Increase in piracy off West Africa

 IMB, International Maritime Bureau, maritime safety news, piracy, pirates  Comments Off on Increase in piracy off West Africa
Jun 182011

Benin - don't expect help.. photo: BBC

Piracy in West African waters is on the rise, warns the London P&I Club’s correspondent in Benin. Most attacks occur while ships are at anchor or close to the shore, unlike East Africa, where Somali pirates have netted millions of dollars in ransoms in exchange for the release of ships captured hundreds of miles from the coast.

The IMB Piracy Reporting Centre has previously highlighted the risk to shipping in Tema, Ghana, and in the Lagos and Bonny River areas of Nigeria.  It states that pirates have attacked and robbed vessels and kidnapped crews along the coast and rivers, anchorages, ports and surrounding waters.

In response, the Nigerian Authorities have forbidden bunkering offshore, unless such operations are secured by soldiers provided by the Government, subject to formal authorisation and payment of the costs involved.  Such measures are believed to have resulted in pirates travelling further afield and into foreign territories to capture vessels. Unfortunately, piracy is now occurring offshore Benin.  A crew member has been killed in one such attack.  Moreover, recent attacks suggest that some better organised and resourced pirates are targeting valuable refined oil cargoes. Since the turn of the year it is understood that three tankers have been captured for this purpose. In each case the vessel and crew were released several days later, but only after the pirates had forced the crew to pump cargo to craft brought alongside. Further, the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre now notes Benin as an area of increasing attacks in their Piracy Prone Area List.

It should also be noted that the Benin authorities lack the resources available to the Nigerian Navy, and that appeals for assistance whilst under attack in Benin waters may therefore go unanswered. In the meantime, vigilance against hijacking and kidnap should be practised in all areas where pirate activity is suspected.

Feb 042009

From the International Maritime Bureau

To ensure stray bullets do not hit and injure or kill, crew are advised to remain inside the accommodation away from all bulkheads. Further crew are advised to keep fire fighting appliances in a state of readiness at all times in order to fight any fires which may break out during the firing.

  • 27.01.2009: 0636 UTC: (SUSPECTED CRAFT) Gulf of Aden.

A crude oil tanker sighted a suspicious blue-hull speed boat, 10m length with 5-6 people on Hdg 358° Speed 14 kts. Vessel reported the craft to Indian warship in the vicinity. Helicopter deployed by the vessel. The warship later proceeded to the position and arrested the five pirates along with their weapons ammunition.

The Indian navy has identified an area of potential high threat from a pirate attack. The naval ship encountered a concentration of small craft within a 10 nm radius of position 13:39N – 048:55E at 0800 UTC on 03 December 2008.

The boats / skiffs were investigated by the ship’s helicopter. As the helicopter approached

1) The group of skiffs operating together broke off in different directions at high speed

2) Each skiff had more than five people onboard.

All ships are strongly advised to maintain a strict 24 hours visual and radar watch while transiting the Gulf of Aden and off the east cost of Africa (Tanzania,Kenya and Somalia). Early assessment / detection will allow ships to take evasive measures to prevent boarding and request for assistance.

To ensure stray bullets do not hit and injure or  kill, crew are advised to remain inside the accommodation away from all bulkheads. Further crew are advised to keep fire fighting appliances in a state of readiness at all times in order to fight any fires which may break out during the firing.
27.01.2009: 0636 UTC: (SUSPECTED CRAFT) Gulf of Aden.
A crude oil tanker sighted a suspicious blue-hull speed boat, 10m length with 5-6 people on Hdg 358° Speed 14 kts. Vessel reported the craft to Indian warship in the vicinity. Helicopter deployed by the vessel. The warship later proceeded to the position and arrested the five pirates along with their weapons ammunition.

The Indian navy has identified an area of potential high threat from a pirate attack. The naval ship encountered a concentration of small craft within a 10 nm radius of position 13:39N – 048:55E at 0800 UTC on 03 December 2008.

The boats / skiffs were investigated by the ship’s helicopter. As the helicopter approached

1) The group of skiffs operating together broke off in different directions at high speed

2) Each skiff had more than five people onboard.

All ships are strongly advised to maintain a strict 24 hours visual and radar watch while transiting the Gulf of Aden and off the east cost of Africa (Tanzania, Kenya and Somalia). Early assessment and detection will allow ships to take evasive measures to prevent boarding and request for assistance.

Piracy Commentary – Pirates In The Bow, Seafarers on the Front Lines

 IMB, International Maritime Bureau, maritime accidents, piracy  Comments Off on Piracy Commentary – Pirates In The Bow, Seafarers on the Front Lines
Oct 242008

Just another day at the office for these Somali Pirates

Let’s give a hand to the pirates aboard the MV Faina. Thanks to their efforts a seven-ship fleet under NATO is about the arrive in the Gulf of Aden, US warships are off the coast of Hobyo with mv Faina in their sights and a warship from Russia, which sold the vessel’s cargo of tanks to either Kenya or South Sudan should be keeping them company any time now, as well as forces from India, many of whose seafarers are being held by pirates.

Don’t get too excited, though. No rules of engagement have been agreed, they can’t figure out how to identify the pirates, whether they’re allowed to shoot or even arrest the pirates, what to do if they do grab them or how to find them, according to comments by the fleet commander, Admiral Mark Fitzgerald in a report from Reuters. The chances are that the fleet will do nothing more than escort ships carrying food aid. to replace the Canadian vessels whose service has expired.Somalia, torn by conflict (Source: Chatham House)

For pirates, it will be business as usual, protected by inaction against the world’s mightiest seapowers on one of the world’s most critical trade routes bearing some 16,000 ships a year. The will to tackle them remains on hold.

Even though pirates have, under internal law, been regarded as ‘enemies of humanity’ for more than a century. Legal issues abound regarding jurisdiction. Recently, a Danish naval vessel had to release 10 pirates back into the wild because, under Danish law they could not be tried in Denmark. More vigorously, the French captured a number of pirates responsible for the seizure of a yacht flying the French flag and is to try them in Paris and more recently seized pirate boats and turned the crews over to Puntland authorities. Britain’s Royal Navy, it is understood, has instructions not to capture pirates.

Meanwhile, the US State Department’s favourite mercenary company, Blackwater, has its own private warship on standby in the hope of picking up some passing trade from shipping companies and a bunch of other private armed security companies, such as HollowPoint, are bouncing up and down in their seats crying “me too! Me too!”.

Ground truth revealing and worrying

On the principle of ‘know thy enemy’, a recent report from the Royal Institute of Foreign Affairs, known as Chatham House, Piracy In Somalia: Threatening Global Trade, Feeding Local Wars by Roger Middleton, makes revealing and worrying reading.

While Somalia has been a basket case for more than a decade it did briefly have a relatively stable government in Mogadishu during the last six months of 2006. Piracy then almost vanished. Says the report: “This indicates that a functioning government in Somalia is capable of controlling piracy”.Piracy almost vanished when insurgents ruled Mogadishu

That government, however, was established by the Islamic Courts Union, commonly known as the Islamist insurgents, which seized control of the city from the ruling warlords . With their overthrow by the US-backed Transitional Federal Government of Somalia, piracy returned in full force.

There may be a reason for that. Most pirates originate in the Puntland region. Says Middleton: “The fact that the pirates originate from Puntland is significant as this is also the home region of President Abdullahi Yusuf (of the Transitional Federal Government). As one expert said, ‘money will go to Yusuf as a gesture of goodwill to a regional leader’ – So even if the higher echelons of Somali government and clan structure are not directly involved in organizing piracy, they probably do benefit. ”

One is entitled to wonder whether if such a government were to achieve stability there would be much impact on piracy.

Some of the money received for ransoms is also believed to be reaching Islamist Militants and being funnelled into their war efforts. Links between the Islamists and Al-Shaab, listed as a terrorist organisation by the US government, has raised concerns about ransoms paid to pirates reaching terrorists or the use of pirate by terrorists to create an incident leading to massive pollution and loss of lives.

Invisible Ships

With Mogadishu now reduced to little more than a pile of rubble by continuous conflict, pirates in need of a stable base have moved north to the Gulf of Aden since the end of 2007. Some 61 ships have been attacked or seized so far this year, a figure that rises day by day but which is, prehaps half of those that have actually been seized or attacked. Little attention has been paid to these ‘silent ships’ yet they do, in part, provide a rationale for the pirate’s activities, at least to the pirates themselves.

Spanish trawlers with West African crews habitually and illicitly reap the rich harvest of fish off the unprotected Somali coast. It is, literally, daylight robbery on a massive scale. They put nothing into the Somali economy, such as it is, but take a great deal from it.

A number of European companies have allegedly dumped toxic and nuclear waste in those same waters, polluting the fishing grounds and the beaches. Similar dumping along the Ivory Coast by Dutch company Trafigura led to at least 17 deaths and widespread health problems. Pirates aboard the m/v Faina claim that they want to use the ransom money to clean up the Somali coastline. It’s easy to dismiss such claims as merely an excuse to continue a very profitable business but the fact remains that complaints about illegal fishing and dumping of toxic waste have been ignored and while no government has condoned these activities none have taken an active stand against it.

MV Faina Crew wait for ransom. Did toxic waste play a role?

One solution to that which could also make a dent in piracy would be to provide an internally mandated coast guard capability. Previous attempts to do so using private contractors have not only proved futile but provided pirates with the organisational skills to carry out attacks.

Private Affairs

Private security firms have not performed well in Somalia. Earlier this year French security company Secopex signed a deal with President Yusuf to provide marine security for Somalia and a personal bodyguard for Yusuf. The $50-$200m needed for the contract remains unfound.

US security provider Topcat signed a $50-$55m contract with the TFG in 2005 to target pirate motherships. The US government stepped in and blocked the contract on the grounds that it would breach an arms embargo. Saudi firm Al-Habiibi also won a contract but couldn’t deploy its personnel.Failed deals with private contractors may have given the pirates their skills

Somali-Canadian Coastguard had a contract with the Puntland government from 2002 to 2005. It’s effectiveness came into question when three of its personnel were sentenced to ten years imprisonment for pirating a Thai fishing boat they claimed to have been protecting. SOMCAN trained about 400 personnel in coastguard duties.

Finally, the Puntland International Development Corporation subcontracted an anti-piracy programme to Hart Security in November 1999. After training Somali personnel Hart walked away from the contract in 2002 because it was unclear whether the then Puntland government had the authority to honor it.

The net result is a group of young men, trained in weapons handling and marine tactics, with time on their hands and Somali warlords and businessmen willing to fund a new career for them. These men have trained others, formed disciplined forces which even have a ‘manual of good conduct’, and now number in their thousands.

There is one potential upside – if the international community does get its act together to create a Somali coastguard they could have a ready-made pool of potential trained and experienced recruits.

Canal Conundrum

An end to piracy would certainly be good news for Egypt. Although the head of the Suez Canal Authority, Captain Ahmed Fadl, has made expectedly anodyne comments on the influence of piracy on the canal’s fortunes there’s no denying that, as piracy has increased over the past few months revenues have started to fall. Over the past two months, according a report in Middle East Times income has fallen from $504.5m in August to $469.6m in September, with vessel throughput dropping from 1,993 to 1,872 in the same period.

Privately, the Egyptian government is concerned about the impact of piracy on its earnings from the canal, an important contributor to the country’s coffers.

Answering the unanswerable

In the face of a tenfold increase in insurance premiums and additional payments to seafarers, several companies are looking at the Cape Horn route, usually less economical. For now, competitiveness will keep companies using the canal but if bunker prices drop, then ’rounding the Horn’ might once more become common. Even without such a drop the potential is there for more companies to take the safer route, putting upward pressure on fuel and raw and manufactured goods.

In the meantime, seafarers are pretty much on their own. Some companies are now hiring armed guards forPirate in the bow, seafarers on the frontline their vessels, certain countries always have done so for their own-flagged vessels, but for the majority of vessels, especially the smaller ones like the Danica White and the Svitzer Korsakov, that’s not likely to be a practical or economic solution.

In some case, flag states may be uncomfortable with private armies on their vessels.

Of late, there has been an increase in the aggression of pirates but they still prefer live hostages. Shooting at them may encourage them to change that policy.

Low manning levels, too, make it easier for the pirates. So-called safe-manning levels may not provide enough manpower to keep a proper watch in pirate-infested waters. This is an issue that flag-states need to address and which ship companies must address. Insurers, too, could put pressure on by making it a condition of cover for piracy that enough crew be aboard to ensure a continuous watch.

One recent survey has shown that almost all pirates attacks in this area occur during daylight hours. The one exception occurred at a full moonlight. That lesson is clear: As far as possible transit the area at night. Speed, not surprisingly, is another factor, the faster you go the less likely the pirates will find and catch you and, of course, you’ll be in the area of high risk for a shorter time.Low manning levels, the pirate's friend

Keeping a continuous watch on radar and AIS watch can provide an early indication of a potential threat. Unidentified targets that appear to be shadowing your vessel may be a sign of trouble as are vessels that don’t appear to match their AIS signature. While the small skiffs used by pirates may be lost in the sea clutter the mother ships from which they are launched may well be visible electronically.

An alert and obvious visual watch may not only give forewarning but also discourage an attack, pirates don’t like you to know they’re coming.

While large vessels with high freeboard are less prone to attack they are subject to potshots from time to time by pirates who, prehaps, are hopeful that the vessel will stop. It may be wise to put a fire team on standby if suspicious boats or ships are noted.

Report suspicious activity early. Ensure that appropriate crew members know the location of the Ship Security Alert System and how, when, to activate it, but do not rely entirely on it as a means to notify the appropriate authorities that an attack is in progress.

Consider anti-piracy drills to ensure that your crew know what to do, and what you will be doing, should there be an attack. In the past few months armed pirates have been successfully driven off by an appropriately drilled crew using hoses and the master manouvering the vessel to prevent boarding. Anti-piracy drills may also encourage lookouts to keep a sharp watch.

Early alert and appropriate manouveres can be effective. The International Maritime Bureau reported two such incidents in its current weekly piracy report for 14th-20th October. Offices aboard a VLCC noted the fast approach of three fast vessels on its radar, took evasive action and changed course. In the second instance the master of a bulk carrier increased speed and manoeuvred the ship to keep the pirates at bay.

Review the resources on your vessel, including the vessel itself, with regard to how a pirate attack can be deterred. Size, speed and manoeuverability count. One enterprising master put his tug into a high-speed spin until the attackers gave up and left.

The safety of those aboard and the vessel itself is of paramount importance. The master of a bulk carrier will have different concerns to those of an LPG carrier or a cruise liner.A present from Puntland, unexploded rocket on the Sea Spirit

Once pirates are aboard, there is little that can be done. One North Korean crew did maintain control of their vessel by occupying the engine room and steering compartments and keeping the vessel away from Somali waters while maintaining contact with a US Navy warship until a navy helicopter caused sufficient distraction for the crew to overpower the pirates, resulting in several deaths. It is unlikely that most crews will be sufficiently well-trained to do something similar and the potential loss of seafarer lives almost certainly outweighs the value of such heroics.

Life as a hostage is such a traumatic experience that some victims have not returned to sea and suffer the effects of trauma for years or months afterwards. The ‘iron man’ culture so often found aboard ships can make such detention particularly difficult to take and counselling needs to be offered to victims when released.

It is important, as a hostage, to bear in mind that Somali pirates have not, so far, sought to harm their hostages. Unlike political or religious terrorists, pirates, while threatening, have nothing to gain by harming those they hold to ransom.

On average, it takes 45 days to negotiate and pay a ransom. It will be a trying period, but a ransom will be paid.

Piracy along the Somali coast will be resolved when the problems of Somalia itself are resolved. Seafarers will continue to be victimised for a long time to come.

Lessons From The Danica White

Ince & Co Article on Law and piracy

Piracy, Where’s The Love, Where Are The Bikinis?

Good News: Pirates Aren’t Terrorists, Bad News: Pirates Aren’t Terrorists

Getting French and Personal With Pirates

Don’t Keep Mum On Pirate Mothers

Piracy Needs A SASSy Response

The Danica White and The Pirates – All That Was Missing Was A Welcome Mat

Piracy Update – Svitzer Korsakov

Somalia and Gulf of Aden

Danish Maritime Authority Report On The Danica White (English)

Thomas Timlen’s worrying paper on SSAS

International Maritime Bureau

Rand Piracy Report

UK House of Commons Report

Maritime Piracy In The Modern World (American Bar Association Insights)

15 Reasons: Piracy Attack of a Ship is Different from Hijacking of Aircraft

Danica White, pirates and safe manning

Does LRAD Work?

Pirates, A Doom With A Q?

Piling Pineapples On Pirates The Russian Way

Don't Keep Mum On Pirate Mothers

 ICC, IMB, International Maritime Bureau, piracy  Comments Off on Don't Keep Mum On Pirate Mothers
Aug 142008

If you’ve read our postings on pirates and listened to The Lessons From The Danica White you’ll know about the motherships used by pirates to launch smaller boats to attack ships. The International Maritime Bureau has released photographs of what it believes may be motherships together with the advice below:

“To all ships transiting the Gulf of Aden

Please be advised that intelligence sources revealed that there are now two suspicious trawlers in the Gulf of Aden believed to be pirate mother vessels looking to attack ships with the intent to hijack.

The description of the suspected trawlers – long white, Russian made stern trawlers with names “BURUM OCEAN or ARENA or ATHENA”. One of the trawlers is believed to be operating at approximately 60 NM NE of Bossasso, Somalia in the Gulf of Aden.

All ships are strongly advised to maintain a strict 24 hours visual and radar watch while transiting these waters and report any attacks or suspicious boats including the trawlers named above to the 24 hour IMB PRC. Tel: +603 2031 0014 / +603 2078 5763 email:

Suspected Pirate Mother Vessels:




Source: Coalition Forces

New: MAC Special – Lessons From The Danica White

 Danica White, IMB, International Maritime Bureau, Somalia  Comments Off on New: MAC Special – Lessons From The Danica White
Aug 102008

New: MAC Special – Lessons From The Danica White
Piracy has continued unabated since the taking of the Danica White in 2007.
Are lessons being learned? Bob Couttie and the Nautical Institute’s Steve Jones
discuss modern piracy.

Click Here for Podcast

Pirates, A Doom With A Q?

 International Maritime Bureau  Comments Off on Pirates, A Doom With A Q?
May 012008

Earlier this week the US and France introduce a draft UN Security Council resolution co-sponsored by the UK and Panama, to combat piracy along Somalia’s nearly 2,000 mile coastline. Is it enough?

Faster than you can say “dead man’s chest” Somali pirates bounced back like Chuckie. As a dozen of their number, having snatched the yacht, Le Ponant, faced three square meals a day awaiting the pleasure of a Paris court after their capture by French forces, what’s generically referred to as the Somali Marines hijacked the Panamanian-flagged Fiesty Gas, seized a Spanish tuna boat, Playa de Bakio, shot-up a Japanese tanker, Takayama and attacked a South Korean bulk carrier Not to be outdone, their south east Asian brothers boarded and robbed the Thai-flagged Pataravarin 2 in the second attack in Malaysian waters since January.

A bright spot is the imprisonment for life of 11 pirates by a court in Puntland. Seven of the men were pirate, four others had collaborated in the seizing of a ship from the United Arab Emirates. Puntland, a breakaway region of Somalia, a nation that ceased to function after the overthrow of a dictatorial regime 17 years ago, is widely regarded as a sort of seed for a storm of stability to sweep that sad landmass that has so far failed to germinate.

Despite the presence of naval forces from the US and Europe representing massive firepower and military technology, victories have been few and ineffective off the Somali coast. Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia have been more successful in reducing piracy but these nations do have a stable existence that Somalia lacks.

When discussing the possible advantages of large military presence one should bear in mind the fate of the general cargo ship Sanford, taken in the late 1980s from Subic Bay in the Philippines. At the time, Subic Bay was the largest US overseas military installation in the world, which didn’t faze the pirates one iota, any more than it has prevented pirate attacks in the warship-rich waters of Iraq.

The vessel’s name was, in fact, welded into the hull. The pirates crudely painted “Star Ace” over the name and the vessel, through various fortunes ended up in the port of San Fernando, La Union. The original name was clearly permanent and visible when I visited her in 1990, but apparently invisible to the relevant law enforcement agencies and authorities, so the requirement to emboss IMO numbers on ships’ hulls may not be quite as helpful as some would suppose.

Piracy is big business, some estimates put the cost at $16bn a year. It’s deadly, too, over a 10 year period, 1995 to 2005, some 340 crewmembers and passengers were killed and 461 injured.

One must be cautious about figures for piracy. In the past, and probably now, it has been severely under-reported in part because ship companies fear increased insurance premiums, embarrassment and because they don’t want vessels tied up in a port while the crews are being questioned at length by police authorities and demands for favours by those supposedly investigating the incident. It’s little wonder that one commentator refers to it as “the industry’s dirty little secret”. Regular reports by the International Maritime Bureau may be little more than the tip of a rather large iceberg.

Somali pirate efforts are harder to hide when kidnap for ransom is involved on an international scale.

Of course, the ISPS code should have made life safer but, as the British House of Commons Transport committee noted: “the code has not contributed to the safety of seafarers… The primary impetus behind the introduction of the Code was the concern that ships are a potential vehicle for weapons and terrorists. In other words, those ships—and their crews—are the threat. This is clearly seen in the US where in many ports seafarers are prevented from leaving their ships. Thus the focus is not on the protection of the seafarer but on the protection of the country to which the ship will visit.”

In fact, the widely promoted links between between terrorism and piracy are doing little to secure safety for seafarers, their ships, or international trade routes, yet if the issue of safety frompiracy of seafarers, ships and trade routes is addressed then the threat of piracy-related terrorism goes away. If it is not addressed, then the welcome mat remains out for terrorists.

It’s hard to disagree with that report’s statement “The UK Government and the international community generally, ought to be ashamed that they have failed to put effective measures in place to prevent the present high level of piratical attacks on seamen and women.”

In fact, much of the international legal framework to pursue and engage pirates has been in place for centuries. They come under the category hostis humani generis, enemies of humanity. Under the principle of Jus Cogens, or compelling law, all nations are obligated to eliminate pirates.

Even with the agreement of whatever passes for a sovereign authority in Somalia for other countries to pursue pirates in Somali pirates, there really has yet to be an effective answer.

One long-term answer is to tackle the warlords who benefit from piracy, as we have mentioned before.

The question remains how one engages the pirates with technology they can see far enough away to skedaddle before the warship gets close.

Although not as uncommon as widely supposed, the arming of seafarers is, for the most part, not a wise move. One only has to read through maritime casualty reports to realise that such a cure is likely to be more dangerous than the disease.

Part of the answer might be the revival of the World War 2 Q-ship. These were well-armed ships disguised as merchant vessels inviting enough to attract the attention of an enemy, where upon the Q-ship would reveal it true nature by attacking the enemy vessel. They were a new concept, even then, by a good two years.

Such a solution would be relatively cheap to implement. Operating several such small to medium sized bait would cost a lot less than the super-duper-built-for-a-war-that-never-happened vessels presently assigned to the task. Military personnel would be more usefully employed this way than, say, by shooting-up cigarette vendors in the Suez Canal.

The rules of engagement would simply be to sink or capture the pirates.

Perhaps we should spell the doom of the pirates with a Q.

Weekly Piracy Alerts

 IMB, International Maritime Bureau, piracy  Comments Off on Weekly Piracy Alerts
Nov 282007

For more information on the following alerts go to the International Maritime Bureau here. 

Suspicious crafts

Recently reported incidents

24.11.2007: 0345 LT: 06:17.8S – 003:21.2E, Lagos anchorage, Nigeria.
Four armed robbers in a small wooden boat boarded a container ship from aft.
They stole ship’s store and escaped.  No injuries to crew.
21.11.2007: 0212 LT: 06:12N-003:18E (15 miles from shore), Lagos, Nigeria.
Five pirates armed with knives boarded a tanker drifting around 15 nm from shore. Duty crew spotted the pirates and informed the duty officer. Alarm raised and crew mustered.  Pirates escaped with ship stores
01.11.2007: 0830 LT: Corentyne coast, Guyana.
Masked pirates armed with guns attacked a Guyanese fishing boat. The pirates stole the boats engines and equipment and then ordered the fishermen to board their craft and pilot their craft while they raided other boats. Later , the fishermen were taken to neighboring Suriname where they were left with the boat. The fishermen managed to return home after two days and report to the coast guard and police.
03.10.2007: 0700 LT: Bonny channel, Nigeria.
Pirates armed with guns and hiding in a mangrove swamp ambushed a passenger vessel during it’s passage to bonny town.  It is suspected some of the pirates could have mingled among the passengers and boarded the vessel at the jetty at Port Harcourt.  The pirates waited at the midway point and attacked the vessel when signaled. The pirates stole passenger valuables.  Pirates fired a volley of shots into the air before escaping.  Injured passengers received medical treatment ashore.
06.11.2007: Point Cruz, Solomon Islands.
Armed pirates boarded a fishing vessel at anchor. They stole crew personal belongings, cash money and ship’s properties.
08.10.2007: Panaji, off the Yermal coast in Udupi: Karnataka: India.
Pirates in canoes boarded a vessel carrying scientists on a
Marine research project.  After a brief struggle with the scientists, the pirates took the scientific instruments. It is unclear if the instruments were thrown into the water or stolen. The scientists are reported to be safe.

Weekly Piracy Report

 IMB, International Maritime Bureau, Nigeria, piracy, Somalia  Comments Off on Weekly Piracy Report
Sep 252007

The International Maritime Bureau has issued the following weekly report

Recently reported incidents

14.09.2007: 0330 UTC: 06:18N – 003:22E, Lagos anchorage, Nigeria.
Deck crew onboard a tanker carrying out STS operations noticed two small boats in the vicinity. Suddenly one of the boats with three persons on board approached the ship. The OOW was informed, alarm raised and crew mustered. Robbers noticed the alert crew and aborted the attempt.
14.09.2007: 0216 LT: 0616.5N – 003:21.3E, Lagos anchorage, Nigeria.
The deck watchman on an anchored tanker noticed a fast boat, with 3-4 robbers, approaching from astern.  One robber was seen holding a pole with a hook attached to it. The OOW was informed, alarm raised, crew mustered and port control informed. On hearing the alarm, the robbers aborted the attempt.
23.09.2007: Kutubdia anchorage, Chittagong, Bangladesh.
Whilst carrying out anti piracy rounds, on a bulk carrier at anchor, ship’s crew found forecastle store, door, lock broken and ships stores missing. Even though there were a number of shore personal working onboard the robbers went unnoticed.
22.09.2007: 1950 LT: off Palembang, Indonesia.
Several pirates hijacked a tanker, enroute to Cilacap from Palembang, with a cargo of Palm Olien. The master reported to TG. Buyut pilot station and they informed the tanker’s managers. IMB piracy reporting centre has alerted the authorities to look out for the tanker.
20.09.2007:  1715 LT: 110 NM West of Berbera, Somalia.
Pirates hijacked a fishing vessel and anchored it near the village of Raas Shula
All crew including the four Somali security guards have been taken out from the ship.
19.09.2007 : 0430 UTC: 01:33.6N – 051:41.5E: Somalia.
A blue-hulled suspicious vessel with white superstructure with two masts was drifting at a distance of 11.5nm from a bulk carrier.  Ship altered course to stay away from suspicious vessel. The suspicious vessel altered course, and speed a number of times. The bulk carrier continued to plot the suspicious vessel until finally past and clear.
Note: In this case, the IMB notes the movements of the suspicious vessel to be quite similar to those of fishing vessel.
17.09.2007: 0250 UTC: 02:27.1N – 051:56.0E, Somalia.
A bulk carrier underway sighted a vessel drifting on her port bow at a range of 12 nm.  The boat suddenly increased speed and moved towards the ship.  The ship took evasive action and increased speed to keep away from the suspicious craft. Due to ship’s higher speed, the suspicious boat moved away.
An hour later, another suspicious boat was sighted on the stbd bow; the ship took evasive action to keep away from the boat.  Due to ship’s higher speed, the boat was left behind.  Ship continued her passage.
11.09.2007: 2300 LT: vicinity of Ferguson Island, Milne Bay Province, Papua New Guinea.
The captain of a workboat, transporting workers and cargo, jumped overboard when pirates boarded his vessel. The pirates robbed the crew and injured them with sharp objects. Later the crew received medical treatment at a shore hospital.  A search party was sent to locate the captain but he could not be found.
09.09.2007: 1145 LT: Posn 01:54.1N – 106:31.49E, 48 NM of Pulau Repong, South China Sea.
Two speedboats, with an unknown number of few men and believed to be armed, were trailing a yacht underway.  Suspicious of their intention, the yacht broadcast the incident via vhf radio.  A passing by container ship relayed the message to Singapore port authorities.  The Singapore port authorities relayed the message to MRCC Jakarta and broadcast a navigational warning via the Navtex and safety net system. The attempted attack was aborted.
18.08.2007: 0750 LT: 05:22.58N – 078:78.9E, 78 NM from coast, Sri Lanka.
Several fishing vessels chased and attempted to board a yacht while enroute from Maldives to Malaysia. The yacht managed to evade the attempted attack.
26.07.2007: 0730 LT: 40 NM west of Anambas islands, South China Sea.
A Chinese fishing vessel while underway was approached by a small rubber boat. Five pirates armed with guns opened fire at the fishing vessel and attempted to board.  The fishing vessel increased speed and managed to escape.  Bullets penetrated the bridge hull and damaged glass. No one was injured.  The fishermen reported to authorities in china, Singapore and Malaysia.

So where is this wonderful anti-piracy machine?

 IMB, International Maritime Bureau  Comments Off on So where is this wonderful anti-piracy machine?
Sep 112007

(NOTE: The IMB has now removed the reference to the Inventus, this page remains for record purposes only)

I hate to be critical of the IMB, an outfit I’ve known since since the days of Eric Ellen but why is it still promoting something that doesn’t apparently exist?

This is what the IMB says:

Inventus UAV

The Inventus UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) is a state-of-the-art reconnaissance system packaged in a highly efficient, highly stable flying wing form. Outfitted with cameras, the Inventus flies and covers a large ocean area and relays a real-time data link back to the ground station. This link provides real-time aerial surveillance and early warning of suspect or unauthorised craft movements to the coastal or law enforcement authority. Developed by Lew Aerospace, the Inventus is fully autonomous and can be launched and recovered even from a seagoing or patrol vessel. There are gas and electric formats and both fly in all weather conditions. Endorsed by the IMB the Inventus is yet another tool to aid in the maritime effort in its fight against piracy. For more information please visit

I did visit. It doesn’t work, the link is dead. After some searching I find it looks something like this:

Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? But the link doesn’t work. No mention of the IMB on Lew Aerospace’s website eitherYou can find out more about the device from the Lew Aerospace website at

It certainly has to be a lot cheaper than the well-weaponed $1bn US ship that let kidnappers get away with the crew of the Danica White.

Yes, I did email the IMB websmaster, but he doesn’t exist either, his email address bounces, so I suppose he’s been fired, maybe because he couldn’t keep his links up to date, but it really doesn’t bode well.

I would point out that the IMB is a commercial organisation and contact and commerce go together.

Still, the weekly reports are good.