Saturday, April 25, 2009

Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea & Niger Delta

The Gulf of Guinea

The burgeoning profit that can be made by hoisting the "black flag" and becoming a pirate has been slowly migrating to the west coast of Africa and the Gulf of Guinea/Niger Delta.

The UK has taken proactive steps to train the Nigerian Navy in small boat tactics and combat operations in an effort to head off pirates in that area, but it's been less successful than it hoped to be in forming a maritime security training center. 

Some of the pirates operate against commercial oil interests as a branch of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), a militant organization currently engaged in an "oil war". Others are merely criminals intent on making money through piracy. An April 15th  article by David Lewis (Reuters) provides an overview. (CLICK HERE) to read it.

The USS Nashville (LPD-13) - underway as part of the Africa Partnership Station -  is currently conducting training exercises off the Nigerian Coast to enable the Nigerians to deal more effectively with their maritime security problems. I do not wish to offend the captain or crew of the Nashville, but the problem is more than brief training sessions with the Nigerians can provide.  Nigerian pirates captured an oil vessel off the coast of Cameroon ten days ago. Where was the Nashville and what could her captain or the captains of other warships from other nations have done if they were in the immediate vicinity?

The clear solution is to unchain international warships by providing them rules of engagement which provide for swift and severe reactions to pirate incidents rather than binding them with bureaucratic red tape. Pirates engage in piracy because they are successful. Eliminate the fruits of success and they'll find something else to occupy their time.

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