A helicopter fired warning shots toward a suspected pirate skiff, where six Somali men sat among assault rifles, grappling hooks and an aluminum ladder. But before it could be boarded by sailors from a nearby warship, the men threw all the gear overboard.  They were let go, and nothing was done to prevent their return.

The high-seas encounter last week illustrates how the multinational naval force has had limited success.  Naval forces who intercept pirates usually follow a “disrupt and deter” policy, as in last week’s raid. The forces confiscate weapons and equipment, then release the suspects.  Rarely are any pirates detained.  But this is only if the pirates are caught before boarding a vessel.  Once on board, naval forces do not intervene for fear of hostages being killed or wounded.

Pirate attacks nearly doubled in 2009 over a year earlier, despite the deployment in December 2008 of the European Union Naval Force – the first international force specifically to counter Somali pirates.

Somali pirates currently hold at least 10 vessels and more than 200 crew members for ransom.

Somali pirates tried to board at least 209 vessels this year through mid-December, seizing 43 of them, the International Maritime Bureau says. That compares to 42 successful attacks out of 111 attempts in 2008, before the EU Naval Force deployed.  The pirates simply have moved their attacks away from the warships and into less protected waters.

The increased security on land and at sea has forced the pirates further south with less of a security presence, a very weak government, and insurgents fighting for control of Mogadishu.

Somalia itself does not have the resources to fight piracy. Its navy has only three working boats.

For related prior entries on our web site regarding piracy:

Maersk Alabama Crew Blame Captain for Pirate Attack
SMSH Client John Cronan, Ex-Crewman Speaks Out About Second Pirate Attack on Maersk Alabama
Crew member on pirated U.S. freighter sues shipping line
U.S. Coast Guard issues new anti-piracy requirements
Captain jumps overboard, SEALs shoot pirates, official says
Pirates hijack Maersk ship with 20 Americans onboard

For more information about piracy, please contact our firm Schechter, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P., Accident & Injury Lawyers.

Update 9/18: For more information regarding how piracy has changed from 2009 to the present, visit: https://www.statista.com/topics/1290/pirate-attacks/