Reuters reported November 11 that Somalia pirates had seized two more ships, a Greek cargo ship and a Yemeni fishing vessel, despite the presence of international naval forces dispatched to the area off the coast of Somalia to fight the ongoing pirate problem.
The story says, “Patrols by a multinational naval force in the strategic shipping lanes that link Europe to Asia through the busy Gulf of Aden only appear to have forced the sea gangs to extend their range and strike deeper into the Indian Ocean. One of the pirates, Hassan, told Reuters by telephone from the coastal town of Haradheere that three of his comrades were wounded while seizing the bulk carrier late on Tuesday.”
One positive to note here is that if there were wounded pirates, someone on the ship was fighting back. If the crews have the ability to inflict damage in the absence of naval forces, perhaps it will force the pirates to rethink their actions. Then again, it may not. Somalia is among the poorest of the poor when it comes to failed states, and the potential rewards of piracy are probably perceived to be greater than the risk of injury of death at the hands of ship crews or international naval forces.
The story continues, “Pirates from the failed Horn of Africa state are holding at least 13 vessels and more than 230 crew hostage, including a British couple whose yacht was hijacked off the Seychelles. Spain’s Defense Minister on Wednesday called for international cooperation to trace ransoms paid to the pirates, which she said were channeled through British-based law firms. ‘The international community has to cut the source of funding, which gets to the pirates via payments made by European law firms,’ Carme Chacon told Spanish National Radio, singling out ‘certain British law firms.'”
Yachting off the coast of Somalia doesn’t seem like a particularly smart decision, does it?
Reuters says, “Andrew Mwangura of the Kenya-based East African Seafarers’ Assistance Program named the Greek cargo ship taken on Tuesday as the 150 m (492 ft) Marshall Islands-flagged MV Filitsa. He said it had three Greek officers and 19 Filipino sailors aboard and was carrying bulk urea from Kuwait to South Africa. The European Union naval force EU Navfor said the 23,709 ton Filitsa had been hijacked in the south Somali Basin, some 400 nautical miles northeast of the Seychelles; around 1,000 nautical miles east of the Somali capital Mogadishu. The distance roughly equals the longest range Somali pirate attack to date; an attempt to seize a Hong Kong-flagged crude oil tanker on Monday. That bid failed, but it was a stark demonstration of the pirates’ ambition to outwit the modern navies deployed against them and defeat more determined defenses by their civilian prey.”
International naval forces patrolling for pirates consist of elements from NATO countries, the European Union, China, Russia, Japan and other countries.
This latest incident follows another seizure last weekend. According to Reuters, “Pirates seized a United Arab Emirates-flagged cargo ship carrying weapons to Somalia on Sunday. A regional maritime security expert on Wednesday said the ship was the Panama-flagged Al Mezaan, owned by Dubai-based Biyat International and managed by Shamir Maritime of St. Vincent & the Grenadines. Two Pakistanis, an Indian and a Somali were on board the vessel that left Dubai on October 24, said the expert, who asked not to be named given the sensitivity of the subject. ‘She was carrying armored vehicles with U.N. logos,’ he said.”