Somali pirate attacks will resume after monsoons - US Navy

27 July 2009 18:05  [Source: ICIS news]

Somali piratesHOUSTON (ICIS news)--Chemical and oil tankers should beware of increased pirate activity off the coast of Somalia after the monsoon season ends in four to six weeks, the US Navy said in a statement on Monday.

Somali pirate attacks on commercial ships near the Horn of Africa peaked in April, then dropped off as waves kicked up by the monsoon made it difficult for gangs to navigate in their skiffs.

But pirate activity is expected to ramp up again as the monsoon season ends in late August or early September, the Navy said. The most likely vessels to be boarded by the Somali gangs are ships travelling at slow speeds that fail to post lookouts during periods of heightened risk.

"The crews of those merchant vessels that have employed evasive manoeuvring and other defensive measures to protect their ships and their cargoes have proven to be more successful at evading attack," said Commodore Tim Lowe, Deputy Commander, Combined Maritime Forces.

The Gulf of Aden off Somalia is a chokepoint for the 25,000 ships/year that go through the Suez Canal, accounting for 20% of global trade.

Attacks off the coast of lawless Somalia are the reason why global piracy more than doubled in the first six months this year, to 240 attacks from 114 in the same period of 2008, the International Maritime Bureau’s Piracy Reporting Centre (IMB) said earlier this month.

The IMB report said the increase was due "almost entirely" to increased Somali pirate activity off the Gulf of Aden and east coast of Somalia.

So far this year the Somali pirates' have seized about one vessel for every five they attack. Gangs have made 130 attacks off the coast of Somalia and seized 28 ships, the Navy said.

Only two successful attacks have occurred since 1 June, the Navy said. The last attack was 13 July and the last ship seized was on 10 July.

The Navy advised mariners to use a designated corridor patrolled by 34 warships and other naval vessels when transiting the Gulf of Aden.

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By: Lane Kelley
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