Sea Transportation: American Navy and the Somali Pirates

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February 24, 2006: Around the middle of February, there was a noticeable increase in intel activity regarding piracy in the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, and adjacent areas. It appears that NATO and the U.S. Navy may be planning to do something about the growing piracy problem off the Somali coast. But no one is saying anything officially. But something is going on.

If that is the case, the naval vessels involved will have to be aware of some of the rarely reported aspects of "piracy" in this modern world. Not all reported "attempts" at piracy may actually have occurred as reported. On several occasions ships have reported being "chased" by small boats, but have not reported any weapons firing or even displays. Some instances of attempted piratical attacks actually seem to be the result of misbehavior on the part of the ships involved. Most areas where piracy is known to occur - the northwestern Indian Ocean and Southeast Asian waters - are also fairly well-populated by fishermen. Fishermen are not happy when merchant ships ignore their presence, since it often leads to damaged nets and loss of livelihood. Several instances of ships reporting that they had been "chased by pirates" appear to have actually been cases where fishermen were either trying to divert the vessels from running over their nets, or trying to claim damages after the ship has ripped through their nets.

 


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