Reports so far indicate that the seizure of the vessel took place early on Wednesday morning, some 500 kilometres south-east from Salalah in Oman.
The suspected pirates were aboard a vessel that was towing two smaller boats behind it. The vessel attempted to escape, at which point the Pohjanmaa fired a volley of warning shots to deter the crew. The vessel was found to contain eighteen persons believed to be pirates. A detachment from the Pohjanmaa found material on the captured vessel that is in keeping with that used in piracy on the high seas.The minelayer remains on station, attempting to determine the nature of the crew-members. - Helsingin Sanomat
Wednesday, April 6
Tuesday, February 1
The BELUGA NOMINATION was recently taken by pirates. One open question was how the pirates managed to get into the ship’s Citadel safe room where the crew was hiding. As it turns out, the safe room was not so safe.
Somali pirates captured Beluga Nomination in the Indian Ocean on January 22. The crew hid in a citadel on board the ship for the first 48 hours, according to Beluga. But then pirates were able to open the ceiling of the safe room and took the crew hostage. – Lloyds List
This sounds like a scene right out of the movie Aliens where the Marines were trying to figure out how the aliens got through the barricades intended to keep them out of the living spaces only to realize too late that they were climbing through the ceiling.
This article also points out that the crew was safe from the pirates for a full 48 hours before the space was breached. So where were the naval forces during that time? An attempt was made to re-take the ship but it was not until after the pirates had gained access to the crew.
The article does not note where in the vessel the safe room was located, but if they managed to enter it from the ceiling, I suspect that it was inside the house. This clearly now was a poor decision. Also, if you watch the video of the South Korean raid on a captured cargo ship last month, you can see that the house was peppered with bullet holes. That is another reason not to place the safe room in the house.
So take the information above and treat it as lessons learned. How safe and secure is your Citadel space?
Monday, January 17
The crew of the coaster Leopard seems to have been kidnapped by the pirates that attacked the ship earlier this week. When a Turkish warship arrived at the Leopard there was no sign of the crew (two Danes and six Filipinos) or the pirates. The Leopard was simply drifting without any crew. Nato forces believe the crew has been transferred to a Taiwanese fishing vessel, which had been seized earlier by pirates and used as a mother vessel for attacking commercial ships.
The ship’s owner, Shipcraft A/S, in Hørsholm has not been available for comment on the situation. - Shipgaz
If there had been proper lookout from DANICA WHITE, the pirate boats could have been spotted app. 30 minutes before they reached DANICA WHITE. However, due to the slow speed of the ship, DANICA WHITE could not have sailed away from the pirates, but the crew would have been able to raise the alarm in time and shown the pirates that they had been spotted. (6.5) - DMA (page 5) - Link, 'DANICA WHITE Hijacking - 'Minimum Safe Manning' Partly to Blame'
Just watch, when this is all over, the crew of the LEOPARD will be blamed for losing control of their ship and being taken hostage by pirates.
View the NATO Press release here. (Note PDF Format)
And here is a NATO photo of help arriving too late.
The use of a CITADEL DOES NOT guarantee a military response. Before owners, operators and masters commit to a policy that recommends the use of a citadel, it is important to understand the criteria that military forces will apply before a boarding to free the ship can be considered:This will surely be an interesting piracy incident to keep my eyes on.
- 100% of the crew must be secured in the CITADEL.
- The Crew of the ship must have self-contained, independent, 2-way external communications. Sole reliance on VHF communications is insufficient.
- The pirates must be denied access to propulsion.
The following points should also be taken into consideration when preparing CITADELS:
- PDF Link
- All emergency equipment in the CITADEL should be fully and regularly tested for functionality.
- The communications system should have a power supply for a minimum of 3 days, based on a continuous open line (Consider satellite communications / satellite e-mail.)
- A full list of emergency contact numbers including UKMTO should be held inside the CITADEL.
- At least 3 days of food and water provisions for all the crew should be available in the CITADEL.
- Medical supplies, including medication for the treatment of physical trauma, and sanitation should be made available.
Friday, June 25
TOKYO -- The leader of a U.S.-based anti-whaling organization is now on an international wanted list for allegedly masterminding the group's disruption of Japanese whale hunts in the Antarctic Ocean, Japan's coast guard said Friday.
The move - done at Japan's request - signals Tokyo's escalating anger against the Sea Shepherd group, which it accuses of putting whalers' lives at risk during the annual Antarctic hunt.
The Canadian founder of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, Paul Watson, 59, has been on the Interpol list since Wednesday, Coast Guard spokesman Shinichiro Tanaka said. He said Watson's whereabouts is unknown. - Washington Post
Friday, May 14
As found on the Russian Navy Blog:
I make no claims to the authenticity of this video. I am not certain of the context. It is mostly is Russian (with much NSFW language), partly in English (with NSFW language) and shows several obviously wounded men.
The explosion at the end is nice though!
From the description at You Tube:Yesterday on Tuesday (27 April) at 1812 Moscow time the large antisubmarine ship Admiral Panteleyev captured a pirate ship off of Somalia according to the Ministry of Defense.Based on the number of pirates in this video, I don't think these were the pirates killed under the auspices of Russia's "catch and release" program. - Link - Russian Navy Blog
The capture took place at 1812 Moscow time and took place about 15 miles from shore. Inspection of the vessel revealed seven Kalashnikovs, pistols, aluminum boarding ladders, navigation equipment, including satellite navigation, fuel cans and ammunition.
Twenty nine were detained.
Monday, May 10
Kenya has stood up and offered to try pirates in their courts. However, as a result their court system is now trying to deal with over 100 pirates captured at sea and deposited on their shores and now they are resisting the pressure to accept more of them.
A number of pirates have been simply released, either back ashore or back to their boats, after being disarmed of any weapons that they didn't already throw overboard themselves prior to capture.
The Russians have come up with a nastier version of this tactic, basically abandoning the pirates far at sea with only the most basic of supplies. Oddly enough, they did want to prosecute the pirates back in Russia, but abandoned that idea because the ship's crew of the attacked vessel, were not able to directly identify the pirates, given that they were holed up in a secure room, unable to negate the pirate claims that they too were victims of other pirates who got away.
Russia frees suspected piratesRUSSIA has freed a group of suspected pirates captured when its navy stormed a hijacked tanker in the Indian Ocean.
One pirate was killed and 10 suspects seized when marines from the destroyer Marshal Shaposhnikov recaptured the 106,474dwt Moscow University yesterday, a day after it was seized.
The detainees were expected to be tried in Russia. But after a day of contradictory public announcements and debate among prosecutors, military officers and the Kremlin, the navy was ordered to cast the suspected pirates adrift.
Their release took place after a source at the defence ministry announced: "Unfortunately … legal rules for the prosecution of pirates operating in Somalia did not exist, and thus they [the suspects] do not fall under the jurisdiction of any state and international law.”
Defence ministry spokesman Colonel Alexei Kuznetsov later said the release was required “due to the imperfection of the international legal framework”.
There were no witnesses to substantiate the identities and actions of the suspects because the tanker’s 23 Russian crew members had secured themselves in a safe-room.
And after they were captured, the suspects reportedly claimed that they were not pirates but rather hostages of the real attackers.
In June, the chief Russian prosecutor in charge of piracy, Alexander Zvyagintsev, told Fairplay that Russian law clearly allows for military action against pirates, but it was less clear what could be done if pirates were captured.
“The problem of what to do with the pirates who have been arrested remains undecided for the majority of countries,” he explained. “That adds to the confidence of the pirates that they can go on acting with impunity.” - Fairplay News
UPDATE – 11 May:
Here is the latest news noting that the pirates did not appear to have gotten very far:
Here is a photo of the capture:
Freed Pirates May Have Drowned
Ten pirates released from a Russian warship 300 miles out to sea may have drowned, according to Russian officials and colleagues of the pirates, raising fears of retaliation against other vessels plying East African waters.
The pirates were captured last week after they hijacked the Moscow University, a Liberian-flagged, Russian-operated oil tanker sailing off the Somali coast. A Russian warship came to the ship’s rescue and apprehended the pirates. But after determining it would be too difficult to obtain a conviction, Russian officials said that they dropped plans to take the pirates to Moscow for trial.
Instead, like many other warships that have intercepted pirate skiffs, the Russian marines released the pirates — but not before removing weapons and navigation equipment from the boat several hundred miles from shore. Russian officials gave no explanation for removing the navigation equipment.
A Russian Defense Ministry spokesperson said radio signals from the boat disappeared about an hour after the release. “That could mean that they are dead,” the spokesperson said.
Fellow pirates in Somalia also said they lost contact with the boat after their separation from the Russian warship. “We will hold Russia responsible if any harm comes to them,” said a pirate commander, Abdi Dhagaweyne, in a telephone interview. “I’m not sure of their safety now because we have since lost contact.” – Wall Street Journal
So it appears that all but one of the pirates survived the re-capture of the vessel.
Saturday, March 6
Thursday, March 4, 2010, the Beautemps-Beaupre repulsed an attack by pirates off the Somali coast.In national mission in the Indian Ocean on building hydro-ocean sailing 180 nautical east of Mogadishu when he spotted three suspicious vessels. While their mothership stood at a distance, two fast skiffs have set sail on the French ship to address.Beautemps-Beaupre has made the customary warnings, radio, audio and visual means, before the team embarked Protection (EPA) should not proceed to fire warning shots to repel hackers determined to board at 'using sliding scales.Given the reaction of the crew of Beautemps-Beaupré and the EPA, the pirates gave up and returned to their mothership. An alert was immediately sent by the French ship to all browsers and international forces patrolling the coast of Somalia.Upon receipt of the alert, the staff of the operation Atalante ordered the frigate Nivose, which patrol a 150 nautical area, to proceed to the scene of the attack. The immediate response of the Panther helicopter on board has to score and to track the two skiffs and their mother ship until joining the frigate.On March 5 in the morning, the combined actions of the Panther and two speedboats used by the teams visit Nivôse determined the surrender of the pirates. 11 personnes ont été transférées à bord du Nivôse. 11 people were transferred aboard Nivôse.Later in the day, the frigate received orders to join another area, 90 nautical first, where pirates have also been reported. Arriving on site, the Nivôse offset three vessels operating in the same configuration as those intercepted in the morning - a mother ship and two skiffs assault - and captured 11 individuals who were paid on board. - French Naval Forces (Translated from French)
Here is one stroy in the English press although on an Iranian news site:
Great job French Navy!In one incident on Friday, six pirates attacked a French fishing boat although a French military detachment onboard fired warning shots at them. The ship then approached the skiff and collided with it, sinking the skiff and throwing the pirates into the water. Four were rescued, but two others went missing.In a separate attack, again on a French vessel, eleven pirates were taken into custody by the EU Naval Force. - PressTV
Thursday, December 10
You can find the story and more photos here:
November, 2009 - The French frigate Floreal captured a “mothership” carrying arms, ammunition and fuel as well as two skiffs some 650 miles east of Hobyo in Somalia and 500 miles to the northwest of the Seychelles, spokesman Christophe Prazuck said. - Gulf Times
Thursday, October 8
Five Somali pirates were captured today after they mistook a French naval ship for a cargo vessel. The pirates were repelled in a night attack on the French refueling vessel La Somme, which is serving as the command ship for French forces in the Indian Ocean. - JOC (Click for the full story)
(Note they delete these stories after a couple months)
More at EagleSpeak:
Somali Pirates: Mistaken Identity Attack
Friday, July 17
Somali pirates have released a Dutch ship they had hijacked last month in the Gulf of Aden and one crew member was found dead aboard the boat, the Dutch defence ministry told AFP.
Looking at the threat, the United Nation's International Maritime Organization, in a move certain to protect the safety of pirates only, has decided to flatly reject any suggestion of arming merchant seamen:
The MSC agreed that flag States should strongly discourage the carrying and use of firearms by seafarers for personal protection or for the protection of a ship.
Seafarers, it was agreed, are civilians and the use of firearms requires special training and aptitudes and the risk of accidents with firearms carried on board ship is great.
Carriage of arms on board ship may encourage attackers to carry firearms or even more dangerous weapons, thereby escalating an already dangerous situation. Any firearm on board may itself become an attractive target for an attacker.
Carriage of firearms may pose an even greater danger if the ship is carrying flammable cargo or similar types of dangerous goods. - IMO guidance statement via EagleSpeak
The most realistic option I can think of is that they just use more boats and RPGs. Attacks with larger numbers of boats being involved has already been seen. I can't think of any more-powerful weapon that they could easily deploy. More advanced weapons are probably much harder to come by, and when available much more expensive, given competing interests. So even if pirates get their hands on something more advanced/powerful, they are probably not going to be so quick to use it, unless they are sure that it will result in a capture. They might as easily destroy the ship in the process. Now, they might be able to arm themselves with a cannon, but they would need a larger/sturdier boat if they wanted to use it. Acquiring a larger vessel might be more of a problem than acquiring more-powerful weapons.
One weapon that should be considered is a 40mm grenade launcher. Here is one option:
The MGL (Multiple Grenade Launcher) is a lightweight 40 mm semi-automatic, 6-shot grenade launcher developed and manufactured in South Africa by the Milkor company (renamed Rippel Effect in 2007). The MGL was demonstrated as a concept to the South African Defence Force in 1981. The operating principle was immediately accepted and subjected to a stringent qualification program. The MGL was then officially accepted into service with the SADF as the Y2. After its introduction in 1983, the MGL was gradually adopted by the armed forces and law enforcement organizations of over 30 countries; it has since proven its effectiveness in harsh environments ranging from rain forests to deserts. Total production since 1983 has been more than 18,000 units.The MGL is multiple-shot weapon, intended to significantly increase a small squad's firepower when compared to traditional single-shot grenade launchers like the M203. The MGL is designed to be simple, rugged and reliable. It uses the well-proven revolver principle to achieve a high rate of accurate fire which can be rapidly brought to bear on a target. A variety of rounds such as HE, HEAT, anti-riot baton, irritant or pyrotechnic can be loaded and fired at a rate of one per second; the cylinder can be loaded or unloaded rapidly to maintain a high rate of fire. Although intended primarily for offensive/defensive use with high-explosive rounds, with appropriate ammunition the launcher is suitable for anti-riot and other security operations. - Wikipedia
On Defending Unarmed Merchant Ships Against Pirates
Friday, May 15
Turkish-Led CTF 151 Makes First Suspected Pirate Capture
From Combined Maritime Forces Public AffairsUSS GETTYSBURG, At Sea – Ships from Combined Task Force (CTF) 151 prevented a piracy attack in the Gulf of Aden, which resulted in the apprehension of more than a dozen suspected pirates aboard an alleged “mothership” yesterday.At approximately 3:30 p.m., the Republic of Korea Destroyer, ROKS Munmu the Great (DDG 976) and guided missile cruiser USS Gettysburg (CG 64) responded to a distress call from the Egyptian-flagged Motor Vessel Amira, which reported being attacked approximately 75 nautical miles south of Al Mukalla, Yemen.Several assault rifle rounds and one rocket propelled grenade round struck M/V Amira resulting in little to no damage to the ship. A rope was thrown from the skiff in an attempt to board but the attempt failed and the suspected pirates abandoned their attack.Gettysburg and Munmu the Great launched their embarked helicopters which flew immediately to Amira’s location. During its flight, the SH-60B helicopter assigned to Helicopter Anti-submarine Squadron Light (HSL) 46 located a dhow suspected of serving as a pirate “mothership” with approximately 17 people onboard.A Gettysburg visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) team boarded the suspected “mothership” along with members of U.S. Coast Guard Legal Detachment (LEDET) 409 and apprehended the suspected pirates after finding eight assault rifles, a rocket-propelled grenade launcher and one rocket-propelled grenade. All 17 of the passengers were brought on board Gettysburg for further questioning.“This is another clear example of how coordination between the Combined Maritime Forces resulted in the successful disruption of pirate activity,” said Royal Navy Commodore Tim Lowe, Deputy Commander of the Combined Maritime Forces. “It is imperative that all maritime forces continue to synchronize their efforts to deter and disrupt these unlawful and aggressive acts.”Gettysburg and Munmu the Great are operating in support of CTF 151, a multinational task force established to conduct counterpiracy operations under a mission-based mandate throughout the CMF area of responsibility to actively deter, disrupt and suppress piracy in order to protect global maritime security and secure freedom of navigation for the benefit of all nations. - Combined Maritime Forces (Via EagleSpeak)
The United States Coast Guard (USCG) officially established the Law Enforcement Detachment or LEDET program in 1982. The first LEDETs operated directly under Coast Guard groups and districts, where they served as law enforcement specialists, conducting training and local operations. In 1986, Public Law (P.L.) 99-570 specifically authorized the establishment of billets for active duty USCG personnel to carry out drug interdiction operations from naval surface vessels provided by the Department of Defense (DoD). Since the Posse Comitatus Act strictly prohibits United States Department of Defense personnel from directly engaging in law enforcement activities, LEDETs were tasked with operating aboard United States Navy ships to investigate contacts and conduct boardings in accordance with USCG policy and directives.
In accordance with P.L. 99-570, LEDETs were to deploy on U.S. Navy (USN) "ships of opportunity", transiting or operating in areas frequently used by illegal drug traffickers. In 1988, P.L. 100-456 made it a requirement that USCG law enforcement personnel be assigned to each appropriate USN surface vessel that transits a drug interdiction area. - Wikipedia
Monday, May 4
Here is video of the capture of one of the boats:
And here are some photos:
Here is a Google Translation of the press release:
Atalante: Nivôse intercept the pirates off Somalia (video)On 3 May 2009 in the morning, the frigate Nivôse, operating within the framework of the European operation Atalante intercepted 11 pirates and their boats that had been spotted the previous day by a Spanish P-3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft. The operation took place more than 500 nautical (900 km) east of Mombasa.The pirates were sailing in 2 skiffs and 1 mother ship when they were located by the Nivôse which had deployed small boats and helicopters to intercept. Fuel, equipment and an assortment of arms (assault rifles, rocket launchers and rockets) have been seized. The pirates are currently on board the Nivôse.The Nivôse had already intercepted 11 pirates on 15 April who have since been handed over to Kenyan authorities.L'Atalante's European operation, launched on 10 December 2008, has 10 ships with 3 French (the Nivôse, the Albatross and the Commander Ducuing) Accompanies commercial vessels vulnerable in the Gulf of Aden and secure navigation lanes, and escorting cargo ships of the World Food Program (WFP) carrying humanitarian cargo to Somalia.The increase in the number of attacks off the eastern coast of Somalia has led to the deployment of the Nivôse in this area. Her work is supported by an aircraft french maritime surveillance Falcon 50, which operates in the region and complements the information collected by Spanish french maritime patrol aircraft based in Djibouti. - Google Translate / Original French EMA page