Anti-piracy measures in Somalia

Piracy in Somalia has been a threat to international shipping since the second phase of the civil war in Somalia in the early 21st century.[1] Since 2005, many international organizations have expressed concern over the rise in acts of piracy.[2][3] Piracy impeded the delivery of shipments and increased shipping expenses, costing an estimated $6.6 to $6.9 billion a year in global trade in 2011 according to Oceans Beyond Piracy (OBP).[4] According to the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW), a veritable industry of profiteers also arose around the piracy. Insurance companies significantly increased their profits from the pirate attacks, as the firms hiked rate premiums in response.[5] Since 2013, piracy attacks have reduced in the region due mostly to patrolling by the navies of countries across the world, especially India, China and EU Navfor Operation Atalanta (a joint operation of numerous European navies).[6]

Military presence

The military response to pirate attacks has brought about a rare show of unity by countries that are either openly hostile to each other, or at least wary of cooperation, military or otherwise. It is the first time since World War 2 that all five permanent members of the UN Security Council have deployed forces on the same side.[7]

Currently there are three international naval task forces in the region, with numerous national vessels and task forces entering and leaving the region, engaging in counter-piracy operations for various lengths of time. The three international task forces which compose the bulk of counter-piracy operations are Combined Task Force 150 (whose overarching mission is Operation Enduring Freedom), Combined Task Force 151 (which was set up in 2009 specifically to run counter-piracy operations)[8] and the EU naval task force operating under Operation Atalanta. All counter-piracy operations are coordinated through a monthly planning conference called Shared Awareness and Deconfliction (SHADE).[9] Originally having representatives only from NATO, the EU, and the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) HQ in Bahrain, it now regularly attracts representatives from over 20 countries.

From 2014 onwards, a larger presence of Indian and Chinese navy ships led to a marked reduction of piracy attacks, as they embarked on several joint efforts in rescuing hijacked ships. This includes to famous rescue of the hijacked bulk carrier OS 35 between the coasts of Somalia and Yemen in 2017.[6]

As part of the international effort, Europe, India and China have played a significant role in combating piracy off the coast of the Horn of Africa. The European Union under the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) launched EU NAVFOR Somalia – Operation Atalanta (in support of Resolutions 1814 (2008), 1816 (2008), 1838 (2008) and 1846 (2008) of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC)). This operation is working to protect humanitarian aid and reduce the disruption to the shipping routes and the de-stabilising of the maritime environment in the region. To date, 26 countries have brought some kind of contribution to the operation. 13 EU Member States have provided an operational contribution to EU NAVFOR, either with ships, with maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft, or with Vessel Protection Detachment (VPD) team. This includes France, Spain, Germany, Greece, Sweden, Netherlands, Italy, Belgium, United Kingdom (also hosting the EU NAVFOR Operational headquarters), Portugal, Luxembourg, Malta and Estonia. 9 other EU Member States have participated in the effort providing military staff to work at the EU NAVFOR Operational Headquarters (Northwood Headquarters – UK) or onboard units. These are Cyprus, Romania, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Ireland and Finland. Finally, 4 non-EU Member States, Norway (which has also provided an operational contribution with a warship regularly deploying), Croatia, Ukraine and Montenegro, have so far also brought their contribution to EU NAVFOR.

At any one time, the European force size fluctuates according to the monsoon seasons, which determine the level of piracy. It typically consists of 5 to 10 surface combatants (naval ships), 1 to 2 auxiliary ships and 2 to 4 maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft. Including land-based personnel, Operation Atalanta consists of a total of around 2,000 military personnel. EU NAVFOR operates in a zone comprising the south of the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden and the western part of the Indian Ocean including the Seychelles, which represents an area of 2,000,000 square nautical miles.

Additionally, Other non-NATO and non-EU countries have, at one time or another, contributed to counter-piracy operations. Australia, China, India, Iran, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, Russia, Thailand, and Saudi Arabia have all sent ships, surveillance aircraft or personnel to the region, sometimes joining with the existing CTFs, sometimes operating independently.[10] there are, and have been, several naval deployments by non-multinational task forces in the past. Some notable ones include:

On 29 May 2009, Australia pledged its support, redirecting Australian warship HMAS Warramunga from duties in the Persian Gulf to assist in the fighting of piracy.[11] Royal Australian Air Force Lockheed P-3 Orion surveillance planes patrol the ocean between the southern coast of Oman and the Horn of Africa. The anti-piracy flights are operated from UAE.[12]

On 12 June 2009, Bulgaria also announced plans to join the anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden and protect Bulgarian shipping, by sending a frigate with a crew of 130 sailors.[13]

On 26 December 2008, China dispatched two destroyers; Haikou and Wuhan, and the supply ship Weishanhu to the Gulf of Aden. A team of 16 Chinese Special Forces members from its Marine Corps armed with attack helicopters were on board.[14][15] Subsequent to the initial deployment, China has maintained a three-ship flotilla of two warships and one supply ship in the Gulf of Aden by assigning ships to the area on a three-month basis.

The Danish Institute for Military Studies has in a report proposed to establish a regionally based maritime unit: a Greater Horn of Africa Sea Patrol, to carry out surveillance in the area to secure free navigation and take on tasks such as fishery inspection and environmental monitoring. A Greater Horn of Africa Sea Patrol would comprise elements from the coastal states – from Egypt in the north to Tanzania in the south. The unit would be established with the support of the states that already have a naval presence in the area.[16]

In February 2010, Danish special forces from the Absalon freed 25 people from the Antigua and Barbuda-flagged vessel Ariella after it was hijacked by pirates off the Somali coast. The crew members had locked themselves into a store-room.[17][18]

To protect Indian ships and Indian citizens employed in seafaring duties, the Indian Navy commenced anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden from 23 Oct 8. A total of 21[19] IN ships have been deployed in the Gulf of Aden since 8 Oct. In addition to escorting Indian-flagged ships, ships of other countries have also been escorted. Merchant ships are currently being escorted along the entire length of the (490 nm long and 20 nm wide) Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor (IRTC) that has been promulgated for use by all merchant vessels. A total of 1181 ships (144 Indian flagged and 1037 foreign flagged from different countries) have been escorted by IN ships in the Gulf of Aden since 8 Oct. During its deployments for anti-piracy operations, the Indian naval ships have prevented 15 piracy attempts on merchant vessels.

In response to the increased activity of the INS Tabar, India sought to augment its naval force in the Gulf of Aden by deploying the larger INS Mysore to patrol the area. Somalia also added India to its list of states, including the U.S. and France, which are permitted to enter its territorial waters, extending up to 12 nautical miles (22 km; 14 mi) from the coastline, in an effort to check piracy.[20] An Indian naval official confirmed receipt of a letter acceding to India's prerogative to check such piracy. "We had put up a request before the Somali government to play a greater role in suppressing piracy in the Gulf of Aden in view of the United Nations resolution. The TFG government gave its nod recently".[21] India also expressed consideration to deploy up to four more warships in the region.[22][23] On 14 March 2011, the Indian navy reportedly had seized 61 pirates and rescued 13 crew from the vessel, which had been used as a mother ship from where pirates launched attacks around the Indian Ocean. Meanwhile, a Bangladeshi ship hijacked by pirates last year was freed after a ransom was paid.[24]

On 28 January 2009, Japan announced its intention of sending a naval task force to join international efforts to stop piracy off the coast of Somalia. The deployment would be highly unusual, as Japan's non-aggressive constitution means Japanese military forces can only be used for defensive purposes. The issue has been controversial in Japan, although the ruling party maintains this should be seen as fighting crime on the high seas, rather than a "military" operation. The process of the Prime Minister of Japan, Taro Aso, giving his approval is expected to take approximately one month.[25] However, the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) and the Japanese government face legal problems on how to handle attacks by pirates against ships that either have Japanese personnel, cargo or are under foreign control instead of being under Japanese control as current Article 9 regulations would hamper their actions when deployed to Somalia.[26] It was reported on 4 February 2009, that the JMSDF was sending a fact-finding mission led by Gen Nakatani to the region prior to the deployment of the Murasame-class destroyer Samidare and the Takanami-class destroyer Sazanami to the coast of Somalia with a 13-man team composed of Japanese Ministry of Defense personnel, with members coming from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the JMSDF to visit Yemen, Djibouti, Oman, and Bahrain from 8 to 20 February.[27][28] Both JMSDF vessels are units of the 8th Escort Division of the 4th Escort Flotilla based in Kure, Hiroshima Prefecture.[29] The JMSDF's special forces unit, the Special Boarding Unit is also scheduled to potentially deploy to Somalia.[30][31] The SBU has been deployed alongside the two destroyers to Somalia on 14 March 2009.[32] According to JMSDF officials, the deployment would "regain the trust of the shipping industry, which was lost during the war."[33] The JMSDF task force would be deployed off the coast of Somalia for 4 months.[34] In its first mission, the Sazanami was able to ward off pirates attempting to hijack a Singaporean cargo ship.[35] In addition, JMSDF P-3Cs are to be deployed in June from Djibouti to conduct surveillance on the Somali coast.[36][37] The House of Representatives of Japan has passed an anti-piracy bill, calling for the JMSDF to protect non-Japanese ships and nationals, though there are some concerns that the pro-opposition House of Councillors may reject it.[38] The Diet of Japan has passed an anti-piracy law that called for JMSDF forces to protect all foreign ships traveling off the coast of Somalia aside from protecting Japanese-owned/manned ships despite a veto from the House of Councillors, which the House of Representatives has overturned.[39] In 2009, the Murasame-class destroyer Harusame and the Asagiri-class destroyer Amagiri left port from Yokusuka to replace the two destroyers that had been dispatched earlier in March 2009.[40] Under current arrangements, Japan Coast Guard officers would be responsible for arresting pirates since SDF forces are not allowed to have powers of arrest.[41]

The South Korean navy is also making plans to participate in anti-piracy operations after sending officers to visit the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet in Bahrain and in Djibouti.[42] The South Korean cabinet had approved a government plan to send in South Korean navy ships and soldiers to the coast of Somalia to participate in anti-pirate operations.[43] The ROKN was sending the Chungmugong Yi Sun-sin class destroyer Munmu the Great to the coast of Somalia.[44] The Cheonghae Unit task force was also deployed in Somalia under CTF 151.[45]

Norway announced on 27 February 2009, that it would send the frigate HNoMS Fridtjof Nansen to the coast of Somalia to fight piracy. Royal Norwegian Navy Fridtjof Nansen joined EU NAVFOR's international naval force in August.[46]

In 2008 Pakistan offered the services of the Pakistan Navy to the United Nations in order to help combat the piracy in Somalia "provided a clear mandate was given."[47]

The Philippine government ordered the dispatch of a Naval Gunfire Liaison Officer to work with the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet as part of its contribution against piracy.[48]

In April 2011, the Portuguese Air Force contributed to Operation Ocean Shield by sending a P-3C[49] which had early success when on its fifth mission detected a pirate whaler with two attack skiffs.[50]

Russia also chose to send more warships to combat piracy near Somalia following the announcement from the International Maritime Bureau terming the menace as having gone "out of control."[51]

Due to their proximity to Somalia, the coast guard of Seychelles has become increasingly involved in counter-piracy in the region. On 30 March 2010, a Seychelles Coast Guard Trinkat-class patrol vessel rescued 27 hostages and sank two pirate vessels.

The Spanish Air Force deployed P-3s to assist the international effort against piracy in Somalia. On 29 October 2008, a Spanish P-3 aircraft patrolling the coast of Somalia reacted to a distress call from an oil tanker in the Gulf of Aden. In order to deter the pirates, the aircraft flew over the pirates three times as they attempted to board the tanker, dropping a smoke bomb on each pass. After the third pass, the attacking pirate boats broke off their attack.[52] Later, on 29 March 2009, the same P-3 pursued the assailants of the German navy tanker Spessart, resulting in the capture of the pirates.[53]

The Swiss government calls for the deployment of Army Reconnaissance Detachment operators to combat Somali piracy with no agreement in Parliament[54] as the proposal was rejected after it was voted.[55] Javier Solana had said that Swiss soldiers could serve under the EU's umbrella.[56]

The U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Navy both support the actions of the Combined Task Force 151 in their anti-piracy missions in the area.[57]

Brian Murphy (Associated Press) reported on 8 January 2009 that Rear Admiral Terence E. McKnight, U.S. Navy, is to command a new multi-national naval force to confront piracy off the coast of Somalia. This new anti-piracy force was designated Combined Task Force 151 (CTF-151), a multinational task force of the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF). The USS San Antonio was designated as the flagship of Combined Task Force 151, serving as an afloat forward staging base (AFSB) for the following force elements:

Initially, CTF-151 consisted of the San Antonio, USS Mahan (DDG-72), and HMS Portland (F79), with additional warships expected to join this force.[63]

In January 2012, U.S. military forces freed an American and a Danish hostage after a gun battle with pirates during a night-time helicopter raid in Somalia. Two U.S. helicopters attacked the site where the hostages were being held, 12 miles north of the town of Adado. Nine pirates were killed. There were no U.S. casualties.[64]

In May 2012, EU Navfor conducted their first raid on pirate bases on the Somali mainland, destroying 5 pirate boats. The EU forces were transported by helicopter to the bases near the port of Harardhere, a well-known pirate lair. The operation was carried out with the full support of the Somali government.[65][66]

Southern African waters are becomingly an increasingly attractive alternative to the more protected Eastern African sea lanes. The recent rise in counter-piracy patrols is pushing more pirates down the coast line into unprotected areas of the Indian Ocean, which will require the joint navies' current patrols to widen their search area.[67]

A maritime conference was also held in Mombasa to discuss the rising concern of regional piracy with a view to give regional and world governments recommendations to deal with the menace. The International Transport Workers Federation (ITWF) organised the regional African maritime unions' conference, the first of its kind in Africa. Godfrey Matata Onyango, executive secretary of the Northern Corridor Transit and Transport Coordination Authority said, "We cannot ignore to discuss the piracy menace because it poses a huge challenge to the maritime industry and if not controlled, it threats to chop off the regional internal trade. The cost of shipping will definitely rise as a result of the increased war insurance premium due to the high risk off the Gulf of Aden."[68]

Vessels in operation

Vessels, aircraft and personnel whose primary mission is to conduct anti-piracy activities come from different countries and are assigned to the following missions: Operation Ocean Shield (NATO and partner states), Atalanta (EU and partner states), Combined Task Force 151, independent missions of China, India, Iran, Japan, Malaysia, and Russia. Additionally resources dedicated for the War on Terror missions of Combined Task Force 150 and Enduring Freedom – Horn of Africa also operate against the pirates.

Country Mission Sailors Ships Cost [Mil of USD per annum] Start End
Royal Australian Navy[69][70] Combined Task Force 150 ~250 1 frigate (as part of Operation Slipper duties)
2 AP-3C Orion maritime surveillance aircraft
? ? ?
Belgian Navy[71] Operation Atalanta 170 1 Frigate Louise-Marie ? 1 Sep 2009
20 Oct 2010
16 Dec 2009
20 Jan 2011
Bulgarian Navy[72][73][74] Operation Ocean Shield 130 Wielingen class frigate 41 Drazki ? ? ?
Royal Canadian Navy Operation Ocean Shield[75] 240 Halifax-class frigate HMCS Fredericton (FFH 337) ? November 2009 4 May 2010
Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy[76] People's Liberation Army Navy anti-piracy operations in Somalia 700~800 2 surface combatants, 1 replenishment ship. 6 January 2009 (1st Escort Task Group);
28 April 2018 (32nd Escort Task Group)
16 April 2009 (1st Escort Task Group);
Ongoing (32nd Escort Task Group)
Colombian Navy Operation Atalanta,[77] Operation Ocean Shield[78] 83 (OPV ARC 7 de Agosto (47)) ? 8 August 2015 27 November 2015
Royal Danish Navy[79] Operation Ocean Shield
300 2 (Command and Support Ship HDMS Absalon (L16); Patrol Ship HDMS Thetis (F357);
HDMS Esben Snare (L17)
? February 2007;
October 2013
April 2009;
Finnish Navy Operation Atalanta 120[80] 1 (FNS Pohjanmaa)[80] (11.6 mil EUR)[80] 5 January 2011[81]
1 February 2011[82]
May 2011
French Navy Operation Ocean Shield or Operation Atalanta
? Germinal, Floréal, La Fayette, avisos, Améthyste ? ? ?
German Navy Operation Atalanta ca. 300[83] 1 (Frigate Lübeck (F214))[84] 60 (45 Mio. EUR) 8 December 2008[83] 1 December 2012[85]
Greek Navy[86] Operation Ocean Shield 176–196 4 ? ? ?
Indian Navy[87] 540 Frigate INS Tabar (F44)[20]
Destroyer INS Mysore (D60)
Frigate INS Godavari
INS Cankarso
INS Kalpeni
1[88] 23 Oct 2008[19] ?
Islamic Republic of Iran Navy[89] ? Bandar Abbas; Naghdi; Jamaran 1[90] ? ?
Italian Navy Operation Ocean Shield
240 1 (D560 Durand de la Penne) ? ? ?
 Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force[25] 400[91] 1st Escort Division: DD-113 Sazanami, DD-106 Samidare[91]
2nd Escort Division: DD-102 Harusame, DD-154 Amagiri,
3rd Escort Division: DD-110 Takanami, DD-155 Hamagiri
4th Escort Division: DD-111 Onami, DD-157 Sawagiri
5th Escort Division: DD-101 Murasame, DD-153 Yugiri
6th Escort Division: DD-112 Makinami, DD-156 Setogiri
7th Escort Division: DD-104 Kirisame, DD-103 Yudachi
8th Escort Division: DD-105 Inazuma, DD-113 Sazanami
9th Escort Division: DD-106 Samidare, DD-158 Umigiri
10th Escort Division: DD-110 Takanami, DD-111 Onami
11th Escort Division: DD-101 Murasame, DD-102 Harusame
12th Escort Division: DD-107 Ikazuchi, DD-157 Sawagiri
13th Escort Division: DD-112 Makinami, DD-153 Yūgiri
14th Escort Division: DD-113 Sazanami, DD-104 Kirisame
15th Escort Division: DD-155 Hamagiri, DD-108 Akebono
16th Escort Division: DD-109 Samidare, DD-156 Setogiri
17th Escort Division: DD-113 Sazanami, DD-106 Samidare
18th Escort Division: DD-105 Inazuma, DD-158 Umigiri
19th Escort Division: DD-110 Takanami, DD-111 Onami
20th Escort Division: DD-102 Inazuma, DD-154 Amagiri
21st Escort Division: DD-101 Murasame, DD-107 Ikazuchi
22nd Escort Division: DD-115 Akizuki, DD-107 Sawagiri
23rd Escort Division: DD-114 Suzunami', DD-112 Makinami [92]
? 1st Escort Division: 14 March 2009
2nd Escort Division: 6 July 2009
3rd Escort Division: 13 October 2009
4th Escort Division: 29 January 2010
5th Escort Division: 10 May 2010
6th Escort Division: 23 August 2010
7th Escort Division: 1 December 2010
8th Escort Division: 15 March 2011
9th Escort Division: 20 June 2011
10th Escort Division: 11 October 2011
11th Escort Division: 21 January 2012
12th Escort Division: 11 May 2012
13th Escort Division: 31 August 2012
14th Escort Division: 18 December 2012
15th Escort Division: 7 April 2013
16th Escort Division: 26 July 2013
17th Escort Division: 13 November 2013
18th Escort Division: 17 March 2014
19th Escort Division: 15 July 2014
20th Escort Division: 15 November 2014
21st Escort Division: 18 March 2015
22nd Escort Division: 5 July 2015
23rd Escort Division: 23 October 2015
1st Escort Division: 16 August 2009
2nd Escort Division: 29 November 2009
3rd Escort Division: 18 March 2010
4th Escort Division: 2 July 2010
5th Escort Division: 15 October 2010
6th Escort Division: 18 January 2011
7th Escort Division: 9 May 2011
8th Escort Division: 11 August 2011
9th Escort Division: 3 December 2011
10th Escort Division: 12 March 2012
11th Escort Division: 5 July 2012
12th Escort Division: 25 October 2012
13th Escort Division: 11 February 2013
14th Escort Division: 10 June 2013
15th Escort Division: 27 September 2013
16th Escort Division: 17 January 2014
17th Escort Division: 17 May 2014
18th Escort Division: 20 September 2014
19th Escort Division: 4 January 2015
20th Escort Division: 20 May 2015
21st Escort Division: 30 August 2015
22nd Escort Division: 18 December 2015
23rd Escort Division: Ongoing
Republic of Korea Navy[43] Combined Task Force 151 300 1 Destroyer (Currently Choi Young DDH-981) 1[93] 16 April 2009 ?
Royal Malaysian Navy[94] unknown Support Ship Bunga Mas 5 3[95] July 2009 late 2015
Royal Netherlands Navy[96] Operation Atalanta 174–202 HNLMS De Zeven Provinciën 1[97] 26 March 2009 August 2010
Pakistan Navy Combined Task Force 150 177 PNS Badr ? ? ?
Portuguese Navy[98] Operation Ocean Shield 180 1 (Frigate NRP Corte Real – NATO flotilla flagship) ? June 2009 January 2010
Romanian Navy[99] Operation Atalanta 236 1 (Type 22 frigate F-221 Regele Ferdinand) ? 1 October 2012 7 December 2012
Russian Navy[100] ~350 3 (Destroyer Admiral Panteleyev (BPK 548), Salvage Tugboat, Tanker[101] ? April 2009 ?
Republic of Singapore Navy[102] Combined Task Force 151 240 LST RSS Persistence (209)
? 24 April 2009[103] ?
Royal Saudi Navy[104] Operation Ocean Shield ? ? ? ? ?
Spanish Navy Operation Ocean Shield
423 2 Frigates (F86 Canarias and F104 Méndez Núñez) ? ? ?
Swedish Navy[105] Operation Atalanta 152[105] 3[105] (OPV HSwMS Carlskrona) ? 14 April 2010[105]

6 April 2013

15 November 2010[105]

August 2013

Royal Thai Navy[106] Combined Task Force 150 371 including 20 marine special warfare task force 2 (OPV HTMS Pattani; Replenishment Ship HTMS Similan)[107] 8.757 (270 Mil THB)[107] 10 September 2010[107] 14 January 2011[107]
Turkish Navy[108] Operation Ocean Shield
503 2 (Frigates TCG Giresun (F 491), TCG Gokova (F 496))[109] ? ? ?
Royal Navy Operation Ocean Shield
950 HMS Cumberland
HMS Montrose
HMS Northumberland[110]
HMS Monmouth[111]
? ? ?
Ukrainian Navy Operation Ocean Shield, Operation Atalanta 180 1 ( U130 Hetman Sahaydachniy) ? 10 October 2013[112]
3 January 2014[113]
3 January 2014
26 February 2014
United States Navy Operation Ocean Shield, Combined Task Force 150, Combined Task Force 151 ? US 5th Fleet ? ? ?



Between 2009 and 2010, the government of the autonomous Puntland region in northeastern Somalia enacted a number of reforms and pre-emptive measures as a part of its officially declared anti-piracy campaign. The latter included the arrest, trial and conviction of pirate gangs, as well as raids on suspected pirate hideouts and confiscation of weapons and equipment; ensuring the adequate coverage of the regional authority's anti-piracy efforts by both local and international media; sponsoring a social campaign led by Islamic scholars and community activists aimed at discrediting piracy and highlighting its negative effects; and partnering with the NATO alliance to combat pirates at sea.[114] In May 2010, construction also began on a new naval base in the town of Bandar Siyada, located 25 km west of Bosaso, the commercial capital of Puntland.[115] The facility is funded by Puntland's regional government in conjunction with Saracen International, a UK-based security company, and is intended to assist in more effectively combating piracy. The base will include a center for training recruits, and a command post for the naval force.[115] These numerous security measures appear to have borne fruit, as many pirates were apprehended in 2010, including a prominent leader.[116] Puntland's security forces also reportedly managed to force out the pirate gangs from their traditional safe havens such as Eyl and Gar'ad,[117] with the pirates now primarily operating from Hobyo, El Danaan and Harardhere in the neighboring Galmudug region.[118]

Following a Transitional Federal Government-Puntland cooperative agreement in August 2011 calling for the creation of a Somali Marine Force, of which the already established Puntland Maritime Police Force (PMPF) would form a part, the Puntland administration resumed training of PMPF naval officials.[119] The Puntland Maritime Police Force is a locally recruited, professional maritime security force that is primarily aimed at fighting piracy off the coast of Somalia, safeguarding the nation's marine resources,[119] and providing logistics support to humanitarian efforts.[120] Supported by the United Arab Emirates,[119] PMPF officials are also trained by the Japanese Coast Guard.[121]


Government officials from the Galmudug administration in the north-central Hobyo district have also reportedly attempted to use pirate gangs as a bulwark against Islamist insurgents from southern Somalia's conflict zones;[122] other pirates are alleged to have reached agreements of their own with the Islamist groups, although a senior commander from the Hizbul Islam militia vowed to eradicate piracy by imposing sharia law when his group briefly took control of Harardhere in May 2010 and drove out the local pirates.[122][123]

By the first half of 2010, these increased policing efforts by Somali government authorities on land along with international naval vessels at sea reportedly contributed to a drop in pirate attacks in the Gulf of Aden from 86 a year prior to 33, forcing pirates to shift attention to other areas such as the Somali Basin and the wider Indian Ocean.[116][124][125]


The government of Somaliland, a self-declared republic that is internationally recognized as an autonomous region of Somalia,[126] has adopted stringent anti-piracy measures, arresting and imprisoning pirates forced to make port in Berbera. According to officials in Hargeisa, Somaliland's capital, the Somaliland Coast Guard acts as an effective deterrent to piracy in waters under its jurisdiction.[127][128]

Arab League summit

Following the seizure by Somali pirates of an Egyptian ship and a Saudi oil supertanker worth $100 million of oil, the Arab League, after a meeting in Cairo, has called for an urgent summit for countries overlooking the Red Sea, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Somalia, Jordan, Djibouti and Yemen. The summit would offer several solutions for the piracy problem, in addition to suggesting different routes and looking for a more secure passageway for ships.

Another possible means of intervention by the Red Sea Arab nations' navy might be to assist the current NATO anti-piracy effort as well as other navies.[129]

United Nations

In June 2008, following a letter from the Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) to the President of the UN Security Council requesting assistance for the TFG's efforts to tackle acts of piracy off the coast of Somalia, the UN Security Council unanimously passed a resolution authorizing nations that have the consent of the Transitional Federal Government to enter Somali territorial waters to deal with pirates.[130] The measure, which was sponsored by France, the United States and Panama, lasted six months. France initially wanted the resolution to include other regions with pirate problems, such as West Africa, but were opposed by Vietnam, Libya and most importantly by veto-holding China, who wanted the sovereignty infringement limited to Somalia.[131]

The UN Security Council adopted a resolution on 20 November 2008, that was proposed by Britain to introduce tougher sanctions against Somalia over the country's failure to prevent a surge in sea piracy.[132] The US circulated a resolution that called upon countries having naval capacities to deploy vessels and aircraft to actively fight against piracy in the region. The resolution also welcomed the initiatives of the European Union, NATO and other countries to counter piracy off the coast of Somalia. US Alternate Representative for Security Council Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo said that the draft resolution "calls on the secretary-general to look at a long-term solution to escorting the safe passage of World Food Programme ships."[133] Even Somalia's Islamist militants stormed the Somali port of Harardheere in the hunt for pirates behind the seizure of a Saudi supertanker, the MV Sirius Star. A clan elder affiliated with the Islamists said "The Islamists arrived searching for the pirates and the whereabouts of the Saudi ship. I saw four cars full of Islamists driving in the town from corner to corner. The Islamists say they will attack the pirates for hijacking a Muslim ship."[134]

On 16 December 2008, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted a tougher resolution, allowing for the first time international land and sea occupations in the pursuit of pirates.[135] Four ships, a Chinese fishing boat, a Turkish cargo ship, a Malaysian tug, and a private yacht were seized by pirates that same day.[136] Resolution 1851 takes current anti-piracy measures a step further.[137]

A Russian drafted resolution, Security Council Resolution 1918, adopted on 27 April 2010, called on all states to criminalise piracy and suggested the possibility of establishing a regional or international tribunal to prosecute suspected pirates.[138]

Pursuant to resolution 1976 and resolution 2015, both adopted in 2011, the United Nations Security Council has called for more structured international support for Somalia's Transitional Federal Government as well as Puntland and other regional authorities in Somalia in creating counter-piracy special courts, laws, prisons and policing capabilities. Resolution 1976 also encourages regional and federal actors to engage in more effective marine resource defence against illegal fishing and toxic waste dumping in areas under their jurisdiction.[139][140]

On 19 November 2012 UN Security Council held an open meeting discuss piracy. The debate, which was the first held by the Security Council about this subject, was called by Indian Ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri and heard more than 40 speakers from different countries and international organizations.[141][142]

Private initiatives

There have been reports of pirates repelled by private initiatives. One such case would have occurred by the end of 2008, by armed personnel of transportation entrepreneur Barthe Cortes.[143][144] VSOS, a Seychelles-based company was authorized in 2008 by the authorities of Seychelles to operate armed maritime security guards. From this strategic hub the company extends its operations throughout the Indian Ocean.[145]

Other vessel owners and shipping line companies have also hired private security outfits for assistance. One such firm is Espada Logistics and Security Group based in San Antonio, Texas, whose security officers provide on-board protection from a ship's point of entry to its point of destination. They also offer anti-piracy training en route to the Gulf of Aden,[146][147] and have teamed up with African Shipping Lines, a leading international shipping line company, to provide security to vessels traveling along the coast of East Africa.[148] Another private venture is MUSC, which specializes in counterpiracy and ship security.[149]

As of 21 May 2012, Nick Maroukis of Triton Risk MSS states that not a single vessel with armed privately contracted maritime security contractors has been successfully hijacked by the pirates. A table of incidents from October to December 2011 shows pirate successes against armed and unarmed vessels.[150] Pirates have steadily ventured further across the Lloyd's Joint War Committee (JWC) designated Piracy High Risk Area (HRA) in order to evade naval patrols and search for easier targets. This is just one example of how pirates adapt their tactics to counter-piracy measures. Triton Risk MSS has produced a short analysis which highlights other probable shifts in pirate tactics, techniques and procedures in 2012/13.[151] The maritime security industry has been actively trying to introduce self-regulation for private contracted armed security companies (PCASP) since 2010. Main industry actors are: Security Association for the Maritime Industry (SAMI) and the International Association of Maritime Security Professionals (IAMSP). Governmental initiatives include the UN's International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the Swiss government's International Code of Conduct (ICOC) initiative. As of spring 2012, one of the largest ship owners/operators organizations, BIMCO, has launched another initiative to bring standards into the maritime security industry though use of PCASP contracts for its members (called GUARDCON) and ISO accreditation and certification standards for PCASPs.



In June 2008, following a letter from the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia (TFG) to the President of the UN Security Council requesting assistance for the Somali authorities' efforts at tackling acts of piracy in the Indian Ocean, the UN Security Council unanimously passed a declaration authorizing nations that have the consent of the Somali government to enter Somali territorial waters to deal with pirates.[130]

Suspected pirates captured in international waters have been tried in various countries. The Somali government questioned the authority of foreign countries to prosecute the pirates abroad. In response, the European Union attempted to focus the prosecutions closer to the Horn of Africa littoral by involving nearby territories.[152]

In January 2011, a report by UN Special Advisor on piracy Jack Lang proposed that two special anti-piracy courts should be established in the stable northern Puntland and Somaliland regions of Somalia. It also recommended that a Somali extraterritorial tribunal be created in neighbouring Tanzania. This prospective court would be subject to Somali law and function, but would be based outside Somalia due to the conflict that was then taking place in the southern part of the country. However, the latter proposal was rejected by the Somali authorities. This, along with legal, financial and security-related concerns, prompted the US government to also oppose the recommendation of a Somali extraterritorial tribunal. A British House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee report issued in January 2012 likewise rejected the idea as well as that of an international court, and recommended instead that special anti-piracy courts operating under national laws in nearby states should be established.[153]

In 2011, the autonomous Puntland and Somaliland regions of Somalia each reached a security-related memorandum of understanding with the Seychelles. Following the framework of an earlier agreement signed between the Transitional Federal Government and the Seychelles, the memorandum called for the transfer of convicted pirates to prison facilities in Puntland and Somaliland.[154] The TFG and the two regional administrations later signed a similar cooperative agreement with Mauritius in 2012, with the island nation scheduled to take on pirate suspects for trial and prosecution starting in June of the year.[155]

Kenya concurrently began serving as an additional location for trials of pirate suspects. In October 2012, its Court of Appeal stated that the country's courts could try pirates captured on international waters, as universal jurisdiction permitted all states to do so.[156] In January 2013, the Somali government indicated that pirates interned in Kenya would be transferred to Somalia. The plan was conceived by the Somali authorities, although no specific date for the transfer was announced.[157]

As Somalia further develops its courts and prison facilities in coordination with the UNODC Counter Piracy Program, pirates held in other territories are expected to be transferred for domestic detention.[158]


In May 2010, a Yemeni court sentenced six Somali pirates to death and jailed six others for 10 years each, for hijacking a Yemeni oil tanker, killing one cabin crew member and leaving another missing in April 2009.[159]

In May 2010, another Somali, Abduwali Muse, pleaded guilty in a New York federal court to seizing a United States-flagged ship Maersk Alabama and kidnapping its captain and was sentenced to 33 years imprisonment.[160]

The first European trial of alleged Somali pirates opened in the Netherlands in May 2010. They were arrested in the Gulf of Aden in January 2009, when their high-speed boat was intercepted by a Danish frigate while allegedly preparing to board the cargo ship Samanyolu, which was registered in the Dutch Antilles.[161] The pirates were sentenced to five years in prison, which was less than the maximum possible sentence. It is unlikely the men will be returned to Somalia after their sentence, as Somalia is considered too dangerous for deportation. One of the five has already applied for asylum in the Netherlands. Consequently, there are concerns that trials in European courts would encourage, rather than deter, pirates.[162] However, trials are continuing in Europe. More recently in Paris, November 2011,[163] five men were sentenced to between four and eight years; one man was acquitted. A trial also continues in Hamburg, Germany.[164] In Italy, nine Somali pirates had been tried and sentenced to prison terms of 16 and 19 years.[165] They had been found guilty of attempted kidnapping for extortion and illegal possession of firearms, in connection with 10 October 2011 attack and seizure of an Italian-owned cargo vessel, the Montecristo.[166]

On 1 April 2010, the USS Nicholas (FFG-47) was on patrol off the Somali coast when it took fire from men in a small skiff. After chasing down the skiff and its mothership, US military captured five Somalis.[167] Judge Raymond A. Jackson, a Federal District Court judge in Norfolk, Virginia, threw out the piracy charge, which dates from enactment in 1819 when piracy was defined only as robbery at sea. The penalty for piracy is mandatory life in prison. The U.S. government appealed the ruling.[168] In March 2011 the five Somalis were sentenced to life for piracy to run consecutively with the 80-year term.[169] In the same month 13 Somalis and one Yemeni suspected of hijacking and killing four Americans aboard a yacht made their first appearance in federal court in Norfolk.[170]

On 28 January 2011, pursuant to the naval engagement of the pirate mother vessel MV Prantalay (a hijacked Thai trawler) by the INS Cankarso, the Indian Navy and the Indian Coast Guard killed 10 pirates and apprehended 15, while rescuing 20 Thai and Burmese fishermen that were held aboard the ship as hostages. The rescued fishermen were sent to Kochi while the 15 pirates, of Somali, Ethiopian and Kenyan origin, were taken to Mumbai. The Mumbai Police confirmed that they registered a case against the pirates for attempt to murder and various other provisions under the Indian Penal Code and the Passports Act for entering the Indian waters without permission.[171]

In May 2012, a U.S. federal appeals court upheld the convictions of five pirates, a decision which prosecutors described as the first United States-based piracy convictions in 190 years.[155]

In October 2013, Mohamed Abdi Hassan ("Afweyne") was arrested in Belgium for having allegedly masterminded the 2009 hijacking of the Belgian dredge vessel Pompei, abducted its crew, and participated in a criminal organization. According to federal prosecutor Johan Delmulle, Hassan was responsible for the hijacking of dozens of commercial ships from 2008 to 2013.[172] He is currently awaiting trial in Bruges, the first prosecution of a pirate leader by the international community.[173]

2013 collapse of piracy

By December 2013, the US Office of Naval Intelligence reported that only 9 vessels had been attacked during the year by the pirates, with zero successful hijackings.[174] Control Risks attributed this 90% decline in pirate activity from the corresponding period in 2012 to the adoption of best management practices by vessel owners and crews, armed private security onboard ships, a significant naval presence, and the development of onshore security forces.[175]

In January 2014, the MV Marzooqah initially sent out a distress signal indicating that it was under attack by pirates in the Red Sea. However, the container vessel turned out instead to have been seized by Eritrean military units as it entered Eritrea's territorial waters.[176]


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