Summary of Horn of Africa piracy events 2011-2015

Summary of Horn of Africa piracy events to 7/22/2015.

2011
Hijacked: 27
Boarding: 17
Fired Upon/Attempted Boarding: 122
Total: 166

2012
Hijacked: 7
Boarding: 1
Fired Upon/Attempted Boarding: 24
Total: 32

2013
Hijacked: 0
Boarding: 0
Fired Upon/Attempted Boarding: 9
Total: 9

2014
Hijacked: 0
Boarding: 0
Fired Upon/Attempted Boarding: 0
Total: 0

2015 (to 7/22)
Hijacked: 0
Boarding: 0
Fired Upon/Attempted Boarding: 0
Total: 0

Source: Office of Naval Intelligence.

Gulf of Aden anti piracy convoy schedules June and JJuly 2015

Government of Japan convoy schedule for June and July 2015. To apply for JMSDF escort, visit http://www.mlit.go.jp/en/maritime/maritime_fr2_000000.html, please contact directly the Anti-Piracy Contact and Coordination Office, Maritime Bureau, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MILT), Japan: Tel: +81-3-5253-8932 Fax: +81-3-5253-1643 Email: INFO-PIRACY@mlit.go.jp.

Korean Navy convoy schedule for June and July 2015. All merchant vessels wishing to join the convoy group must submit their application forms directly to the ROK naval warship carrying out the mission. The ROK MTG can be reached directly at INMARSAT: 00-870-773-110-374, Email: cheonghaeetg@navy.mil.kr.

Chinese Navy convoy schedule for June and July 2015. For further information, please email planavy@navy.mil.cn, or call Tel: 86 10 652 92218/96, Fax: 86 10 652 92245.

Indian Navy convoy escort schedule for June and July 2015. To register, email dgcommcentre-dgs@nic.in or visit www.dgshipping.com. Telephone numbers for contact are: 91-22-22614646 or fax at 91-22-22613636.

Russian Navy convoy escort schedule for June and July 2015. For further information email smb@msecurity.ru, isps@msecurity.ru or fax +7 (499) 642-83-29.

Piracy reports 10-18 October 2013

Attempted Boarding by Somali Pirates
On 11 October at 0918 UTC, pirates in two skiffs fired upon the tanker Island Splendor and attempted a boarding approx. 237 nautical miles east of Hobyo, Somalia. The armed security team aboard the tanker fired flares and warning shots, whereupon the pirates returned fire with an automatic weapons. The security team engaged the pirates which resulted in the skiffs aborting the attack. BZ onboard security!

Hijack of Oil Tanker by Malay Pirates
On 10 October at 0530 local time, nine hijackers wearing masks and carrying weapons boarded the oil tanker Danai 4 while underway 20 nautical miles southeast of Pulau Aur, Malaysia. The hijackers took the crew hostage, destroyed all the communications equipment, and held the vessel until 15 October. They disembarked taking cargo (marine gas oil), cash and personal belongings. Thankfully no injuries reported.

Hijack of Bulk Carrier by Indonesian Pirates
On 10 October at 0315 local time, five hijackers boarded the bulk carrier Port Hainan at anchor at Muara Berau, Indonesia. The hijackers held one crew member hostage while they broke into storage and stole ship’s stores. The officer of the watch sounded the alarm and the crew mustered on the forecastle. After the hijackers saw the alerted crew, they left the ship and escaped. BZ to crew for swift action!

Source: US Navy Office of Naval Intelligence Marine OPINTEL Report

What lessons can we learn about counter-piracy and naval irregular warfare?

For those of you getting your Captain Phillips fix over popcorn, here’s an article from BJ Armstrong back in 2011 that qualifies as “must read” for those interested in the partnership forged by the US Navy and the Royal Navy in the fight against piracy.

Rotorheads and the Royal Navy in Maritime Security Operations

On August 11t h, 2011 the M/V Caravos Horizon was attacked by “sea bandits” in the Red Sea, just north of the Straits of Bab al Mendib. The distress call was picked up by Combined Task Force 151 and Expeditionary Strike Group 5, and they determined that there were two naval assets capable of responding in the vicinity. HMS MONMOUTH, a British Frigate, and USS BATAAN, an American amphibious assault ship, both swung into action. The crew of the Caravos Horizon secured themselves inside a “citadel” as six “sea bandits” boarded and took control of the bridge of the ship.

Bay Raider 45, an armed MH-60S Knighthawk from HSC-28 Detachment TWO, was airborne flying regularly scheduled Search and Rescue duty with the BATAAN Amphibious Ready Group at the time of the attack. The Knighthawk was brought back to the flight deck to top off the fuel. Expeditionary Strike Group 5 ordered the BATAAN ARG to send a helicopter toward the scene of the attack to provide intelligence, survelliance, and reconnisance (ISR) and to report information back to BATAAN. Bay Raider launched and headed south to provide assistance to the mariners in distress.

The purpose of this post isn’t to re-tell the story of the event. Both HMS MONMOUTH and USS BATAAN released reports of the incident which can be found in the open press. The PAO’s put hard work into these articles, read them for the story of a successful boarding to retake control of the M/V Caravos Horizon. Instead of rehashing the story, here at the USNI blog we’ll look at the larger picture…what lessons can we learn about counter-piracy and naval irregular warfare?

In October of 2010 I was lucky to be invited to speak as a panelist at the Naval Institute’s History Conference “Pirates on the High Seas” during a discussion of the history of piracy and counter-piracy titled “Blackbeard to the Barbary.” In my opening remarks I highlighted three things that stuck out from the 200+ year history of the USN’s counter piracy missions: Platforms, People, and Partnerships. Specifically, having the right “low end/high end” mix of hardware to do the job, having professional and aggressive junior officers to lead operations, and having competent and —allies to work with in the region. The combined Anglo-American response to the attack on M/V Caravos Horizon reinforces that these principles are as important in the twenty-first century as they were when Decatur, Porter, and Downes sailed in the nineteenth.

PLATFORMS

When it comes to the hardware involved in this successful operation, a key takeaway is the vital importance of rotary-wing aviation. Irregular operations rarely require the expensive, fast, sexy, high altitude TACAIR jets that you’ll find in Hollywood movies. They need the quiet professionals of the often overlooked naval rotary-wing community. Helicopters embarked on the ships that conduct counter-piracy operations are a force multiplier that provide the ability to respond rapidly, develop critical ISR, and finally to provide overwatch and maritime air support for boarding operations. Sending a ship on counter-piracy or irregular warfare missions without an embarked helicopter significantly degrades the unit’s capability.

The rapid response by the RN Lynx to the scene allowed for the development of early situational awareness which became a key factor for success. The follow on arrival of Bay Raider allowed the ISR net to be cast further away from the attacked vessel. It was able to find two skiffs, which they believed were the suspected “sea bandits.” Our Knighthawk remained overhead briefly as a visible deterrent, and the skiffs turned away from the shipping lanes and headed off at high speed. The two aircraft together could cover hundreds of square miles and help develop situational awareness far beyond the capability of a single surface combatant. When time came for the boarding, the ability to have Bay Raider provide armed overwatch and ISR while the Lynx conducted the insertion was an important element of protecting the boarding party and helping to ensure their success.

The MH-60S Block III Armed Helo’s that now deploy with amphibious assault ships like BATAAN come in the gunship variant. These aircraft have a wide range of armament options that make it a highly capable platform. You can buy nearly a squadron of them for the cost of one Joint Strike Fighter. The crews that fly them like LT Lee Sherman, LT Chris Schneider, AWS2 Joey Faircloth, and AWS3 Josh Teague, are trained in a number of mission areas that lend themselves to maritime security operations and irregular warfare. While the traditional mission of running the racetrack in the “Starboard D” holding pattern as the “SAR Bird” is still a central part of their job (after all, its where Bay Raider 45 started the day), the Armed Helo provides a widely expanded set of capabilities for Amphibious Ready Groups and is an ideal platform for naval irregular warfare.

PEOPLE

The Knighthawk pilots and aicrewmen of the Helicopter Sea Combat community are trained for a wide range of missions and skills which lend themselves to successful naval irregular warfare. These include anti-surface warfare and special operations support, as well as the traditional rotary-wing missions of search and rescue and logisitics support.

It is important to note that the “deckplate” leaders of the operations were all junior officers that had been extensively trained and prepared to make combat decisions. Lt Harry Lane RM, commander of the Royal Marines boarding team, Lt Chris Easterling RN, aircraft commander of the Lynx, LT Chris “Texas Pete” Schneider USN, of Bay Raider, are three individuals quoted and identified in the press releases. That wasn’t simply because they were the ones that the PAO could find because they weren’t on watch. These junior officers, along with LT Lee “Chunk” Sherman who was the aircraft commander of Bay Raider 45, demonstrated that when tactical level leaders are given the ability to make decisions and to temper their aggressive nature with solid tactical risk management, operational level success is around the corner.

PARTNERSHIP

The partnership element to this operation is obvious. The USN and RN have been working together since nearly our service’s founding to combat piracy and threats to maritime security across the globe. During the First Barbary War the British bases in the Mediterranean were opened to American ships in support of our fight against the Corsairs. In the West Indies in the 1820’s and 1830’s American squadrons teamed with the Royal Navy to help fight the piracy from Cuba. At the end of the 19th century we supported one another in the rivers and coastal waters of China. Sharing the same battlefields over the past decade has helped bring tactics, techniques, and procdures closer together across the range of military operations.

What struck me was the quote from LT Schneider in the BATAAN article about the seamless nature of the combined operation. It mirrored a comment made by LT Sherman during debrief after the mission. He said that working together with the Royal Navy and Royal Marines, “was like we had done it all together before.” Seamless was a word used by both pilots. Our two ships have never seen one another, we never spoke before the moment that Bay Raider checked in with the Lynx over the radio, yet common procedures and decades of experience in combined operations allowed the junior leaders to adapt and flex for a rapid and effective operation.

There are other partnership elements of the mission that are also worth considering. The coastal states of the region are relatively quick to give permission for operations within their territorial waters when it is counter-piracy. This is a commonly overlooked element, during the 1820’s when the Spanish weren’t as cooperative off Cuba it made the work of the USN’s West Indies squadron much more difficult. The ability of the myriad of staffs and command organizations working in the region to work together is also vital. In today’s world of networked battlefields it can be easy for the networks to get overlayed on top of one another, and potentially tangled. With American and multi-national staffs all working the same geography and sea space, the ability to keep it straight and to respond efficiently in order to make decisions between the staffs is vital.

So Others May Live…Or Die.

The operation to secure the M/V Caravos Horizon demonstrates the critical role of the amphibious fleet and rotary-wing aviation to maritime security and American policy around the world. It also reinforces the idea that the right platforms, purposely trained and led people, and strong global partnerships are central to success in naval irregular warfare and in the hybrid maritime conflicts that the United States Navy may face in the coming decades. It must be said that for each aircraft and pilot there are dozens of maintenance professionals and supporting personnel that make our Navy’s global reach possible. Maintainers are the bedrock of the rotary-wing team that successfully completed this mission.

The motto of HSC-28 Detachment TWO is “So Others May Live…Or Die.” Whether as a search and rescue aircraft or a helicopter gunship, DET 2 is a best friend to mariners in distress, worst enemy to those who aim to disrupt maritime security in the regions where we operate. The pride that I feel in being associated with DET 2’s maintenance team, naval aircrewmen, and our pilots is endless. After four and a half months supporting maritime security and contingency operations off the coast of Libya, we have moved southeast, and for the foreseeable future we remain on station…

The opinions and views expressed in this post are those of the author alone. They do not necessarily represent the views of U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Navy, or any other department, unit, or agency.

Lieutenant Commander Benjamin “BJ” Armstrong, USN, is an active duty MH-60S helicopter pilot who is currently serving as a squadron maintenance officer in Norfolk, VA. He is a frequent contributor to Small Wars Journal, Proceedings and Naval History. He holds a masters degree in military history from Norwich University and was a panelist at the 2010 USNI History Conference “Piracy on the High Seas.”

http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/rotorheads-and-the-royal-navy-in-maritime-security-operations

Captain Phillips, review

I finally got around to watching ‘Captain Phillips’ today.

I’d give it a solid 7 out of 10. Likely an 8, but I’ll need to watch it again and catch details that I’m sure to have missed.

The US Navy was presented very professionally. There was none of the ‘all-singing-all-dancing elite ninja bullshit’ that Hollywood normally goes in for. Just low-lit ops rooms and all emotion kept in check. Just as it should be.

The USS Truxtun (DDG 103) stood in as a filming location for fellow Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Bainbridge (DDG 96), but the Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate USS Halyburton (FFG 40) played herself in the movie.

Aerial surveillance photo of the USS Bainbridge while apprehending Somali pirates, via ScanEagle UAV.

The Maersk Alabama was portrayed in the film by her sister-ship the Alexander Maersk and the clear blue waters of the Mediterranean (shout out to Malta!) stood-in for the pirate-infested waters of the Horn of Africa.

At anchor at Mombasa,Kenya during FBI investigation after the hijacking. Via shipspotting.com.

Tom Hanks delivered a tight performance as Captain Rich Phillips. That restraint is what made the emotion at the end of the film very believable. He’s got two Academy Awards. This could earn him a third.

Solid performances from the actors portraying the Alabama’s crew. No gung-ho Chuck Norris b/s and chants of “USA! USA!” which would have made the flick unbearable. Just a solid portrayal of sober professionals and a frank portrayal of the true threat that pirates present. That merchant mariners take these risks every day is remarkable. And frightening. And should make you thankful that they do.

Which brings me to the pirates, and particularly to Barkhad Abdi as Abduwali Abdukhadir Muse, the hijack leader. (1) Showing us Somalia early-on as an utter toilet was a piece of genius. Yes, they’re pirates, but now we know how and why. (2) If Barkhad Abdi doesn’t win an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor then there is no justice in Hollywood. His performance was incredible. He brings pathos to a character that could otherwise be a two-dimensional cartoon “bad guy.” Muse is doomed from the outset. And he is aware of his doom. Which is utterly tragic. As is, of course, Somalia.

Barkhad Abdi as Abduwali Abdukhadir Muse, Somali hijacker leader.

Go and see it. Definitely recommended.

HMCS Toronto seizes 180kg heroin in Arabian Sea

BZ! That’s 180kg of heroin that won’t be funding terrorist groups.

Canadian warship makes significant drug bust on the high seas

HMCS Toronto heads to the Arabian Sea as part of Operation Artemis, in Halifax on Monday, Jan.14, 2013. (Andrew Vaughan / THE CANADIAN PRES)

Canadian warship on patrol in the Arabian Sea made what the military is touting as an important drug seizure on Saturday.

HMCS Toronto intercepted and boarded a suspected smuggling vessel, seizing 154 bags of heroin weighing more than 180 kilograms, said a news release issued late Saturday.

The drugs were catalogued and then destroyed, the release said.

The seizure took place about 800 kilometres east of the Horn of Africa.

“I’m extremely proud of the work Toronto’s team, and all those on whom we rely for support, have done to achieve this success,” said Commander Matthew Bowen, Toronto’s skipper.

“A positive outcome like this, seizing and disposing of illegal narcotics whose sale would have funded extremist groups, is a big win for Canada’s counter-terrorism efforts.”

The frigate has made a number of drug seizures while on patrol in the past few months, including seizing 500 kilograms of heroin last March and about 5950 kilograms of hashish in another boarding incident in May.

The frigate is on patrol in the region as part of an international effort to curb terrorism and deter piracy on the high seas.

http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/canadian-warship-makes-significant-drug-bust-on-the-high-seas-1.1485471

HMS Westminster conducts ASWEX with USS Dallas

The Royal Navy’s Response Task Force Group was established following the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review. The RFTG serves as Britain’s high-readiness amphibious task force and provides a scalable force able to deploy worldwide to meet crises.

HMS Westminster in hunt for USS Dallas

Royal Navy warship HMS Westminster currently on deployment has been putting her submarine hunting skills to the test with a combined UK and US Naval Anti-Submarine Warfare exercise in the Gulf of Oman.

The Periscope of the USS Dallas breaches the surface as HMS Illustrious sails past in the morning haze. Image by LA(Phot) Dan Rosenbaum.

HMS Westminster is part of the UK’s Response Force Task Group (RFTG) currently on the Royal Navy’s annual Cougar deployment.

HMS Illustrious, RFA Fort Victoria, RFA Fort Austin, USS Bulkeley and the American Los Angeles Class Submarine USS Dallas also took part in the exercise.

The aims of the exercise is to develop maritime interoperability by exercising Anti-Submarine Warfare tactics with US allies in the challenging sonar environment of the warm and shallow waters of the Gulf region.

The exercise was broken down into three phases. The ships and submarines initially tested acoustic and non-acoustics sensor performance against known positions, gaining useful real life data for the region.

The second phase relied on the ships escorting HMS Illustrious as the Mission Essential Unit (MEU) along a passage whilst evading detection and simulated torpedo attacks by USS Dallas.

Able Seaman Warfare Specialist Sam Kirk monitors the Underwater Warfare Desk during a CASEX with the US Navy. Image by LA(Phot) Dan Rosenbaum.

In the final phase USS Dallas tried to locate and destroy RFA Fort Austin as the MEU, in a holding box which simulated an anchorage, as the UK and US naval ships provided protection.

Additional helicopter support to the ships was ably provided by the Anti-Submarine sonar dipping Merlins embarked in HMS Illustrious and USS Bulkeley’s Seahawk, with Westminster’s Mark 8 Lynx helicopter providing an additional surface search and weapon carrying capability.

Images shows HMS Illustrious, HMS Westminster and USS Bulkeley sailing in arrow head formation during an exercise in the Indian Ocean. Image by LA(Phot) Dan Rosenbaum.

As well as taking turns to practise submarine hunting, the sailors from all ships and the submarine were put through their paces.

One of Westminster’s Anti-Submarine Warfare specialists, Petty Officer Underwater Warfare ‘George’ Linehan said:

“This was an excellent opportunity to work with our close allies in Anti-Submarine Warfare.

“The Royal Navy has again demonstrated how effective a T23 Frigate can be in a multi-national task group”.

Aside from this Anti-Submarine exercise, HMS Westminster has had a busy period since leaving the Red Sea, including Replenishments at Sea (RAS) with the USS Artic and also a rare dual RAS with HMS Illustrious and RFA Fort Victoria.

Image shows HMS Illustrious conducting a RAS with RFA Fort Victoria. Image by LA(Phot) Dan Rosenbaum.

HMS Westminster’s Commanding Officer Hugh Beard said:

“It has been a busy period for Westminster since leaving the Suez Canal, with invaluable training and cooperation with our key allies in the region.

“We are now looking forward to contributing to the wider maritime security in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf as part of our ongoing mission.”

HMS Westminster is currently conducting counter-terrorism and counter-narcotics patrols in the Gulf region and returns to the UK in 2014.

Images shows HMS Illustrious, HMS Westminster and USS Bulkeley sailing in arrow head formation during a PHOTEX in the Indian Ocean. Image by LA(Phot) Dan Rosenbaum.

The Cougar 13 deployment will operate in the Mediterranean, Red Sea, Arabian Gulf, and Horn of Africa. It involves exercising with partner nations, and will show the UK Armed Forces’ capacity to project an effective maritime component anywhere in the world as part of the Royal Navy’s Response Force Task Group, commanded by Commodore Paddy McAlpine OBE ADC Royal Navy.

The RFTG is the United Kingdom’s high readiness maritime force, comprising ships, submarines, aircraft and a landing force of Royal Marines, at short notice to act in response to any contingency tasking if required.

http://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/News-and-Events/Latest-News/2013/October/03/131003-HMS-Westminster-USS-Dallas