A recent incident could signal a worrying development in the tactics employed by Somali pirates, according to the ICC International Maritime Bureau (IMB).
On 12 January 2011, suspected Somali pirates boarded a general cargo vessel some 270 NM north east of Socotra Island. The attack was launched from a previously-captured fishing vessel currently being used as a mother ship. Six crew members- two Danes and four Filipinos- were removed from their ship and transferred to the hijacked fishing vessel.
Hijacked vessels have previously been used by the pirates, enabling a greater range and capability- meaning they can operate further into the Indian Ocean and with no interference by naval forces.
IMB Director Pottengal Mukundan commented: “Whilst the use of hijacked vessels as mother ships is not a new phenomenon, the abduction of crew members could signal a significant new development.”
At least five large hijacked cargo ships and three fishing vessels have acted as mother ships in the last couple of months, posing a new and significant threat to the safety of shipping. The five cargo vessels range in size from MT 5,000 to 72,000 in deadweight – or cargo carrying capacity – and include four tankers and a general cargo vessel. More than 100 crew members from these hijacked cargo vessels, are being forced to facilitate the attacks and in effect provide a human shield to any potential naval intervention.
IMB strongly urges all shipmasters and owners to report all actual, attempted or suspicious piracy, and armed robbery incidents to the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC). Captain Mukundan said this first step in the response chain is vital in ensuring that governments allocate adequate resources to tackling piracy. He said that transparent statistics from an independent, non-political, international organization act as a catalyst to achieve this goal.
[Source: ICC Commercial Crime Services
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