Piracy Warning to Mariners

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) are warning mariners of an anticipated increase in piracy incidents when the southwest monsoon ends in the coming weeks, and are reiterating that merchant mariners must continue to take proactive action to help prevent piracy attacks.

High sea states over the past few weeks in the Somali Basin have resulted in fewer attacks on vessels transiting the area but mariners must continue to remain vigilant.

“The prior preparation and vigilance of merchant mariners at all times of day and night is more important now than ever,” said Turkish Rear Adm. Caner Bener, Commander, Combined Task Force (CTF) 151. “CTF 151 and other multi-national maritime forces deployed to the region are successfully coordinating counter-piracy efforts. While our ability to deter and disrupt attacks has improved over time, we are constantly adapting the way we do our business as the pirates adapt and modify their tactics.”

Using the Internationally Recognized Transit Corridor in the Gulf of Aden, reporting to the UKMTO and the EU’s Maritime Security Center before transits, keeping a constant lookout, and embarking security teams are all recommended actions that will help reduce the risk of a successful attack.

Naval forces from CTF 151, the European Union, NATO and a number of other international nations continue to coordinate their activities in an international effort to deter piracy and reassure the maritime community that every effort is being made to ensure the safe and lawful passage of maritime traffic throughout the region.

However, while more than 30 ships and aircraft from 16 nations continue to patrol the waters off the Somali coast, the closest military ship or aircraft may not be close enough to render assistance to a vessel under attack.

Bener recently met with task force commanders from NATO and the European Union to discuss Coalition counterpiracy operations off the coast of Somalia. The task force commanders meeting was held at sea and focused on new strategies and future plans were development to more effectively and efficiently track down suspected pirates and to protect sea lines of communication.

“In this environment, the importance of merchant mariners as first line defenders against pirates is absolutely vital,” said Commodore Tim Lowe, Deputy Commander, Combined Maritime Forces. “The crews of those merchant vessels that have employed evasive maneuvering and other defensive measures to protect their ships and their cargoes have proven to be more successful at evading attack.”

Analysis continues to show that vessels travelling at slow speeds with low freeboard, failing to employ adequate lookouts particularly during periods of heightened risk, are ships that continue to be pirated off the Somali coast.

International naval forces will continue to patrol the waters off the Somali Coast in an effort to deter, disrupt, and interdict pirates and help ensure lawful maritime order.

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