Somali Pirate Boat

2011 Somali Piracy Update

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January 7, 2011

Somali Pirate Boat

The big news for the start of 2011 is the move of pirates to areas further from their traditional hunting ground. November 2008 saw the first capture of a ship far from the Gulf Of Aden, the pirate’s traditional hunting ground, when the pirates hijack the Saudi super-tanker Sirius Star and demand a 25m dollar ransom for its return. Five of the pirates aboard that ship drown in January of 2009 while returning home in a small boat with the ransom money but that hasn’t stopped others from venturing far from home to hijack ships.

The following map by Arun Ganesh shows the extent of pirate attacks in each of the last five years. (The interactive version can be found HERE).



The numbers also show the extent of the pirates range and effectiveness in 2010.

There are now 25 vessels and 601 hostages being held by pirates off the coast of Somalia, according to the international chamber of commerce. The total includes three ships that were hijacked between Christmas Day and Dec. 27: a Taiwanese fishing vessel with 26 crewmembers on board that was hijacked about 120 nautical miles off the northeast tip of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean; an Antigua-Barbuda-flagged cargo ship, the EMS RIVER, that was captured along with its crew of eight 175 nautical miles northeast of Salalah; and the MV THOR NEXUS, a Thailand-flagged cargo ship that was seized along with its 27-member crew approximately 450 nautical miles northeast of the island of Socotra.

More recently, after payment of an unspecified ransom, pirates released the German products tanker MARIDA MARGUERITE and its 22-member crew on December 28th. The vessel had been hijacked eight months before. All the members of the crew are said to be in good health.


Somali Pirate Mothership Motivator 1The international maritime authorities have reported that as many as seven pirate attack groups aboard previously pirated mother ships are now operating in the Arabian Sea and the greater Somali Basin. The list of vessels now being used as mother ships is said to include the LPG tanker YORK, the MT MOTIVATOR, MV HANNIBAL II, MV IZUMI and MV POLAR.

The most striking element of the list is not the number of motherships, the pirates have long been using fleets of vessels to coordinate attacks, but the size of these vessels. the ship picutred above is the M/V Motivator a 13,065 deadweight ton tanker. The use of large ships captured in previous hijackings gives the pirates the range needed to broaden their efforts as far east as the Maldives and, more recently, as far south as the Mozambique channel.

Editorial Note: The full list of motherships, now dubbed by some The Pirate Navy, along with pictures and descriptions can be found HERE via the Eaglespeak blog and at the NATO Shipping Center.


European naval authorities say Somali pirates last week tried to hijack two ships in the Mozambique Channel, some 950 nautical miles south of Dar es Salaam. Authorities said the attacks, which took place on Dec. 25 and 26, show the pirates are moving further and further south. The vessels involved were a Russian tanker, NS AFRICA, and an Indian bulk carrier, the MAJESTIC. These attacks are the furthest south the pirates have attacked and show a new willingness to venture further from their bases ashore.


The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) Piracy Reporting Centre has released statistics that show an approximately 10 percent increase in the number of pirate attacks reported in 2010. There were 440 attacks reported in 2010 and 404 in 2009, the IMB said.

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