These last few weeks, since the tragic slaughter of innocent cruisers in the Indian Ocean, there has been some minor movement towards dealing with this new threat to private mariners.
This week a meeting will take place at the Homeland Security Studies and Analysis Institute in Arlington, Va. between the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The media briefing will be held as part of the Small Vessel Stakeholder Executive Summit scheduled for Friday at the Homeland Security Studies and Analysis Institute, Arlington, Va., where publication of the Small Vessel Security Strategy Implementation Plan will be announced.
A 20-minute, question and answer session will follow the Small Vessel Stakeholder Executive Summit. It will feature Rear Adm. Paul Zukunft, assistant commandant for Marine Safety, Security, and Stewardship for the U.S. Coast Guard; and Thomas Winkowski, assistant commissioner for field operations for Customs and Border Protection. ( From Boating-Industry.com)
In other news:
South Africa has launched a Long Range Identification and Tracking (LRIT) system, a sophisticated network of satellites meant to monitor sea vessels and track down pirates. Somali pirates are increasingly moving South, putting South African vessels in greater jeopardy.
Last year alone there were over 400 incidences of piracy off the horn of Africa, resulting in $238 million in ransoms. At this moment, pirates off the Somalia coast are in control of 30 ships, containing 660 hostages.
“This is a revolutionary development in the security of our seas,” said Karl Otto, head of the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA). “Until now, we had very limited capacity to identify, track and monitor beyond the horizon. Many ships have sailed our waters without our knowledge.”
LRIT tracks vessels that roam south of the equator–its range reaches up to 1,000 nautical miles from South Africa’s coast and is meant to be an alert system for potential pirate vessels, as well as to help track shipwrecks and marine pollution. The system was initially set up for last year’s World Cup, but has transitioned into becoming a crime-fighting apparatus.
Tracking systems are only effective at preventing piracy if there is a mechanism in place to track vessels that are not formally registered, says Bromley.
Most ships have transponders that communicate with satellites in orbit and communicate data such as speed and location. A pirate vessel would not have a transponder present, for fear of being tracked, and so the test for South Africa will be to monitor those vessels that are unregistered and unrecognized. (From FastCompany.com).
And this on the cost of Private Escorts through Pirate Alley:
“Thanks for your email. I’m sure it would be cheaper to load your boat on to a cargo vessel than hiring an escort vessel. Costs are around 8-10 000 USD per day of escorting. We can on occasion give much better quotes if we are “empty” in the same direction you wish to transfer but that requires a bit of luck to get together.
We normally don’t do convoys of yachts, it is simply too dangerous. We could not effectively defend several yachts and we would never take on a boat under sail.”
Naval Guards Ltd (UK)
There is much discussion about the South African alternative, but given the ever-widening range of pirate mother ships which have attacked commercial vessels as far south as Mauritius and Madagascar, the only route not yet attacked would be far offshore, avoiding the Seychelles, Mauritius and Madagascar. The S. African route used to be an attractive alternative for those who wanted to go that way, but part of the attraction was visiting those very islands that are now on a course deemed too dangerous. The offshore route is notoriously stormy and is a huge detour of several thousand miles for those whose goal is the Med.
So the options are narrowing for those of us now here in SE Asia who would like to transit to the Med: ship for USD 30,000+, or remain here indefinitely in the hopes the situation will eventually be successfully resolved.”
Nancy and Burger Zapf