West African States Lack Means to Fight Piracy

MarineLink.com
Tuesday, August 27, 2013
John A. C. Cartner, member of the Board of Advisors, AdvanFort

By John A. C. Cartner

The western African states have said clearly they do not have the naval, coast guard or customs resources to deal with the piracy evident in the Gulf of Guinea. Further, they do not say, but it is clear, they do not have the money to do it.

Piracy is now confined to one principal area. But piracy is similar to blood — a little spilled goes a long way. Piracy will spread elsewhere when and if strong emphasis is put on the Gulf of Guinea.

Let us look at the hard facts in this hard business. Here is the seagoing manpower for each state and the vessels available from north to south, as well as their populations and GDPs. Taken together these statements are probably fairly truthful. Third party reports confirm this about uniformed persons and equipment, GDPs and populations.

Morocco: 42,000 uniformed persons, 22 offshore patrol boats, six frigates, one corvette;
Western Sahara: none;
Mauritania: 620 uniformed persons, ten patrol and coastal craft;
Senegal: 600 uniformed persons, three flotillas of vessels and craft said to be capable on the high seas as fast coastal patrol and surveillance and naval support;
Gambia: various older Chinese craft and small ships;
Guinea Bissau: none operational;
Guinea: 900 uniformed persons, several small patrol craft;
Sierra Leone: 500 uniformed persons, Type 62 FAC-7, three LSU;
Liberia: six to 10 small patrol craft;
Cote d'Ivoire: 900 uniformed persons, 30 patrol craft in various classes;
Ghana: 5,000 uniformed persons, 30 assorted patrol craft;
Togo: two patrol boats;
Benin: 200 uniformed persons, one OSA missile craft;
Nigeria: 7,000 uniformed persons, 13 HAM fast-attack, 34 inshore patrol boats;
Cameroon: 1,300 uniformed persons, two coastal combatants, 40 patrol craft;
Equatorial Guinea: nine of various classes;
Gabon: 500 uniformed persons, one fast-attack and eight patrol craft;
Republic of Congo: 1,000 uniformed persons, eight patrol craft;
Angola: 2,000 uniformed persons, 12 missile and torpedo craft, 27 inland and coastal patrol craft, 15 amphibious craft.

There we have it. There are perhaps 300 craft and ships. Good sources suggest that there is perhaps 50% operational capability in the lot. Thus, 150 craft and ships remain. Further, many are perhaps not useful for suppressing the kind of piracy evident in the Gulf of Guinea, say 75% — thus, 37 to 40 perhaps are useful and ready.

It is clear that the western African states are not naval powers. There are maybe 75,000 uniformed persons. Of these 75% are land forces. Read it and be afraid of piracy in western African water.

The total population is some 387,000,000 persons. The combined GDP is, in US Dollars, $558 billion (2012). The GDP of California was $1.9 trillion in 2010. Read this and be sad about western African people. The GPD per capita per month is $120 — the cost of an unpalatable dinner for one in a mediocre Manhattan hotel dining room. Read this and feel queasy about western African existence.

Even if the western African states could agree to combined operations or even coordinated operations — things not seen heretofore in polarized and politicized Africa — what is left, other than words to suppress piracy, is sad in the most liberal estimates. Read this and be resigned about western Africa politics.

The craft and ships and persons available have other established missions such as fisheries and customs duties, as well as national security defenses. The coastline from the northern border of Morocco to the southern border of Angola is approximately 4,650 miles — depending on who is measuring. Assuming UNCLOS jurisdictional waters, this area comprises some 2.1 million square miles to mind. This is for some 40 craft and ships. That means each is responsible for an area 54,000 square miles or a box of 735 miles per side. That is neither practicable nor effective. Pirates are not very careful about UNCLOS limits. Pirates are opportunists who operate where naval forces do not operate. Getting caught makes for a bad day for a pirate. The odds are there will be few bad days for pirates in western Africa. One may be challenged or one may retreat from these realities in western Africa.

Remember that the traffic for VLCCs and ULCCs from the Cape of Good Hope to Europe is vulnerable in addition to the container vessels calling west Africa and vice versa for each. Then there are the fishing vessels and the smaller coastal ships and older break- bulk ships and ore carriers. Navigation and protection areas aside, forces otherwise uninformed go where the pirates were last. The barn door is thereby shut firmly after the horse is out.

It is unclear that the western African states have the kinds of surveillance equipment or intelligence capabilities required for the mission to be successful. Those things are expensive, as is the training to use them. Indeed, for many states — not just in western African — they are merely glints in the eyes of their naval commanders.

Then there are small arms however you choose to define them. The customs rules are strict and strictly enforced. Destabilization is always a fear. After all, what would a good coup be without some gunshots?

Looking at the GDPs of the Western Africa states and their demographics, politics and fears, it is clear that they collectively simply cannot afford to have naval, coast guard and customs forces ready and capable of dealing with pirates. The collective will of western

Africa does and will have a great difficulty in putting the common good ahead of state politics. Western Africa needs industrialized state help to deal effectively with these criminals.

The facts do not offer a great deal of hope or assistance from those in the general neighborhood of western African piracy.

advanfort.com

Maritime Reporter March 2015 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

Patrol Boats

Mediterranean Rescue Operations Strain Shipping

The Wall Street Journal ran a story yesterday describing how the increasing number of seaborne migrants making the journey from Africa to Europe has not only

17 Countries for Maritime Security Training in Indonesia

Representatives from 17 countries would take part in the sixth Maritime Security Desktop Exercise that is scheduled to be held in Yogyakarta, Indonesia from March 30 to April 1.

RIBCRAFT Delivers Boat to Decatur Police Department

RIBCRAFT, manufacturer of professional grade rigid inflatable boats (RIBs) for safety professionals, law enforcement, and military agencies, announced the delivery of a specialized RIBCRAFT 7.

Maritime Security

Vietnam's Submarines to Counter China?

Vietnam's new submarines could alter the balance in the South China Sea quite dramatically, say maritime security analysts.   Vietnam and China have long contested

US Navy to Roll out Underwater Spy Satellites

The robotic series that remade crusade in skies will shortly extend to a low sea, with underwater view “satellites,” drone-launching pods on a sea building and unmanned ships sport submarines,

India May Add Japanese Soryu-Class Submarines to its Fleet

India is reportedly considering a project to incorporate six Japanese Soryu-class diesel-electric submarines into its fleet, says The Japan Times.   The Defense

News

Gulf Bridge Express Service to End

The Gulf Bridge Express Service will shortly be terminated with the last roundtrip voyage being MV Saint Nikolaos voyage 00008S, ETA New Orleans on April 22, 2015.

Obangame Express 2015 Concludes in the Gulf of Guinea

Maritime forces from Gulf of Guinea nations, Europe, South America, and the United States and several regional and international organizations concluded the multinational maritime exercise,

Scandlines Ferry Back in Service by End June

The damaged Scandlines ferry M/V Prinsesse Benedikte is being repaired at the Polish shipyard Remontowa and is expected to be ready before the end of June 2015.

Coast Guard

USNS Spearhead Delivers Materials to Ghana Charities

The U.S. Navy’s joint high-speed vessel USNS Spearhead (JHSV 1) delivered wheelchairs and medical supplies to Ghanaian non-governmental organizations March 26, 2015.

USCG Flush Ice down River Systems to Facilitate Shipping

The Coast Guard cutter fleet is flushing ice through the Great Lakes river systems to prevent ice jams and facilitate commercial shipping as the shipping season

Mediterranean Rescue Operations Strain Shipping

The Wall Street Journal ran a story yesterday describing how the increasing number of seaborne migrants making the journey from Africa to Europe has not only

Maritime Safety

Obangame Express 2015 Concludes in the Gulf of Guinea

Maritime forces from Gulf of Guinea nations, Europe, South America, and the United States and several regional and international organizations concluded the multinational maritime exercise,

Vietnam's Submarines to Counter China?

Vietnam's new submarines could alter the balance in the South China Sea quite dramatically, say maritime security analysts.   Vietnam and China have long contested

Is China Building a Naval Base in Africa?

Recently, The Namibian reported the existence of a "confidential letter from Namibia's ambassador to China, Ringo Abed, to Namibia's foreign minister stating that

Eye on the Navy

Obangame Express 2015 Concludes in the Gulf of Guinea

Maritime forces from Gulf of Guinea nations, Europe, South America, and the United States and several regional and international organizations concluded the multinational maritime exercise,

Vietnam's Submarines to Counter China?

Vietnam's new submarines could alter the balance in the South China Sea quite dramatically, say maritime security analysts.   Vietnam and China have long contested

India May Add Japanese Soryu-Class Submarines to its Fleet

India is reportedly considering a project to incorporate six Japanese Soryu-class diesel-electric submarines into its fleet, says The Japan Times.   The Defense

 
 
Maritime Contracts Maritime Security Offshore Oil Pod Propulsion Port Authority Salvage Ship Repair Ship Simulators Sonar Winch
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | terms and conditions | contributors | top maritime news | about us | copyright | maritime magazines
maritime security news | shipbuilding news | maritime industry | shipping news | maritime reporting | workboats news | ship design | maritime business

Time taken: 0.2630 sec (4 req/sec)