News Blogmaritime piracy

More attacks, fewer captures in the Indian Ocean. Concern in West Africa

A successful example of the use of citadels, the recapture of the MV Montecristo by British and American forces (credit: Royal Navy)

(BRUSSELS2) Another record level for piracy in the world with 352 attacks recorded since the start of the year, according to the latest statistics from the international maritime bureau; Somali pirates are at the origin of more than one in two attacks (199 compared to 126 during the same period in 2010)... Their audacity does not fail. With the attack and capture of a chemical tanker anchored in the port of Oman, no one can now claim to be safe throughout the Indian Ocean.

The action of the “Navy” and the recommendations, effective, despite everything

Despite everything, explains the BMI, there were fewer boat captures than last year: 24 instead of 35 for the same period in 2010. That is a “success” rate of 12%, down compared to 2010. (28%). A good result which can be explained by the action of the various anti-piracy forces deployed in the region. “ The marines are to be commended for their excellent work; they are a vital force in thwarting and deterring pirate activity » explains Captain Mukundan of the BMI in a press release. The proper application of BMPs (good practices) is also highlighted, in particular the use of the “citadel” system, allowing the crew to take refuge in a safe place inside the ship in the event of an attack. and therefore the armed forces to be able to attempt an assault without risk of collateral damage or hostage-taking. The rapid release of the Italian ship Montecristo a few days ago was therefore only possible because the crew was in a safe place.

This assessment could seem positive. This forgets that the pirates took 625 people hostage during these nine months. 8 sailors were killed and 41 injured.

Red signal for West Africa

What is worrying is the irruption in these statistics from West Africa. Local pirates seem to be on the rise with 19 attacks including 8 successful on tankers this year, compared with 0 incidents in 2010. The pirates, often violent, have a different objective: cargo. They order “ the captain to proceed to a discreet destination where they steal the goods on board the vessel and its cargo, before releasing the vessel explains the BMI. The start of joint patrols between Benin and Nigeria could be a solution.

The Security Council seized of the situation in the Gulf of Guinea

A phenomenon that the UN Security Council has taken up. On Wednesday, Ban Ki Moon launched an urgent appeal to States in the region to develop an “integrated and global strategy to combat maritime piracy”. “ The threat is increasing as most Gulf (of Guinea) states have limited capabilities to secure maritime trade, freedom of navigation, protection of marine resources and safeguarding and securing life and property” explained the UN Secretary General during the meeting.

An assessment mission – including experts from DPKO (peacekeeping operation), UNODC (crime and drugs) and the International Maritime Organization – will depart for the region next month to examine the measures to be taken . It should act in close “consultation” with the “ governments of the region, the European Union and other international partners », specifies the UN press release (read here). Ban Ki Moon launched an appeal to UN member states to support the anti-piracy operations already undertaken by certain countries. France and the USA are present in particular. Russia has promised help. On the side of the European Union, we are “examining”…

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Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).