Archive for the ‘Somali’ Category

Somali pirates hijack German gas tanker, 13 crew

January 29, 2009

Somali pirates hijacked a German tanker loaded with liquefied petroleum gas Thursday off the Horn of Africa. The ship’s 13-man crew was reported safe even though gunshots were heard over the ship’s radio.

The MV Longchamp is the third ship captured this month in the Gulf of Aden, one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.

By ELIZABETH A. KENNEDY, Associated Press Writer

This photo released on Wednesday Jan.28, 2009 by the French ... 
This photo released on Wednesday Jan.28, 2009 by the French Defense ministry, shows suspected pirates intercepted by Marine commandos of the French Navy in the Gulf of Aden, off Somalia’s coast, Tuesday Jan.27, 2009. The soldiers from the ‘Le Floreal’ frigate intercepted nine people trying to take over the Indian cargo ship ‘African Ruby’.(AP Photo/Ecpad/French Defense Ministry/HO)

The Longchamp, registered in the Bahamas, is managed by the German firm Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement, which said in a statement that seven pirates boarded the tanker early Thursday.

Spokesman Andre Delau said the ship’s master had been briefly allowed to communicate with the firm and had said the crew of 12 Filipinos and one Indonesian were safe.

“We think that everything is in order, nobody is injured,” he told The Associated Press.

No ransom demands have been made yet, the company said.

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Russian navy saves Dutch ship from Somali pirates

January 14, 2009

The Russian navy helped foil an attack by Somali pirates on a Dutch container ship in the dangerous Gulf of Aden, a maritime watchdog said Wednesday.

Six pirates fired rocket-propelled grenades at the ship, which took evasive maneuvers while calling for help, said Noel Choong, head of the International Maritime Bureau’s piracy reporting center in Malaysia.

The pirates chased the vessel for about 30 minutes but aborted their attempt to board the ship after a Russian warship and helicopter arrived at the scene, Choong said.

Associated Press

Pirates last year attacked 111 ships and seized 42 off the Horn of Africa, many in the Gulf of Aden. An international flotilla including U.S. warships has stopped many attacks, but the area is too vast to keep all ships safe in the vital sea lane that links Asia to Europe.

Choong said it was nevertheless getting harder for Somali pirates to hijack ships because of increased naval patrols and the vigilant watch kept by ships that pass through the area.

“The attacks are continuing but successful hijackings by pirates have (been) reduced,” he said.

There have been 11 attacks in Somali waters this year, with two ships hijacked. In total, 11 vessels with 210 crew members remain in pirate hands, Choong said.

Somalia has not had a functioning government since 1991 and its lawless coastline is a haven for pirates. The multimillion dollar ransoms are one of the only ways to make money in the impoverished nation.

Somali Pirates Drown With Share of $3 Million Ransom

January 10, 2009

The sea gets even?  Part of $3 Million in ransom paid to Somali pirates went down the drain and several pirates lost their lives as rough seas capsized the small boat of the pirates yesterday….

This is the strangest twist yet in the more than year-long saga of piracy near Somalia….


Five of the Somali pirates who released a hijacked oil-laden Saudi supertanker drowned with their share of a reported $3 million ransom after their small boat capsized, a pirate and port town resident said Saturday.

Pirate Daud Nure says the boat with eight people on board overturned in a storm after dozens of pirates left the Sirius Star following a two-month standoff in the Gulf of Aden that ended Friday.

He said five people died and three people reached shore after swimming for several hours. Daud Nure was not part of the pirate operation but knew those involved.

By MOHAMED OLAD HASSAN, Associated Press Writer

A parachute dropped by a small aircraft drops over the MV  Sirius ... 
A parachute dropped by a small aircraft drops over the MV Sirius Star at anchor, in this U.S. Navy photo, Friday, Jan. 9, 2009, following an apparent payment via a parachuted container to pirates holding the ship. Somali pirates released the oil-laden Saudi supertanker after receiving a $3 million ransom, a negotiator for the bandits said Friday. The ship owner did not confirm it. The brand new tanker, with a 25-member crew, was seized in the Indian Ocean Nov. 15 in a dramatic escalation of high seas crime.(AP Photo/U.S. Navy,Air Crewman 2nd Class David B. Hudson)

Jamal Abdulle, a resident of the Somali coastal town of Haradhere, close to where the ship was anchored also confirmed that the boat sank and that the eight’s portion of the ransom money that had been shared between dozens of pirates was lost.

U.S. Navy photos showed a parachute, carrying what they described as “an apparent payment,” floating toward the tanker. The Sirius Star and its 25-member crew had been held since Nov. 15. Its cargo of crude oil was valued at US$100 million at the time.

The capture was seen as a dramatic demonstration of the pirates’ ability to strike high value targets hundreds of miles offshore.

On the same day the Saudi ship was freed, pirates released a captured Iranian-chartered cargo ship, Iran’s state television reported Saturday. It said the ship Daylight was carrying 36 tons of wheat when it was attacked in the Gulf of Aden Nov. 18 and seized by pirates. All 25 crew are in good health and the vessel is sailing toward Iran, the TV report said.

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Pirate Patrol Off Somalia To Be Headed By U.S. Navy

January 8, 2009

The U.S. Navy says one of its commanders will lead a new international force to battle pirates off the coast of Somalia.

More than 20 nations are expected to take part in the mission once it is fully under way later this month. The announcement Thursday by U.S. Navy officials in Bahrain did not list the countries participating, but said the force will be headed by U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Terence McKnight.

Merchant fleets have been calling for a stronger military response to pirates after a sharp escalation in attacks last year. At least 111 ships were attacked and more than 40 of them commandeered.

It is not clear whether the new anti-pirate force will have any expanded powers to battle pirates.

–Associated Press

The French warship Nivose escorts a convoy of commercial ships ... 
The French warship Nivose escorts a convoy of commercial ships in the Gulf of Aden.(AFP/Eric Cabanis)

Piracy: Somalia’s Biggest “Industry”

January 4, 2009

After nearly 18 years of civil war, clan infighting, banditry, invasion, military occupation and insurgency, Somalia is a land on the brink, facing a humanitarian crisis more severe than that in Darfur. Even a minor disruption to the flow of donated food could kill thousands.

By David Axe

Today, the Gulf of Aden and portions of the Indian Ocean practically belong to modern-day cutthroats armed with assault rifles and anti-tank rockets and traveling in fast “skiffs” that can run down all but the speediest vessels. From modest beginnings a decade ago, Somali pirates have taken advantage of their country’s anarchy to build sophisticated criminal enterprises that rake in millions of dollars annually, making piracy Somalia’s biggest industry.

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China Targets Pirates in Naval Mission

January 4, 2009

Chinese warships headed toward Somali waters Friday to combat piracy, the first time the communist country has sent ships on a mission that could involve fighting so far beyond its territorial waters.

The deployment to the Gulf of Aden, which has been plagued by increasingly bold pirate attacks in recent months, marks a major step in the navy’s evolution from mostly guarding China’s coasts to patrolling waters far from home.

The move was welcomed by the U.S. military, which has been escorting cargo ships in the region along with India, Russia and the European Union. But analysts predicted the Chinese intervention could be troubling to some Asian nations who might see it as a sign of the Chinese military becoming more aggressive.

In this photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, a ceremony ... 
In this photo released by China’s Xinhua News Agency, a ceremony is held before a Chinese naval fleet sets sail from a port in Sanya city of China’s southernmost island province of Hainan on Friday, Dec. 26, 2008. Chinese warships, armed with special forces, guided missiles and helicopters, set sail for anti-piracy duty off Somalia, the first time the communist nation has sent ships on a mission that could involve fighting so far beyond its territorial waters.(AP Photo/Xinhua, Zha Chunming)

The naval force that set sail from southern Hainan on Friday afternoon included a supply ship and two destroyers — armed with guided missiles, special forces and two helicopters. China announced it was joining the anti-piracy mission Tuesday after the U.N. Security Council authorized nations to conduct land and air attacks on pirate bases.

Pentagon spokesman Maj. Stewart Upton said the U.S. welcomed China’s move.

Pirates working out of Somalia have made an estimated $30 million this year, seizing more than 40 vessels off the country’s 1,880-mile (3,000-kilometer) coastline. Most of the attacks have occurred in the Gulf of Aden, one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.

Deploying ships to the area helped stoke national pride among Chinese who feel their increasingly wealthy nation should be playing a bigger role in world affairs.

Associated Press Writer

The front-page of the Southern Metropolis Daily — one of southern China’s most popular newspapers — had a photo Friday of a special forces member posing with his finger on the trigger of an assault rifle armed with a grenade launcher. A headline read, “They won’t rule out a direct conflict with pirates.”

For several decades, China has kept a massive army focused on protecting its land borders, while the country’s navy was relatively weak. But in recent years, as China became more deeply involved in the global economy, it concluded that a stronger navy was needed to protect its increasingly vital sea shipments of oil, raw materials and other goods.

China has been rapidly beefing up its navy with new destroyers, submarines and missiles. Naval officers have even been talking about building an aircraft carrier that could help the navy become a “blue-water” force — a fleet capable of operating far from home.

Denny Roy, a senior fellow at the East-West Center in Hawaii, said the naval buildup and the mission to Somalia are the latest signs that China is no longer willing to rely on the U.S. or other foreign navies to protect its increasingly global interests.

“China has not been dissuaded from entering the field,” Roy said. “That leaves open the possibility of a China-U.S. naval rivalry in the future.”

Roy predicted China’s move would alarm Japan and some in South Korea because both countries have long-standing territorial disputes with China. But he said most Southeast Asian countries may see China’s involvement in the anti-piracy campaign as a positive thing. It would mean that China was using its greater military might for constructive purposes, rather than challenging the current international order.

India, another longtime rival of China, would likely welcome the Chinese naval presence off Somalia for the short term, said C. Uday Bhaskar, a former naval commander and retired director of India’s Institute of Defense Studies and Analyses. He doubted it would upset the strategic balance.

“If it is working for the common good, then I think India will welcome it,” he said.

China’s military has not said how long the mission would last, but the state-run China Daily newspaper recently reported the ships would be gone for about three months. The paper said about 20 percent of the 1,265 Chinese ships passing through the Somali area have come under attack this year.

The mission will likely offer Chinese sailors invaluable on-the-job training, according to Stratfor, an Austin, Texas-based intelligence company. The mission will be complex, with crews having to do refueling, resupply and repairs far from home amid the constant threat of pirate attacks.

The waters will also be crowded with naval ships from around the world, testing the Chinese ships’ abilities to communicate effectively with other vessels in a common mission that has little central organization.

The Chinese will very likely monitor the way foreign forces, “especially U.S. warships, communicate with each other and with their shipborne helicopters,” the Stratfor report said.

A NATO task force to the Gulf of Aden was recently replaced by a European Union flotilla with four to six ships patrolling the area.

About a dozen other warships, including U.S., German, and Danish ships, are in the region as part of a separate international flotilla based in Bahrain and engaged in anti-terrorism operations. Several individual nations, including Saudi Arabia, Russia, Malaysia and India, also have vessels in the Gulf of Aden.

The China Daily on Friday quoted Rear Adm. Du Jingchen, the mission’s chief commander, as saying a total of 1,000 crew members will be on the three Chinese ships.

“We could encounter unforeseen situations,” Du was quoted as saying. “But we are prepared for them.”

 China Launching First Long-Range Naval Mission Since 15th Century

China’s Anti-Piracy Warriors, Ready To Go

December 30, 2008

As a veteran airborne naval soldier, 43-year-old Zhao Jianhua has been on lots of sea trips, but none means more than the one officially started on December 26, 2008.

He is travelling with the Chinese naval fleet, along with 800 crew members, heading for the Gulf of Aden on China’s epic anti-piracy mission off Somali waters. It is the first time China has mobilized military forces to safeguard the national interests overseas since the ancient Ming Dynasty (1368 -1644).

As the Deputy Colonel of the helicopters’ unit of the Chinese navy’s escort fleet, Zhao is in charge of the elite forces who will pilot helicopters as part of three strategic missions: to patrol and guard the flotilla from danger, to aid in search and rescue, and to transport supplies and crew.

From: China Daily

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In this photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, Chinese ... 
In this photo released by China’s Xinhua News Agency, Chinese Navy special force members wave on the deck of a warship. Chinese warships, armed with special forces, guided missiles and helicopters, set sail Friday for anti-piracy duty off Somalia, the first time the communist nation has sent ships on a mission that could involve fighting so far beyond its territorial waters.(AP Photo/Xinhua, Zha Chunming)

China projects naval power in pirate fight

December 30, 2008

China’s dispatch of two warships to help battle Somalian pirates has drawn an ambivalent global reaction – a sign of the decidedly mixed feelings toward its bid for big-power status.

Two destroyers and a supply ship steamed out of a southern Chinese port Friday, on China‘s first patrol and potential combat mission beyond Chinese waters. The ships are due to reach the Gulf of Aden by Jan. 6 and carry 870 crew members, including 70 elite Navy special forces trained in close combat and helicopter-borne raids, according to the China Daily newspaper.

By Jonathan Adams
Christian Science Monitor

Two days earlier, a Chinese defense official, at a rare press conference, gave one of the clearest indications yet that China plans to build an aircraft carrier.

The developments reflect China’s determination to boost its sea power, in line with its rising economic and political clout.

“Now we have more overseas interests and activities, so that’s why we need a stronger force on the oceans,” says Peng Guangqian, a military expert in Beijing.

The United States frets about how a bulked-up Chinese Navy might complicate a Taiwan conflict scenario. But it welcomed the decision to join amultinational naval “posse” battling Somalian brigands, who have turned waters off east Africa into a hazardous pirates’ alley and wreaked havoc on world trade. Still, some of China’s Asian neighbors have expressed concern about its naval muscle-flexing.

China Navy's destroyers, the Haikou, top left, and the Wuhan, ... 
China Navy’s destroyers, the Haikou, top left, and the Wuhan, bottom left, and supply ship the Weishanhu, right, are moored at port before leaving for the Navy’s first oversea operation from Sanya, southern China’s Hainan province Friday, Dec. 26, 2008. On Friday, warships armed with special forces, missiles and helicopters will sail for anti-piracy duty off Somalia, the first time the communist nation has sent ships on a mission that could involve fighting so far beyond its territorial waters.(AP Photo/Color China Photo)

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China’s Growing Naval Might Worries Many

China’s Anti-Pirate Naval Force Near Singapore

December 29, 2008

The Chinese naval fleet sailed into the Strait of Malacca on Monday after its departure from China’s southernmost island province of Hainan on an escort mission against piracy off Somalia Friday afternoon.

The fleet sailed into Singapore Strait Monday morning after over 20 hours’ voyage from the South China Sea and arrived at the Strait of Malacca. It is expected to reach the Indian Ocean Tuesday.


The convoy, which includes two of China’s most sophisticated naval destroyers, DDG-169 Wuhan and DDG-171 Haikou, and a supply ship Weishanhu, is heading for the Gulf of Aden to join a multinational patrol in one of the world’s busiest sea lanes where surging piracy endangers international shipping.

Above: Missile Destroyer Haikou 171 of the PLA Navy’s South China Sea Fleet. 
She is heasded for the Gulf of Aden with two other Chinese ships to deter
Somali pirates.

The fleet carries about 800 crew members, including 70 soldiers from the Navy’s special force, and is equipped with missiles, cannons and light weapons.

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Somali Pirates: Living The High Life While Neighbors Suffer Extreme Poverty, Government Collapses

December 29, 2008

Despite piracy, seacoasts of Somalia are mired in poverty.  The money paid to pirates in ransom benefits only a few….Any thought you had of “Robin Hood” style pirates helping their fellow countrymen is not supported by the facts….Meanwhile, President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed of Somalia has resigned….


From the Maritime Global Net

A Voice of America journalist has filed reports from Hobyo in the Galmudug region of central Somalia which indicate that ransom money [paid to pirates] is not being diverted directly to Islamic terrorist or rebel groups, despite some media reports to that effect and that the main Islamic militia, Shabab, is clamping down on pirates. Hobyo, which has been a pirate stronghold is now under Shabab’s control. Also, contrary to some reports, Alisha Ryu found that local people did not support the pirates at Hobyo and that virtually none of the ransom money was being used to their improve living conditions or benefit the local community. The growing strength of Islamic groups in the coastal area may, she says, be tied to local anger over piracy and deepening poverty.

Pirates shoot on the deck of the Chinese ship "Zhenhua ... 
Pirates shoot on the deck of the Chinese ship “Zhenhua 4” in the Gulf of Aden December 17, 2008 in this photo released by China’s official Xinhua News Agency.

Ms Ryu also reports that the Shabab Islamic militia which is doing much of the fighting against the central government and is is control of large areas of southern and central Somalia is strongly opposed to piracy. It fought a pitched battle with the pirates who have been operating out of Hobyo on 22 December and took control of the town.

The VOA reporter quotes a pirate as saying that all pirates in central Somalia are under severe pressure from Islamists to disband. He says that, in recent months, pirates trying to go ashore in any area controlled by the Islamists have been threatened and chased away. She says that Somali sources tell VOA that the Islamists’ tough stance against piracy has prompted many poor people in coastal communities to quietly begin supporting the return of Islamist rule.

Ms Ryu notes in one of her reports: “While the loss of Hobyo to the Shabab has dealt a clear blow to piracy, it raises another troubling question, especially for the United States and its western allies. They must now decide which, pirates or militant Islamists, pose a greater threat to global security and economy.”


Somalia’s transitional president has resigned amid a power struggle with the African nation’s prime minister and parliament, sources told CNN on Monday.

From CNN

Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed tried to fire his PM this month but later lost a confidence vote.

Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed tried to fire his PM this month but later lost a confidence vote.

Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed announced his resignation Monday before parliament in Baidoa.

Ahmed’s resignation is the latest turn in the political crisis in Somalia, which is already struggling with an Islamist revolt, a refugee crisis and rampant lawlessness that has fueled a wave of piracy off the Horn of Africa.

Somalia has been without an effective central government since 1991. The U.N.-backed transitional government has the support of Ethiopian troops that ousted an Islamist government at the end of 2006, but it controls little of the country outside the southwestern city of Baidoa.

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