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12 NAVY NEWS, MARCH 2009
● HMS Portland escorts the cruise liner Arcadia and (below) the
frigate approaches USNS Patuxent for a RAS
Pictures: LA(Phot) Alex Cave, FRPU East
● Action stations in HMS Northumberland... The 30mm (above) and the upper deck Minigun (above right) are manned as the frigate
approaches the Somali capital of Mogadishu
Continued from page 11 northern Somali coast. can think of. Added together, it’s “We are attacking the symptoms,
The number of pirate attacks in
Worthy as this cause is, the food pretty historical.” not the cause. More work has to be
2008 doubled compared with the
programme mission accounts for Despite this massing of done, but importantly countries
previous 12 months – and fi nally
the tiniest fraction of shipping in maritime force, the task facing are waking up to the challenge,”
prompted a united international
the region. EUNAVFOR, CTF 151 or the said Rear Admiral Jones.
response.
Twenty thousand ships (whose independent nations is daunting. They might wish to start with
The European Union mustered
cargo includes seven per cent of The pirates’ realm is vast – from the small town of Eyl, 500 miles
half a dozen ships – EU Naval
the world’s oil) pass through the the Egyptian-Eritrean border up the coast from Mogadishu, a
Force Somalia – for the fi rst
Gulf of Aden to the Tanzanian- latter-day Port Royal, a town where
military operation staged under
each year. Mozambique frontier piracy has become a business, a
the Brussels banner, Operation
They bunch (nearly 3,000 miles town where the pirates anchor
Atalanta.
together around

We are making
or roughly the same their captive ships – ten vessels
Led by the RN and Rear
the ‘marine a difference. We sailing distance with their cargoes (and 179 crew)
Admiral Jones’ battlestaff from
security
are making these
as Portsmouth at the end of January – and even
Whale Island, but drawing military
corridor’, an to Crete). East it have restaurants set up ashore
personnel from across the Union,
invisible box waters safer for stretches to the to provide meals for the hostage
the Northwood headquarters tries
running along
merchant shipping
Omani coast and sailors.
to shepherd shipping through the
the Yemeni northern tip of “One of the challenges is that
Gulf of Aden.
coast from Aden – and that’s a good Madagascar. pirates are seen as glamorous.
The force’s principal mission is
to Oman.
feeling.
In all, the People are growing up wanting to
to ensure World Food Programme
It is here, piracy danger be pirates. They like the lifestyle,”
ships safely reach port in Somalia;
where the traffi c – Rear Admiral area covers 1.1 explains Cdr Alistair Worsley on
two fi fths of the country’s populace
is heaviest,
Phil Jones
million square the Atalanta staff.
relies on these UN handouts.
that the pirates ” miles of ocean And what’s not to like? They
They receive close escort until
have struck – – more than drive around Somalia in their 4x4s,
they are in the safe bosom of port
repeatedly. 11 times the size of the UK. have the pick of wives from local
authorities.
There were 46 ‘approaches’ in All those involved in curbing the clans, are feared and respected in
Last month we reported the
these waters in 2008 (ie the pirates bandits’ actions agree. However equal measure.
fi rst ship, MV Semlow, arrived in
buzzed a merchant ship but took many ships they have at present, What else do we know about
Mogadishu under the watchful eye
no further action), 21 reported there are not enough to guarantee our foe?
of HMS Northumberland.
attacks and 21 actual hijackings. safety for all merchantmen. “We know their tactics, their
Since then the frigate has
The brigands care not for “It looks like an enormous weapons, their vessels, their
escorted fi ve more aid ships (see
nationality or even cargo: a Chinese number of warships on paper. motivation – it’s fi nancial, there’s
opposite) – three through the “lion’s
fi shing vessel, a Ukrainian military You have to recognise that you are no wider motive,” said Rear
den”, as the admiral calls it, of the
transport, a Turkish tanker, a bulk dealing with a huge area – it takes Admiral Jones.
carrier. three or four days to sail from the We also know that dawn is their
They care only for money – Gulf of Aden to Mombasa – and hour. They prefer to strike at fi rst
ransom, invariably paid out by our ships can only cover a small light. They like vessels with little
shipping insurers after protracted part of it,” Rear Admiral Jones freeboard (easier to board).
negotiations. explained. They don’t like the presence of
Recently, however, there has “Nor do we have enough ships warships. They don’t like maritime
been a lull in their activity. to run convoys. There are simply patrol aircraft (based at Djibouti).
It’s partly down to the winter hundreds of merchant vessels in They don’t like helicopters (based
weather, but also the presence of the Gulf of Aden. aboard the various warships).
the EU force – which is charged “What we can do is encourage They don’t like bad weather
with safeguarding general shipping ships to group together, advise either, not least because most
in the Gulf of Aden as well as its them to travel at night and give of their attacks are carried out
Keep up to date
World Food Programme duties. them as much information as we in small skiffs, operating from
Aside from the embryonic EU can.” ‘mother ships’ – normally dhows –
group, there’s a new Coalition Merchant fi rms log on to a hundreds of miles from land.
with news from
group – Combined Task Force 151, special website – www.mschoa. The winter weather has curbed
see below – and a fair smattering of eu – provide details of their the number of attacks but so
warships from around the globe: vessels, such as speed, cargo, too has the substantial military
RNA branches
Japan, Malaysia, Russia and China freeboard, receive information presence.
(the latter haven’t sailed in these and advice from the force’s HQ in “You are far more likely to see
waters for half a millennium). Northwood. a warship or helicopter in these
All have a common goal even if And merchantmen have also waters than you were a couple of
around the world
they have different masters and go responded to the piracy threat, months ago,” Rear Admiral Jones
about it in slightly different ways. from posting lookouts to creating emphasised.
“Collectively, we can say we ‘citadels’ inside their ships where “And what is clear is that those
have deterred around 50 pirate they can ‘lock down’ in the event involved in the mission need no
Available at your local newsagent
attacks,” said Rear Admiral Jones. of an attack and the marauders motivation – ship’s companies
and selected supermarkets,
“We talk to each other, share cannot get at them. see the vessels they are helping
or subscribe with us and r
Available a
eceive
information and together we are But there is still a lot to be done on a daily basis and the merchant
stopping the attacks. – resolving extremely complex sailors have voiced their thanks.
your copy by post ‘hot off the pr
t
ess’ “This is the fi rst naval operation legal issues so captured pirates “So we are making a difference.
under the EU banner but it is also can be prosecuted for a start – We are making these waters safer
Tyakour Newe advantage of sagent
the most signifi cant gathering of and, above all, restoring order and for merchant shipping – and that’s
world navies for a common aim I peace to Somalia. a good feeling.”
our off
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Portland boosts
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IT IS not just aid ships
As a mark of respect, the liner their willingness to support the
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escort in troubled waters.
and the frigate responded in kind alongside the similar EU task
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able to demonstrate to boarding, searching and
Arcadia was guided through waters
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of the Royal Navy’s warship.
using the f
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Portland, the most high-profi le of
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The 87,000-ton cruise ship,
open,” said Cdr Tim team rapid roped
with more than 2,000 passengers
on page 40
Henry, Portland’s from the 815 NAS
When ordering
aboard, was making for India –
CO. Lynx on to the
and there’s no-way of reaching the
That commitment Mahan – one part of a
please quote RNA06 sub-continent without running the has seen his ship two-pronged assault on
gauntlet of ‘pirate alley’ (unless attached to a new the destroyer; prong two
you wish to make the lengthy maritime group, Combined came courtesy of the rest
detour around the southern tip of Task Force 151. of the boarding party arriving by
Africa). CTF 151 was set up at the sea boat, eventually securing the
The frigate provided a reassuring beginning of January. Although Mahan’s bridge.
sight for Arcadia’s passengers – as comprising just three vessels “Working with the Mahan’s
did the warship’s Lynx which was initially – fl agship USS San well-trained team is a huge
out and about scouring the oceans Antonio, USS Mahan, plus bonus,” said Lt Francis Griffi ths,
for illegal activities. Portland – 20 nations have voiced Portland’s boarding offi cer.
011-013_NN_Mar.indd 2 16/2/09 10:36:06
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