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Germany Responds To Somali Piracy Problem

by Ulrika Lomas,, Brussels

31 December 2010

The German government plans talks with the shipping industry in January to address the problem of piracy in shipping lanes off the East African coast after a number of German vessels were targetted recently.

A German Defence Ministry official has revealed that the meeting will take place towards the end of the month, but that no new legislation was planned by the German government to deal with the issue. Officials from across the federal government will attend the meeting, including from the foreign affairs, transport, justice, and interior ministries.

In the early hours of 27 December, the Ems River was pirated approximately 175 nautical miles North East of the port of Salalah, Oman. The 5,200 tonne general cargo ship, which is Antigua & Barbuda flagged and German-owned, was on her way to San Nicolas, Greece from Jebel Ali in the UAE at the time of the attack. She has a crew of 8 (1 Russian, 7 Philipinos) and is carrying a cargo of Petroleum Coke. The pirated vessel MT Motivator was in the vicinity of Ems River throughout the attack which, according to Navfor, further reinforces the current pirate modus operandi of the use of motherships.

The seizure came hot on the heels of the release of a German-owned tanker, the Marida Marguerite and its 19 crew, who had been held for almost nine months. The ship's owners reportedly paid a ransom of USD5.5m to secure the ship's release.

Navfor, the European Union task force set up to combat piracy in the area, reports that as of December 28, there were 26 vessels and 609 hostages being held by pirates off the coast of Somalia.

Somali pirates intensified attacks away from their own coast and were responsible for 44% of the 289 piracy incidents on the world’s seas in the first nine months of 2010, according to a report by the International Chamber of Commerce International Maritime Bureau (IMB).

Carrying out 35 of the 39 ship hijackings worldwide from January to September 2010, Somali pirates used ocean-going fishing vessels to reach as far as the southern Red Sea, where they hijacked a chemical tanker in July 2010, the first such hijacking recorded in the area. Pirates are heavily armed with automatic weapons and rocket propelled grenades, IMB reported.

The IMB Piracy Reporting Centre’s worldwide figures show that in the first nine months of the year, pirates boarded 128 ships and fired at 52. A total of 70 vessels reported thwarting attacks. Pirates used guns in 137 incidents and knives in 66, killing one crew member, injuring 27 and taking 773 hostages.

Globally, the number of vessels hijacked was higher than the 34 recorded in the same period in 2009, despite a slight fall in the number of piracy incidents, down from 306 in the first nine months of 2009.

TAGS: marine | Somalia | Germany

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