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NATO Arrests Suspect Pirate (Black) Flagship …

  • February 14th, 2011
  • Posted by EUEditor

nato-pirates.jpgThe NATO patrol has captured a suspected pirate mother ship at sea (12.2.11), operating off the coast of Somalia.

The captain of a Danish warship that waylaid the vessel said, “these ships provide the pirates with a floating base; they pose a great threat to merchant shipping,”

He had fired warning shots to stop the ship, releasing two hostages found on board, from Yemen, and taking into custody 16 suspected pirates, with a stack of arms.


Obscure international laws governing piracy on the high seas, and confusion over jurisdiction mean that convicting and gaoling the criminals in question is a difficult process.

Several have been taken to Kenya as a neutral location, some warships that intercept a pirate boat take the crew-members back to their own national ports, in the hope they can be penalised there.

Niceties of modern diplomacy and law prevent some of the more draconian measures used in times past to quell the scourge of the seas; no keel-hauling or dangling from the yard-arms in this day.

Confiscations and destruction of boats can be done, however, and the action on the weekend is seen as an effective step, by putting a brake on increasing levels of pirate activity further out to sea.

The modern-day pirate fleet sails out from the coast of Somalia, a failed state with no working government or law enforcement.


For some years, credibly enough, the pirates have been representing themselves as poor fishermen forced into lucrative crime by foreign, industrial fishing operations taking advantage of the absence of law.

As the business has grown, however, they have moved far out to sea, in the last two years as far as 1300 kilometres off the coast; still using fast skiffs but basing them on larger ships that function as store-houses and armouries.

Operations have extended from quick boardings and robberies to seizure of big ships and their cargoes, and taking of hostages.

Extending the range of plundering operations over a much wider area has not only provided more targets, but made the naval task of finding the pirates more demanding.


somali-pirates2.jpgGovernments from the Indian Ocean rim and farther afield have organised concerted moves to end the problem; which now amounts to a partial blockade, by organised criminals,  of the heavy shipping operations into the Persian Gulf or Suez Canal.

Late in 2008 the European Union announced it would send a task force to the region with initially six ships and some additional surveillance craft.

Piracy was seen to be getting out of control, with already some 15 merchant ships hijacked and 200 crew members believed to be held captive at places along the coast of Somalia.

The NATO alliance has been coordinating operations, and several countries from outside, including China and India, have sent naval vessels into the area.

See also, EUAustralia Online: “NATO active in Somali patrol”, 26.4.09; “Problems mount with pirates …”, 12.4.09; “Sending pirates to Davy Jones’s locker?, 4.1.09; “Pirates seize French yacht …”, 5.4.08.


BBC News, London, “Nato seizes ‘pirate mother ship’ off Somalia”, 13.2.11., (13.2.11).

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), Brussels, “A view from the sea: Fighting pirates is no easy mission”, 11.2.11., (13.2.11).

Pictures   NATO