Piracy in Somalia Still a Threat

When British cruising couple Rachel and Paul Chandler had their boat hijacked and were taken into custody by Somalian pirates four months ago, the sailing community put a halt to visiting the Gulf of Aden and surrounding areas. Now, as news of the couple's plight has quieted down, NATO is warning sailors of becoming complacent about the still-pervasive possibility of piracy in the area.
Author:
Publish date:
pirates_captures

When British cruising couple Rachel and Paul Chandler had their boat hijacked and were taken into custody by Somalian pirates four months ago, the sailing community put a halt to visiting the Gulf of Aden and surrounding areas. Now, as news of the couple's plight has quieted down, NATO is warning sailors of becoming complacent about the still-pervasive possibility of piracy in the area.

"Whilst NATO is working hard conducting counter-piracy patrols, ships have to accept personal responsibility for the safety of their crews and should have in place the recommended self protection measures against pirate attacks," said NATO Admiral Trevor Soar.


One look at the numbers supports Soar's claims that the Gulf of Eden is still ripe with danger. According to the 2009 edition of the IMB annual piracy report, there were 406 reported incidents of piracy and armed robbery in the world, making it the third successive year that the number of reported incidents has increased. Somalia remains an area of paramount concern, laying claim to 217 of those attacks, 47 hijackings and 867 crewmembers taken hostage in 2009 alone.

piracy_map

Of these attacks, the story of the Chandlers has particularly struck a chord of tragedy in the sailing community. The couple was kidnapped en route from the Seychelles to Tanzania, within sight of a British military ship, which claimed it did not act for fear of putting the Chandlers in even more danger. Since their kidnapping, the couple has been separated from one another, deprived of medical care and severely malnourished. Paul is rumored to have contracted trachoma, an infectious disease common in East Africa that could result in blindness. Recent photos of Rachel show that she is pale, gaunt and nearly unable to walk.

A story in the Times quoted a British security officer saying, "This case is unusual. Unlike many seamen kidnapped in the region, the Chandlers are just ordinary holidaymakers without the backing of a big company and the pirates may well be realizing this now." Indeed, the Somalian pirates have decreased their ransom from $7million to $2 million, but the British government continues to refuse to pay the ransom. Interestingly, when a British politician offered to pay the ransom in full, the Chandler's family refused, asking that he instead "wait and pray."

Alt_Rachel-Chandler

In light of these striking numbers and startling stories, NATO suggests strongly that sailors avoid the area completely. However, if you insist on risking the sail into the Gulf of Eden, they have issued this helpful document that enumerates procedures to follow before your journey and in case of a hijacking. Among other things, the report suggests that boats stay within the Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor, an area patrolled by warships from NATO, the EU Naval Force and the Combined Maritime Force. Previous to departure, it suggests minimizing external communications, stowing all ladders on deck and making sure your crew is well rested and well aware. Once under sail, boats are advised to never travel at low speeds. If boarded by pirates, the document suggests, "Offer no resistance; this could lead to unnecessary violence and harm to the crew" and "Remain calm and co-operate fully with the pirates."

NATO Admiral Soar said, “Since the NATO mission started, there has been a 50% drop in piracy incidents in the Gulf of Aden, but there is still a need for vigilance. The monsoon period is due to end and over the next few weeks we may well see a rise in pirate gangs attempting to hijack vulnerable ships.”

Related

shutterstock_1158262783

A Catamaran Takes on the American Great Loop

After completing the European Great Loop on our 1987 40ft Catalac catamaran, Angel Louise, my wife, Sue, and I sailed home to the States and spent two years sailing up and down East coast between Maine and Florida, like migratory waterfowl. Eventually, though, we decided to ...read more

01-LEAD_Alex_Irwin

Mirabaud Yacht Racing Image Competition

The Mirabaud Yacht Racing Image competition once again captures the excitement that is sailing from around the world An impressive 109 photographers from 25 countries took part in last year’s Mirabaud Yacht Racing Image 2018 competition. And while Portuguese photographer Ricarado ...read more

judges2-1024x319-0219-600x

2019 Pittman Innovation Awards

For the past couple of decades, the digital side of sailing has become increasingly important, to the point where it’s now almost inconceivable going offshore, even aboard a daysailer, without at least a modicum of electronics onboard—a trend that has been very much in evidence ...read more

Nathan-Bates-San-Diego,-CA

SAIL 2018: Reader's Photographs

Are you out there sailing, cruising and living the sailing life? If so, we’d love to see it. Send your sailing photos to sailmail@sailmagazine.com And don’t forget to sign up for our free eNewsletter. Check back for updates! I took this shot from Cooper Island Beach Club as my ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell. Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com Fall in line In the days before GPS, the best trick outside the book for finding a harbor in dense fog went like this: if it’s surrounded by rocks, forget it; if not, in you go, but never try to hit it ...read more

190115-Mark-Slats-Golden-Globe-Race2048x

Photo-Finish in the Golden Globe Race 2018

With less than 1,700 miles to go to the finish in Les Sables d'Olonne, France, second-place Mark Slats of the Netherlands has cut another 393 miles out of the lead held by French sailor Jean-Luc Van Den Heede in the Golden Globe 2018 race.  Jean-Luc aboard the Rustler 36 Matmut ...read more

06-Heineken-1-R2018_1March_©LaurensMorel_LMA5965_p

Post-Irma Heineken Regatta

Even more than a year and half later, the scars from Hurricane Irma are still all too visible on the island of St. Maarten. But if Irma couldn’t prevent the famed Heineken from taking place in the winter of 2017-18, you can bet it’s not going to put a crimp in either the racing ...read more