Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Pirate Attacks at Record High in 2010

Pirate Attacks at Record High in 2010

In case you have forgotten about all those Pirate attacks off the Horn of Africa and were thinking the international community had gotten it’s act together and sent their Navies to clean the mess up –here is a wake up call for you. Pirates took a record 1,181 hostages in 2010 as ship hijackings in waters off Somalia escalated. Attackers seized 53 vessels worldwide last year -- all but four off the coast of Somalia.

The number of hostages and vessels taken "are the highest we have ever seen" since they began monitoring attacks in 1991, director for the Center tracking these events, Pottengal Mukundan, said in a statement. The continued increase in these numbers is alarming and indicates that the naval forces we thought had been sent to the area are either not there or are not effective enough.

The Somali attacks accounted for 1,016 hostages held for ransom, the center said. Somali pirates are currently holding 31 vessels and 713 crew members of various nationalities after hijacking another four ships so far this year.

Somalia's position on the Horn of Africa means pirates can use its long coastline to capture ships. The country has not had a functioning government since a dictatorship collapsed in 1991, and an international flotilla of warships patrolling the waters has struggled to prevent hijackings.
The naval patrols have foiled many attacks, but pirates are moving farther offshore to boost their success in hijackings, the piracy reporting center said.

"All measures taken at sea to limit the activities of the pirates are undermined because of a lack of responsible authority back in Somalia," it said in its statement.

Overall, there were 445 pirate attacks worldwide last year, a 10 percent rise from 2009, the center said. Eight crew members died -- all attributed to Somali pirates.

Violent attacks and armed robberies were also notable in Indonesian waters, where 30 vessels were boarded. Bangladesh had 21 vessels boarded, mainly by attackers armed with knives at the port of Chittagong, while Nigeria had 13, mostly near the port of Lagos.

Jan. 21: South Korean naval special forces prepare to rescue crew members from Somali pirates on cargo ship Samho Jewelry in the Arabian Sea.
Update to this Story: A few days after I wrote this blog and scheduled it to post automatically, I came across a related headline which gave me a real warm fuzzy...
It seems Somali Pirates hijacked a South Korean Freighter and demanded a ransom for the ship and crew. The South Koreans sent in their military and successfully recaptured the ship, saved all 21 crew members and killed all 8 pirates. "We will not tolerate any behavior that threatens the lives and safety of our people in the future," South Korean President Lee Myung-bak said in a brief televised statement, adding that the rescue was a "perfect operation."
I applaud the South Koreans for their stance and their professionalism! But it makes me wonder why all these other countries that continue to get their ships hijacked, even with international naval forces patrolling the area, can't see that this policy -so well demonstrated here- is the only viable answer to this threat!

Live Long and Prosper....

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