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Posts Tagged ‘S/V Quest’

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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.

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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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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.”

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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-yachtexpress

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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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.

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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

“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)

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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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With the tragic loss of life this past week in the Gulf of Aden and Somali Basin, the discussion has turned once again to the question of whether cruising sailors can depend on the U.S. Navy for protection in hopes of preventing another tragedy. Perhaps cruising sailors will unite in support of one another to urge the Military to be more pro-active.

Recapping the Story:

On Friday, February 18th, Jean Adam, a retired dentist, and Scott Adam, 68, a retired filmmaker from California, as well as crewmates Phyllis Mackay, from San Francisco, and Bob Riggle, 67, a retired veterinarian from Seattle, were seized by Somali pirates while sailing on the vessel The Quest. The Adams, Mackay and Riggle had been traveling with yachts participating in the Blue Water Rally since their departure from Phuket, Thailand, rally organizers said Sunday on the event’s website. The group, which organizes long-distance group cruises, said the Quest broke off on February 15 after leaving Mumbai, India, to continue on their circumnavigation alone.

The couple, along with their crew, were all found dead from gunshot wounds aboard the Quest by U.S. forces early Tuesday morning. (Read prior post).

The yacht was being shadowed by the military after pirates took the ship off the coast of Oman on Friday.

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BWR at the new Kochi International Marina. From BWR.com

A statement from Blue Water Rallies on Tuesday called the four “brave adventurers. “We at Blue Water Rallies are stunned and devastated by the news of the loss of four friends who have had their innocent lives taken away from them by the pirate menace which is plaguing the Indian Ocean,” it said.

U.S. President Barack Obama was notified early Tuesday of the deaths, White House spokesman Jay Carney said. Obama had a briefing on the situation over the weekend and authorized the use of force against the pirates in the event of an imminent threat to the Americans’ safety, he said.

The United States “strongly condemns the murder of four U.S. citizens,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a statement, adding, “This deplorable act firmly underscores the need for continued international progress toward confronting the shared security challenge posed by piracy in the waters off the Horn of Africa.”

What can be done:

pirates-being-towed-UPI

Somali Pirates being towed.UPI

One must look into the justification for sailors choosing to sail across the Indian Ocean to the Red Sea instead of other options.

Blue Water Rallies responded with this statement:

‘Although yachtsmen have been discouraged from sailing through this area for some time, it is a hard decision when the only other choices are to sail around the stormy, dangerous seas off South Africa, leave the yacht in the Far East, put it on an expensive cargo ship, or to sail back across the Pacific which presents more weather challenges and difficulties. When one has set one’s heart on a circumnavigation, these choices are very difficult to make.’

To load a yacht like the SY QUEST on a cargo ship and to bring it to the Mediterranean from the Maldives – whereby such cargo vessel then could be protected by the navies – would have costed the owner e.g. of SY QUEST exactly US$37,700  – an amount most yacht-owners simply can not afford, because the majority of them are not the rich. But that wrong picture is then believed by the readers of glossy magazines as well as Somali sea-bandits. The only other alternative for a safe transit would be to hire a private security escort – an undertaking, which could prove to be even more costly.”

Serious questions have come up and it hast been asked, if the navies do work in cohorts with business interests of the shipping industry or private security companies and just how much is the United States willing to do in order to protect it’s citizens who sail into these most troubled waters?

An article that recently appeared on the online news site International.to wrote:

“Currently many yachts are waiting for a safe opportunity to do the passage from the Indian Ocean into the Mediterranean Sea through the Gulf of Aden, termed now the “pirate alley”, because the navies have persistently refused to safeguard or escort these ships.

Rene Tiemessen, leader of one of the convoys consisting mostly of American and European yachts attempting to reach their home countries from Asia hopes the latest hijacking will cause ‘all politicians to wake up and see what has become of their doing nothing to protect us.’ After his words had been proven true, he told Sail-World.Com by satellite: ‘Although very very sad, this is what we have been warning about all the time.’ He added that ‘people felt abandoned’, since the yachting community, as opposed to merchant seamen, ‘have been neglected.’

Rene and Edith Tiemessen, sailing with their two-year-old child on Alondra, are leading a convoy of around 30 yachts from Thailand to Turkey. For months the Tiemessens have begged the UK Navy to give an escort for approximately 250 sailors travelling on about 100 yachts, while they sail the last part of the journey across the Indian Ocean to Salalah in Oman.  They were caught by the developing piracy situation while being on the other side of the Indian Ocean and their simple request to safeguard their voyage home has been consistently refused.

ecoterra-piracy-map

ECOTERRA Intl. and ECOP-marine fully support the rights of free sailors to cross the international oceans and to visit countries and peoples, who welcome them with natural hospitality. It is a shame for all Somalis that criminal gangs now prey on private sailors in non-Somali waters and it is a shame for the so-called international community to not be able to provide protection for convoys of these yachts twice or three times per year.

For further details and regional information see the Somali Marine and Coastal Monitor and the situation map of the PIRACY COASTS OF SOMALIA (2011). See the archive at www.australia.to and news on www.international.to

EMERGENCY HELPLINES: sms or call: +254-719-603-176 / +254-714-747-090

East Africa ILLEGAL FISHING AND WASTE DUMPING HOTLINE:  +254-714-747-090 (confidentiality guaranteed) – email:  office. This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it [at]ecoterra.net. This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

MEDIAL ASSISTANCE RADIO (MAR) network on 14,332.0 USB every day from 07h30 UTC to 08h00 UTC

ECOTERRA Intl. is an international nature protection and human rights organization, whose Africa offices in Somalia, Kenya and Tanzania also monitor the marine and maritime situation along the East African Indian Ocean coasts as well as the Gulf of Aden. ECOTERRA is working in Somalia since 1986 and does focus in its work against piracy mainly on coastal development, marine protection and pacification. ECOP-marine (www.ecop.info) is an ECOTERRA group committed to fight against all forms of crime on the waters. Both stand firm against illegal fishing as well as against marine overexploitation and pollution.” From http://international.to/.

In a post today to the one of the many world cruising groups online, a member made the following contribution:

“The NATO Shipping Centre has this latest advice for yachts:

‘The danger of piracy in the Gulf of Aden and Somali Basin is high and continues to increase. Naval forces strongly recommend that yachts do not transit this area. Merchant ships use Best Management Practices (BMP) to win time for the naval forces to assist them. With a low freeboard and slow speed, yachts are particularly vulnerable to pirate attack. Any direct response from naval assets will depend on the proximity to the incident and may not occur. ‘BMP3 and the self protection measures described in them were not designed for cruising yachts nor will they be sufficient to prevent boardings by Somali pirates. ‘

This statement was issued 2 Feb 2011. As one can see, the experts also do not believe that yachts are less likely to be targeted by these pirates. It is just chance on a big ocean. Run into the pirates and they will try to capture any vessel.”

Perhaps groups like the Seven Seas Cruising Association, (SSCA) whose members are comprised mostly of cruising sailors, will take up the task and begin using their strength in numbers to lobby the U.S. Government for more protection.

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It is with much sadness and grief that I pass on the grim news reported this morning by Fox News that all four sailors on board the cruising Yacht The Quest were killed by their captors.

Fox News confirms that U.S. forces responded to gunfire aboard the yacht Quest at approximately 1 a.m. Tuesday, but discovered all four hostages had been shot by their captors. Despite attempts to save their lives, all four hostages died of their wounds.

“We express our deepest condolences for the innocent lives callously lost aboard the Quest,” said Gen. James N. Mattis, U.S. Central Command Commander in a news release.

Two pirates died during the confrontation and 13 were captured and detained, along with two pirates already in custody. U.S. forces also found the remains of two other pirates already dead aboard the vessel and believe a total of 19 pirates were involved in the hijacking.

The yacht Quest was hijacked on Friday off the coast of Oman and U.S. forces had been closely monitoring the vessel.”

The bodies of the four Americans — including a yachting couple from California — have been taken on board the U.S. carrier Enterprise. Four U.S. Navy ships had been shadowing the couple’s yacht after it was taken over by the pirates last week off the coast of Oman. Pirates had said it was headed to Somalia.  While negotiations were underway to gain the release of the Americans, U.S. forces responded to gunfire aboard the Quest. The four Americans had been shot.

According to the U.S. military, the Enterprise is now off the Horn of Africa.

Read the entire report here:
https://foxnews.adsonar.com/admin/advertisers/indexPl.do

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