Insurance firms plan private navy to take on Somali pirates

Wed, 2010-09-29 15:03 by admin
A Somali, part armed militia, part pirate, carries his high-caliber weapon on a beach in the central Somali town of Hobyo [GETTY]

Patrol boats crewed by armed guards to protect valuable ships in Gulf of Aden

By Cahal MiImo, Chief Reporter

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

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Insurers have drawn up plans for the world’s first private navy to try to turn the tide against Somali pirates who continue to plague the global shipping industry by hijacking vessels for ransoms of more than £100m a year, The Independent has learnt.

The new navy, which has the agreement in principle of several shipping groups and is being considered by the British Government, is the latest attempt to counter the increasingly sophisticated and aggressive piracy gangs who operate up to 1,200 miles from their bases in the Horn of Africa and are about to launch a new wave of seaborne attacks following the monsoon season.

A multi-national naval force, including an EU fleet currently commanded by a British officer, has dramatically reduced the number of assaults in the Gulf of Aden in recent months. But seizures continue with 16 ships and 354 sailors currently being held hostage. The Independent has seen Nato documents which show both ransom payments and the period that pirates are holding vessels have doubled in the last 12 months to an average $4m and 117 days respectively. …

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