Local News

Pirates' plans go up in smoke

April 7 - 13, 2010

Audacious pirates who are continuing to plague the high seas have been taught a tough lesson by the Bahrain-based Combined Maritime Forces.

Tanker MV Evita came under rifle and rocket propelled grenade attack by three pirate skiffs in the Somali Basin at the weekend. The tanker radioed for assistance and the Flagship of Combined Task Force (CTF) 151, USS Farragut (DDG 99), was called into action.

A Seahawk helicopter, from Farragut, was immediately dispatched to monitor the pirates while the suspected pirate skiffs were boarded. Eleven pirates were found aboard, along with fuel drums and grappling hooks. They were also spotted throwing ladders and equipment overboard.

A Swedish Maritime Patrol Aircraft, from EUNAVFOR, contacted the MV Evita and subsequently located the suspected pirate skiffs.

After ensuring that the pirates could not conduct further attacks, all 11 were released on the two small skiffs, while the mother skiff was destroyed and sunk.

CTF 151 is a multi-national task force established in January 2009 to conduct counter-piracy operations under a mission based mandate 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.

The task force's Bahrain-based spokesman Lieutenant Commander C F Woodman of the Royal Navy, added: "Pirates are becoming more aggressive and reaching further away from their base camps in Somalia to attack merchant and civilian ships.

"Attacks have been reported more than 2,000 kilometres away from the Somali coastal town of Haraderra with pirate activity being reported around 2,655km from Haraderra, reaching deep into the Somali Basin and far into the Indian Ocean."

Recently Somali pirates seized a Turkish-owned cargo ship loaded with fertiliser in the Indian Ocean, well outside the patrolled zone.

Faced with increased insurance costs and having paid out millions of dollars in ransom demands, private merchant ships are now employing their own tactics to counter the gun-totting pirates.

According to recent reports, private security guards aboard one merchant ship shot and killed a Somali pirate after a group of pirates attacked their vessel.

Lt Com C F Woodman said: "Statistics show that although piracy attempts have increased in the Gulf of Aden and the Somali Basin, the number of successful attacks has been reduced considerably over the last year."

Shipping companies have also called on pirate mother ships to be destroyed in order to hit the pockets of criminals masterminding the raids from Somalia.

Somali pirates seized a supertanker carrying as much as $170 million worth of crude oil from Iraq to the United States on Sunday, the latest sign that sea gangs may be targeting bigger quarry.

The 333-meter-long (1,092-foot) Samho Dream, which can carry more than two million barrels of crude oil, was hijacked and its crew of five South Koreans and 19 Filipinos was taken hostage.

US refiner Valero Energy Corp said it was the owner of the crude oil cargo aboard the Samho Dream, which was hijacked off the east African coast.

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