by Brian Shilhavy
Editor, Health Impact News
It’s being reported today that two US Navy Seals have gone missing off the coast of Somalia in the Gulf of Aden, after trying to board a Somali pirate ship.
There has been more bad news to come out of the already chaotic waters of the Middle East region, as over the weekend it’s been widely reported that two US Navy Seals have gone missing off the cost of Somalia in the Gulf of Aden.
The missing Seals “fell into the water during a nighttime boarding mission” on Thursday, according to US military officials, with the incident only being disclosed this weekend after the search and rescue mission has yielded no results. The fact that they went overboard in the dark would make it very hard for rescuers to immediately locate them.
The search and rescue mission is said to be ongoing, but given the vastness of these waters, each day that passes makes it less likely that they survived.
The Gulf of Aden has become dangerous for commercial vessels and tankers due to Somali piracy.
Somali militants have long threatened these waters, but given that the bulk of diverted Red Sea traffic must now travel via the Cape of Good Hope around Africa due to ongoing Houthi attacks, this could result in an increase of maritime traffic nearer the Somali coast, leading to more ‘opportunity’ and ample potential targets for piracy. (Source.)
The Somali pirate business, and it is a BIG business as they have their own “stock exchange” and insurance companies earn $BILLIONS from it, had died down for several years, but at least four vessels have been hijacked since November off the Somalia coast, two of which are still being held ransom by pirates.
The International Chamber of Commerce’s International Maritime Bureau (IMB) is advising shippers to remain vigilant as they transit waters off Somalia and the Gulf of Aden, as piracy remains a threat.
With at least four vessels reported to have been hijacked since November off the Somalia coast, two of which are still being held ransom by pirates, uncertainty has gripped operators of cruises ship, cargo vessels and oil tankers, with fears of cargo delays and a resultant increase of prices in the coming days.
The four vessels reportedly attacked off the Somalia coast are FV Almeraj 1, MV Central Parker, a Liberian flagged ship, Lila Norfolk and Maltese flagged bulk carrier, Ruen.
IMB director Michael Howlett said the latest incident demonstrated the continued capabilities of Somali pirates.
“This is a cause for concern and the IMB is once again calling for all masters and vessel owners to continue following the recommendations and reporting procedures as per the latest version of the Best Management Practices,” Mr Howlett said.
The IMB urged vessels to continue implementing the industry’s best management practices and encouraged the continued stabilising presence of navies in the region.
According to the IMB, Somali pirates are well armed with automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades, and sometimes use skiffs launched from mother vessels, which may be hijacked fishing vessels or dhows.
The return of piracy cases off the coast of Somalia and the Gulf of Guinea in the past few weeks continue to be a serious threat to international maritime safety, in particular to seafarers and international trade as well as to the security and prosperity of the regional countries.
Shippers Council of Eastern Africa (SCEA) head of policy and advocacy Agayo Ogambi said the attacks would disrupt supply chain as it will take longer to deliver the cargo.“Kenyan exports such as tea will take longer to deliver, considering the routes are no longer safe. The vessels have to take longer routes or hire security for safe passage, which will delay supplies at an extra cost,” Mr Ogambi said.
He added, “We are in a difficult situation and this will need both political and military interventions to resolve the crisis but, at the moment, clients should plan accordingly to ensure they do not run out of stock.”
Recent sporadic attacks on vessels off Somalia’s coast have triggered concerns that piracy is making a resurgence in the region, which might lead to increase of ship insurance premiums at expense of traders. (Source.)
This is more bad news for European countries as the halt of shipping on the Red Sea has forced most vessels to go around Africa, and pass through Somalia.
Meanwhile, the war in Gaza entered its 100th day this weekend, with reportedly over 23,900 Palestinians killed, with 10,000 of them being children.
1.9 million Palestinians have been driven from their homes.