Pirate successes down: monitors


Somali pirates have been unsuccessful in several attacks on merchant shipping in the past week and with the release of another two ships during the same period, the number of vessels and seafarers being held hostage for ransom has reached one of its lowest levels for some time, the ports.co.za website reports.

The website quoted the NATO Shipping Centre as saying that pirates made an unsuccessful attempt using rocket-propelled grenades to capture a ship off the coast of Oman. The vessel was not identified by the centre. The attack took place 230 nautical miles (nm) east of Salalah and involved a single skiff. The pirates fired on the vessel twice and tried to board but “were deterred by defensive measure employed by the vessel”, according to NATO. The ship is now safe and continuing to its destination.

The bulk carrier Christina IV was fired upon by six pirates in a skiff on 29 November at 0822 UTC while underway in position 15:01N – 056:36E, approximately 215 nm northeast of Socotra Island, Yemen, reports UKMTO. The armed security onboard returned fire while the vessel increased speed and took evasive action resulting in the pirates aborting their attack.

In the Gulf of Aden the bulk carrier Faneromeni came under attack from two skiffs with at least 14 pirates in them, approximately 42 n.miles south-east of Perim Island off the coast of Yemen. The attack took place last Wednesday.

There are currently only about seven merchant ships and their crews remaining in pirate hands, along with another seven fishing vessels and a number of dhows and smaller craft. This is the lowest number of ships being held for some time and is a reflection of the effectiveness of improved responses by the merchant ships. These include having armed guards on board as well as ships crews observing recommended best management practices.

The flip side of this however is that Somali pirates, and the criminal syndicates behind them, will be getting desperate as money dries up. With the interim Somali government promising to take action against pirates on land the fight against piracy off the coast of Somalia is beginning to look much more promising, ports.co.za said.