jan 6, 2009
Apr 15, 2009
Aug 1, 2009
Nov 27, 2009 (Chaohu Dec 21, 2009)
Denmark Royal Danish Navy[89] NATO 300 2 (Command and Support Ship HDMS Absalon (L16); Patrol Ship HDMS Thetis (F357)  ? February 2007 April 2009
France French Navy NATO  ? Germinal (F 735),Floréal (F 730),La Fayette (F710), avisos,Améthyste (S605)  ?  ?  ?
Germany German Navy NATO 1400[90] 1 (Frigate Karlsruhe[90] (F122) 60 (45 Mio. EUR)[90] December 8, 2008[90] December 12, 2009[90]
Greece Greek Navy[91] NATO 176-196 1 (HS Themistokles)  ?  ?  ?
India Indian Navy[92] SCO 540 2 (Destroyer INS Mysore (D60); Frigate INS Tabar)[71] 1[93]  ?  ?
Iran Islamic Republic of Iran Navy[94] SCO  ?  ? 1[95]  ?  ?
Italy Italian Navy NATO 240 1 (ITS Durand de la Penne)  ?  ?  ?
 Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force [96] 400[97] DD-113 Sazanami
DD-106 Samidare[97]
OEF‐MIO Support
(DD-108 Akebono)
(AOE-423 Tokiwa)[98]
DD-154 Amagiri[99]
 ?  ?  ?
South Korea Republic of Korea Navy[100] 300 DDH 977 Dae Jo Young 1[101] April 16, 2009  ?
Malaysia Royal Malaysian Navy[102] 136 Support Ship KD Mahawangsa 3[103]  ?  ?
Netherlands Royal Netherlands Navy[104] NATO 174-202 HNLMS De Zeven Provinciën 1[105] March 26, 2009  ?
Pakistan Pakistan Navy SCO  ?  ?  ?  ?  ?
Portugal Portuguese Navy
(Frigate NRP Corte Real – NATO flotilla flagship)
NATO  ?  ?  ?  ? 20/26 April 2009 [2]
Portugal Portuguese Navy
(Frigate NRP Corte Real – NATO flotilla flagship)
NATO  ? 1  ? June 2009 [3] January 2010 [4]
Saudi Arabia Royal Saudi Navy[106]  ?  ?  ?  ?  ?
Russia Russian Navy[107] SCO ~350 3 (Destroyer Admiral Panteleyev (BPK 548), Salvage Tugboat, Tanker[108]  ? April 2009  ?
Singapore Republic of Singapore Navy[109] 240 LST RSS Persistence (209)
 ? 24 April 2009 [110]  ?
Spain Spanish Navy NATO 423 2 Frigates (F86 Canarias and F104 Méndez Núñez)  ?  ?  ?
Sweden Swedish Navy[111] 152[111] 3[111] (Corvettes HMS Malmö (K12), HMS Stockholm (K11); Support Ship HMS Trossö (A264)  ? May 15, 2009[111] September 15, 2009[111]
Turkey Turkish Navy[112] NATO 503 2 (Frigates TCG Giresun (F 491), TCG Gokova (F 496)[113]  ?  ?  ?
United Kingdom Royal Navy NATO 250 1 HMS Cumberland (F85)[114]  ?  ?  ?
United States United States Navy NATO  ? US 5th Fleet  ?  ?
USS San Antonio (LPD-17), CTF-151 flagship.

As of January 8, 2009, Brian Murphy of the Associated Press reports that Rear Admiral Terence E. McKnight, U.S. Navy, is to command a new multi-national naval force to confront piracy off the coast of Somalia. This new anti-piracy force was designated Combined Task Force 151 (CTF-151), a multinational task force of the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF). The USS San Antonio (LPD-17) was designated as the flagship of Combined Task Force 151, serving as an afloat forward staging base (AFSB) for the following force elements:

Initially, CTF-151 consisted of the San Antonio, USS Mahan (DDG-72), and HMS Portland (F79), with additional warships expected to join this force.[120]

Samidare (DD-106)

On 28 January 2009, Japan announced its intention of sending a naval task force to join international efforts to stop piracy of the coast of Somalia. The deployment would be highly unusual, as Japan's non-aggressive constitution means Japanese military forces can only be used for defensive purposes. The issue has been controversial in Japan, although the ruling party maintains this should be seen as fighting crime on the high seas, rather than a "military" operation. The process of the Prime Minister of Japan, Taro Aso, giving his approval is expected to take approximately one month.[96] However, the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) and the Japanese government face legal problems on how to handle attacks by pirates against ships that either have Japanese personnel, cargo or are under foreign control instead of being under Japanese control as current Article 9 regulations would hamper their actions when deployed to Somalia.[121] It was reported on February 4, 2009, that the JMSDF was sending a fact-finding mission led by Gen Nakatani to the region prior to the deployment of the Murasame-class destroyer JDS DD-106 Samidare and the Takanami-class destroyer JDS DD-113 Sazanami to the coast of Somalia with a 13-man team composed of Japanese Ministry of Defense personnel, with members coming from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the JMSDF to visit Yemen, Djibouti, Oman, and Bahrain from February 8 to 20.[122][123] Both JMSDF vessels are units of the 8th Escort Division of the 4th Escort Flotilla based in Kure, Hiroshima Prefecture.[124] The JMSDF's special forces unit, the Special Boarding Unit is also scheduled to potentially deploy to Somalia.[125][126] The SBU has been deployed alongside the two destroyers to Somalia on March 14, 2009.[127] According to JMSDF officials, the deployment would "regain the trust of the shipping industry, which was lost during the war."[128] The JMSDF task force would be deployed in Somalia for 4 months.[129] In their first mission, the Takanami-class destroyer JDS DD-113 Sazanami was able to ward off pirates attempting to hijack a Singaporean cargo ship.[130] In addition, JMSDF P-3Cs are to be deployed in June from Djibouti to conduct surveillance on the Somali coast.[131][132] The House of Representatives of Japan has passed an anti-piracy bill, calling for the JMSDF to protect non-Japanese ships and nationals, though there are some concerns that the pro-opposition House of Councillors may reject it.[133] The Diet of Japan has passed an anti-piracy law that called for JMSDF forces to protect all foreign ships traveling off the coast of Somalia aside from protecting Japanese-owned/manned ships despite a veto from the House of Councillors, which the House of Representatives have overturned.[134] The destroyers Harusame and DD-154 Amagiri have recently left port from Yokusuka to replace the two destroyers that had been dispatched earlier on March 2009.[99] Under current arrangements, Japan Coast Guard officers would be responsible for arresting pirates since SDF forces are not allowed to have powers of arrest.[135]

The South Korean navy is also making plans to participate in anti-piracy operations after sending officers to visit the US Navy's 5th Fleet in Bahrain and in Djibouti.[136] The South Korean cabinet had approved a government plan to send in South Korean navy ships and soldiers to the coast of Somalia to participate in anti-pirate operations.[100] The ROKN was sending the Chungmugong Yi Sun-sin class destroyer DDH 976 Munmu the Great to the coast of Somalia.[137] The Cheonghae Unit task force was also deployed in Somalia under CTF 151.[138]

The Swiss government calls for the deployment of Army Reconnaissance Detachment operators to combat Somali piracy with no agreement in Parliament[139] as the proposal was rejected after it was voted.[140] Javier Solana had said that Swiss soldiers could serve under the EU's umbrella.[141]

The Philippine government has ordered the dispatch of a naval liaison officer to work with the US Navy's 5th Fleet as part of its contribution against piracy.[142]

On June 12, 2009, Bulgaria has announced plans to join the anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden and protect Bulgarian shipping, by sending a frigate with a crew of 130 sailors.[143]

The Danish Institute for Military Studies has in a report proposed to establish a regionally-based maritime unit: a Greater Horn of Africa Sea Patrol, to carry out surveillance in the area to secure free navigation and take on tasks such as fishery inspection and environmental monitoring. A Greater Horn of Africa Sea Patrol would comprise elements from the coastal states - from Egypt in the north to Tanzania in the south. The unit would be established with the support of the states that already have a naval presence in the area.[144]

In February 2010, Danish special forces from the Absalon freed 25 people from the Antigua and Barbuda-flagged vessel Ariella after it was hijacked by pirates off the Somali coast. The crew members had locked themselves into a store-room [145] [146].

Change in best practices regarding self-protection

While the non-wartime 20th century tradition has been for merchant vessels not to be armed, the U.S. Government has recently changed the rules so that it is now "best practice" for vessels to embark a team of private security guards. This has given birth to a new breed of private security companies such as Argos International www.argosintl.com. These companies provide training and protection for crew members and cargo. The USCG leaves it to the shippers' discretion to determine if those guards will be armed.[147][148]

Arab League summit

Following the seizure by Somali pirates of an Egyptian ship and a huge Saudi oil supertanker worth $100 million of oil, the Arab League, after a meeting in Cairo, has called for an urgent summit for countries overlooking the Red Sea, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Somalia, Jordan, Djibouti and Yemen. The summit would offer several solutions for the piracy problem, in addition to suggesting different routes and looking for a more secure passageway for ships.

Another possible means of intervention by the Red Sea Arab nations' navy might be to assist the current NATO anti-piracy effort as well as other navies.[149]

United Nations

In June 2008, following the letter of the Transitional Federal Government to the President of the Council asking for assistance from the international community in its efforts to address acts of piracy and armed robbery against ships off the coast of Somalia, the United Nations Security Council unanimously passed a declaration authorizing nations that have the agreement of the Transitional Federal Government to enter Somali territorial waters to deal with pirates.[150] The measure, which was sponsored by France, the United States and Panama, lasted six months. France initially wanted the resolution to include other regions with pirate problems, such as West Africa, but were opposed by Vietnam, Libya and most importantly by veto-holding China, who wanted the sovereignty infringement limited to Somalia.[151]

The UN Security Council adopted a resolution on November 20, 2008 that was proposed by Britain to introduce tougher sanctions against Somalia over the country's failure to prevent a surge in sea piracy.[152] The US circulated the draft resolution that called upon countries having naval capacities to deploy vessels and aircraft to actively fight against piracy in the region. The resolution also welcomed the initiatives of the European Union, NATO and other countries to counter piracy off the coast of Somalia. US Alternate Representative for Security Council Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo said that the draft resolution "calls on the secretary-general to look at a long-term solution to escorting the safe passage of World Food Programme ships."[153] Even Somalia's Islamist militants stormed the Somali port of Harardheere in the hunt for pirates behind the seizure of a Saudi supertanker, the MV Sirius Star. A clan elder affiliated with the Islamists said "The Islamists arrived searching for the pirates and the whereabouts of the Saudi ship. I saw four cars full of Islamists driving in the town from corner to corner. The Islamists say they will attack the pirates for hijacking a Muslim ship."[154]

On December 17, 2008, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted a tougher resolution, allowing for the first time international land and sea occupations in the pursuit of pirates.[155] Four ships, a Chinese fishing boat, a Turkish cargo ship, a Malaysian tug, and a private yacht were seized by pirates that same day.[156] Resolution 1851 takes current anti-piracy measures a step further. [157]

See also


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