June 14, 2007
IMB urges naval crackdown on Somali pirates
Not too surprisingly, Somalia has been identified as the area with the highest piracy risk in the world by the International Maritime Bureau (IMB).
"In 2007 to date there have been 15 reported attacks on vessels in or near Somali waters," said Captain Pottengal Mukundan, Director of IMB. "This exceeds the total of 10 which occurred in the entire year of 2006."
Captain Mukundan added: "In the absence of any effective law enforcement in Somalia, the only forces able to assist vessels under attack are the navies of the international coalition. We request that they interrogate suspicious craft in international waters off southern Somalia and prevent hijacked vessels from being taken into Somali waters. If these acts of piracy continue unchecked, commercial shipping in this region will remain threatened."
Captain Mukundan was speaking at the sixth triennial Conference on Piracy and Security Conference held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
IMB says that the most recent attack in Somali waters was on the Danish flagged general cargo vessel MV Danica White during a voyage from the United Arab Emirates to Kenya.
Pirates in three small vessels hijacked the MV Danica White and five crewmembers over one hundred nautical miles off the coast of Somalia. Coalition aircraft spotted the vessel with three boats in tow, reportedly heading towards Mogadishu. The hijackers are believed to be armed.
This attack is the latest of several that have occurred at a similar distance off shore where the Somali coastline heads into the Indian Ocean. This suggests that the pirates may be operating from a mother ship in that area.
There are also reports of the killing of a seaman taken hostage in Somalia on another vessel. The vessel has reportedly been held in Somali waters since mid-May after being hijacked by an armed gang. Negotiations over the release of the vessel appear to have come to a standstill.
IMB statistics indicate that the murder of hostages held by Somali pirates is rare. Attacks in this region are ordinarily economically motivated, in pursuit of a ransom. If the murder report is accurate it would represent a serious escalation in the violence against kidnapped seafarers.
Captain Mukundan stated: "The last three months have seen a marked increase in the number of attacks and violence against seafarers in Somali waters. Many of these attacks have occurred well offshore. As a result, IMB recommends that all vessels not calling into Somali ports remain at least 200 miles from the coast."
The ICC International Maritime Bureau (IMB) has announced the introduction a new piracy prevention service. The Maritime Security Hotline is a confidential communication procedure that will enable seafarers and others in the shipping industry to report any suspicious information regarding maritime crime, including terrorism, to the IMB Piracy Reporting Center. This service will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and will be accessible from any location worldwide.
The IMB Maritime Security Hotline can be contacted via telephone on +603 2031 0014 or e-mail on [email protected]
Captain Pottengal Mukundan stated: "The crew of vessels and others in the shipping industry may have critical information related to terrorism, smuggling or other serious maritime crimes. In the past, those on the front lines of the shipping and port industries have been hesitant to provide this information, fearful of the consequences to themselves or their families. This new service will allow security intelligence to be reported anonymously and without delay."
The Maritime Security Hotline consists of a constantly monitored communications command center capable of receiving secure telephone and e-mail reports. This new service will be manned from the IMB Piracy Reporting Center in Kuala Lumpur. Those at the forefront of the maritime world will be able to provide secure, private first person accounts to IMB, an independent agency not directly affiliated with any traditional intelligence institution. IMB will interpret and categorize all reports and forward all necessary information to the relevant authorities.