NL to OK hired guns for anti-piracy duty
THE HAGUE _ The government plans to allow merchant marine vessels to hire private guards for anti-piracy duty off Somalia. Defense Minister Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert acknowledges the usefulness of Dutch soldiers can be limited to owners of Dutch-flagged cargo vessels. Annually, up to 30,000 vessels pass through the Suez Canal and Gulf of Aden. In 2011, high seas piracy was an industry valued at 7 billion
France and Germany are also rethinking their bans on private security guards. Britain, Norway and Denmark already allow them. The Netherlands participates in EU and NATO anti-piracy operations off Somalia. Additionally, ship owners can request Dutch military assistance for specific voyages _ a possibility fraught with red tape, costs and other hassles Annually, up to 300 Dutch ships cross risky waters but very few request assistance from the military.
Hennis-Plasschaert: “The government will allow the use of armed, private security units under yet-to-be defined conditions and for yet-to-be determined categories of cargo transports in the high-risk area near Somalia.” Successful piracy attacks off Somalia have fallen, thanks to beefed up security. But piracy is not down. And it is not a problem for commercial ships only. In a sobering Jan. 29, 2013 piracy bulletin, Britain’s Royal Yachting Association cautioned that “yachtsmen remain an easy target’’ for pirates see them as low risk but high-income targets. The bulletin says:
You may have heard that the number of pirate attacks off Somalia in 2012 reduced significantly compared to the number of attacks in 2011. You may have also heard that the EU Naval Force conducted a successful operation in May against known pirate logistic dumps on the Somali shoreline, with the aim of making it much more difficult for pirates to build up their equipment and fuel supplies on the beaches and get out to sea quickly.
Furthermore, you may have heard that disruptions of Pirate Action Groups by Naval Counter Piracy Forces have become more successful and that one of Somalia’s notorious pirate leaders recently announced his retirement. All the above is true and very much welcomed (but) it does not reflect the full picture:
– Pirate Action Groups are still very active across the whole Indian Ocean
– A confirmed attack on the 13th December 2012 was in the Gulf Of Oman, approximately 1,100 nm from Somalia. The most recent attack on 5 January 2013 was in the Somali Basin.
– Pirate Action Groups are still pirating dhows and using them for long range operations to prey on vessels far out to sea.
– Pirate Action Groups have become more desperate because of improved deterrent measures by merchant ships and successful naval operations. Yachtsmen remain an easy target for attacks as they are considered low risk to Pirate Action Groups and perceived to be able to attract high ransoms.
– Hostages are being held for longer periods in captivity – the hostages from MV ICEBERG were released after spending over 1,000 grueling days in captivity.
– As captivity periods have become longer, the treatment of hostages has become more degrading, humiliating and violent.
– Hostages are increasingly being taken ashore – this fits the typical hostage holding pattern for previous yacht hostages.
– A yacht that is attacked by pirates helps to fuel the Somali Pirate Business Model and acts as an incentive for further piracy. -
– We all have a shared responsibility in countering this on-going maritime threat in the Indian Ocean … All sailing yachts under their own passage should remain out of the High Risk Area or face the risk of being attacked and pirated for ransom.