One more navy to make a show of fighting piracy
Saturday, September 11, 2010
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Hunt begins for Somali pirates
Two Thai navy ships with 351 sailors and 20 special warfare troops on board have set sail for the Gulf of Aden to take part in the hunt for pirates off the coast of Somalia. The mission marks the first time Thailand has sent forces overseas to protect its own interest. The HTMS Pattani and HTMS Similan left yesterday with two helicopters lashed to the decks from Chuk Samet port at Chon Buri's Sattahip naval base to join a 28-country effort to police the shipping lanes off the Somali coast, which has become a piracy hotbed.
"The key mission of this 98-day operation is to protect Thai cargo ships and fishing vessels in those waters," said Adm Supakorn Buranadilok, Commander of the Royal Thai Navy Fleet. The navy expects up to 60 Thai ships to pass through the Gulf of Aden during the course of the operation. The navy's SEALs unit will be part of the fleet involved in the mission. The budget for the mission has been set at 270 million baht.
The ships are expected to take 17 days to reach the Gulf of Aden on a journey covering 4,573 nautical miles.
The ships are expected to return about Dec 12. A number of Thai ships have been hijacked by Somali pirates over the past five years. According to the Thai Shipowners' Association, there were 32 attacks on Thai ships last year. In the latest incident which occurred in April, three fishing boats, the MV Pran Talay 11, 12 and 14, were hijacked, and are still being held by pirates. Efforts are under way to negotiate their release. Rear Adm Chaiyos Sunthornnak, commander of the 2nd Fleet tasked with the anti-piracy mission, said the HTMS Similan is a logistics support vessel built in China in 1996, while the HTMS Pattani is an offshore patrol vessel built in China in 2005.
Published: 11/09/2010 at 12:00 AM
Being in Thailand, I’m wondering at their media and public opinion with regards to piracy and fate of Thai sailors captured by pirates. I mean, in any other country I know there’s constant monitoring of it’s citizen getting in some kind of trouble, some kind of public demand for news and for some measures to be taken. Thai media just don’t care, and several days before Thai navy set sails for GoA national newspaper Bangkok Post wrote an article on this mission and somehow missed to mention, that there are 77 Thais kept by Somali pirates. Even in this latest article Bangkok Post didn’t mention those 77, restricting their knowledge and curiosity by what Shipowners’ Assosiation told them – 3 highjacked vessels.
Thailand Royal Navy antipiracy mission is interesting in one aspect only – are they coming there as stated, to protect Thai vessels only, or are they coming to join international efforts? Answer is clear – read the above Bangkok Post news. Thai navy will be all by itself, like Russian, Chinese, Indian or Japanese – proudly saying, that no vessel under their guard was captured. Guys, what about the rest? What about a thing which is called world shipping, ever heard these words? World shipping demands not ten ships a week safe passage, but safe and unrestricted by convoys shcedule passage for all ships plying GoA. All navies who’re fighting pirates on their own, simply make a show out of it, year-long drill and extra budget. And nobody says a word, not IMO, BIMCO or other organizations. Everybody is happy, except world shipping, but who gives a damn, as long as there is world shipping, but there is no world shipping community, everyone for himself.
In case some Thai journalist by some wild chance would come upon this article – information for his knowledge:
THAI FISHING FLEET: Seized April 18, 2010 with a total crew of 77 sailors, of which 12 are Thai and the others of different nationalities, the Thailand-flagged vessels operating out of Djibouti were fishing illegal in the Indian Ocean off Minicoy Island in the fishing grounds of the Maldives. All three vessels were then commandeered towards the Somali coast by a group of in total around 15 Somalis.
FV PRANTALAY 11 with a crew of 26
FV PRANTALAY 12 with a crew of 25
FV PRANTALAY 14 with a crew of 26
None of these vessels is registered and authorized by the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission to fish in the Indian Ocean.
The fleet is now held off the coast at Kulub near Garacad at the north-eastern Indian Ocean coast of Somalia. The captors already threatened to use one of the hunter-vessels of the group as a piracy-launch, but at present all three vessels are still held at the coast, while negotiations have not been forthcoming.
Pics from Bangkok Post
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