Somalia Court Gives Pirates Jail Terms
2009-04-13 02:01:46     Xinhua      Web Editor: Zhang Xu

A court in the semi-autonomous state of Puntland, northeastern Somalia, Sunday sentenced 17 suspected pirates to three years in jail each after they were accused of involvement in piracy that is plaguing the Horn of Africa coast.

The men were part of suspected pirates handed over by the French navy joining the international effort to patrol the Somali coast and the Gulf of Aden where piracy activities forced many countries to send warships to prevent the Somali pirates from hijacking ships on the important route.

Lawyers for the suspects said their clients are fishermen who were mistakenly captured as pirates but the judge presiding over the trial said the men were caught red handed in piracy acts and have also confessed to their crimes.

The semi-autonomous Somali state of Puntland is a hotbed for piracy in the Horn of Africa and a number of coastal towns, including the port town of Eyl, have become pirate strongholds where they own huge mansions and fancy cars, thanks to the hefty ransom payout from owners of the hijacked ships.

Hundreds of suspected pirates are now being held in prisons in Bossaso, the commercial capital of the state. The inmates remain in prison for several months without trial and some have escaped in mysterious circumstances.

Local authorities say they do not have necessary facilities to hold the inmates and try them properly because of lack of funds for prison guards, lawyers and judges.

At least six ships were hijacked this month by Somali pirates. An American captain was held hostage by pirates before freed on Sunday after days of ordeal on the high seas. The pirates on Wednesday took a Danish-owned cargo ship Maersk Alabama with the crew of 21 Americans on board. Capt. Richard Phillips allowed himself to be taken hostage in exchange for the freedom of the 20 others.

The Maersk Alabama docked at the port of Mombasa, Kenya on Saturday night.



FEATURE : Pirates are ‘noble heroes’ to fellow Somalis

Monday, Apr 13, 2009, Page 6

Somali pirates held by Puntland police forces sit in Bassaso, Somalia, on Nov. 21 last year. They have been described as “noble herors” by sympathetic Somalis and denounced as criminals by critics. But the adjective most used to describe the men holding a US captain off the Horn of Africa is “pirate.”
They’ve been described as “noble heroes” by sympathetic Somalis, denounced as criminals by critics. But the most often used word to describe the men holding an American captain off the Horn of Africa is “pirate” — conjuring images of sword-wielding swashbucklers romanticized by Hollywood.

The 21st century reality, though, is a far cry from that. There are no treasure-laden islands or Blackbeards in this part of the world, no wooden schooners flying skull and crossbones flags.

Instead: a vigilante movement that years ago tried to defend Somali shores morphed into a full-blown pirate scourge — after fishermen on defense stumbled upon an astoundingly lucrative bounty waiting to be had on their doorstep: Around 25,000 ships, most unarmed, transiting the Gulf of Aden each year.

Picture ragged Somali fishermen armed with rocket launchers, GPS systems and satellite phones. Picture tiny skiffs cruising the coast of a war-infested nation crawling with gunmen. Picture bandits with sunglasses in worn shirts firing machine-guns at cruise ships, scampering aboard captured trawlers with crude ladders.

And most of all, picture ransoms, huge ransoms.

“I think when most people think of pirates, they think of Johnny Depp and the Pirates of the Caribbean,” said security consultant Crispian Cuss of the London-based Olive Group. But these guys are “just fishermen paid to act as pirates by warlords and armed gangs who have taken over a lawless state.”

The plight of an American captain, seized from the US-flagged Maersk Alabama and held by Somali pirates since Wednesday on a drifting lifeboat out of fuel, is only one of the latest examples of a problem that has plagued the region for years.

Captain Richard Phillips, of Underhill, Vermont, is believed to be the first US citizen taken by pirates since 1804, when US Navy Commodore Stephen Decatur battled the infamous Barbary pirates off the northern coast of what is now Libya, dispatching US

Marines to the shores of Tripoli.

The modern piracy scourge in the Horn of Africa arose from the ashes of Somalia’s government, overthrown in 1991.

Since then, Somalia has suffered nearly 20 years of anarchy, chaotically ruled by rival clans backed by pickup trucks mounted with anti-aircraft guns. Its nominal government controls barely a few blocks.

With no coast guard to defend its shores, Somalis began complaining that vessels from Asia and Europe were dumping toxic waste in their waters and illegally scooping up red snapper, barracuda and tuna. The rampant illegal fishing began destroying the livelihoods of local fishermen.

A memo prepared last month by the staff of the US House Armed Services Committee said Somali clans began resorting “to armed gangs in an attempt to stop the foreign vessels. Over time, these gangs have evolved into hijacking commercial vessels for ransom as an alternative source of income.”

Attacks in the Gulf of Aden and along Somalia’s coast have risen dramatically, from 41 in 2007 to 111 in last year, the International Maritime Bureau said. Since January, pirates have staged at least 66 assaults and currently hold more than a dozen ships and more than 200 foreign crew members.

The House memo said pirates operating off Somalia earned US$30 million in ransom through the seizure of 42 vessels last year.

Other estimates put the figure at US$80 million.

The memo cited one captured pirate as saying pirates only take 30 percent of ransoms — on average US$1 million to US$2 million per boat.

Twenty percent goes to group bosses, 30 percent is spent on bribing local officials, and 20 percent goes for capital investment like guns, ammunition, fuel, food and cigarettes. Cuss said pirates were becoming more sophisticated and in the last two months have, for the first time, begun launching nighttime attacks, possibly indicating pirates have obtained night-vision goggles.

US officials have found no direct ties between East African pirates and terror groups, but the illegal trade is believed to be backed by an international network of Somali expatriates who offer funds, equipment and information in exchange for a cut of ransoms.

The House memo said Somali buccaneers operate in five well-organized groups, drawing members from large clans, which are extended family networks. Cuss said the industry is controlled by “warlords and criminal gangs who recruit local fishermen and take a lion’s share of the profits.”

Andrew Mwangura of the Mombasa-based East African Seafarers’ Assistance Program described the pirates as “desperate people taking desperate measures to earn a living.”

Today, they number around 1,500, up from around 100 five to seven years ago, Mwangura said.

“They’re earning a lot of money and everyone wants to join,” Mwangura said. “They’re getting new recruits every day.”

On the ground in Somalia, some pirates are seen as “flamboyant middle-aged men,” said Mahad Shiekh Madar, a car salesman living in the northeastern port town of Bossaso on the tip of Africa’s horn.

“They always travel in beautiful four-wheel-drive luxury cars and look like people who are working for a big business company,” he said.

Abdulahi Salad, a 43-year-old former pirate in the central coastal village of Gaan, said pirates were “different from the ordinary gunmen in Somalia. They are not thin and they have bright faces and are always happy.”

Indeed, they are often highly regarded for bringing wads of cash into impoverished communities.

A local elder in Gaan, Haji Muqtar Ahmed, said “being a pirate is not shame … it is believed to be a noble profession.”

Ahmed said people there used to make a living fishing, “but now the only livelihood they have is the income from the piracy.”
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Somali pirates held by Puntland police forces sit in Bassaso, Somalia, on Nov. 21 last year. They have been described as “noble herors” by sympathetic Somalis and denounced as criminals by critics. But the adjective most used to describe the men holding a US captain off the Horn of Africa is “pirate.”


I’m a successful Somali pirate

April 12, 2009

GAROWE, Somalia (Reuters) – Yassin Dheere is a 39-year-old Somali who took to piracy five years ago and has made a fortune from the mushrooming business.

A hulk of a man, Dheere towered over his bodyguards as he spoke to Reuters in Garowe, capital of the northern Puntland province.

Dressed in expensive-looking traditional robes, he chewed khat leaves and stroked an AK-47 rifle as he told his story, starting with his birth in a notorious pirates’ haven on the coast.

“I was born in Eyl town and I used to be a fisherman.

“I was forced to hijack foreign ships after the central government collapsed. No one was monitoring the sea, and we couldn’t fish properly, because the ships which trawl the Somali coasts illegally would destroy our small boats and equipment. That is what forced us to become pirates.

“The first time I was involved in hijacking a ship was 2003. It must have been Arabian, there were 18 Yemeni crew. It was a big fishing ship that destroyed our boats several times.

“We surrounded it with our boats and seized it at gunpoint at night. We did not know these modern methods of using hooks and ladders, so we got near with our boats and climbed on.

“We held it for two weeks, then some Somali and Arab mediators stepped in to negotiate. We were convinced to take $50,000 (34,111 pounds) as compensation. Gosh! This was a huge amount for us. That inspired us and gave us an appetite for hunting ships.

“At that time we had no idea what we were doing, we were very worried about what would happen. Two of my friends backed out because they were afraid.

“In fact, my life has changed dramatically because I’ve received more money than I ever thought I would see. In one incident, I got $250,000, so my life has changed completely.

“It is incalculable how much money I have made. I mean, I won’t tell you how much. With the money, I buy cars, weapons, and boats. I also like having a good time and relaxing.


“I have also experienced many difficulties from my work.

“My life has been endangered. And some of my colleagues have died, some at sea when their boats capsized.

“The worst experience I had was when a U.S. warship attacked us while we were hunting a ship. It fired on us and captured some of us unexpectedly. We escaped with our speedboats while bullets buzzed over us.

“In 2006, we were chasing a ship to hijack, we pulled up alongside it, and one of our friends jumped onto the ship. The ship managed to escape, and we haven’t heard of our friend since. We don’t know whether he is alive or dead.

“I was also once jailed in Garowe. But my family attacked the jail and they killed two of the policemen, and then in the exchange of fire I escaped together with other prisoners.

“I have employees doing the business for me now. I am a financier. I get my money and I don’t have to leave Eyl. I have not gone to sea to hijack in recent months.

“My group goes to the sea and I manage their finances. I buy speedboats and weapons, whatever they need.

“Usually, no disagreements come between us. Once, though, we disagreed. When we were holding two French nationals in Habo, some demanded to take them to Eyl while others disagreed.

“When we are going out to sea, we expect benefits and losses, although we are always careful of warships that may attack us.

“It’s difficult to stay being a pirate but we have changed our previous strategies. We have transformed our operations in the Indian Ocean with new types of attacks, using modern equipments including GPS to show us where warships are passing.

“At the moment we have a new, active young generation which wants to take part in piracy. They mostly like money.

“If the U.N. gives approval to fight pirates on land, that will only lead to death of innocent Somalis. They cannot differentiate us from ordinary Somalis, we dress alike. Piracy will not stop unless we get a government.”

(Reporting by Abdiqani Hassan in Garowe; Editing by Wangui Kanina and Andrew Cawthorne)

By: Reuters     Posted: 12th/April/2009



Two Somali aid workers and their driver shot dead
Hooded gunmen shot dead two Somali aid workers and their driver in a town near the Ethiopian border, officials and witnesses say.

The head of Juba Community Care relief group, which operates in southern Somalia, his colleague and the driver were killed as they were leaving for a field trip in a southwestern town on Thursday.

“Unidentified gunmen opened fire on their car as soon as they left for a trip to conduct surveys,” Dahir Mohamed, one of their colleagues, said by phone from the region.

“We don’t know who is behind the attack and the gunmen escaped after they killed the men,” local elder Hasan Haji Idris said.

The attack occurred in Elberde, the only town in the southwestern Bakol region controlled by the government.

The motive for the attack was unclear, but aid workers have often been targeted in the lawless Horn of Africa country where 3.25 million people — almost half the population — are in need of humanitarian assistance.

Posted on Friday 10th April at 12:12:34


Somali Pirate Negotiations Difficult for Bulgaria
Diplomacy | April 12, 2009, Sunday

Photo by BGNES

Bulgarian Transport Minister, Petar Mutafchiev, has reported that the Bulgarian government is finding it difficult to deal with the Somali pirates.

Mutafchiev stated, that because the Malaspina Castle was not sailing under a Bulgarian flag, negotiations for the release of the 16 Bulgarian sailors on board have been difficult to conduct, Darik Radio reported Sunday.

The Somali pirates who hijacked the UK-owned ship Malaspina Castle have started negotiations for ransom with its owners.

The news was announced Friday night by Bulgaria’s Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister, Milen Keremidchiev.

Keremidchiev said the amount of the demanded ransom was known but declined to announce it. He pointed out that the pirates usually demand money for the release of the ship and its load, and have no demands for the crew.

Malaspina Castle was hijacked on April 6 in the Gulf of Aden. It is UK-owned, run by Italians and sails under a Panamanian flag. 16 of its 24-member crew are Bulgarians, and the rest include Russians, Ukrainians, and Filipinos.



Face-to-face with Somali pirates
April 12, 2009 – 1:00am
The Sirius Star was held captive by Somali pirates late last year. (AP)
By Charlotte Horn
Special to WTOP

“FREE TODAY!” wrote James Grady in his diary after 57 days of hope and fear. He and 24 other crew members of the Sirius Star oil tanker had been held captive by Somali pirates. But after a hefty ransom was paid, the crew was set free. The Scottish engineer clearly remembers and will never forget the time and day when it all started.

It was a morning like every other. On November 15, 2008, the Saudi Arabian tanker was sliding down the coast of Kenya. Scottish engineer James Grady looked from his work on the under deck to see two speedboats with ten pirates approaching the ship.

“When the pirates got close enough we could see they had Kalashnikovs and RPGs [rocket propelled grenades],” Grady tells WTOP.

The pirates were so fast in their small speedboats that the crew didn’t even have the time to set up the fire hoses, which are used to repel intruders. Instead, the pirates sped alongside, hoisted ladders and clambered aboard the ship. Although the Sirius Star is over 1000 feet long and able to carry 2.2 million barrels of oil, the under deck is only thirteen feet from the water level – no obstacle for the pirates.

Grady says he and the whole crew were shocked.

“We were much, much further south and much further away from the coast than any other pirate attack had ever happened before. It was a surprise to everybody that we were attacked.”

According to Grady, the Sirius Star was about 460 miles southeast of the Kenyan port of Mombasa. He adds the pirates themselves were surprised to be so far offshore. After entering the ship they immediately took over the bridge and ordered the captain to head towards Somalia – not bothering the rest of the crew.

During that time Grady and the other crewmembers had enough time to hide some personal belongings; Grady hid his radio above a loose ceiling tile in a bathroom before the pirates came down.

“The next 24 hours they spent stealing basically going around, cabin to cabin, stealing things like well mobile phones, laptops, cash, watches – that sort of thing.”

Grady especially vivid memories of one pirate who had stolen an officer’s watch but couldn’t figure out how to use it.

“Two days later the pirate came back to him and asked him how to change the time”, says Grady. “He didn’t know how to change the time of the watch he had stolen!”

“They weren’t sophisticated in any way. I mean dress-wise – they were dressed like tramps. I suppose. A ragged t-shirts, shorts, flipflops,” says Grady, adding that their behavior fit their appearance.

As uneducated as they were, some pirates could speak English and contacted the ship’s company via satellite phone and negotiated a ransom.

In an interesting twist, the crew also contacted the company without the pirates noticing it – online. And Grady says they did it right under the pirates’ noses.

“They wouldn’t know the internet if it hit them in the face,” says Grady. “[They] didn’t even know how to use a computer.”

During the ordeal, the pirates were “very, very touchy, very nervous” says Grady, but he says they “chewed a drug, called Myrrh.” He says the drug kept them calm and may be why they didn’t harm the crew.

The pirates were prepared, says Grady. Not only did they bring weapons and drugs on board, “they brought live goats which they slaughtered on the deck.”

The crew had six weeks worth of supplies but never shared with their hijackers because the pirates wouldn’t trust them. Grady says one of the pirate crew even watched when the ship’s chef cooked the goats.

“Just in case he tried to poison them I think,” Grady says. “That’s the main reason they didn’t eat much of our food”.

Grady took photos and kept a diary. He says only once did the situation reach a critical point. It was December 2, Grady remembers. “That night they got very, very nervous. They got into their head that there was a rescue attempt made by the U.S. military. The pirates had seen a strange light and he says they became ‘obsessed’ with the idea that ‘American forces were coming’.”

In the end, the crew convinced the pirates that the suspicious light came from a nearby lighthouse. However, that night Grady and the rest of the crew had to sleep on the bridge guarded by the pirates.

“That night I was not so happy. But for the most part there wasn’t any big trouble with them. The impression that I got anyway from them was that they had hijacked the ship and the ship crew were an inconvenience, a necessary inconvenience.”

Finally, after 57 days of negotiating, the ransom was delivered on January 9 of this year. “All the ship’s crew were lined along the portside of the vessel, ten feet apart. This was to make it easy to count. And before the money was even delivered, an airplane passed over and counted how many crew were there and made sure that all of them were safe. This was made very clear by the company that the ship crew came first.”

When the plane came back to throw down the ransom, Grady was hiding in the funnel and took exclusive pictures of the pirates. After receiving the money, which was said to be about $2 million, it was almost 24 hours before the last pirate left the ship.

At exactly at 5:34 am, Grady looked at his watch and made a mental note. Later he wrote it down in his diary and added in capital letters: “FREE TODAY!”.

It’s hard to describe the atmosphere among the crew after being held hostage for almost two months. The Scotsman makes it simple. “We were very happy. It was very good to get away. Very good.”

Lifting the anchor, the Sirius Star immediately left the African Coast and streamed towards Saudi Arabia. Now, back in Scotland, Grady is sure that he will never be caught by pirates again. His company already has changed its trading route – far offshore the African coast. He says his next assignment will be in May, hopefully back on the Sirius Star.

When it’s all said and done. Grady says the pirate ordeal won’t stop him from going back to sea. “I am not going to give up because of a bunch of bandits. I am in contact with the other European officers and they all feel the same. We are still going to do our job and Somali pirates are not stopping us doing that.”



Pirates hijacked an Italian tugboat, the Buccaneer, on Saturday. It was the seventh vessel to have been seized in just over a week.

Andrew Mwangura of the East African Seafarers’ Association said Sunday that the vessel had reached the Somali coast and that the crew of 16 – including 10 Italians, five Romanians and a Croatian – was unharmed.

Another ship sailing under a Turkish flag narrowly escaped capture on Saturday, using water hoses to repel pirates after they fired a rocket-propelled grenade at the ship.

In 2008, pirates seized over 40 vessels in and around the Gulf of Aden and collected tens of millions of dollars in ransom, prompting the international community to send warships to the region.

Around 15 warships from the European Union, a coalition task force and individual countries such as Russia, the United States, India and China patrol an area of about 2.85 million square kilometres.

However, the pirates are now venturing farther into the Indian Ocean off the south-east coast of Somalia to avoid the international patrols.

Observers have said they feel piracy can only be stopped by dealing with insecurity on the ground in Somalia, reported dpa.



Mr Omaar said poverty did not justify people going into piracy.

“There are 3 million Somalis in various parts of the country who are displaced. They have not resorted to criminality to survive,” he said.

“Those in this affair are in it for money and they have been in it for years. They cannot claim poverty.”

Local warlords

Experts and Somalis say pirates operate with impunity by buying off local warlords and officials. Some former government ministers have in the past been accused of complicity.



Shippers face higher insurance as pirates run amok

By RAPHAEL G. SATTER – 18 minutes ago

LONDON (AP) — Shipping your oil across the Gulf of Aden? Don’t forget your piracy insurance.

As a ragtag group of gunmen faced off for days against the U.S. Navy near the coast of Somalia before a cargo ship captain was freed Sunday, industry-watchers say shipping companies already smarting from the global downturn are forced to pony up extra cash for steeper premiums to cover multimillion dollar ransoms or take the long way around African continent in the hope of dodging hijackers.

“The pirates were the only people who had a good year in 2008,” said Crispian Cuss, a security consultant with the Dubai-based Olive Group.

The Gulf of Aden, which connects the Indian Ocean to the Red Sea and the Suez Canal, is one of the busiest and most dangerous waterways in the world. As pirates have become more aggressive, the cost of insuring ships has gone up. Some companies are spending more time training their crews, others are avoiding the area altogether — taking long trips around the Africa’s southern tip that can potentially add millions to the cost of each journey.

While the coast of Somalia has been a problem for years, it was flagged in May as an area of particular concern by Lloyd’s Market Association, and premiums have been rising — at least tenfold, according to some media reports. Neil Smith, the senior manager for underwriting for Lloyd’s Market Association, has said the exact figures are commercially sensitive in a highly competitive industry.

Large ships generally carry three separate types of insurance. Marine — or hull — insurance covers physical risks, such as grounding or damage from heavy seas. A second type of policy, protection and indemnity, covers crew issues, while war risk insurance covers acts of war, insurgency, and terrorism.

Although war risk policies typically cover hijackings and piracy, insurers often charge extra for ships that venture into high risk areas such as the Gulf of Aden. Others, including Chicago-based Aon Corp. and London’s International Security Solutions Ltd., have recently launched new plans specifically tailored to cover losses incurred by piracy — for example by including ransoms and cargo delays under the same policy.

The other option available to ship operators, taking the long way around Africa’s Cape of Good Hope instead of the short cut through the Suez Canal, is also expensive.

Routing a tanker from Saudi Arabia to the United States through the Cape of Good Hope, for example, would add 2,700 miles to the voyage and boost annual fuel costs by about $3.5 million, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration. In addition, it said using that route would mean the ship could make only five round trips a year instead of six, cutting delivery capacity by 26 percent.

European economies stand to absorb most of any extra expense. The Maritime Administration says more than 80 percent of trade moving through the gulf is with Europe.

While some shipping companies, such as the world’s largest, Maersk, have decided to take their oil tankers around the Cape of Good Hope, others have been reluctant to shoulder the extra expense, according to Graeme-Gibbon Brooks, the managing director of Dryad Maritime Intelligence Service, based in the English port city of Southampton.

“We have had a couple of phone calls from people saying: ‘It might well be safer to go around the Cape of Good Hope, but our competitors are not doing it,'” Brooks said. “The problem with any diversion, be it through the south of the cape or elsewhere, is that it’s going to have a commercial impact which will ultimately be borne by the consumer.”

But one analyst said the global downturn may be making the southern route more attractive.

“Because there are so many vessels plying the seas right now, it makes sense to take the leisurely way around Africa. … You’re removing capacity from the industry and helping to put upward pressure on freight rates,” said Jim Wilson, the Middle East correspondent for Fairplay International Shipping Weekly magazine.

As a result, demand for fuel on the West coast of Africa has surged as more ships coming from the east need to refuel after circling the cape, he said. At the same time, Egypt’s revenues from Suez traffic are down sharply from last year.

The pirate attacks have begun to spook some mariners. Noel Choong, head of the International Maritime Bureau’s piracy reporting center in Malaysia, noted that the crew of one ship recently refused to travel from Mombasa, Kenya, to South Africa for fear of being attacked.

Still, as security consultant David Johnson noted, taking the long way around to avoid the Somali coast doesn’t guarantee safety from pirates. The Saudi supertanker Sirius Star was captured by pirates six months ago while deep in the Indian Ocean, far from the pirates’ traditional hunting ground.

“Whichever way you go you’re going to run into pirate hotspots somewhere down the line,” said Johnson, the director of U.K.-based EOS Risk Management.

Insurance companies have also taken note of the pirates’ increased range:

“Until recently, insurers regarded vessels as being relatively safe if they kept a reasonable distance from the Somali coast,” said Smith, the manager at Lloyd’s Market Association. Writing in the February-March issue of Cargo Security International, he said the situation had now changed.

The latest pirate attacks come at a particularly challenging time for the shipping industry.

Dubai-based DP World, one of the world’s biggest port operators, warned last month that a falloff in global trade that began late last year “shows little sign of easing” because of the global recession.

Drewry Shipping Consultants Ltd. recently predicted cargo container shipments globally will drop 4.5 percent this year following decades of constant growth.

Associated Press Writers Adam Schreck in Manama, Bahrain, and Sean Yoong in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.



Somalia: Elders in talks to free captain
12 Apr 2009

MOGADISHU — Somali elders yesterday launched a new bid to free an American held hostage for days on a lifeboat after his pirate captors fired on a U.S. navy vessel and defied attempts to have them arrested.

Even as negotiations resumed to free the American captain, pirates manoeuvred an Italian vessel toward the Somali coastline after hijacking it with 16 people onboard in a separate incident on Saturday.

Their defiance of Western naval powers showed the difficulty in dealing with the pirates wreaking havoc on one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.

[ . . . ]

“Efforts to end the matter did not succeed Saturday and elders have left the village of Garacad Saturday midnight to resume the negotiations again,” Mohamoud Jama, a Somali elder in Garacad, told AFP by phone.

“We have been told the pirates need a free passage after they release the captain and the American officials told them they are handing them over to the local authorities in Puntland,” he added, referring to the northern Somali breakaway region that is a main hub for piracy.

An official in the Puntland town of Bossaso also said negotiations resumed yesterday. “But things are still murky and we don’t know how this matter will be ending,” he said.

[ . . . ]

The announcement of the capture of the Buccaneer, the 75-metre Italian vessel, was made in an e-mail to the boat’s owners Micoperi Marine Contractors, a spokesman told AFP. He said 10 Italians, five Romanians and a Croat were on board.




Somali Clans



American Salvage Association

BIMCO (Baltic & International Marine Council)

Cruise Line Links

Foreign Exchange Rates

International Association of Classification Societies (IACS)

International Chamber of Shipping

International Shipping Federation

Intertanko (International Association of Independent Tanker Owners)

IMO (International Maritime Organization)

INTERMANAGER (International Ship Managers’ Association)

Shipbuilding History (Not only history but a vast store of statistics assembled by Tim Colton)

MASSOP (Management Structures of Shipowners and Ship Operators)

National Shipbuilding Network (NSNet)

National Shipbuilding Research Program Strategic Investment Plan

Offshore Marine Services Association

Offshore Data Services Weekly Rig Count

Offshore Denmark

Panama Canal

Passenger Vessel Association

Shipbuilders Council of America

Shipping Facts

Society for Protective Coatings, formerly Steel Structures Painting Council)


Tradetech.net (Ocean carrier search engine)

U.S. Coast Guard Office of Maritime Safety and Environmental Protection

U.S. Maritime Administration


My note – there was a crew member on CNN special abut the piracy in Somalia and the current standoff – who said that the methods they have in use now do little more than “delay” – the security forces onboard and acoustic devices, etc. are “delay tactics, they do not deter the pirates from boarding and taking the ships.”  They really need deterrent procedures and tools without blasting the pirates out of the water. Make something that works.


(English translation follows this article)

From French News Site –

Piraterie – Somalie
Portrait-robot du pirate somalien

Dimanche 08 mars 2009
Les pirates qui infestent le golf d’Aden viennent de clans variés, mais répondent tous à un profil type : ils utilisent le même équipement, respectent la même technique d’attaque et perçoivent leur salaire selon les mêmes règles.
Dossier   À bord du Floréal, direction Mogadiscio la dangereuse

Dimanche 08 mars 2009
Par Marie Sophie JOUBERT  (texte)

Ce portrait type est dessiné à partir des informations données par l’équipage de la frégate le “Floréal” qui, le 27 janvier dernier, a intercepté neuf pirates : le médecin et l’infirmier qui les ont soignés, les commandos qui ont participé à leur arrestation. Le commandant relate également les informations reçues du commandement d’Atalante, l’opération anti-piraterie européenne.


Le commanditaire: Tête pensante de la piraterie, il ne va pas en mer mais gère habilement la logistique. Il importe les armes, corrompt les forces gouvernementales s’il le faut, blanchit l’argent et s’assure de la fidélité absolue de ses hommes. C’est également lui qui trouve des informateurs dans les ports de la région et qui recrute les gardes chargés de surveiller les navires détournés, mouillant au large d’Eyl, de Hobyo et de Harardhere.

Il revendique le statut de garde-côte – il affirme protéger les côtes des chalutiers occidentaux qui raclent l’océan sans permis et polluent le rivage de déchets toxiques -, mais calcule comme un homme d’affaires aguerri. Désormais fortuné, il roule en 4×4 rutilant dans les rues de Mogadiscio, la capitale somalienne, et vit dans de somptueuses villas à l’écart des camps où vivent les “simples” pirates.

L’un des pirates arrêtés le 27 janvier. Crédit : Marine nationale

Le simple pirate: Hybride, mi-pêcheur mi-mercenaire, il s’enfonce à des milles de la côte sur un simple skiff de bois, sans toujours savoir nager. Parfois en mauvaise santé – il absorbe quotidiennement du qat, la drogue locale anorexigène – il a rarement, voire jamais, reçu de soins médicaux.

Il peut être forcé à pirater : les commanditaires menacent souvent les familles de ces hommes.

Généralement, son sentiment d’appartenance à un clan est bien plus fort que l’attachement à sa propre vie. Son torse est d’ailleurs souvent scarifié pendant son plus jeune âge. Ces brûlures boursouflées, parfois faites à la cigarette et dessinées de manière plus ou moins symétrique, marquent son appartenance au clan.


Armement : De la kalachnikov – ou copie de “kalach” – au lance-roquettes, l’équipement du pirate somalien est pointu. Il se le procure n’importe où dans son pays, en guerre civile depuis des années. L’absence totale de taxes à Mogadiscio, qui a fait de la capitale somalienne la plaque-tournante du commerce légal et illégal en Afrique de l’Est, facilite également l’approvisionnement.

Ces armes, très rapidement rouillées, faute d’entretien sérieux, sont instables.

À terre, ils utilisent certainement des récepteurs AIS, des balises de réception pour repérer les bateaux de commerce.

Embarcation : Le pirate embarque dans un skiff, petit rafiot de bois utilisé par les pêcheurs de la région. Un moyen de ne pas se faire repérer. Petites et légères, ces embarcations sont quasi-indétectables au radar.

Pour passer encore plus inaperçue, la coque est généralement repeinte d’un bleu proche de la couleur de l’océan.

Crédit : Marine nationale

Pour se déplacer, les flibustiers reproduisent la technique ancestrale du “boutre”, la méthode de pêche yéménite. Un bateau principal de quelques mètres accompagne des skiffs, plus petits, pour les ravitailler en essence et en armes, de telle sorte qu’ils peuvent parcourir de plus grandes distances et attaquer très loin des côtes.

À bord de leur embarcation, les pirates ont toujours une échelle, outil indispensable pour accoster le navire attaqué mais également preuve irréfutable de leur culpabilité.


Le montant des gains : Les pirates raflent tout à bord des bâtiments attaqués. Téléphones portables, montres, vêtements, argent. Mais ces larcins ne représentent rien à côté des sommes obtenues grâce aux rançons versées sur des comptes, souvent ouverts à Dubaï. En 2008, les pirates somaliens auraient engrangé plus de 100 millions de dollars. Fin janvier 2009, ils auraient également récupéré 3 millions de dollars en échange du Sirius Star, le super tanker saoudien détourné le 15 novembre 2008 – les flibustiers en avaient demandé 25 millions.

La répartition des gains : C’est le commanditaire qui touche la plus grosse part. Ensuite, viennent celui qui a posé en premier le pied sur le navire attaqué puis celui qui a négocié la rançon : l’interprète. Le reste est réparti en fonction du rôle de chacun. Le lance-roquettes gagne, par exemple, plus que les autres parce que son arme est la plus lourde mais aussi la plus chère.

Une partie des gains est également réinvestie dans l’équipement ; une autre est reversée aux familles des pirates morts en mer. Elles perçoivent environ 15 000 dollars.

Les autorités locales recevraient également des enveloppes pour leur “bienveillance” .

Les pirates passeront deux jours sur le Floréal – Crédit : Marine nationale

Piraterie – Somalie
Les pirates passeront deux jours sur le Floréal – Crédit : Marine nationale

Crédit : Marine nationale

L’un des pirates arrêtés le 27 janvier. Crédit : Marine nationale


* ALGÉRIE : Le RCD va porter plainte après l’élection présidentielle
* PIRATERIE : Un nouveau navire capturé, les Français rapatriés dans la journée
* ALGÉRIE – PRÉSIDENTIELLE : L’opposition crie à la fraude après le plébiscite de Bouteflika
* DÉFENSE : Le groupe Safran mis en examen pour corruption au Nigeria
* SOMALIE : Des pirates refoulés par des canons à eau
* PIRATERIE : L’otage français du “Tanit” peut-être tué par un tir français
* MADAGASCAR : Ravalomanana et Rajoelina parlent par délégués interposés

(And “Black Hawk Down”)



Portrait – robot of Somali pirates
Sunday 08 March 2009

The pirates who infest the Gulf of Aden from various clans, but all respond to a profile type: they use the same equipment, with the same technique of attack and are paid according to the same rules.

> on the file – Floreal towards the dangerous Mogadishu

Sunday 08 March 2009
By Marie Sophie Joubert (Text)

This portrait type is drawn from information given by the crew of the frigate “Floreal” which on January 27, intercepted nine pirates: the doctor and the nurse who cared for the commandos who participated in their arrest. The commander also relate to information received from the command of Atalante, the anti-piracy operation in Europe.


Sponsor: Head thinking of piracy, it does not go on Wednesday but skillfully manages logistics. It is important arms corrupts government forces if necessary, launder money and ensures the absolute loyalty of his men. The Center also find information in the ports of the region and hiring guards to monitor the hijacked ship, anchored off Eyl, of Hobyo and Harardhere.

It claims the status of Coast Guard – it says protect the coasts of western trawlers scrape the ocean without permits and pollute the shores of toxic waste – but calculated as a seasoned businessman. Now wealthy, he drives a 4×4 gleaming in the streets of Mogadishu, the Somali capital, and live in luxurious villas outside the camps where the “simple” pirates.

The simple pirate: Hybrid, mid-mid-mercenary fisherman, he goes for miles from the coast on a simple wooden skiff, not always able to swim. Sometimes in poor health – he absorbs daily qat, local anorectic drugs – he has rarely, if ever, received medical care.

It may be forced to pirate the sponsors often threaten the families of these men. Generally, the feeling of belonging to a clan is stronger than the attachment to his own life. His torso is often scarified during his youth. These burns boursouflees, sometimes made with cigarettes and designed in a more or less symmetrical, mark his membership in the clan.


Weaponry: The Kalashnikov – or a copy of “Kalach” – the rocket launcher, the Somali pirate equipment is pointed. It brings the anywhere in his country in civil war for years. The total absence of taxes in Mogadishu, which has made the Somali capital the hub of legal and illegal trade in East Africa, also facilitates the supply.

These weapons, soon rusted, serious lack of maintenance, are unstable.
On land, they certainly use AIS receivers, receiving tags to identify the vessels of commerce.

Boat: The pirate loads in a skiff, a small tub of wood used by fishermen in the region. One way not to identify. Small and lightweight, these boats are virtually undetectable by radar.

To go even more unnoticed, the hull is painted a blue color close to the ocean.

To move the buccaneers, the ancient breed of “dhow,” the Yemeni fishing method. A main vessel of a few meters accompanies skiffs smaller for gasoline supplies and weapons, so they can travel longer distances and attack far from shore.

On board their boat, the pirates always have a scale, essential for docking the vessel attacked but also proof of their guilt.


The amount of gains: Pirates sweep all aboard buildings attacked. Cell phones, watches, clothes, money. But these thefts are nothing next to the sums obtained by the ransom paid into accounts, often open in Dubai. In 2008, Somali pirates have reaped more than $100 million. In late January 2009, they have also recovered $3 million in exchange for the Sirius Star, the Saudi super tanker hijacked on 15 November 2008 – the buccaneers had requested 25 million.

The distribution of earnings: It is the sponsor that affects the largest share. Then come the one who first landed foot on the ship and then attacked those who negotiated the ransom: the interpreter. The remainder is distributed based on roles. The rocket launcher wins, for example, more than others because his weapon is the greatest but also the most expensive.

A portion of profits is reinvested in equipment and another goes to the families of dead pirates at sea, they charge about 15,000 dollars.

Local authorities also receive envelopes for their “kindness.”.