Nato Anti-Piracy Chief Warns Of Renewed Attacks

Somali pirates are gearing up to renew their activity now that the monsoon period is drawing to a close, according to the head of Nato anti-piracy naval forces in the Gulf of Aden.

Netherlands navy Rear Admiral Hank Ort, who is chief of staff at Maritime Command Northwood in suburban London, said that pirates have typically been forced to suspend operations because of prevailing wind and rain patterns in the region in summer.

But when the southwest monsoon weakens in early October, they are once again able to put to sea, with the result that the number of attacks on merchant vessels increases. He has warned shipping in that area to be on guard.

“We are warning vessels that reports show that there are pirate groups operating already in the Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea and Gulf of Aden,” he said in a statement.

Merchant vessels should ensure that Best Management Practices are followed and that they continue to make it as difficult as possible for pirates to board and take control of their ships.

Three attacks and one approach were seen in the southern Red Sea, while there were two incidents of suspicious activity in the Gulf of Aden, one incident of suspicious activity in the Arabian Sea and the disruption of a pirate action group in the central Somali Basin.

Increased pirate activity continued over last weekend, with three ships reporting attacks on Sunday in the Gulf of Aden, southern Somali Basin and Arabian Sea. All three had security teams on board and were able to deter pirates.

Nato has contributed to the international counterpiracy effort off the Horn of Africa since December 2008. Its mission has expanded from escorting UN and World Food Programme Shipping under Operation Allied Provider and now includes protection of merchant traffic in the Gulf of Aden under Operation Allied Protector.

As part of its latest mission, Operation Ocean Shield, Nato is working with other international bodies to help develop capacity of countries in the region to tackle piracy on their own.

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