As Reported in www.defense.gov HERE
WASHINGTON, April 16, 2010 – A top Navy commander suggested yesterday that commercial vessels should arm themselves when traveling through pirate-infested waters off the Somali coast.Video
Navy Adm. Mark P. Fitzgerald, commander of U.S. naval forces in Europe and Africa and of NATO’s Allied Joint Task Force Command Naples, told Pentagon reporters that the scope of the piracy problem is too great to be policed by military vessels alone.
“We could put a World War II fleet of ships out there,” Fitzgerald said, referring to the Gulf of Aden and the Mozambique Channel off the Indian coast, “and we still wouldn’t be able to cover the whole ocean.”
On an average day, 30 to 40 ships comprising international maritime forces monitor pirate activity in the Somali basin and the western Indian Ocean, Fitzgerald said, adding that five to 10 of these ships at any given time are American vessels.
Another issue, the admiral said, is what to do with pirates who are captured. The international community, he explained, has not yet answered the question of how to bring to justice pirates captured at sea. This issue has come to the fore with the recent capture of five suspected pirates by the crew of the USS Nicholas in the Indian Ocean west of the Seychelles.
“Catch and release is not a very good option,” Fitzgerald said. “How do we deal with this? We've got to come to some kind of solution.”
Somali-based piracy, the admiral said, will not go away until a government in Mogadishu is stable enough to confront the problem within its borders.
“Right now, we’re trying to shoot the arrow instead of the archer,” Fitzgerald said. He acknowledged that the prospect of a stable Somali government is unlikely in the near future.
The admiral’s comments echoed remarks Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates made last year after Navy SEAL snipers killed three Somali pirates while rescuing the kidnapped American ship captain of the Maersk-Alabama cargo ship.
Gates, emphasizing the limitations of a purely military approach to piracy, said some officials have suggested bypassing the central government of Somalia and instead establishing relationships with officials of functioning local governments there.
“There is no purely military solution to it,” the secretary told the Marine Corps War College in Quantico, Va., last year. “And as long as you’ve got this incredible number of poor people and the risks are relatively small, there’s really no way in my view to control it unless you get something on land that begins to change the equation for these kids.”
But in the near-term, Fitzgerald said yesterday, it is “incumbent upon the vessels who are sailing the high seas to either protect themselves or accept the dangers.”
Asked if he would recommend that commercial ships arm themselves, Fitzgerald said: “I think they should.”
“Commercial ships should take appropriate protections,” he added, “because we cannot offer 100-percent guarantees of protection as the ships go through.”
Fitzgerald also recommended tracking the spoils of successful piracy operations. “I think we'd be able to trace the financiers [and] the middlemen,” he said.
NAIROBI, Kenya – Four suspected rocket-propelled grenade seized a bulk carrier with 21 crew on board Wednesday, the fourth ship pirates have seized in less than a week, officials said.carrying AK-47s and a
The Panamanian-flagged, Liberian-owned Voc Daisy was taken about 200 miles (300 kilometers) outside the corridor where international warships guard convoys of merchant vessels, said Cmdr. John Harbour, a spokesman for the EU Naval Force.
The hijacking of the Voc Daisy follows an attack on three Thai fishing vessels Sunday. Pirates now hold 15 vessels and 326 crew, according to an Associated Press count.
The Voc Daisy, which had been heading from the United Arab Emirates toward the Suez Canal, was registered with security officials and raised an alarm before the four armed pirates stormed aboard. It was hijacked in the Gulf of Aden about 200 miles southeast of Oman.
The hijacking of the three Thai vessels Sunday was almost 600 miles (965 kilometers) outside the normal operation area for the EU Naval Force. Pirates have expanded their range south and east in response to an increase in patrols by European and American warships off the Somali shore.
said Wednesday that sea attacks worldwide fell by more than a third in the first quarter this year thanks to a decline in pirate raids in the Gulf of Aden.
The number of attacks dipped by 34 percent to 67 in the January to March period, down from 102 incidents in the same period a year ago, the IMB's piracy reporting center in Kuala Lumpur said. Eleven vessels were seized, with 194 crew members taken hostage including 12 who were injured, it said.
The IMB said pirate attacks in the Gulf of Aden dropped to 17 from 41 a year ago, thanks to patrols by international navies and anti-piracy measures by merchant vessels. The east and south coasts of Somalia recorded 18 incidents, down from 21 a year ago.
IMB Director Capt. Pottengal Mukundan said there were cases where international navies in the Indian Ocean have disrupted suspected pirates, destroyed their boats and confiscated equipment.
"Such positive and robust action by the navies against , pirate skiffs and pirate action groups has been vital to keeping the attacks under control and must be sustained," he added.
Last year, sea attacks worldwide surged 39 percent to a six-year high of 406 cases, with 49 vessels hijacked.
Analysts blame Somalia's nearly 20 years of lawlessness for fueling piracy's rise. The IMB said the attacks were opportunistic in nature, with pirates sometimes paid multi-million-dollar ransoms.