Sunday, 24 October 2021
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Below is a statement released by the Combined Maritime Forces

Last week, while conducting counter piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden, HMS Portland detected, intercepted and boarded two suspicious skiffs preventing a possible pirate attack. In coordination with a Spanish maritime patrol aircraft, Portland identified, pursued and subsequently conducted a boarding of the vessels where they found articles that indicated the skiff had been involved or was about to conduct an act of piracy, and were clearly not those of an innocent fishing vessel.

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The historical criteria of maritime power were described by the father of modern maritime strategy, US Admiral Thayer Mahan, in his well known publications "The influence of sea- power upon history " between 1885 and 1914.

Admiral Mahan describes four elements of sea power:

1. Maritime trade at sea

2. Sea lines of communication

3. A fleet

4. A maritime strategic position/location

Maritime power of today can be described as " acting maritime policy", which is a product of a merchant fleet, military maritime forces, maritime industry and maritime strategic positions.

Maritime strategy uses these elements to gain strategic objective. Consider the maritime strategies of the trading nations and the pirates in the area around Somalia and the Yemen. While the objective of the pirates is to capture ships, the trading nations have the strategic objective of safe and secure sea lines of communication.

The pirates do not trade at sea, but the sea lines of communication off the coasts of Somalia and the Yemen are of utmost interests and relevance for them. The pirates donīt have a combat fleet but use mother ships and skiffs with light weapons. Their most relevant tool is the safe maritime position of the territorial water of Somalia and the Yemen.

The international community on the other hand has the full spectrum of elements at its disposal, maritime military assets, modern fleets, sea lines of communication and strategic positions in the Arabian Sea, in Djibuti, and airfields and capable supply ships for the maritime forces.

The maritime strategy of the international community is superior to the strategy of the pirates. To beat piracy it is necessary to eliminate their units and their strategic positions. The European-led Operation ATALANTA is being militarily successful in the former context.

The latter can be achieved by stabilizing the political situation in Somalia and the Yemen by political means. But to date efforts towards the failed state of Somalia and the Yemen are not as effective as necessary to gain a political stable area to ensure secure shipping in the region.

Joerk Reschke, a retired Rear Admiral from the German Navy, is President of EuroDefense-Germany. Since his retirement he has been a freelance author on topics such as "Maritime Strategy" and " European Security and Defence Policy".


by James Jay Carafano, Ph.D., Richard Weitz, Ph.D. and Martin Edwin Andersen

The Heritage Foundation's Maritime Security Working Group--composed of representatives from academia, the private sector, research institutions, and government--produces cutting-edge policy recommendations for making the seas safer for the United States, its friends and allies, and global commerce. The fourth occasional report by the group addressing the most pressing issues confronting maritime security examines the issue of piracy in the Gulf of Aden and the appropriate U.S. response.

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"The problem of piracy is not new, and the international law system long ago addressed it by defining piracy as a violation of the 'law of nations'. Given that, the question of who prosecutes pirates really turns more on mundane issues like who has the resources to do so, and what will be the diplomatic consequences of one nation versus another pursuing criminal charges.

One of the more interesting questions, however, is how do companies recover the costs they suffer as a result of piracy. Vessel owners have insurance for damage to their ships and any ransoms they might be forced to pay, but what about the other costs? Who pays for cargo that is not delivered on time, has spoiled as a result of lengthier trips that avoid troubled

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by Jena Baker McNeill and Brett D. Schaefer

When Somali pirates seized the U.S.-flagged Maersk Alabama, taking the ship's captain hostage, resulting news coverage focused U.S. public attention on piracy and lawlessness in Somalia.

Piracy is a growing problem that benefits from the instability in Somalia. In the near term, effectively safeguarding maritime traffic requires a balanced public/private effort with the use of force limited to protecting commerce and maintaining freedom of the seas. Also required is an effective strategy to resolve Somalia's troubles and establish and bolster the rule of law.

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Despite the successful result of this recent incident (the Maersk Alabama), the problem of piracy in the Gulf of Aden and off the coast of Somalia remains. The international effort, particularly Combined Task Force 151, has succeeded in thwarting a number of these attacks; however the overall number of successful hijackings has continued to rise. We have learned from past and present examples that the only way to deal with these criminals is to seek them out in the oastal safe havens where they are operating. Whether you look at the days of the Barbary pirates where the pirates were eventually defeated ashore in Algiers or the recent example in the Straits of Malacca where the combined forces of Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore worked ogether to secure their waters. In both of these examples, the victory over the pirates came when they were denied safe havens ashore.

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Dr Robert Crowcroft, Research Associate, UK Defence Forum

The last two years have seen the return of piracy, usually off the coast of Africa, to the minds of the public as a significant international issue. Indeed piracy is now a genuine problem for the nations and corporations that rely on oceanic trade. While only a small number of vessels will ever be hijacked or seized by pirates, bear in mind that 95% of global trade is carried by sea. This means that there is plenty of scope for piracy, whether in the waters off Africa, in South Asia, or Latin America. At the moment, Somali pirates are holding about twenty EU-registered vessels for ransom. The American government has singled out Somali pirates as the biggest pirate problem, responsible for around half of all incidents worldwide in 2010.

And the ongoing multinational effort to police the lawless seas off the Horn of Africa is expensive – unsustainably so.

Moreover, the blunt truth is that there are higher priority operations that naval forces could be attending to. Between five and ten US warships are typically tasked with dealing with the issue at any one time, and there are other nations involved as well. India, for instance, last week asked African nations to do more to tackle piracy. Maintaining forces at sea on long-term operations is a costly business.

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