Home' Navy News : November 22nd 2012 Contents 19
November 22, 2012
TALK of piracy for many con-
jures up images of Johnny
Depp or Captain Hook, but
piracy is not fiction in the Gulf
of Aden, it's a constant threat to inter-
national security, the global economy
and innocent sailors.
UKMTO's role is to offer advice
and guidance on avoiding piracy and is
targeted at seafarers who intend to trav-
el through the Gulf of Aden, Somali
Basin and the Indian Ocean.
UKMTO Dubai acts as the primary
point of contact for merchant vessels in
their liaison with military forces during
their transit in some of the busiest and
most strategically important waterways
in the world.
Australia's contribution to the
UKMTO began in March 2010 with
RANR personnel being deployed as
MTO Team 1. Two RANR members
have just started another four-month
deployment in Dubai with another two
scheduled in the future.
LCDR Rowena Gaffney and LEUT
Darren White undertook a deployment
to UKMTO from December 2011 to
April 2012. They delivered counter-
piracy briefs to merchant ships and
engaged with local port operators.
Briefs included explaining the role
of UKMTO, voluntary reporting, com-
mon counter-piracy measures, proce-
dures for transiting the Gulf of Aden,
pirate tactics and weapons, descriptions
and photographs of attacks and charts
showing recent pirate activity.
LCDR Gaffney said UKMTO pro-
vided briefings to merchant vessels of
all flags while alongside in Jebel Ali,
Port Rashid, Port Khalid and Fujairah
in the United Arab Emirates.
"During our deployment we con-
ducted close to 700 counter-piracy
briefings to merchant ships," she said.
"That's a lot of handshakes, gang-
ways, ladders and language challenges
-- as the majority of masters use English
as their second or third language.
"While most captains are well
informed about piracy, nearly 10 per
cent have little understanding of the
risks their vessels face in the region.
"However, even the most experi-
enced mariners benefit from a tactical
update on piracy in the region and
Common counter-piracy measures
include a 24-hour lookout, reporting
suspicious activities, removing access
ladders, the use of deck lighting, razor
wire, electrical fencing, fire hoses and
surveillance and detection equipment,
evasive manoeuvring and speed during
pirate attacks and joining group transits.
In the Somalia/Gulf of Aden area,
attackers are well organised and their
business plan involves hijacking ships
and crews for ransom.
The ransom demanded for a large
vessel and her crew typically exceeds
US$1m. In cases like this, the pirates
are usually not interested in cargo or in
using the ship for further service. Their
primary interest is in holding the ship,
her crew and cargo until such time as a
ransom is paid for their release.
Somali pirates are well-armed with
automatic weapons and rocket-pro-
pelled grenades, and have the ability to
operate far offshore.
Capable of travelling up to 30 knots,
pirate vessels can operate more than
200nm from shore, using motherships.
Merchant vessels cruise at about 12
knots, which make them easy targets.
LCDR Gaffney said the merchant
ships' captains were appreciative Navy
took the effort to provide support.
"Our presentation pack includes
unclassified photos of vessels and
tactics used by pirates as well as infor-
mation on how ships are protecting
themselves," she said.
"It's about capacity building,
because the more the merchant ships
protect themselves, the less they need
to call Navy for assistance.
"There is a lot of water out there, so
it could take days for military assets to
arrive in their location.
"If the crews are captured they
could end up being held hostage for
years, where others have been known to
suffer from malnutrition and torture."
Australians serving with the UK's Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) are helping to counter piracy, CPL Mark Doran takes
Piracy is no fairytale
Rowena Gaffney meets
with a master of a ship
during her deployment
to Dubai and (inset) an
example of anti-piracy
measures on board a
merchant ship at port
in the United Arab
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