Posts Tagged ‘Somali pirates’

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.


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.


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).


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.


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.


Image courtesy of icc-ccs.org

Piracy Resources:

Seven Seas Cruising Association

Noonsite – Piracy

Caribbean Safety & Security Net (CSSN)


Yacht Piracy (Klaus Hympendahl)

The International Sailing Federation (ISAF) – Piracy Reports

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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This past month there was both good news and bad from the top cruising and sailing rally organizers.

First the bad news…

After the horrible tragedy at the hands of Somalian pirates that took the lives of four Blue Water Rally participants, rally organizers released the following statement:

“It is with great regret that Blue Water Rallies Limited announces that the Company will cease trading in its current form on 30 April 2011 at the end of its current Round the World Rally. Since its formation in 1997, Blue Water Rallies have organised eight world rallies and take great pride in having enabled over 200 owners and hundreds of crew members to realise their dream of a circumnavigation.  The current economic downturn and a dramatic rise in piracy in the Indian Ocean (which shows little prospect of resolution) however, have led us to make this disappointing, but we feel realistic, decision.”


As a result, BWR has canceled their 2011-2013 Round-the-World Rally “owing to insufficient entries.”

In the aftermath of the killings aboard the sailing yacht Quest in mid-February and more recently, the taking hostage of seven Danes, including three children, after hijacking their yacht ING off the Somali coast, the Rally Organizers approached Dockwise Yacht Transport seeking an alternative for participants to safely cross the Red Sea and Indian Ocean.

As was stated in a press release issued on March 12, “These incidents and other recent acts of piracy in the area have made proceeding in any direction from Salalah too high-risk for the vast majority of participants. Strong recommendations from The UK Maritime Trade Organisation and The Maritime Liaison Office were decisive factors.”

As a result, Dockwise Yacht Transport (DYT) orchestrated the transport of 20 private cruising yachts from Salalah, Oman to Marmaris, Turkey.  Dockwise is best known for its fleet of semi-submersible “float-on/float-off” yacht carriers, also coordinates lift-on/lift-off arrangements with third-party carriers, and logistically can fulfill almost any request, even if it is driven by unfortunate circumstances.

“Due to increased piracy, cruising sailors are altering their plans for getting from southeastern Asia to the Mediterranean,” said DYT President Clemens van der Werf.  “By virtue of their independent and adventurous nature, some of these sailors had not previously thought about shipping as an alternative, but they are thinking differently now.  Dockwise is committed to assisting them in all phases of learning about the process and then implementing a plan so they can ship to designated ports rather than travel through dangerous waters on their own.”


DYT's "Yacht Express" underway. Courtesy of DYT.

Dockwise Yacht Transport has been working one-on-one with owners, captains and crews to ensure safe and efficient passages by way of shipping.  “We will do all we can to help sailors meet their needs, utilizing extensive shipping routes and schedules used by our own Dockwise vessels as well as our alliances with heavy-lift operators around the world.”

And now for some good news!

Despite the piracy issues in the Red Sea,  cruisers appear not to have been deterred from setting sail elsewhere on bluewater adventures.

The UK-based World Cruising Club, organizer of the  ARC (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers), say the 2011 event has been booked out well ahead of the official cut-off date.

“The WCC has just experienced the busiest January ever for enquiries and entries,” they said.

“Enthusiasm to join sailing rallies, whether as a boat owner or crew, continues to grow.”

ARC-world2012The World ARC will become an annual event from 2014

The Atlantic Rally for Cruisers, an annual transatlantic rally, starts each November in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, and has now become the most popular way to cross the Atlantic. Every year the ARC brings together over 200 yachts from all over the world. The Caribbean destination is Rodney Bay in St Lucia, one of the most beautiful islands in the Lesser Antilles. The 2700nm passage on the NE tradewind route takes on average between 14 and 21 days.

Conceived as a friendly race for cruising yachts to make the Atlantic crossing both safer and more enjoyable, participating yachts must carry a range of safety equipment including a liferaft, EPIRB and VHF radio. Daily radio nets contribute further to the safety of participants. The presence of experienced sailors is another incentive for those with little offshore experience.

According to the rally’s website, “ARC 2011 will have a record-breaking 25 multihulls on the start line, including 21m Barreau 71 Stadium (FRA), and catamarans from Lagoon, Gunboat, Catana, Privilege and Outremer.  New Gunboat 66 Phaedo (USA) has been attracting a lot of coverage in sailing magazines around the world, and is sure to be an eye-catcher in the Vela Latina! 

The oldest boat entered so far is Cruinneag III (GBR), a Campbells & Dickies ketch built in 1936, and we’ll have lots of brand spanking new boats, including Discovery 55 Brizo (GBR).   38 boats to date are less than 40ft (12.2m) long, and the smallest is Sigma 33 Sibilation (GBR).”

In other world cruising news:

pirate expansion map

An informal convoy of 10 yachts who banded together to sail from Thailand to Turkey has arrived safely in Aden without experiencing any issues – but that doesn’t mean that the region can be traversed without risk of piracy attack.

The European Union Naval Force taskforce set up to combat piracy reports that while piracy activity has been much less during the last few weeks, this is probably mainly to the weather, and it is expected to increase again once this eases.

The organiser of the Thailand to Turkey informal convoy told noonsite.com that the 10-vessel fleet had had a trouble-free run to Aden, although the turmoil in Yemen had been apparent during a stopover.

“The convoy went well. No major problems, apart from some fishing nets and engine hick-ups, no encounteres with any other but fishing boats and friendly people,” convoy organiser Rene Tiemessen said.

“Mukallah proved a useful stopover to sleep and rest although the internal turmoil in Yemen was felt dearly. A demonstration went on, streets were not very busy and we had a police escort going for dinner in the evening. Nevertheless, it was a nice stop.

“The last part to Aden was a quiet one. Yes, a lot of conversations on the VHF about piracy and coalition forces but nothing disturbing.”

From MySailing.com.au.

Some important resource links for Cruisers Safety & Security:

redwheel iconredwheel iconThe UK Maritime Trade Organisation (UKMTO) (http://www.mschoa.org/Links/Pages/UKMTO.aspx) in Dubai is the primary point of contact for liaison with military forces in the region.

redwheel iconThe Maritime Liaison Office (MARLO)  (http://www.cusnc.navy.mil/marlo/) US Navy Bahrain, is a secondary point of contact after UKMTO in the region.

redwheel iconThe Red Sea of Cape of Good Hope Route?  http://www.cruiserlog.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=12338

redwheel iconNoonsite.com  http://www.noonsite.com/

redwheel iconU.S. State Department Warnings  http://www.travel.state.gov/

redwheel iconCanadian Travel Warnings and Info  http://www.voyage.gc.ca/index-eng.asp

redwheel iconWomen & Cruising – Resources  http://www.womenandcruising.com/resources.htm

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Photo: Onne Vanderwal

Dockwise Yacht Transport (DYT) will be orchestrating the transport of 20 private cruising yachts from Salalah, Oman to Marmaris, Turkey in April.  The company, best known for its fleet of semi-submersible “float-on/float-off” yacht carriers, also coordinates lift-on/lift-off arrangements with third-party carriers, and logistically can fulfill almost any request, even if it is driven by unfortunate circumstances.

“Due to increased piracy, cruising sailors are altering their plans for getting from southeastern Asia to the Mediterranean,” said DYT President Clemens van der Werf.  “By virtue of their independent and adventurous nature, some of these sailors had not previously thought about shipping as an alternative, but they are thinking differently now.  Dockwise is committed to assisting them in all phases of learning about the process and then implementing a plan so they can ship to designated ports rather than travel through dangerous waters on their own.”

DYT President Clemens van der Werf. Photo: N.Birnbaum

Van der Werf explained that in mid-February four Americans, on board a sailboat hijacked by pirates off the coast of Oman, were killed by their captors, and more recently, Somali pirates took hostage seven Danes, including three children, after hijacking their yacht off the Somali coast.

“These attacks on private cruising yachts are deeply disturbing and are an assault on our collective yachting family,” said van der Werf, emphasizing that for more than two decades, Dockwise Yacht Transport has been working one-on-one with owners, captains and crews to ensure safe and efficient passages by way of shipping.  “We will do all we can to help sailors meet their needs, utilizing extensive shipping routes and schedules used by our own Dockwise vessels as well as our alliances with heavy-lift operators around the world.”

From BYM Industry News

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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.


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.”
Naval Guards Ltd (UK)

“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)

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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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


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?”

Bill, s/v BeBe

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