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16 January 2011 

Deep Sea Pirates Outmaneuver

Shipping Industry

Based in the unruly territory of Somalia in Eastern Africa, pirates
have forged a world wide reputation for being ruthless, courageous and
running an enormously successful business. 
Over the past year the shipping industry and governments from South
Korea to the United States of America have joined together in an effort
to curb the number of ships hijacked. 
Now a new strategy has emerged as pirates move into deeper seas
where unsuspecting ships find themselves defenseless against the gun
laden pirates of Somalia.
To last year pirates have cost the shipping industry an estimated
$12 billion dollars, in lost cargo and in payment to release ships.  
There is no doubt that the pirates are searching for new ways to
earn revenue.  Last year a Russian tanker carrying 300 thousand tonnes
of oil was captured in the Gulf of Aden. 
In an effort to extort $20 million those who took control of the
ship threatened to release the oil into the sea then blow up the ship. 
The potential environmental implication were devastating.   
Now NATO has acknowledged a new strategy has emerged that is
worrying the 28 members of the alliance that include the USA, Canada,
England and France.
At a news conference this week, Commodore Michiel Hijmans, Royal Netherlands Navy, and

NATO’ s Counter Piracy mission, acknowledged that pirates were now getting “smarter”.

It seems that today pirates have begun to work more collectively, using a mothership to penetrate into deeper seas.  
The mothership used in the operations have been previously
hijacked.  This making it even more difficult for the commercial vessels
to differentiate between the ships from normal operations to that of
If close to the shores of Somalia navy vessels can accompany cargo
ships, but as the pirates reach further into sea it’s harder to predict
where the attacks will occur.

If you have any comments, or even a correction, on this
article please email Mary Banfield:

All (reasonable) comments will be uploaded onto this

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Thanks to Jim Nicoll for sending through the following comment!

Dear Mary,

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the article “Deep Sea Pirates Outmaneuver Shipping Industry.

think that the header of the article is a bit misplaced as it is the
responsibility of Nation States to protect innocent unarmed merchant
seafarers. It is therefore the Nation States that are being humiliated
by acts of Piracy off Somalia and in the Indian Ocean region in general.

The below provides a brief insight into UNCLOS and a partial solution that would curtail piracy activity off Somalia.

Best regards,

Jim Nicoll.

Somalia Based Piracy – Use UNCLOS

On the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) website, it states, “The oceans are the very foundation of human life…” Fine words, clicking on them will take to you Oceans and Law of the Sea.

All states that have ratified, acceded or succeeded to UNCLOS have a duty under article 100:

Ø  to
cooperate to the fullest possible extent in the repression of piracy on
the high seas or in any other place outside the jurisdiction of any

UNCLOS defines piracy in article 101 as follows:

Any illegal acts of violence or detention, or any act of depredation,
committed for private ends by the crew or the passengers of a private
ship or a private aircraft, and directed:

(i) On the high seas, against another ship or aircraft, or against persons or property on board such ship      or aircraft;

(ii) Against a ship, aircraft, persons or property in a place outside the jurisdiction of any State;

Any act of voluntary participation in the operation of a ship or of an
aircraft with knowledge of facts making it a pirate ship or aircraft;

(c) Any act of inciting or of intentionally facilitating an act described in subparagraph (a) or (b).

A pirate vessel under UNCLOS 103 is:

Ø  A
ship or aircraft is considered a pirate ship or aircraft if it is
intended by the persons in dominant control to be used for the purpose
of committing one of the acts referred to in article 101. The same
applies if the ship or aircraft has been used to commit any such act, so
long as it remains under the control of the persons guilty of that act.

All States under UNCLOS 105 can:

Ø  On
the high seas, or in any other place outside the jurisdiction of any
State, every State may seize a pirate ship or aircraft, or a ship or
aircraft taken by piracy and under the control of pirates, and arrest
the persons and seize the property on board. The courts of the State
which carried out the seizure may decide upon the penalties to be
imposed, and may also determine the action to be taken with regard to
the ships, aircraft or property, subject to the rights of third parties
acting in good faith.

Under UNCLOS 107 entities that can affect seizure of a pirate ship are:

Ø  A
seizure on account of piracy may be carried out only by warships or
military aircraft, or other ships or aircraft clearly marked and
identifiable as being on government service and authorized to that

In addition to UNCLOS there is of the 1988 Convention for the
Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against the Safety of Maritime Navigation.

answer we are told is a stable situation ashore in Somali and after 20
odd years of being allowed to fester, sadly this is nowhere on the
horizon. It is patently obvious that there will be no stability let
alone the infrastructure ashore anytime soon. In the meantime, those on
whom the world depends to feed and water it will continue to face the
risk of being taken hostage, disabled or killed.

is a pity there is no Sea Shepherd providing a truly safe passage
through this ocean as there is in the southern one looking after whales
who also cannot shoot back.

UNCLOS the United Nations should draw up a resolution to charter in
prison or accommodation vessels. Those caught committing acts of piracy
could then be held in suitably designed vessels floating offshore under
UN jurisdiction. By doing so, no longer would pirates and suspects be
released and hence free to continue acts of tyranny against innocent
unarmed seafarers and world commerce. Currently most of those
apprehended by the navies of the world are simply let go after a brief
interrogation. This must be as galling to naval personnel as it is to
their counterpart merchant marine mariners.

Jim Nicoll –

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