x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Pirates on the back foot, says UK Royal Navy commander

Idex 2013: Although the region has experienced a 75 per cent drop in piracy over the past two years the threat still remains, a high-ranking UK Royal Navy commander has said.

ABU DHABI // Although the region has experienced a 75 per cent drop in piracy over the past two years the threat still remains and complacency will not be tolerated, a high-ranking UK Royal Navy commander said yesterday.

Speaking aboard HMS Ramsey, which is docked alongside the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, Commodore Simon Ancona said: "It is true to say, and it's very good news indeed, that the piracy problem at the moment is nothing like it was two years ago.

"We had a drop-off by about 75 per cent of the activity that we saw two years ago."

But Com Ancona, who is also the deputy commander of the Combined Maritime Forces, a 27-nation naval partnership, warned that none of the factors that cause piracy have necessarily gone away.

"We look with great interest and admiration at what the Somali government is trying to do with securing its own borders and maritime borders, but this is a slow process to bring the sort of security assurances that are required to stop piracy," he said.

The commodore said that piracy thrives when there's freedom of movement, sponsors and financiers and raw materials such as ships.

"It's our belief in the CMF that we have our foot on the throat of piracy, but only a fool takes his foot away until the problem has gone," he said. "We are watching very carefully and we have a message to the industry that now is not the time to be complacent."

Com Ancona also stressed that the combined forces currently operating are absolutely focused on the problem.

Figures released by the CMF command in Bahrain show that, in the Gulf of Aden, 12 incidents of pirating and maritime crimes took place in 2010, with another 57 unsuccessful attempts and 56 disruptions.

In 2011, one piracy incident occurred, with a further 49 unsuccessful attempts and 21 disruptions. Last year, no ships were hijacked, eight attempts were foiled and only six disruptions occurred.

In the Somali Basin, 32 incidents of pirating and maritime crimes took place in 2010, with 132 unsuccessful attempts and 91 disruptions. In 2011 there were 23 piracy incidents, 147 unsuccessful attempts and 75 disruptions. And last year seven ships were hijacked, there were 28 attempts foiled and 31 disruptions.

The CMF was established in 2002 as an international naval partnership that provides security for civilian maritime traffic by conducting counter-piracy and counter-terrorism missions in the heavily trafficked waters of the Middle East, Africa and South Asia, including the Red Sea, the Arabian Gulf, the Gulf of Aden, the Arabian Sea and the wider Indian Ocean.

amustafa@thenational.ae