European Union naval forces on Tuesday struck Somali pirate targets on the coast of the country in the first raids by the European force on the Somali mainland.
“We believe this action by the EU Naval Force will further increase the pressure on, and disrupt pirates’ efforts to get out to sea to attack merchant shipping and dhows," Rear Adm. Duncan Potts, operational commander of the force, said in a statement.
Several pirate attack skiffs, the small boats pirates use to attack merchant vessels in the open ocean, were destroyed in the raid, said Timo Lange, media officer at the naval force's headquarters in England.
No Somalis were injured in the raid, which was conducted entirely by air, the force's statement said.
"The local Somali people and fishermen – many of whom have suffered so much because of piracy in the region, can be reassured that our focus was on known pirate supplies and will remain so in the future," Potts said in the statement.
On March 23, the Council of the European Union said the naval force would be permitted to attack pirate installations on shore.
The force currently has nine warships and five maritime patrol aircraft operating off Somalia under Operation ATALANTA, which began in December 2008.
In April, the International Maritime Bureau reported that pirate attacks off Somalia had decreased dramatically during the first quarter of the year as compared to a year earlier.
Pirate attacks off the coast of Somalia have decreased dramatically this year, but the number of incidents off Africa's west coast is increasing, and piracy is becoming more violent there, the International Maritime Bureau reported Monday.
There were 102 incidents of piracy and armed robbery during the first quarter of 2012, according to the agency, part of the International Chamber of Commerce.
Forty-three of those were attributed to Somali pirates, a decrease from 97 in the first quarter of 2011. Nine vessels were hijacked in the area, a decrease from 16 in the period a year earlier. Pirates took 144 crew members hostage off Somalia during the quarter, according to the report.
The bureau credited international navies, which have staged both reactive and pre-emptive strikes against pirates in the region, for the decrease in piracy off Somalia. It hoped for continued progress.
What do you do with a rat-infested, stateless pirate fishing vessel? Blow it up to show off the firepower of the Coast Guard's newest, toughest cutters, a U.S. senator says.
Crew from the Coast Guard cutter Munro seized the Bangun Perkasa, which was not operating under a national flag, 2,600 miles off Alaska in September after it was suspected of engaging in fishing with drift nets on the high seas, according to the Coast Guard. Drift net fishing is illegal because the nets indiscriminately kill massive amounts of fish and other marine life such as endangered whales and turtles.
The vessel was found to have been using 10 miles of drift nets and had 22 tons of squid and 30 shark carcasses aboard, the Coast Guard said. The fishing boat and its crew of 22 were towed to Dutch Harbor, Alaska, in the Aleutian Islands.
And that's when the Coast Guard found evidence of rats on board.
An English tourist kidnapped from a remote Kenyan resort is being held by Somali pirates in a remote corner of the lawless country, according to experts and security analysts in Nairobi.
"Gangs from Southern Somalia took her up the coast and then moved her several times," said Andrew Mwangura, a piracy expert and maritime editor of Somalia Report, an independent online publication.
Judith Tebbutt was abducted by armed men from a remote safari lodge near to the Somali border earlier this month. Her husband, David Tebbutt, was killed in the attack when he resisted, according to Kenyan police.
Warships stopped a suspected pirate skiff Saturday and rescued a crew member of a French yacht that sent a distress call this week off the coast of Yemen, officials said.
A helicopter located the yacht after the Thursday night distress call, but an inspection found no one on board.
Two vessels, one French and the other Spanish, trailed the skiff and ordered it to stop, according to European Naval Force Somalia. All of the suspects were detained.
Another yacht crew member was believed to have been killed when the suspects boarded the vessel, the naval force said in a statement.
The skiff sank during Saturday's operation, but neither the hostage nor the suspected pirates were harmed, officials said.
Pirates in the Indian Ocean are hijacking scientists' ability to collect data on climate change, researchers say.
Ann Thresher of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, in an e-mail interview Friday with CNN, said the threat of piracy has effectively shut off a critical portion of the Indian Ocean to research.
" This is affecting weather observations," Thresher said. "All data that feeds into measurements of climate change, ocean heat content, weather prediction and the prediction of ocean currents.”
U.S. Navy sailors from the guided missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea rescued 26 crew members of a Liberian-flagged tanker after an attack by pirates off Yemen on Wednesday, according to Navy and media reports.
A rocket-propelled grenade struck the 144,000-ton crude carrier Brilliante Virtuoso in an early-morning pirate attack, setting fire to crew quarters on the vessel, according to a report from Reuters Africa.
"It is understood that the pirates fired RPG into the accommodation area, which started a fire," ship manager Central Mare Inc. said in a statement quoted by Reuters Africa. "As a result the pirates abandoned their efforts to take control of the ship and left the scene, and the master ordered evacuation of all crew members."
The Philippine Sea responded to a distress call from the Brilliante Virtuoso and found the crew of 26 Filipinos in a lifeboat. The U.S. ship did not see any sign of pirates, according to the Combined Maritime Forces, a 25-nation coalition under which the Philippine Sea was operating.
Two tug boats dispatched from Aden were escorting the tanker with its load of a million barrels of fuel oil to safe port, Reuters Africa reported.
In a bid to recover sunken artifacts – and as an excuse just to say “Aarrrgh” to each other – divers plan an expedition next week off North Carolina to the flagship of famed 18th century pirate Blackbeard.
Blackbeard’s ship, Queen Anne’s Revenge, is believed to have run aground in the shallow waters off Beaufort, North Carolina, in 1718. The ship was discovered by excavators in 1996, with piecemeal recovery of artifacts intensifying only a few years ago.
Staff from the North Carolina Underwater Archaeology Branch will enter the waters Monday for a two-week mission focused on “conducting a detailed assessment of the main mound to determine strategies for disassembly and recovery,” according to the Queen Anne’s Revenge website.
Mark Wilde-Ramsing, project director for the Queen Anne’s Revenge dive, told WUNC 91.5 the expedition hopes to score a trove of 18th century goods, which then can be used to educate the public and raise awareness of underwater preservation efforts.
He said divers could "hopefully recover a large anchor that is on the main ballast pile. There's a lot of these rock, stones and these anchors, two of them, plus a lot of cannon underneath,” he told 91.5.
Blackbeard, known for his dark, braided facial hair, evidently used a lot of cannons.
An article published in March on the Smithsonian website said the Queen Anne’s Revenge was found to have about 225,000 pieces of lead shot and at least 25 cannons, many of them still loaded.
Romanticized in history books as a notorious ruffian, Blackbeard, born in Britain as Edward Teach, terrorized Atlantic seafarers from the shores of the American colonies to the Caribbean.
The Queen Anne dive is part of a conservation project that has been years in the making. Wilde-Ramsing said divers will try anti-corrosion agents and devices to stop or even reverse years of saltwater decay, according to 91.5.
For more information, see the Queen Anne's Revenge website.
A U.S. Navy ship came to the rescue of an oil tanker in the Indian Ocean over the weekend after four suspected pirates climbed aboard.
The Japanese-owned MV Guanabara reported it was under attack Friday afternoon 328 nautical miles southeast of Oman, the Navy said. The Guanabara had 24 crew members aboard.
The warship USS Bulkeley, assigned to the Combined Maritime Forces' CTF-151 counter-piracy mission, was directed to intercept the Guanabara, supported by the Turkish warship TCG Giresun of NATO's counter-piracy task force.
After Guanabara's master confirmed to the Bulkeley that his crew had taken refuge in the ship's citadel room, or secure compartment, the Bulkeley's specialist boarding team climbed aboard Saturday, detained the four men and secured the vessel, the Navy said.
A Danish family, including three children ages 13, 15 and 17, was hijacked by Somali pirates last week, according to a report in the Copenhagen Post.
The teens, along with their parents and two deckhands, were sailing from the Maldives in the Indian Ocean to the Red Sea as part of an around-the-world voyage when they were abducted, the post reported, citing Denmark's Foreign Ministry.
The family managed to get off an emergency call as their 43-foot yacht, the ING, was attacked, the Post report said, and a Danish warship was headed to the area where the yacht was hijacked, about 300 kilometers (186 miles) off the coast of Somalia.
[Updated at 9:24 a.m.] Negotiations were under way to free the hostages when gunfire erupted aboard the pirated vessel, a statement from U.S. Central Command said.
"As they responded to the gunfire, reaching and boarding the Quest, the forces discovered all four hostages had been shot by their captors. Despite immediate steps to provide life-saving care, all four hostages ultimately died of their wounds," the statement said.
A reaction force boarding the S/V Quest "was engaged by pirates," two of whom died during the confrontation. Thirteen other pirates were captured, along with two who were already in the custody of U.S. forces, according to central command.
Two other pirates were already dead when U.S. forces boarded the S/V Quest, the statement said. In all, 19 pirates are believed to have been involved in the hijacking.
A federal court on Wednesday sentenced a Somali man to nearly 34 years
in prison for acts related to high-seas piracy.
Prosecutors say Abduwali Muse acted as the ringleader when he and three other men seized the U.S-flagged Maersk Alabama by force about 350 miles off the coast of Somalia on April 8, 2009.
Once on board, the armed men demanded the ship be stopped, then took a lifeboat and held the captain of the ship, Richard Phillips, hostage on it.
Muse, who entered a guilty plea last May, apologized in the New York courtroom on Wednesday.
"I'm sorry very much for what happened to victims on ship. I am very sorry about what I caused," he said. "I was recruited by people more powerful than me. I got my hands into something more powerful than me and I am sorry.
"I ask forgiveness for all the people I harmed and the U.S. government."
Seven Somalis, including three boys under 15 years old, could face the death penalty if convicted on charges of firing on Malaysian armed forces while attempting to a hijack a merchant ship.
The seven appeared before a Malaysia magistrate in Kuala Lumpur on Friday to hear the charges against them. They did not enter a plea and were transferred to a prison to await the next court action, set for March 15, the Malaysian national news agency Bernama reported.
The charges stem from an attack on the container ship Bunga Laurel in the Gulf of Aden on January 20.
It was code named "Dawn of Gulf of Aden" and when South Korea gave it a green light Friday, its daring execution led to five hours of chilling drama on the high seas.
A South Korean navy destroyer and Lynx helicopters fired warning shots as elite forces, in pre-dawn darkness, silently approached the deck of the freighter Samho Jewelry, hijacked by Somali pirates Saturday, according to the Yonhap news agency.
The pirates fired with their AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades. The South Koreans shot back.
When it was all over, the South Koreans rescued 21 sailors, killed eight pirates and captured five others, said Lt. Gen. Lee Sung-ho, a spokesman for South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Last year was the worst on record for piracy at sea, according to a report issued Monday.
Pirates captured 1,181 sailors aboard 53 ships in 2010, according to the report from the International Chamber of Commerce's International Maritime Bureau. Eight of the captives were killed, the report says.
Ships reported 445 pirate attacks in 2010, a 10% increase from 2009.
"These figures for the number of hostages and vessels taken are the highest we have ever seen," said Capt. Pottengal Mukundan, director of the bureau's Piracy Reporting Centre. "The continued increase in these numbers is alarming."
The waters off the coast of Somalia remain the most dangerous in the world, as 49 ships were captured there - 92% of all ships taken, according to the report.
A federal court on Monday sentenced a Somali man to 30 years in prison for acts related to high-seas piracy, according to a statement by the U.S. Attorney's office for the Eastern District of Virginia.
"Today marks the first sentencing in Norfolk for acts of piracy in more than 150 years," U.S. Attorney MacBride said in the statement. "Piracy is a growing threat throughout the world, and today's sentence ... demonstrates that the United States will hold modern-day pirates accountable in U.S. courtrooms."
Jama Idle Ibrahim pleaded guilty in federal court in August, admitting he had intended to seize a U.S. merchant vessel on April 10 and hold it for ransom.
A federal jury in Virginia has found five Somali men guilty of piracy and several other charges in the March attack on a U.S. warship in the Indian Ocean, prosecutors announced Wednesday.
All five were convicted of taking part in the attack on the guided-missile frigate USS Nicholas when it was off the African coast between Somalia and the Seychelles on March 31, said Peter Carr, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in Norfolk, Virginia. The verdict came on the second day of deliberations in Norfolk, the frigate's home port.
The Nicholas returned fire when attacked, sinking the skiff that carried three of the pirates and capturing two more, along with the mother ship that launched the attack.
The verdict marked the first jury conviction for piracy in the United States since 1820, Carr said.
For the first time in more than a year, British couple Paul and Rachel Chandler were able to update their travel blog Monday with one simple word: "free."
The Chandlers were released this weekend after being held by pirates since October 2009.
Their last blog post, titled "Farewell Seychelles," was dated October 21, 2009 - two days before they were seized from their yacht after they set sail from the Seychelles Islands for Tanzania.
The Chandlers issued a brief statement Monday, asking for privacy while they come to terms with the death of Paul Chandler's father during their time in captivity.
The couple said they planned to return to the United Kingdom soon but had no plans to give any press interviews or make any further statements until they have time to adjust to the situation.
"We have just learned that Paul's father died in late July, and we obviously need to come to terms with that," they said. "... We would appreciate it if you would give us and our families some space, and respect our privacy for the moment."
The couple landed in Kenya late Sunday afternoon, said Abdurraham Omar Osman, a Somali government spokesman. The couple's family also confirmed their arrival but would not comment on a reported ransom payment.
"Throughout the protracted discussions with the pirates it has been a difficult task for the family to get across the message that these were two retired people on a sailing trip on a small private yacht and not part of a major commercial enterprise involving tens of millions of pounds of assets," said a statement issued by the couple's family.
Somali pirates have used a Japanese-owned freighter they seized in October to stage an attack on a Spanish warship, the European Union’s anti-piracy task force reports.
On Saturday night, pirates aboard the MV Izumi, a Panamanian-flagged vessel they captured on October 10, attacked the SPS Infanta Cristina, a Spanish corvette, as it escorted a ship chartered by the African Union’s peacekeeping mission in Somalia, according to a statement from the European Union Naval Force public affairs office.
As the pirates attacked, the Infanta Cristina placed itself between the Izumi and the AU ship, the MV Petra 1, which was carrying peacekeepers, the statement said.
“The attack was disrupted, and the pirates fled the scene,” the statement said.
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Days after an American man was fatally shot by pirates on a lake that straddles the U.S.-Mexico border, his body still has not been found, a sheriff told CNN on Saturday.
Sheriff Sigifredo Gonzalez Jr. of Zapata County, Texas, said U.S. authorities have not made much progress because the incident happened on the Mexican side of Lake Falcon.
“The body was not recovered” by U.S. authorities and is presumably still in the lake, Gonzalez said.
“We’ve been in touch with Mexico authorities but they say they don’t know anything about a body,” Gonzalez said.
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