Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Somalia: Another day, another ship hijacked by Pirates v.2

I'm glad to see that the Financial Times agrees with me. Well, except for that international court business. That's just crazy talk. I say we catch 'em and give them a choice. Walk the plank or hoisted from the yardarm? And those "experts that argue that we lack the legal basis on which to arrest and prosecute?" They can take a long walk off a short pier.

Even so, the problem is far from resolved. The Somali gangs operate across a huge expanse of water, covering thousands of kilometres, and are hard to contain. Somalia, meanwhile, is a failed state, unable or unwilling to take action. Until it does so, nothing will stop these gangs engaging in lucrative crime.

Still, the main powers should be far more robust in acting against piracy. Right now, naval forces operating in the region can disrupt an attempted hijack but some experts argue that they lack the legal basis on which to arrest and prosecute gangs. The United Nations Security Council should therefore look to pass a resolution that is far more explicit about the military action that can be taken by governments against the pirates. An international court could also be established at the Hague to bring pirates to justice."

Chemical Tanker falls to Somali Pirates - the 83rd vessel to be hijacked in 2008

Pirates hijacked a Philippines chemical tanker with 23 crew near Somalia, bringing the total number of attacks in waters off the African nation this year to 83, a maritime official said today.

The tanker was heading to Asia when it was seized in the Gulf of Aden by pirates armed with automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades, said Noel Choong, who heads the International Maritime Bureau's piracy reporting center in Kuala Lumpur.

In Manila, Foreign Ministry spokesman Claro Cristobal said the Philippine Embassy in Nairobi and the ship's operator identified the chemical tanker as the MT Stolt Strengt.

It's been a busy few days for the Somali Pirates.

Indian Navy rescued an Indian freighter under attack 60 nautical miles off the coast of Aden. It was the INS Tabar's first successful interdiction and the government has sent troops to bolster the "confidence among sailors". An important task, given that more than 100,000 sailors went on strike last week to protest government inaction. 90% of India’s foreign trade by volume and 77% by value is shipped through the region, mainly through the Suez Canal.

Hold up.
It looks like Team India was also involved in helping a Saudi merchant ship escape capture. Way to go, INS Tabar aka THE INDOMITABLE BATTLEAXE. Her motto? Guts and Glory. (I like it!)

I'm happy to report that it appears that Team India is getting serious about this piracy business.

Earlier India's position on the use of military force against criminals in international waters was ambiguous. In fact, only recently it had imposed on the Navy a blanket ban to act on its own against pirates. However, a spate in the number of piracy bids, especially in Somali waters, has now forced a change in Indian Government's hand-off policy.

Navy Chief Admiral Suresh Mehta issued standing instructions to his force to act against pirates.In a statement, he said: "Indian Naval ships operating in piracy-infested areas have the mandate to ensure the safety of our sovereign assets. Piracy is a crime which all men of war are required to combat at all times".

Relatives of hijacked Indian sailors aboard the MV Stolt Valor wish their government would have acted this way sooner.

In other pirate news:

Denmark has asked Russia for a frigate escort for it's ship, the CAN Commander. The Neustrashimy has complied.

Talks continue regarding the MV Faina.
The Ukrainian Foreign Minister says "the health of the crew aboard a Ukrainian cargo ship seized by pirates off the Somali coast more than a month ago is "satisfactory." The dead captain remains aboard ship.