Call For Caution
The International Maritime Bureau while welcoming the recent capture of pirates has joined with EUNAVFOR in cautioning against navies engaging in armed assault of pirated ships.
The successful interventions of South Korean and Malaysian armed forces have garnered praise and calls for caution in equal measure.
In the Malaysian operation, three of the seven pirates were wounded and the crew of 23 freed without harm. However, during the South Korean operation, eight of the 13 pirates on board the tanker were killed and the others taken prisoner. The ship’s crew of 21 was safe but the captain was shot in the stomach by a pirate and is reported in stable condition.
A statement from the IMB Director Pottengal Mukundan commended the robust actions of the South Korean navy, and renewed calls for greater naval action in the fight against what they euphemistically term, “this brand of maritime crime”.
Mukundan added, “We recognize the risks posed to crew in actions of this type and advise that navies only give the orders after consultation with a vessel’s owners and flag state.”
The IMB also stressed that shipmasters and owners should report all attempted or suspicious incidents to the IMB’s Piracy Reporting Center. In this way, governments and their navies can decide how to handle the situation, including any boarding action that can be done safely.
The Piracy Reporting Center has recorded 39 incidents, of which 31 are attributed to Somali pirates, already this year. Though these numbers are disputed, and other sources have recorded much higher numbers of attacks.
It is interesting to note that around half of the Somali attacks have been on tankers, with bulk carriers, general cargo, container and vehicle carrier vessels being the other targets. Some local tug boats, fishing dhows and supply vessels have also been reported captured.