Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Piracy is Bad, Expected to Get Worse

In 2005, when I first started covering maritime piracy on this blog, people didn't want to believe it was true. I was told I was "hysterical" and other things. Today of course, piracy is occasionally on the news. Though not enough.

So there is an international task force of naval vessels in the Gulf a Aden, one of the worst locations. It doesn't seem to be all that effective. They are trying new things. EU sends eyes in the sky against pirates
The London-based International Maritime Bureau reported on July 16 that the number of pirate attacks more than doubled in the first half of this year compared with the same period in 2008.
Most of the attacks are in the area dominated by Somali pirates.

And it is understandable. "pirates collected $150 million in ransom from shipowners in 2008." With that kind of payday, it is hard to see how it will end.

It isn't just about money.
As of mid-July, 78 vessels had been boarded and 31 of them hijacked, with six crewmen killed, 19 wounded and 561 taken captive for varying lengths of time.
Now the US navy is predicting things will get worse in the weeks and months ahead. Monsoon season is coming to an end. Sailing will be easier.

Of course the problems aren't all logistical. The lawyers seem to be getting in the way.
The Russians have noted that because most of the 16 nations participating in the anti-piracy operations do not allow their forces to prosecute pirates, largely because of the absence of any clear-cut legal jurisdiction, the pirates have become more brazen.

Some governments do not even allow their warships to open fire on pirates.
That would violate their human rights, or something.
According to Vice Adm. Oleg Burtsev, first deputy chief of the Russian Navy General Staff: "Pirates have become more daring and aggressive. There were instances when they seized vessels right in front of the ships that were responsible for the security of commercial shipping."
The Russians are sending a new flotilla to the region off Somalia to relieve one currently there.

The sad thing is that the pirates do not have huge numbers. 5000 pirates are operating in the region of Somalia. They have a lot of resources tied up.

Will anything get better? I'm not sure people are taking it seriously even today.

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