naval and aerial escorts had prove to be the best method to avert piracy attacks
CHAPTER 2 : INTRODUCTION TO PIRACY: THE PAST AND PRESENT
The history of piracy dated back more than a century, from the reign of Heyruddin Barbarossa and the Turkish Ottoman empire fleet roaming the Mediterranean during the 14th until 15th century to the terror of Edward `Blackbeard` Teach against merchant shipping and trading posts in the Atlantic and West Indies during the 16th until 17th century. Piracy is an act of crime for many maritime states at that time and they were either killed or captured and sentenced to death by hanging by the government naval forces.
Pirates are stateless seaman or exile from their country that lives by their own code and surviving in the high seas by raiding armed or unarmed merchantmen, trading posts and colonies at the far side of the world regardless of flag or nationalities for its bounty. These pirates are unpredictable, elusive and had no political affiliations to any nations. Many of these pirates are well trained in using arms, while their ship are fully armed and sometimes matched to the firepower and speed of a warship.
Hired pirates are also exists in the wake of colonial expansion in the early 16th century when major European powers seek to break trade monopoly from the East which is controlled by Arab traders and merchants. Privateers or Corsairs were directly controlled by the government and acted while in possession of a commission or letter of marquee from a government or monarch authorizing the capture of merchant ships belonging to an enemy nation in times of war, to hunt down enemy warships engaged in privateering or pirates, conducting raids on rival state merchant shipping or trading posts and colonies which will eventually disrupt the economy and trades of the rival states.
Seaborne piracy against transport vessels remains a significant issue (with estimated worldwide losses of US $13 to $16 billion per year),particularly in the waters between the Red Sea and Indian Ocean, off the Somali coast, and also in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore, which are used by over 50,000 commercial ships a year.
A recent surge in piracy off the Somali coast spurred a multi-national effort led by the United States to patrol the waters near the Horn of Africa. While boats off the coasts of North Africa, Iran and the Mediterranean Sea are still assailed by pirates, the United States Navy and the U.S. Coast Guard have nearly eradicated piracy in U.S. waters and in the Caribbean Sea.
Modern pirates favor small boats and taking advantage of the small number of crew members, speed limitations and draft restrictions on modern cargo vessels. They also use large vessels to supply the smaller attack/boarding vessels. They can be successful because a large amount of international commerce occurs via shipping. Major shipping routes take cargo ships through narrow bodies of water (such as the Gulf of Aden and the Straits of Malacca) making them vulnerable to be overtaken and boarded by small motorboats. Other active areas include the South China Sea and the Niger Delta.
As usage increases, many of these ships have to lower cruising speeds to allow for navigation and traffic control plus the constriction of draft on several types of ship, making them prime targets for piracy. Small ships are also capable of disguising themselves as fishing vessels or cargo vessels when not carrying out piracy in order to avoid or deceive inspectors.
Modern pirates are sometimes linked with organized-crime syndicates, but often are parts of small individual groups. Pirate attack crews may consist of 4 to 10 sailors for going after a ship's safe (raiding) or up to 70 (depending entirely on the ships and the ships crew size) if the plan is to seize the whole vessel.
In some cases, modern pirates are not interested in the cargo and are mainly interested in taking the personal belongings of the crew and the contents of the ship's safe, which might contain large amounts of cash needed for payroll and port fees. In other cases, the pirates force the crew off the ship and then sail it to a port to be repainted and given a new identity through false papers often purchased from corrupt or complicit officials.
Modern piracy can also take place in conditions of political unrest. For example, following the U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam, Thai piracy was aimed at the many Vietnamese who took to boats to escape. Also, pirates often operate in regions of developing or struggling countries often with unstable government and lack of assets to control its territorial waters. Niger Delta and the Gulf of Aden are the most significant example where social, military and political instability led to piracy. Further, following the disintegration of the government of Somalia, warlords in the region have attacked ships delivering UN food aid.
The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) maintains statistics regarding pirate attacks dating back to 1995. Their records indicate hostage-taking overwhelmingly dominates the types of violence against seafarers. For example in 2006, there were 239 attacks, 77 crew members were kidnapped and 188 taken hostage but only 15 of the pirate attacks resulted in murder. In 2007 the attacks rose by 10% to 263 attacks. There was a 35% increase on reported attacks involving guns. Crew members that were injured numbered 64 compared to just 17 in 2006. That number does not include hostages/kidnapping where they were not injured.
In 2008, there were 111 incidents including 42 vessels hijacked. So far in 2009, there have been 29 successful hijackings from 114 attempted attacks.
2.2.1 GULF OF ADEN
The Gulf of Aden has been the site of a total of 71 attacks so far in 2009, of which 17 resulted in successful hijacks. In 2008, there were 32 hijacks from a total of 92 attacks.
Year 2009 has seen a surge in activity off the east coast of Somalia, with 43 attacks so far compared to 19 in the whole year 2008. There has also been an increase in the number of vessels fired upon in these regions. In 2008, there were 39 instances of vessels taking fire from pirates. Already this year, there have been 54 cases.
According to IMB the reduction in successful hijackings can be partly attributed to the presence of international navies in the Horn of Africa. The level of attempted attacks, however, shows that the pirate gangs have not been perturbed by this presence and, if anything, have stepped up operations in order to secure a higher success rate. The number of cases in which shots were fired could indicate an increased willingness on the part of the pirates to use aggression to meet their ends.”
In 2008, a total of 815 crew members were taken hostage from vessels hijacked in the Gulf of Aden and off the east coast of Somalia. The total number of hostages taken in these regions during 2009 already stands at 478. A total of 102 incidents were reported to the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC) in the first three months of 2009 compared to 53 incidents in the first quarter of 2008. The quarterly report also said attacks increased by almost 20% over last quarter of 2008.
The increase in the first quarter of 2009 is due almost entirely too increased Somali pirate activity off the Gulf of Aden and the east coast of Somalia. The two areas accounted for 61 of the 102 attacks during the first quarter compared to six incidents for the same period in 2008.
IMB reported that worldwide a total of 34 vessels were boarded, 29 vessels fired upon, and nine vessels hijacked. A total of 178 crew members were taken hostage, nine were injured, five kidnapped, and two killed. In the majority of incidents, the attackers were heavily armed with guns or knives. In addition, violence against crew members continued to increase.
Forty-one incidents were reported in the Gulf of Aden region, including the hijacking of five vessels. In January 2009, one in every six vessels attacked was successfully hijacked, with the rate decreasing to one in eight for February 2009 and one in 13 for the month of March. On average, one in eight vessels attacked was hijacked during the first quarter.
The last quarter of 2008 saw a total of 41 incidents in which the ratio was one in three vessels attacked being hijacked, IMB reported. The east coast of Somalia recorded 20 attacks in the first quarter of the year, with 18 of the incidents reported in March alone − including four hijackings. This compares to the last quarter of 2008 in which seven incidents were reported including two hijackings for this area.
2.2.2 OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD
Piracy attacks on other parts of the world had dropped due to commitment made by country affected either in the increase of maritime patrol by their naval forces or increase enforcement in security and safety of port facilities trough implementation of ISPS where it has reduce numbers of reported attack. However attacks do occurs on certain area such as Brazil, Niger Delta, Singapore and Malacca Straits and merchant shipping are advised by IMB-PRC to continue to be vigilante and maintain piracy watch.
In addition to Somalia and Nigeria continues to be a high risk area. In the first quarter of 2009 IMB received reports of only seven incidents; although unconfirmed reports would suggest that at least a further 13 attacks had occurred in the same period. Nearly all incidents have taken place on vessels supporting and connected to the oil industry.
The report said that Peru has seen an increased level of incidents in its waters, with seven attacks reported to the PRC, all of them successful. The last quarter of 2008 saw four incidents reported.
Only one incident has been reported in the Malacca Straits this quarter, and IMB complimented the littoral states for their continued efforts in maintaining and securing the safety of the strategic trade route. The drop in attacks is due to increased vigilance and patrolling by the littoral states and the continued precautionary measures on board ships.
The situation has also improved in Bangladesh (Chittagong) and Tanzania (Dar es Salaam), with a slight decrease in the number of incidents reported in the first quarter as compared to the corresponding period last year. In the first three months of 2009 only one incident was reported for Bangladesh compared to three during the same period last year. Vessels calling at Tanzania reported two incidents as compared to four during the same period last year.2
2.3 FIGHT AGAINST PIRACY
2.3.1 INTERNATIONAL MARITIME BUREAU – PIRACY REPORTING CENTER
Before 1992, shipmasters and ship operators had nowhere to turn to when their ships were attacked, robbed or hijacked either in port or out at sea. Local law enforcement either turned a deaf ear, or chose to ignore that there was a serious problem in their waters.
The International Maritime Bureau aware of the escalating level of piracy and wanted to provide a free service to the seafarer had established the 24 hour IMB Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on the October 1st 1992 where it is financed by voluntary contribution from a number of shipping and insurance companies.
The main objective of the PRC is to be the first point of contact for the shipmaster to report an actual or attempted attack or even suspicious movements thus initiating the process of response.
The main aim of the PRC is to raise awareness within the shipping industry, which includes the shipmaster, ship-owner, insurance companies, traders, etc, of the areas of high risk associated with piratical attacks or specific ports and anchorages associated with armed robberies on board ships. The PRC works closely with various governments and law enforcement agencies and is involved in information sharing in an attempt to reduce and ultimately eradicate this crime.
2.3.2 JOINT NAVAL PATROLS AND AIRBORNE SURVELLIANCE
220.127.116.11 EYES IN THE SKIES
Even most sophisticated pirate operation is ultimately going to be no match for a fleet of highly trained naval forces. The introduction of Eye in the Skies (EIS) in 2002 a joint effort by the Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia armed forces to mobilize its maritime patrol/surveillance aircraft together with their naval assets to conduct patrols in the Malacca and Singapore Straits to curb piracy in this busy sea lanes.
The efforts made by this countries in conducting joint naval patrols and joint airborne surveillance in the Malacca and Singapore Straits has drastically reduce the number of piracy and armed robberies on merchant ship in this region.
18.104.22.168 COMBINED MARITIME FORCE
Combined Taskforce 150 and EUNAVFOR is two of three forces under the Combined Maritime Force, a 20 nation coalition based in Manama, Bahrain. It is led by United States Navy (USN) and NATO in the Gulf of Aden and had proves that naval presence in the area can and will reduce the number of piracy attacks and hijacking of merchant vessel transiting the gulf.
The taskforce involved in escorting merchant vessel transiting close to the coast of Somalia or trough the Internationally Recognized Transit Corridor (IRTC) established by MSCHOA which led by EU. Here, military assets (Naval and Air) will be strategically deployed within the area to best provide protection and support to merchant ships.
Build up of naval presence in the region as deterrence and repression of act of piracy and armed robberies off the Somali coast promote the significant drop in successful attack towards merchant shipping where its ratio decrease from 1:3 ship in October 2008 to 1:13 ship in March 2009.
International naval forces had also averted several number of attempted boarding and hijacking of merchant vessels by pirates in the region.
In April 2008 pirates seized control of the French luxury yacht Le Ponant carrying 30 crew members off the coast of Somalia. The captives were released on payment of a ransom. The French military later captured some of the pirates, with the support of the provisional Somali government. On June 2, 2008, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution enabling the patrolling of Somali waters following this and other incidents. The Security Council resolution provided permission for six months to states cooperating with Somalia's Transitional Federal Government (TFG) to enter the country's territorial waters and use "all necessary means" to stop "piracy and armed robbery at sea, in a manner consistent with international law."
The Indian Navy also successfully averted piracy attempts and subsequently acted in force where a pirate mother ship was fired upon and its crew was brought into custody. This followed by in December 2008 and January 2009 where the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) and Royal Saudi Navy had successfully averted piracy attempts on foreign merchant ship from being boarded and hijacked.
On April 8, 2009, Somali pirates briefly captured the MV Maersk Alabama, a 17,000-ton cargo ship containing emergency relief supplies destined for Kenya. It was the latest in a week-long series of attacks along the Somali coast, and the first of these attacks to target a U.S.-flagged vessel. The crew took back control of the ship although the Captain was taken by the escaping pirates to a lifeboat. On Sunday, April 12, 2009, Capt. Richard Phillips was rescued, reportedly in good condition, from his pirate captors who were shot dead by US Navy SEAL snipers.
22.214.171.124 EFFORTS BY IMO AND OTHER INTERNATIONAL BODIES
To assist in anti-piracy measures, IMO issues reports on piracy and armed robbery against ships submitted by Member Governments and international organizations. The reports, which include names and descriptions of ships attacked, position and time of attack, consequences to the crew, ship or cargo and actions taken by the crew and coastal authorities, are now circulated monthly, with quarterly and annual summaries.
IMO has issued the following circulars:
• Revised MSC/Circ.622 Recommendations to Governments for preventing and suppressing piracy and armed robbery against ships suggests possible counter-measures that could be employed by Rescue Co-ordination Centers and security forces. Now also includes draft Regional agreement on co-operation in preventing and suppressing acts of piracy and armed robbery against ships. (Available in French and Spanish)
• Revised MSC/Circ.623 Guidance to ship-owners and ship operators, shipmasters and crews on preventing and suppressing acts of piracy and armed robbery against ships contains comprehensive advice on measures that can be taken onboard to prevent attacks or, when they occur, to minimize the danger to the crew and ship. (Available in French and Spanish)
• Directives for Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre (MRCCs) on Acts of Violence against Ships (MSC/Circ.1073).2
The introduction of Vessel Traffic System (VTS) adopted under the IMO by Resolution A375(X) in major shipping lanes had improved traffic management and vessel detections thus reduce the number of piracy attacks. Straits of Malacca and Singapore traffic separation schemes (TSS) are the best example of implementation on mandatory reporting of ship transiting the sea lanes where it effectively curbs piracy incidents.
Furthermore major maritime industry representative had agreed on a management practice which made as an effort specifically to counter piracy in the Gulf of Aden and the coast of Somalia. The Best Management Practice3 is a suggested planning and operational practices for owners, operators, managers and masters of ship transiting in the Gulf of Aden and off the coast of Somali
The document consist of recommended Best Management Practice which include planning to be made by company and masters and precautions to be taken prior transit, while in transit and when attack occurs.
126.96.36.199 NON TRADITIONAL METHOD OF COMBATTING PIRACY
188.8.131.52.1 PRIVATE SECURITY COMPANY (PSC)
A few shipping and oil companies took an effort to prevent their ships from being attacked and hijacked by hiring personnel from private security companies and stationed them onboard ship or offshore facilities while in piracy prone area. These PSCs personnel are armed guards with a mixed of ex-military personnel and security experts whom are highly trained in counter insurgency operations, counter terrorism operations and armed interventions. They usually well equipped and armed with modern military equipment to deter threats posed by terrorist or pirates in this case.
Some PSCs are also had the equivalent capabilities of a small nation military forces, from medium lift helicopters to converted armed cargo ship with fully armed and equipped intervention units to escort merchant vessels since they are highly paid by major consortiums and companies.
One such company, the Singapore based Background Asia Risk Solutions has an armor-plated vessel that will accompany vessels anywhere between Sri Lanka and South China Sea for about USD$30 000 a mission.
-come to sea and see for yourself-