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Concern Over Recent Piracy Attacks off Somalia

By doina — last modified May 14, 2006 05:06 PM

Published: 2006-05-14 17:06:45
Topics: Piracy
Countries: Djibouti , Egypt , Eritrea , Oman , Somalia , Yemen

Several attacks on commercial shipping in the waters off Somalia have caused great concern among the crews of yachts planning to sail through that area in the coming months. The International Maritime Bureau Piracy Reporting Centre has issued the following warning to ships:

ALERT : Somalia - Thirty two incidents have been reported since 15 March 2005. Heavily armed pirates are now attacking ships further away from the coast. Ships not making scheduled calls at Somali ports are advised to keep at least 200 nm from the Somali coast. Note: the distance between the coasts of Somalia and Yemen is approximately 130 miles.

Noonsite has received the following comments from Richard H. Donaldson-Alves, Controller of the Mobile Maritime Net, South East Asian Waters. His station is used by many yachts and broadcasts daily on 14,323 MHz at 0025 Z and 0055 Z.

RDA: The Piracy Reporting Centre has 32 "piracy" incidents for Somalia since March 05, of which 10 took place off the North Coast, they do not say if yachts are included in the number - my own info has a total 4 yachts. I believe that with the present state of lawlessness in Somalia the baddies may not discriminate. The recent example of where they tried to take on a cruise ship reveals a certain mindset - the use of ships that they have shipjacked as motherships from which to launch small attack craft demonstrates a change in tactics if not strategy. If they are not able to take a ship, any yacht will do - that's why I guess it is safer to take all reports as applying to any type of vessel. One defensive method would be to arrange yachts in logical groups, arrange that they organise their arrival at a specific waypoint prior to entering the Gulf, ensure that each group is led by one or two yachts which are well found in terms of crew, communication equipment and shipshape. To provide the group/flotilla with daily weather and security reports. To log the progress of the group/s and report this to military and other concerned authorities etc...

As a result of the rampant piracy in these waters, an analysis was carried out to determine where the majority of attacks were taking place and with that information to put together a passage plan for yachts on their way to the Red Sea.

Area of Gulf of Aden where piracy involving yachts has taken place:

Area bounded by 13 º 05’ N 13 º 55’ N x 47 º 43’ E 48 º 45’ E. Yachts to consider transiting this area at night.

Suggested waypoints to avoid the above : see http://www.noonsite.com/Members/doina/R2006-05-08-2

Note: Obviously there is no reason to stop in Salala unless for fuel, stores etc. Therefore coming from Uligan in the Maldives where diesel is available the plan would be to head for the first waypoint. The 6th waypoint takes you into Djibouti as opposed to Aden – if Aden is preferred. Only turn for Aden when reaching the 4th Waypoint.

Noonsite has contacted various authorities and has obtained the following telephone numbers that are manned 24 hours and could be contacted in case of an attack. As the usual emergency radio frequencies have been of little use in the past, in case of an attack, those equipped with satellite phones may call +973 1785 3283 (CUSNF in Bahrain) or +253 813031 the French Navy in Djibouti, but it must be stressed that even if the authorities are prepared to respond, it could take several hours for help to reach a yacht in distress. US flagged vessels may also try USCG in Norfolk, Va, on +1 757 398 6231, who will endeavour to locate a vessel in the vicinity of the attack and request it to go to the assistance of the attacked boat. The Coast Guard may also coordinate any rescue operation, or liaise with naval forces in the area.

Jay Barry of S/V Gandalf, one of the two yachts attacked in March 2005, has kindly sent us the following list of email addresses of officials that he had contacted after the attack and who may be able to use their influence to improve the situation in the area.

Mcilvene, Leon, A McilveneLA@state.gov US Embassy Muscat, Sultanate of Oman

Robert.Webber@me.navy.mil, Ops Officer US FIFTH FLEET Bahrain

Lesh, William W, LeshWW@state.gov, US Embassy Sanaa, Yemen

Captain Innes USCG, innesrd@hoa.centcom.mil

Lewis, Andrea K., LewisAK@state.gov ViceConsul U.S. Embassy, Djibouti

IMB Kuala Lumpur imbkl@icc-ccs.org.uk IMB PIRACY REPORTING CENTRE

IMO calls for UN action on Somali pirates

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