Last week, 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 and even urge commercial vessels to arm themselves when transiting the piracy infested waters off Somalia.
“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.”
Meanwhile just today the maritime security blog EagleSpeak points us to an April 18th hijacking of three Thai Fishing vessels some 1,200 nautical miles off the coast of Somalia, affirming Adm. Fitzgerald’s statement that there is just too much ocean to cover.
20/04/2010 12.10 UTC
On 18th April 2010, three Thai fishing vessels from Djibouti, were hijacked 1200 nautical miles east of the coast of Somalia.
These latest hijackings are the furthest east of any pirate attacks in the area since the start of EU NAVFOR’s Operation Atalanta in December 2008, almost 600 miles outside the normal EU NAVFOR operating area. It is a clear indication that the EU anti piracy mission, together with those of NATO and CMF, is having a marked effect on pirate activity in the area.
The hijacked vessels, MV PRANTALAY 11, (26 Thai crew) MV PRANTALAY 12 (25 Thai crew) and MV PRANTALAY 14 (26 Thai crew), belong to a Thai based company PT Interfishery Ltd. EU NAV FOR can confirm that all 77 Thai crew are safe and well and that the vessels are heading towards the Somali coast. EU NAVFOR will continue to monitor the situation.
However, EagleSpeak notes that an attack at this distance might not be such a rare occurrence.
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