Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Pirates of Somali Coast

Most of the piracy happens in the northern part of Somalia and the Gulf Aden area, the gateway to Suez Canal and Europe.

Gulf of Aden is in the mouth of the Red Sea and the only route for a vessel sailing to Suez Canal, Mediterranean Sea, and Europe from Indian Ocean and Asia. The alternative route is via Cape of Good Hope the southern tip of African continent which is not recommendable unless the Suez Canal is close as it happened during the Israeli Arab War in 1967.

The problems of Piracy in the Gulf of Aden can be solved with the cooperation from the government of Yemen and the IMO. I proposed that the ships sailing Red Sea, Suez Canal, and Mediterranean to hugged the coast of Yemen (perhaps about 12 to 15 miles south of Yemen coast. Also the International Maritime Organization to adopt and establ ish a Traffic Separation for east bound and west bound vessel in the Gulf of Aden.

Naval vessels from the United Nations to patrol the proposed IMO Traffic Separation Scheme which will be located on the edge of 12 miles international boundary of Yemen.
The Coalition Naval vessels deployed in Somalia water is virtually helpless in combating piracy in the Somalia coast. I reckoned the best thing they should do is to blockade the known Pirate bases off the Somalia coast especially in Northern Somalia bordering the Gulf of Aden and in the island of Socotra, and also the known Pirate bases about 39 to 40 miles north of Mogadishu and the pirates area about 20 to 30 miles south of Mogadishu port. The coalition naval warships must have small fast craft to chase the pirates speed boats.

It is a well known fact that the pirates operating in small fast speed boats have a mother ship which also has modern equipment like AIS, Automatic Identification of System, from there AIS they could know the names of the merchant vessels, their last port and next port and their cargo. Also they have VHF Radio that can monitor the movements of ships entering or leaving a Somalia port since vessel have to contact the Port Control before entering a port. However these equipments may have helped the Pirates in capturing vessels.

Merchant vessels in pirate infested area should switched off their AIS in order not to let the pirate's mother ship to have all advance informations they needed. Merchant vessels entering Somali ports like Mogadishu, Berbera, etc should be exempted from calling by VHF Radio the concerned Port Authorities.

Messages even within 1 hour before arrival port and even in the anchorage area should be sent by email to the Shipping Agent or relayed to the Shipping Agent by the Charterers or by the ship Owners. instead of sending via VHF Radio.

There is a also a chance that someone in the Port Authorities were the one giving information to the Pirates. There was an incident where the Pirate was tellling the Captain of a vessel they hijacked that the vessel's ETA in entering the port of Mogadishu was not accurate since they the Pirate have waited outside the port for more than 2 hours from the "ETA" given by that vessel they have hijacked.
Those seafarers who were sailing right to the home base of the Somali pirates were mostly from the Philippines, India, and some from East European countries. Perhaps they were brave and noble enough to sail to Mogadishu and provide food relief to the starving mass of humanity in Somalia. Or perhaps they were desperate seafarers who want to earn an honest living even in perilous situations.

Below were some photos of Mogadishu port the wartorn capital of Somalia.

Very few ships is entering the port of Mogadishu owing to the real danger of piracy, owing the port of Mogadishu itself is one of the home base of the Somalian pirates.

We discharged our food cargo in Mogadishu, Somalia after a perilous voyage from Dubai to this pirate infested port.

Discharging food cargo for the hungry people of war-torn Somalia.

The rocky entrance to Port of Mogadishu which is as dangerous as the pirates.

My former vessel alongside a wharf in Mogadishu, Somalia.