Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Deutsche Marine cannot deal militarily with Somali piracy

Where's the Kriegsmarine when you need it? At least our Navy seems more effective (as are the CF in Afstan; see "Germany Discovers a War in Afghanistan"):
For weeks, heavily armed Somalis held a German ship and its crew captive until the owner paid millions to secure their release. The ransom will enable the pirates to buy more weapons and boats. The owner says it's time the military stepped in to protect shipping in the Gulf of Aden...

The two sides spent several days negotiating the money transfer. Abdi said that the only option was to hand over the money on board, noting that it would be the "only way we can save our asses." Then Abdi mentioned a problem of a more personal nature. He was merely a middleman, he said, and he had convinced the pirates to come down from their original demand of eight million to a little more than one million. "I saved you seven million, which means that I have my price."..

Martin, the head of the security firm, recognized the pirates. He had handed over a similar sum of money a few weeks earlier to secure the release of the German ship "Lehmann Timber." The pirates divided up the money and placed it into 18 bags, presumably to pay 18 different clans. Then they left the ship, and the "BBC Trinidad" was allowed continue its voyage to Muscat.

"The Situation is Exploding"

The effort cost Niels Stolberg several million euros, although his insurance company will likely reimburse him for a portion of that money. But he could be at the mercy of the same criminals by tomorrow, he says. "The situation at the Horn of Africa is exploding," he says, adding that commercial shipping urgently needs convoys protected by the military as they pass the coasts of Somalia and Yemen.

European Union foreign minister took the overdue step of forming a special unit to protect shipping from pirates off the Somali coast. The "coordination unit" is designed to group warships, primarily from the French and Spanish navies, patrolling in the Gulf of Aden [I suppose the EU doesn't want to sully itself by a direct association with CombinedTask Force 150, subordinated to US Central Command, even though individual members contribute to that force].

Thomas Kossendey, a state secretary in the Defense Ministry, represented Germany at that meeting. He knows that the region is considered a hot spot worldwide, and yet he has been one of the most vocal opponents of a "spontaneous" rescue mission by the German military, the Bundeswehr. In fact, Kossendey and his boss, Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung, a member of the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU), want more. They are pushing for an amendment to a law that prohibits the navy from engaging in policing missions.

It was because of this law that the German navy frigate "Emden" spent months sailing off the coast of Somalia, while various freighters were being hijacked, and yet it did not intervene
[emphasis added]. The Bundeswehr justified its inaction by claiming that the legal basis for such intervention was questionable. If the EU approves an operation, State Secretary Kossendey assumes that the Germans will take part in a concerted action against the pirates, beginning in mid-December.

Until then, however, the situation could escalate even further. Walter Lindner, the German ambassador in Kenya, sent an urgent appeal to Berlin only a few weeks ago. The diplomat noted that the pirates were using the millions they had collected in ransom money to constantly upgrade their arsenals. This is bad news for ship owners like Stolberg, with at least two ships from his fleet passing the pirate coast each week.
Update: The French at least continue to recognize national interest (h/t to John B):
French Special Forces Free Two Hostages From Somali Pirates


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like a great business opportunity for Private Security firms who can act without some mamby-pamby lawyer in Brussels going all ballistic.

Fly out a team of 10-12 soldiers with suitable arms - 50's, LAW's, GPMG's etc., get them on board for the duration of passage through the troubled waters.

If any pirate boats get close . . just blast the crap out of them.

Probably cheaper for the Insurance Issuer - do this a couple of times and the pirates will lose their bravado for attacking ships.

Will anyone care if a few hundred pirates become fish food ?

5:39 p.m., September 16, 2008  
Blogger Josh said...

Where's the Kriegsmarine when you need it?


9:33 p.m., September 16, 2008  

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