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Posts Tagged ‘hijacked boat’

Christian Colombo, a former French Navy sailor and his wife were on their way to fulfil their dream. They were sailing to see the world in their yacht, the S/Y TRIBAL KAT until this dream was destroyed in the most traumatic way.

The TRIBAL KAT was attacked by Somali suspect criminals off the coast of Yemen while passing through the Gulf of Aden. Christian Colombo was killed during the attack, his body thrown overboard and his wife taken against her will by the suspect criminals. She was being moved by skiff towards Somalia when by a combination of good fortune, considering the vast area to be searched, and close cooperation between the counter-piracy forces in the region, a complex and dangerous rescue operation succeeded in recovering Mrs. Colombo uninjured.

The S/Y TRIBAL KAT was only the most recent of about 10 yachts attacked and their crews captured by Somali suspected pirates in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean in the past three years.

Nearly every recorded attack on a yacht has led to the crew being taken hostage and moved to Somalia where they were kept on land, their yachts being discarded. S/Y ROCKALL was completely stripped of everything onboard including the engine.

pirates-being-towed-UPI

PHOTO: Somali Pirates being towed. UPI

On land, the level of risk and hardship on the hostages is increased. They are removed from their familiar environment and exposed to a rough country with a harsh, hot climate. Often, hostages are held in the most basic conditions, i.e. no electricity, no sanitary installations, rationed basic food and water. Pirates have frequently moved hostages at short notice to avoid detection, increasing the stress and strain for the hostages.

The ordeal hostages have to endure can include every form of abuse. Physical and psychological mistreatment can include physical violence and mock executions. In some cases, crews and families have been separated for extended periods of time exposing hostages to the stress of uncertainty on the fate of their partner or child. When hostages were separated, pirates have simulated killing one or more of the hostages with machine gun fire out of sight of the remainder to increase the pressure for a ransom to be paid; the hostages are assumed to be very rich and the ransom demands can be for millions of dollars.

On average, maritime hostages have been held for over 7 months. However, for Paul and Rachel Chandler from the S/Y LYNN RIVAL, their captivity lasted 388 days in the Somali bush. They were eventually released after payment of a ransom however others are not so fortunate; French yacht-owner, husband and father, Florent Lemacon, was killed in April 2009 during the liberation of the S/Y TANIT. In February 2011, pirates shot and killed four Americans aboard the S/Y QUEST off the coast of Somalia when U.S. naval forces were trying to negotiate their release.

(Read about the kidnapping of the crew of the Quest).

S/V Tanit

PHOTO: Sailing Yacht Tanit

The presence of warships from EUNAVFOR, NATO and the Coalition Maritime Force, in addition to other naval forces, in the Gulf of Aden has significantly reduced the success of piracy attacks in this area. However, there remains a serious and increasing threat from piracy from the southern Red Sea, through the Bab el-Mandeb to the Gulf of Aden, off the coast of Somalia and into the Indian Ocean. This area is the same size as Western Europe and there are only between 12 and 18 warships in the area, with far higher priority tasking than protection of yachts and their crews, so if attacked, the chance of release is remote.

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PHOTO: S/V Quest, courtesy of svquest.com

The risks to yachts from pirates are significant – they operate from one or more small skiffs, able to reach up to 25 knots. Increasingly, pirates use small arms fire and Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPGs) to stop and board vessels. Attacks have taken place mostly during the day, but pirates have also attacked at night. Pirates are likely to be aggressive, highly agitated, and possibly under the influence of drugs, (including khat, an amphetamine like stimulant).

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PHOTO: Pirate attack zone

Yachts cannot out-run the pirates and are unable to prevent boarding. Merchant ships, which have higher freeboards and can adopt the self-protection measures recommended in the fourth edition of “Best Management Practices for Protection against Somalia Based Piracy” (BMP) improve their chances but even these only delay a determined pirate.

There is only one sure way of avoiding your yacht and crew being captured – freight the yacht across the high-risk area.

Otherwise you could be playing Russian Roulette with your crew and family.

Source: Maritime Executive Magazine Online

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Global Piracy Report Released

Both the commercial maritime world and the yachting cruiser are on high alert for piracy in the Indian Ocean after the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) International Maritime Bureau’s (IMB) global piracy report  was released last week.

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Map showing the location of the Gulf of Aden, located between Yemen and Somalia. Nearby bodies of water include the Indian Ocean, Red Sea, Arabian Sea, and the Bab-el-Mandeb strait. By Norman Einstein

No Surprise

The report revealed that there has been a sharp rise in piracy world-wide, driven by a surge in piracy off the coast of Somalia, where 97 attacks were recorded in the first quarter of 2011, up from 35 in the same period last year. Violence has also increased worldwide in the first quarter of 2011; 18 vessels were hijacked, 344 crew members were taken hostage, and six were kidnapped, IMB reported. A further 45 vessels were boarded, and 45 more reported being fired upon.

‘Figures for piracy and armed robbery at sea in the past three months are higher than we’ve ever recorded in the first quarter of any past year,’ said Pottengal Mukundan, Director of IMB, whose Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC) has monitored piracy worldwide since 1991.

Still, only five of that total have involved yachts or other cruising vessels, up from two during the same time frame in 2008. However, Cyrus Mody, the organization’s manager, says the figures for yachts are incomplete, and are simply too small to make reliable comparisons. The group maintains a piracy reporting center in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

IMB’s Piracy Reporting Centre is the only manned centre to receive reports of pirate attacks 24 hours a day from across the globe. IMB strongly urges all shipmasters and owners to report all actual, attempted and suspected piracy and armed robbery incidents to the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre.

Immediate Action Needed to Stop Piracy Off Somalia

May 26, 2011. In a call for immediate action on piracy, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) urged governments to take action against the increasing number of pirate attacks occurring off the Somali coast. The Call for Action was launched at the annual International Transport Forum taking place in Leipzig, Germany from 25-27 May.

Despite measures taken by the United Nations Security Council and the presence of naval units in the area of the Gulf of Aden, pirates continue to strike. More and more commercial shipowners have had to resort to using private security firms to protect their seafarers and ships.

In 2010, the One Earth Foundation estimated the economic cost of piracy on the supply chain to be between US$7-12 billion.

“This is of great concern to any industry having to navigate through the Gulf of Aden to deliver goods by water,” ICC said.

Prepared by the ICC Commission on Transport and Logistics, the call for action said: “As the World Business Organization, ICC urges governments to recognize that piracy, in addition to its effect on the safety of seafarers, has an important financial impact on global trade and shipping, and furthermore poses increased threat on the stability and security of energy supply lines not only for major industrial nations.”

ICC called on governments to improve the rules of engagement given to the navies present in the area, and refocus the efforts of the UN and other international bodies to ensure that pirates are brought to justice and that required institutions in central Somalia are established to maintain economic and social standards.

Together with shipowners and trade associations around the world, over 20 CEOs from key shipping and trading companies have endorsed the ICC Call for Action on Piracy.

Help is coming – but slowly

International organizations are urging governments to enforce maritime laws more aggressively. The U.S. Navy and Coast Guard have been training some third world maritime forces in how to deal with attacks against yachts. And companies are adapting new technology – such as drone aircraft – that might someday help.

Cruisers Have SSCA In Their Corner

In the wake of the murder of four Americans aboard the sailing vessel Quest, the Seven Seas Cruising Association has released a statement pushing for a “Call to Action” by the U.S. and other world leaders to stop piracy on the seas.

The statement outlines a number of steps that should be taken to stop the growth of piracy in both Somalia and other dangerous areas of the world. Perhaps the most controversial is the recommendation that nations of the world execute an agreement “to immediately stop all current and future payment of ransoms to pirates for the release of individuals or vessels, and publish this fact far and wide.”

The rationale:

This is a particularly painful, yet absolutely vital step. It is highly likely that ruthless and desperate pirates will test our will and resolve in this matter, and they have stated that they will kill hostages if rescue attempts are made or ransoms are not paid. While we deeply regret any loss of life, more ransom money paid means that even more lives will be lost, and the pirates will grow ever stronger. It is absolutely necessary to break the current business model where piracy provides a fast path to great wealth. Ransom money equals increased piracy, escalating costs, more hostages and greater loss of life.

Other recommendations include:

  1. Implement a policy to quickly and aggressively rescue hostages from pirate control.
  2. Immediately take whatever actions are necessary to protect the lives and vessels, both commercial and private, which are currently vulnerable to pirate attacks as they attempt to reach the Red Sea and the Suez Canal.
  3. Work through the United Nations to establish a multi-national naval quarantine of the Somali coast that forbids armaments aboard Somali vessels, authorizes the boarding and search of any vessel operating in the quarantined area and authorizes the seizure of any armaments found on Somali vessels.
  4. Focus anti-piracy efforts on the sources of piracy.

We strongly recommend you read and share this statement: http://ssca.org/downloads/SSCA_Call_to_Action_2_Mar_11.pdf. Let us know what you think of it in the comments.

What You Can Do

The IMB’s Mody and other experts point to several precautions that boaters can take to minimize the risks that they’ll encounter pirates on a circumnavigation or extended passage. Even little precautions can make a big difference.

1. Route your cruise carefully to avoid the most pirate-infested waters whenever possible. The IMB and several other groups list specific areas where piracy occurs most often. Besides Somalia, the waters off Venezuela top the list, along with Colombia, much of Central America, parts of the Caribbean, the Cape Verde islands, the Philippines, Eastern Malaysia and the reef-laden Malacca Strait, which links the Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean. The State Department’s website also contains a list of warnings. about piracy.

2. Do your research! Learn as much as you can about pirates and how they operate. Check out the list below for a list of websites on Piracy expressly for cruisers.

3. Before you start out, make sure that you and your crew have a plan on how to deal with piracy attacks so that no one makes a rash move that could endanger lives. This includes knowing where emergency equipment is, how to get help and how to respond if you’re boarded. (Most experts advise crews to go along with attackers rather than fight.)

4. File a Float Plan with friends and relatives. Some “experts” recommend filing that with local governments, but in my experience local governments can be corrupt, especially in poorer countries. I’ve personally known cruisers who were set up by local officials in Columbia, Mexico and Central America.

5. Compile a list of telephone numbers and radio channels you’ll need to contact local authorities and, in some cases, let them know in advance when you’ll be transiting and what route you plan to take.

6. And Most Importantly, try to arrange to go in convoys with other boats when you sail through pirate-infested waters, and develop a plan for communicating with one another, getting help and what to do when your convoy is attacked. To make a convoy work, you’ll have to team up with boats that can make the same speed that your boat can, so you can all stick together. Use AIS to call one another rather than hailing over the VHF where everyone can hear you.

7. Sail at night. Many authorities suggest that you sail through pirate-infested waters at night – preferably when it’s cloudy and there’s no moon to make you easily visible. Turn off all lights – both interior lights and running lights – so it’s harder for pirate crews to see you (and keep a careful watch for traffic). Keep your engine noise to a minimum. And shut down unnecessary electronic devices.

Set a lookout at all times – even when you’re at anchor – and assign someone to monitor VHF-FM and single-sideband radios for warnings of pirate activity. Pirates usually use speedboats and frequently attack in early morning or late afternoon when they can use the sun to their advantage. If you have a sailboat or a vessel with low freeboard, you’re an especially inviting target.

Pirates don’t wear distinguishing clothing, but there are some signs and characteristics that should make you wary. Attacking vessels are usually small skiffs or speedboats, carrying two or three crew members.

Rule of Thumb: If you don’t see nets in or around the boat and sea birds aren’t flying around, they aren’t fishermen.

live-piracy-map_icc-ccs-org

Image courtesy of icc-ccs.org

Piracy Resources:

Seven Seas Cruising Association
www.ssca.org

Noonsite – Piracy
www.noonsite.com

Caribbean Safety & Security Net (CSSN)

http://www.safetyandsecuritynet.com/

Yacht Piracy (Klaus Hympendahl)
http://www.yachtpiracy.org/en/dangerous_regions.htm

The International Sailing Federation (ISAF) – Piracy Reports
http://www.sailing.org/1382.php

Live Piracy Map from ICC
Live Piracy Map Link

Note: The main aim of the PRC is to raise awareness within the shipping industry, which includes the shipmaster, ship-owner, insurance companies, traders, etc, of the areas of high risk associated with piratical attacks or specific ports and anchorages associated with armed robberies on board ships. This site is not directed towards piracy against private yachts.

IMB Piracy Reporting Centre

If you wish to report an piratical incident or armed robbery please contact the 24-hour Piracy Reporting Centre:

Tel: + 60 3 2078 5763
Fax: + 60 3 2078 5769
Telex:  MA34199 IMBPCI
E-mail: imbk l@ icc-ccs.org /attrpiracy @ icc-ccs.org
24 Hours Anti Piracy HELPLINE Tel: + 60 3 2031 0014

Please Stay Safe Out There and Fairwinds!

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Map of Oman courtesy of Merriam-Webster

A report from the Anti-Piracy Conference in Dubai this week in the National.ae says that the UAE has rightly taken the lead in bringing together partners from all over the world to discuss how nations can best cooperate to diminish the threat of piracy. But while international patrols and joint maritime agreements may temporarily address the issue, the ultimate solution lies in stabilizing Somalia.

“With a thriving black market on the Somali coast, ransoms of up to $10 million (Dh36.7million), and the lack of international will to prosecute pirates, there has been little to dissuade Somali men from turning to pirate gangs.

Somalia’s hobbled government, which was represented at yesterday’s conference in Dubai, appears incapable of solving this crisis alone. “We know we will win,” Mohammed Abdulahi Omar Asharq, the foreign minister of Somalia’s transitional federal government, told an audience of more than 50 dignitaries from around the world. “But how long it takes and at what cost will depend on your response, your partnership and your leadership.”

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UAE Foreign Minister H.H Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan and his Syrian counterpart Walid Moallem meet at talks in Dubai. Photo: mofa.gov.ae.

The international community has already taken significant steps to diminish attacks that have emanated from Somalia’s impoverished shores.

The Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor in the Gulf of Aden, which is patrolled by EU and Nato naval forces, has greatly deterred tanker attacks. Cooperation between nations, meanwhile, has helped to save hostages, as was the case this month when UAE forces rescued a hijacked crew with the help of the US Fifth Fleet.

But as yesterday’s conference in Dubai revealed, there is a lot to do. From Yemen’s beleaguered fishing community to the enormous trade volume that passes through Dubai’s docks, piracy has hit regional industries hard. Rising insurance rates and the high price of prosecution can cost the shipping industry millions, while companies are also having difficulty recruiting mariners as hostage situations become more deadly.

The UAE has done well to take the lead in bringing together partners from all over the world to discuss how nations can best cooperate to diminish the threat of piracy. But while international patrols and joint maritime agreements may temporarily address the issue, the ultimate solution rests in stabilizing Somalia. Piracy and its spoils can have proven irresistible for the many who lack an education, a job, or a better prospect for their future.”

Comprehensive global response to piracy off Somalia needed

UN Anti-Piracy. Image courtesy eturbonews.com.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called for a comprehensive response to maritime piracy off the coast of Somalia, saying the menace is a consequence of the overall insecurity, lack of a stable national government and underdevelopment in the Horn of Africa country.

“Piracy is not a water-borne disease. It is a symptom of conditions on the ground, including the overall security and political situation in Somalia,” Mr. Ban said in a message to a conference on piracy in Dubai, whose theme is “Global Threat, Regional Responses: Forging a Common Approach to Maritime Piracy.”

“Therefore, our response must be holistic and comprehensive, encompassing simultaneous action on three fronts: deterrence, security and the rule of law, and development. We must work with the Somalia authorities, and we must weave our counter-piracy efforts into an overall solution for Somalia,” said Mr. Ban in the message, which was delivered on his behalf by Patricia O’Brien, Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs.

Mr. Ban pointed out that his former Special Adviser on Legal Issues Related to Piracy off the Coast of Somalia, Jack Lang, had outlined how Somalia and the international community can legally step up counter-piracy efforts. One of the measures recommended by Mr. Lang is the consolidation of international assistance for increasing prison capacity.

“Some of his recommendations are already being implemented, albeit on a modest scale, with the assistance of UNODC [UN Office on Drugs and Crime] and UNDP [UN Development Programme.],” said the Secretary-General.

He also informed the conference that the Security Council had last week decided to urgently consider the establishment of specialized Somali courts to try suspected pirates both in the Somalia and in the region, one of Mr. Lang’s recommendations.

He said that the trust fund for counter-piracy administered by the UN had also proved to be an efficient instrument. During its first year, the fund approved 12 projects worth $4.3 million, and total contributions reached $6.2 million.

“This is an encouraging start, but much more needs to be done. I urge you to attend the fundraising event being convened tomorrow by the United Arab Emirates and the United Nations, and to generously support the fund’s important work,” he said.

He deplored the violence and hostage-taking associated with piracy, saying it had taken a heavy human toll, especially for seafarers. Piracy is also distorting the Somali economy and disrupting shipping lanes that are vital to people around the world, he added.

“And the pirates’ reach is expanding. Piracy seems to be outpacing the efforts of the international community to stem it,” said Mr. Ban. “I therefore reiterate the commitment of the United Nations to work with the international community and the Somali authorities to implement a comprehensive strategy for a sustainable solution to this global menace.”

From: eturbonews.com.

Oman has it’s say

Hosted by UAE’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al Nahyan, the conference has brought together industry experts and governmental representatives from around the world, including key-note speeches and group discussions throughout the two-day event.

Peter Ford, chief executive officer, Port of Salalah who has been invited by the conference organizers, told Muscat Daily, that there is a significant interest from all parties affected by the piracy to find a solution. “We will work with the top decision-makers in the maritime industry to try and improve the situation. The piracy issue is being discussed at the highest levels in Oman.”

This year, there have been 107 incidents of hijacking by pirates based in Somalia, with 17 vessels taken by pirates, according to figures from the International Maritime Bureau. More than 500 crew members are currently being held hostage either at sea or in lair along the Somali coast, with seven fatalities in piracy-related incidents.

bluewaterrally-banner

The Affect on Cruising Rallies

Members of the recently canceled Blue Water Rally (BWR) have said that the fatal hijacking of one of the participating yachts in February highlighted the risks in continuing with the journey and resulted in a premature conclusion for the adventure.

In an exclusive interview with Muscat Daily, the husband and wife crew of the Bali Blue, who had been at sea for two years, said that the number of pirate attacks in the waters around Oman have made the region too dangerous to sail through.

They added that the deaths of the four crew members of the Quest, which was also participating in the rally and approaching Salalah, at the hands of pirates, brought home the reality of the risks involved.

“It was devastating,” said Bali Blue skipper Pete Bailey, “We were all at sea at the time and taking precautions such as maintaining radio silence. When we got the news of the Quest, everyone was profoundly affected. There was a belief amongst some people that the chances of a yacht being taken were low, and it could be minimised if we took sensible precautions.”

“The chances of a yacht falling prey to pirates here have increased substantially. There are others who have the intention of coming here and may be months away in their journey, and they really need to be made aware.”

His wife Carol added that the difficulty of those crewing the fleet of yachts in trying to complete their journey evaporated in the wake of the hijacking of the Danish ING, the crew of which are still being held by Somalian pirates, and the disaster that unfolded on the Quest. “In a matter of minutes it had become very personal, and it was an awful outcome. My difficulty lay in justifying to my family the continuation of the trip and another couple of weeks of risky passage.”

During their voyage, they have seen international naval vessels combating piracy from Europe, Russia, China, India and the US, but none from nations in the region. “Years ago, the Malacca Straits were the equivalent of what is happening today, and with a collaboration between Asian countries, they got it under control. Something similar has to be done in this region too,” Carol said.

The Baileys, along with 20 private cruising yachts from the Blue Water Rally, decided to place their boats on board a Dockwise Yacht Transport vessel rather than risk the passage from Salalah, Oman to Marmaris, Turkey. Read: Dockwise Yacht Transport to deliver 20 cruising sailboats from Oman.

Hopefully the Dubai Conference will result in some concrete steps that can be taken now to protect recreational yachts and cruisers in this dangerous part of the world.

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Members of the guided-missile cruiser USS Gettysburg (CG 64) visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) team and members of U.S. Coast Guard Maritime Safety and Security Team 91112 conduct maritime security operations. Gulf of Aden (Eric L. Beauregard/U.S. Navy)

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.

gulf-of-aden-normaneinstein

Map showing the location of the Gulf of Aden, located between Yemen and Somalia. Nearby bodies of water include the Indian Ocean, Red Sea, Arabian Sea, and the Bab-el-Mandeb strait. By Norman Einstein

“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:

Piracy Info, Official Responses and Recommendations…

Postby Halekai » Thu Mar 10, 2011 3:02 am
We recently wrote to a UK-based armed security service that specializes in escorting private vessels through pirate alley. A Google Search brings up several such services, but this one was mentioned in the Washington Post recently and was also in the news for successfully thwarting a pirate attack on a Danish motor vessel it was accompanying. Being curious what such services cost, we wrote to them. Here’s their reply: 

“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.”
Rrgds
Mike
Naval Guards Ltd (UK)
www.navalguards.com

“We are here in Phuket where we have talked to professional crew of some mega-yachts, and they concur that this is a typical price. Mega-yacht crew all have scary stories about attack attempts that are not making the news. 

I think this effectively puts to rest the possibility for world cruisers of safely transiting the Indian Ocean alone or in convoy until the piracy situation is successfully resolved. To sail without armed escort would be foolhardy given the recent dramatic escalation of attacks on private vessels. The US Government statement makes clear that government escort of those stranded by this crisis is not being considered. 

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

sv Halekai
Reprinted with permission.

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(Adm Terry Kraft is Roy Kraft’s son and present Commander of Enterprise Strike Group)

comm-kraft_usnavy_kathleengorby
Commander Carrier Strike Group Seven, Rear Adm. Michael H. Miller, along side Commanding Officer of USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) Capt. Terry B. Kraft, tosses a wreathes to honor the Japanese and American Sailors who fought in the Battle of Coral Sea.

March 6, 2011

“Greetings Olympic Squadron! This is the first in what I hope will be monthly updates as we begin our 2011 deployment aboard the legendary USS ENTERPRISE.  This should also be a good break from my Dad’s sea stories as he has headed down to Arizona for his annual pilgrimage.  Hope for the Marines “springs” eternal! As for me, I have been the commander of the Enterprise Strike Group (Carrier Strike Group 12) since September of last year.  I was very happy that Dad could attend the change of command.  Needless to say I love my job!  I have been well trained by warriors like Admiral Kelly throughout my career and hardly a day goes by when I don’t think of some of the advice and mentorship I have been able to keep in my head over the past 30 years.

We departed Norfolk on a very cold day, 13 January.  We had a brand new ship’s Captain, a personal friend of mine named Dee Mewbourne, who would be getting underway on ENTERPRISE for the first time.  We lit out from Norfolk for a three-day CQ to get our airwing (CVW-1) back up to speed and began our transit.

Our two port calls in the Med were both fantastic and the crew did a good job on liberty in both Lisbon, Portugal and Marmaris, Turkey.  My wife Mary was able to link up with me in Lisbon and spent a month’s pay on porcelain items which now fill all the drawers in my stateroom quite nicely.  As we pulled out of Marmaris, the scheduled portion of our cruise pretty much ended…17 days into it.

There is a great book called “The Age of the Unthinkable” which talks about “the new world disorder” and how what may look like a stable system scientifically can actually be on the verge of change at any time.  I think we are witnessing that here from the decks of ENTERPRISE.  Tunisia, Algeria and Albania were experiencing widespread unrest as we entered the Med. Lebanon was another area for our attention. Finally, and emphatically, Egypt erupted.  All of you are well aware of the planning loads that happen on the ship as events begin to swirl. We had hardly finished getting ready for one tasking when another one would crop up.  Our scheduled Suez transit began to look tenuous as we wondered who would be in charge if we went through?

As we watched the regime fall in Egypt, we prepared for our transit south. It ended up being uneventful as the military did a good job taking care of the waterway that provides a significant amount of income for Egypt. We were happy to be done with that and into Fifth Fleet!  We expected to begin our support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM with our airwing in late February. Support of our troops (and those of many other nations) on the ground in Afghanistan is the high-end mission we train for all of our workup cycle. It demands a thorough understanding of the battlefield, the rules of engagement, and an absolute precise weapons delivery.  To add to the fun – it is about a six hour mission with multiple air to air refuelings enroute. My “three hour butt” would have a tough time with that mission!

We never made to our station off Afghanistan. On the 17th of February we were made aware of a sailing vessel that had been pirated, the Quest.  Four Americans were onboard and our mission was to host the all the personnel that would be involved in the negotiation and recovery of the hostages. Two other ships were working on the effort as well, our cruiser USS LEYTE GULF, and a ship left behind by the Lincoln Strike Group, the USS STERRETT.  As we found out later, there were a total of 19 pirates aboard that 58 foot sloop.  They were heading to Somalia.  There are not a lot of details I can discuss, but I was amazed and impressed with how the crews of those three ships rose to the challenge.  Over the next three days I listened as negotiators patiently worked with the criminals aboard Quest.  The pirates were given every opportunity possible to end the standoff peacefully. On the fourth day, unexpectedly and without warning, a few of the pirates shot all four hostages. It was a sad day for all of us here who had given so much in support of the rescue attempt. We were proud to carry the remains of Scott and Jean Adam, Phyllis MacKay and Bob Riggle and perform a memorial ceremony on the flight deck as we transferred their remains to the COD.  As Sailors do, they crafted handmade shadowboxes in our wood shop into which we placed the flags of each ship involved on that final day.  It was a four day span of events I will never forget – and it renewed my strong desire to find a solution to this pirate mess.

We currently hold the 15 suspected pirates aboard ENTERPRISE.  They will be transferred and face justice in the near future.  I visit them regularly.
The latest domino seems to now be Libya.  Both Captain Mewbourne and I were on the ELDORADO CANYON raid of 1986 when we were flying A-6 Intruders so we get a bit of a chuckle as we again look at actions that may need to be taken as that country spirals down.  As I type this, we sit in the Red Sea awaiting further tasking. I think it serves as an interesting example of how our carriers continue to be in demand. Whether they send us back to Fifth Fleet or through the Suez back to Sixth Fleet, we know we will be busy.  We’ll be ready for it.

I’ve told the strike group that we are witnessing a change in the middle east the likes of which I have never seen.  Oppressed groups are not fighting for “jihad”; they are fighting for some of the basic freedoms we hold so dear in largely secular movements.  It is amazing to watch how the power of a determined group of people can start and sustain such sweeping changes in this region. It’s fascinating to have a front row seat!
All the best, Krafty”
Photo: US Navy / Photographer’s Mate Airman Kathleen Gorby
From Jody & Russ Snyder posted online at the Association of Naval Aviation Olympic Squadron
Jody Snyder is a past SSCA Board Member and a dedicated SSCAer for many years.  Jody and her husband Russ built their own boat and circumnavigated with their two sons many years ago. Thanks to Ginny for sharing!

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Commander David G. McClellan, Chief of the United States Coast Guard Prevention Operations Department, has released a statement in response to the incident involving the death of four hostages aboard the S/Y Quest on 18th February 2011.

The statement is directed to all mariners considering, or in contact with, parties planning to sail in the Gulf of Aden or Arabian Sea. It reads:

R 041954Z MAR 11
FM COMDT COGARD WASHINGTON DC//CG-54//
TO ALCOAST
BT
UNCLAS //N16210//
ALCOAST 084/11
COMDTNOTE 16210
SUBJ: SPECIAL NOTICE TO MARINER (NTM) FOR US YACHTS AND SAILING VESSELS REGARDING PIRACY OFF THE COAST OF SOMALIA

1. ON 18 FEB 11, A U.S. REGISTERED SAILING VESSEL WITH 4 US CITIZENS ON BOARD WAS HIJACKED BY SOMALI PIRATES IN THE ARABIAN SEA, 282NM SE OF SUR, OMAN.  DURING NEGOTIATIONS FOR RELEASE OF THE VESSEL, THE 4 US CITIZENS ONBOARD WERE KILLED.

2. THE EXTREME HAZARDS OF OPERATING OFF THE COAST OF SOMALIA IN THE GULF OF ADEN AND THE ARABIAN SEA SOUTH TO THE MOZAMBIQUE CHANNEL AND EAST TO THE COAST OF INDIA, REQUIRES IMMEDIATE EDUCATION OF THE RISK TO ANY U.S. REGISTERED PLEASURE VESSEL OPERATING IN THESE WATERS OR U.S. CITIZENS PLANNING TO TRANSIT THESE AREAS ON FOREIGN FLAG REGISTERED PLEASURE VESSELS.

3. A SPECIAL NOTICE TO MARINERS WARNING VESSEL OPERATORS OF THIS RISK HAS BEEN RELEASED THROUGH THE NAVCENS WEBSITE
(HTTP://WWW.NAVCEN.USCG.GOV/) AND THROUGH DISTRICT LOCAL NOTICES TO MARINERS.  THE SPECIAL NOTICE HAS BEEN PROVIDED TO NATIONAL BOATING FEDERATION, NASBLA, US SAIL, BOAT US, US POWER SQUADRON, AND OTHER BOATING/YACHTING ENTHUSIAST GROUPS TO POST OR LINK THROUGH THEIR  WEB SITES OR PUBLISH IN THEIR NEWSLETTERS, TWITTER-FACEBOOK OR BLOG POSTS, OR MONTHLY MAGAZINES.
navyseal-zazzle-shirt

4. OCEANGOING SAILING VESSEL RALLIES AND U.S. PLEASURE VESSELS INVOLVED IN CIRCUMNAVIGATION VOYAGES MAY BE UNAWARE OF THE EXTREME RISK TO LIFE AND VESSELS OPERATING OFF THE EAST COAST OF AFRICA.  THE SUBJECT NTM WAS SPECIFICALLY RELEASED TO REINFORCE THESE IMPORTANT CONCERNS AND TO PROVIDE CONTACT INFORMATION TO DIRECTLY SUPPORT THE SAILOR IN THAT THEY MAY HAVE OR PLAN VOYAGES THROUGH THESE HIGH RISK WATERS.
THE WIDEST DESEMINATION (SIC) OF THIS NTM TO THE PUBLIC AND US REGISTERED OCEAN YACHT OPERATORS IS IMPERATIVE.

5. DISTRICT AND UNIT RECREATIONAL BOATING SPECIALISTS, AND UNIT AUXILIARISTS SHOULD ENSURE WIDEST DISSEMINATION/EDUCATION OF THIS NTM AND TAKE EVERY OPPORTUNITY TO MEET  WITH  YACHTING CENTER MANAGERS AND  POST/DISTRIBUTE THE SUBJECT DOCUMENT DIRECTLY TO YACHT OPERATORS/OWNERS WHO COULD BE PLANNING FUTURE CIRCUMNAVIGATION VOYAGES.

From www.synfo.com.

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gulf-of-aden-normaneinstein

Map showing the location of the Gulf of Aden, located between Yemen and Somalia. Nearby bodies of water include the Indian Ocean, Red Sea, Arabian Sea, and the Bab-el-Mandeb strait. By Norman Einstein

Here are some links to blog and stories of cruising yachts that have made recent voyages through the pirate-infested waters of the Gulf of Aden:

S/V CONVERGENCE: Sailing the Med! Randy Repass (West Marine)

Pirate Attacks Force Leisure Sailors to Change Course

Noonsite.com – Piracy pages

Thanks to Nancy Zapf (S/V Halekai) for these useful links.

More links to safe passages through Pirate Alley

Pirate Alley Part 1: S/V Feel Free, By Tom Morkin

Successful Transit Through Pirate Alley: S/V Magnum

Aden, Yemen: Sailing Leander

barnstorm_morkin

S/V Barnstorm, which went through the Gulf of Aden in March of 2007.

In other news…

Bill (S/V Bebe) wrote this post on the Cruisers Forum.com:

“I am currently researching UN Resolutions and actions regarding the resolutions that have to do with Piracy.

The UN passed unanimously Security Council Resolution 1851 in Dec 2008 which was submitted by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. It authorized all countries to engage in operations defeating piracy and armed robbery off Somalia’s coast by deploying and using land operations, naval vessels and military aircraft, and through seizure and disposition of boats and arms used in the commission of those crimes.

On April 27, 2010, United Nations Security Council Resolution 1918 was adopted unanimously after recalling resolutions 1814 (2008), 1816 (2008), 1838 (2008), 1844 (2008), 1846 (2008), 1851 (2008) and 1897 (2008) on Somalia. The Council’s resolution called on countries to criminalize piracy within their national laws. Resolution 1918 simply called on countries to write new criminal laws regarding piracy.

We went from a resolution that authorized and invited military force to root out piracy to a new resolution that calls on countries to write new laws to criminalize piracy...the change also recalled the first resolution #1851.

Makes no sense to me. What am I missing here? Any legal eagles out there?”

Best,
Bill, s/v BeBe

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