Time to revisit our friends the Dutch.
Our friends over at NATO have a very interesting quasi-blog going on - Voices of NATO - that comes highly recommended, if for no other reason that it features some great professionals from the Royal Netherlands Navy, including Commodore Ben Bekkering, Royal Netherlands Navy - Commander, Standing NATO Maritime Group 1 now conducting anti-piracy operations. (as a side-note, that is the same Bekkering you may have run in to on the USS DE WERT (FFG-45) in the mid-80s.
I recommend reading a slew of his work, but the title to one of his posts is interesting; Fighting symptoms or setting conditions?
There are more movements on the political front in Somalia. Despite attempts to frustrate the process of electing a constitution, parliament and president, the declared deadline of the 20th of August is still within reach. A clear indication of the strong will of most Somali's to establish a credible governing structure. And for the International Community a counterpart to work with in creating accountable security forces in all of Somalia's regions.A very good concept to ponder when it comes to thinking about what is being done in counter-piracy. He just scratches the surface.
The International maritime Bureau reports a strong decline in successful pirate attacks and credits it to a combination of naval patrols, best management practices and vessel protection detachments. We haven't seen actual piracy related activity at sea since NATO's HNLMS Evertsen disrupted the hijacked dhow Mohammad Rashid, detained 7 pirates and liberated the crew of 7. That was the 29th of June, two days after the dhow had tried to attack a merchant vessel in the Arabian Sea.
Yet, there are still 7 ships hijacked; nearly 200 people hostage, mostly under atrocious conditions. Two of them are anchored off the same north coast of Puntland. Safety of the crew prevent us from liberating the ships. The pirates ask for huge sums of money, and in many cases they get it. Therefore, piracy is still an attractive option for the investors and an acceptable risk for the young people that go to sea, using the notion of fighting illegal fishing is a lame excuse, but it is effective enough to gain some support with the locals—certainly not with all locals, but just enough to prepare and execute their despicable business.
Is this quiet period the proverbial calm preceding a storm? For sure, the monsoon will lie down and the summer heat will retreat, as it has done so for as long as we have known, dictating life in and around the Indian Ocean. In doing so, the conditions for pirates to operate on the high seas, near the crucial shipping routes, become more favourable. Despite the counter piracy successes – and consequently their declining chances – pirates are likely to remember the potential gains of hijacking ships. It would be surprising if they would give up so easily.
Anyway - another good reason to read the above linked blog is that in a just world, you would also get to know our friend Lucien's next girlfriend, Corporal Nanda Rietveld.
Hat tip Lucien.