Archive for the ‘U.S. Navy’ Category

Iran Holds Military Games Near Hormuz Strait

December 2, 2008

Iran started military exercises in the Gulf of Oman adjacent to the strategically important Strait of Hormuz, state-run Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting said on its Web Site, citing Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari.

The exercises, covering 50,000 square kilometers (20,000 square miles) and involving 60 destroyers, submarines, helicopters and aircraft, are to promote preparedness against possible threats and “preemptive power,” Sayyari told IRIB.

Iran has threatened to close the strait, a chokepoint at the mouth of the Persian Gulf through which about 20 percent of the world’s oil is shipped, should the U.S. or Israel attack the country over its refusal to halt uranium enrichment as part of its nuclear program.

By Thomas Penny

Dec. 2 (Bloomberg) —

Related:
US maintaining naval-air-marine might in Arabian Sea opposite India, Pakistan, Iran

US maintaining naval-air-marine might in Arabian Sea opposite India, Pakistan, Iran

December 1, 2008

Three US aircraft carriers with strike groups, task forces and nuclear submarines have piled up in the waters of the Arabian Sea opposite the shores of India, Pakistan and Iran, and in the Persian Gulf.

DEBKAfile‘s military sources report that the US began massing this formidable array of floating firepower at the outset of the Islamist terrorist attack on the Indian city of Mumbai last Wednesday, Nov. 26.

Tehran responded typically with a threat of retaliation should the Americans decide to use the Mumbai terrorist attack to hit Iran.

It is more likely, according to our military sources, that the Americans are on the ready in case the rising tensions between India and Pakistan over the New Delhi’s charge of Pakistani involvement in the Mumbai atrocity explodes into an armed clash on their border.

This is indicated by the units now deployed:

1. the USS John C. Stennis, which carries 80 fighter-bombers and 3,200 sailors and airmen and leads a strike group..

This carrier joins two already there, the USS Theodore Roosevelt, which patrols the northern Arabian Sea, part of whose strike group cruises opposite Iran’s southern coast; and the USS Iwo Jima, which carries a large marine contingent on board.

2. New to these waters, according to DEBKAfile‘s military sources, is the Destroyer Squadron 50/CTF 55, which has two task forces: Patrol Forces Southwest Asia (PATFORSWA) for strikes against warships and the rapid deployment of marines to flashpoint arenas; and Mine Countermeasures Division 31, which stands ready to prevent New Delhi or Islamabad from mining the Arabian Sea routes connecting their ports. Those routes are vital waterways for US marine traffic supporting the war in Afghanistan.

3. To manage this armada, the command and control vessel, USS Mount Whitney, has been brought over from the Mediterranean.

4. Four nuclear submarines.

The arrival of the southwest Asian marine patrol carrier Stennis and the Mount Whitney to the Arabian Sea opposite Iran’s shores set alarm bells ringing in Tehran. Our Iranian sources note that the Islamic republic’s rulers remember that after al Qaeda’s attack on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, the Americans did not only invade Afghanistan, but also Iraq and they fear a similar sideswipe.

The Iranian chief of staff, Maj. Gen. Ataoallah Salehi sounded a warning when he stated Sunday, Nov. 30: The “heavy weight” of enemy warships provides the Iranian side with an ideal opportunity for launching successful counter-attacks.

Related:
Iran Holds Military Games Near Hormuz Strait


Above: U.S. Navy operates at sea with allies…

U.S. Navy cruisers carry long range cruise missiles.  Seen here: USS Gettysburg

See the DEPKA file:
http://www.debka.com/headline.php?hid=5747

Japan, U.S. Navy Express Disappointment, Regret At Failure of Missile Defense Test “At the Last Second”

November 20, 2008

The Navy of Japan and the United States Navy as well as the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) expressed disappointment and  after a missile defense test failure over the Pacific Ocean November 20, 2008.

By William Cole
The Honolulu Advertiser

A missile fired by the Japanese destroyer Chokai yesterday failed to intercept a ballistic missile target off Kaua’i in a second test of Japan’s ship-based Aegis ballistic missile defense system.
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The $55 million exercise paid for by Japan was intended to knock down a simulated ballistic missile in which the warhead separated from the booster.

But Rear Adm. Brad Hicks, the Aegis system program manager for the U.S. Missile Defense Agency, said an “anomaly” occurred in the fourth stage of flight by the Standard Missile-3 Block 1A seeker missile.

A kinetic warhead released by the missile found and tracked the simulated ballistic missile, but in the last few seconds it “lost track” of the target, Hicks said.

 
This is the ballistic missile target launched from the Pacific missile range facility (PMRF) in Hawaii.  Photo: MICHAEL BEJARANO | Sandia National Laboratories

“The missile, until the very end of flight, had excellent performance,” Hicks said.

Hicks said an investigation will determine “if it was just that individual missile, or something that we need to take a look at.”

The Aegis ballistic missile defense system has been successful in 16 of 20 attempts.

Hicks said the same type of missile, fired by the Pearl Harbor cruiser Lake Erie, was used to successfully shoot down a failing U.S. spy satellite in February.

“This system works,” said Hicks, adding the success rate is good compared to other U.S. missiles.

On Dec. 17 off Kaua’i, the Japanese destroyer Kongo shot down a ballistic missile target, marking the first time that an allied naval ship successfully intercepted a target with the sea-based Aegis weapons system.

That target was a nonseparating simulated ballistic missile. Officials said yesterday’s target separated from a booster, making it harder to discriminate.

At 4:21 p.m., the ballistic missile target was launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility. The Japanese destroyer Chokai detected and tracked the target using an advanced on-board radar, according to the Missile Defense Agency.

The Pearl Harbor-based destroyer Paul Hamilton also participated in the test.

The Aegis Weapon System developed a fire-control solution, and at 4:24 p.m., a single SM-3 Block IA was launched. The Chokai was about 250 miles off Barking Sands in Kaua’i, and the intercept was to occur about 100 nautical miles above earth in the mid-course phase of the ballistic missile’s trajectory.

Approximately two minutes later, the SM-3 failed to intercept the target. The Chokai crew performance was “excellent” in executing the mission, according to the Missile Defense Agency.

The Japanese ship will stop in Pearl Harbor before returning to Japan with additional SM-3 Block 1A missiles.

Hicks said Aegis ballistic missile defense is a certified and deployed system in the U.S. Navy, and certified and operational in Japan’s navy.

Eighteen U.S. cruisers and destroyers and four Japanese ships are being outfitted with the Aegis ballistic missile defense capability.

On Nov. 1, during the exercise “Pacific Blitz,” the Hawai’i-based destroyers Hamilton and Hopper fired SM-3 missiles at separate targets launched from Kaua’i.


Above: USS Hopper

Hamilton scored a direct hit, while the missile fired by the Hopper missed its target, the Navy said.

Hicks yesterday said the missiles fired from the ships were older rounds going out of service, and the Navy took the opportunity to use them as training rounds “knowing that they carried a higher probability of failure.”

Related:
Japan-U.S. missile defense test fails

Japan-U.S. missile defense test fails

November 20, 2008

A Japanese warship failed to shoot down a ballistic missile target in a joint test with U.S. forces Wednesday because of a glitch in the final stage of an interceptor made by Raytheon Co, a U.S. military official said.

The kinetic warhead’s infrared “seeker” lost track in the last few seconds of the $55 million test, about 100 miles above Hawaiian waters, said U.S. Rear Admiral Brad Hicks, program director of the Aegis sea-based leg of an emerging U.S. anti-missile shield.

By Jim Wolf, Reuters

A missile is launched from the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force ... 
A missile is launched from the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force ship Chokai in the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii November 20, 2008.(Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force/Handout/Reuters)

“This was a failure,” he said in a teleconference with reporters. It brought the tally of Aegis intercepts to 16 in 20 tries.

The problem “hopefully was related just to a single interceptor,” not to a systemic issue with the Standard Missile-3 Block 1A, the same missile used in February to blow apart a crippled U.S. spy satellite, Hicks said.

Military officials from both countries said in a joint statement there was no immediate explanation for the botched intercept of a medium-range missile mimicking a potential North Korean threat. The test was paid for by Japan, Hicks said.

John Patterson, a spokesman at Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, Arizona, said the company would not comment pending the results of an engineering analysis of what may have gone wrong.
The test involved the Chokai, the second Japanese Kongo-class ship to be outfitted by the United States for missile defense, and a dummy missile fired from a range on the Hawaiian island of Kauai.


Above: Chokai

North Korea‘s test-firing of a ballistic missile over Japan in August 1998 spurred Tokyo to become the most active U.S. ally in building a layered shield against missiles that could be tipped with chemical, biological or nuclear warheads.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20081120/wl_nm/us_japan_usa_mis
sile;_ylt=AtR6dVwzdhOKirAsXFcgsFSs0NUE

Piracy Spurs Threats to Shipping Costs

November 19, 2008

The seizure by pirates of a giant Saudi oil tanker far off the coast of Kenya could enlarge the “war risk” zone that already is lifting insurance costs for thousands of ships heading west of Africa, further raising the cost of piracy to world-wide shipping.

More vessels have begun avoiding the direct passage most often attacked by pirates and taking a much longer route around the southern tip of Africa. They’re hoping to pressure governments along the direct route, through the busy Gulf of Aden, to crack down more effectively on piracy or lose revenues from cargo-ship traffic.

By John W. Miller
The Wall Street Journal

But the unprecedented attack disclosed Monday on the MV Sirius Star, carrying $100 million worth of crude hundreds of miles from shore in the Indian Ocean, is undercutting that strategy. It could raise the cost of insurance and crews for ships that take the longer route, which already costs far more in fuel.

The boldness of the attack on the 1,080-foot Sirius Star may prompt insurers to require special “war risk” insurance costing tens of thousands of dollars a day to cover travel across a much greater area of water. It also could spur shippers to hire more onboard security for their vessels, which many have resisted because of costs and the fear of escalating armed conflicts with the pirates.

“This could be a game-changer,” says Peter Hinchliffe, maritime director of the London-based International Chamber of Shipping. “It’s no secret the whole industry is looking into this.”

Governments and shippers have sparred over who should bear responsibility for fending off the pirates, who seized 26 ships in the region during the summer alone and have collected up to $30 million in ransom so far this year, according to the International Maritime Bureau.

Read the rest:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122701864743437147.html

Indian Navy Destroys Pirate ‘Mother Ship’ in Battle Near Somalia

November 19, 2008

NEW DELHI —  An Indian naval vessel sank a suspected pirate “mother ship” Wednesday in the Gulf of Aden and chased two attack boats into the night, officials said, yet more violence in the lawless seas where brigands are becoming bolder and more violent.

Separate bands of pirates also seized a Thai ship with 16 crew members and an Iranian cargo vessel with a crew of 25 in the Gulf of Aden, where Somalia-based pirates appear to be attacking ships at will, said Noel Choong of the International Maritime Bureau’s piracy reporting center in Malaysia.

In this Nov. 11, 2008 file photo made available by Indian Navy, ... 
In this Nov. 11, 2008 file photo made available by Indian Navy, Indian warship INS Tabar, right, escorts the MV Jag Arnav ship to safety after rescuing it from a hijack attempt by Somali pirates. The Indian navy says the INS Tabar dedicated to fighting pirates has successfully fought off an attempted pirate attack in the Gulf of Aden, sparking explosions and a fire on the suspected pirate ship late Tuesday, Nov. 18.(AP Photo/Indian Navy, HO, File)

“It’s getting out of control,” Choong said.

A multicoalition naval force has increased patrols in the region, and scored a rare success Tuesday when the Indian warship, operating off the coast of Oman, stopped a ship similar to a pirate vessel mentioned in numerous piracy bulletins. The Indian navy said the pirates fired on the INS Tabar after the officers asked it to stop to be searched.


INS Tabar transfers a man to another ship at sea.

“Pirates were seen roaming on the upper deck of this vessel with guns and rocket propelled grenade launchers,” said a statement from the Indian navy. Indian forces fired back, sparking fires and a series of onboard blasts — possibly due to exploding ammunition — and destroying the ship.

SomaliPirate
Above: Somali pirates

INS Tabar, a multipurpose frontline warship, seen in Mumbai ...

Above: Indian Navy warship Tabar  

Read the rest from the Associated Press:
With a VIDEO:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081119/ap_on_bi_
ge/piracy;_ylt=AixHX2_3so7pbJdZfSLkWqqs0NUE

Somali pirates try to hijack British ship; demanding $10m ransom for captured Saudi supertanker

November 19, 2008

Somali pirates who captured a Saudi supertanker have narrowly failed in hijacking a British tanker.

The British tanker Trafalgar was suddenly surrounded in the Gulf of Aden by at least eight speedboats.

By David Willaims
The Mail (London)

Negotiations over the Sirius Star, packed with two million barrels of crude oil worth $100million (£67m) – enough to supply the whole of France for a day – were said still not to have opened formally.
An undated photo of the Sirius Star in South Korean waters.

Above: The Sirius Star — a crude “super tanker” flagged in Liberia and owned by the Saudi Arabian-based Saudi Aramco company — was attacked on Saturday more than 450 nautical miles southeast of Mombasa, Kenya.

Meanwhile a Greek carrier and a Thai fishing vessel were the latest to be captured by pirates this week.

Read the rest:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-
1086658/Now-Somali-pirates-try-hijack-British-s
hip-demanding-10m-ransom-captured-Saudi-sup
ertanker.html

It was rescued when the German frigate Karlsruhe on patrol 12 miles away sent a helicopter to scare off the pirates who fled at high speed.

The latest audacious attack by Somali pirates comes as they are expected to a record ransom of more than $10million for the release of the Saudi oil supertanker hijacked off the Kenyan coast.

“Audacity” Of Somali Pirates No Surprise: Their Nation is in Turmoil, Piracy Makes Them Wealthy in “Pirate Towns”

November 18, 2008

From NPR

Pirates who seized a Saudi supertanker earlier this week were nearing a Somali port on Tuesday, where they were expected to begin negotiations for the release of the crew and cargo.

The Sirius Star is three times the size of an aircraft carrier and believed to be carrying more than $100 millions worth of crude oil.

Piracy is a multi-billion dollar industry off the coast of Somalia, where commercial ships are routinely seized for the value of the cargo and to ransom the crew.

This undated picture made at an unknown location shows the the ... 
This undated picture made at an unknown location shows the the MV Sirius Star a Saudi oil supertanker which has been hijacked by Somali pirates. The owner of a Saudi oil supertanker hijacked by Somali pirates over the weekend said the 25 crew members are safe and the ship is fully loaded with crude — a cargo worth about US$100 million at current prices. Dubai-based Vela International Marine Ltd., a subsidiary of Saudi oil company Aramco, said in a statement Monday, Nov. 17, 2008, that company response teams have been set up and are working to ensure the release of the crew and the vessel.(AP Photo/Fred Vloo)

Despite anti-piracy efforts by the U.S., NATO and other European powers in the Gulf of Aden, the pirates have widened their field of operation. The Sirius Star was hijacked in the Indian Ocean, 450 miles off the coast of Kenya.

The vessel reportedly appears to be heading for the coastal village of Eyl in the semi-autonomous province of Puntland — a known pirate base.

The attacks have driven up insurance costs, forced some ships to go round South Africa instead of through the Suez Canal and secured millions of dollars in ransoms.

Hear the radio report:
http://www.npr.org/templates/player/mediaPlayer.html?action=1&t=1&islist=false&id=97124768&m=97124740

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“They have money; they have power and they are getting stronger by the day,” says Abdi Farah Juha who lives in the regional capital, Garowe.

They wed the most beautiful girls; they are building big houses; they have new cars; new guns,” he says.

“Piracy in many ways is socially acceptable. They have become fashionable.”

Most of them are aged between 20 and 35 years – in it for the money.

And the rewards they receive are rich in a country where….

Read the rest:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7650415.stm

Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Michael Mullen gestures during a ... 
Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, says the hostages held at sea by pirates makes military intervention difficult and dangerous…..(AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)

From AFP

The top US military officer said Monday he was “stunned” by the reach of the Somali pirates who seized a Saudi supertanker off the east coast of Africa, calling piracy a growing problem that needs to be addressed.

But Admiral Michael Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said there were limits to what the world’s navies could do once a ship has been captured because national governments often preferred to pay pirates ransom.

“I’m stunned by the range of it, less so than I am the size,” Mullen said of the seizure of the Sirius Star Sunday by armed men.

The huge, oil laden prize, which is three times the size of a US aircraft carrier, was some 450 miles east of Kenya when it was boarded, he said.

That is the farthest out at sea that a ship has been seized in the latest surge of piracies, according to Mullen.

The pirates, he said, are “very good at what they do. They’re very well armed. Tactically, they are very good.”

“And so, once they get to a point where they can board, it becomes very difficult to get them off, because, clearly, now they hold hostages.

“The question then becomes, well, what do you do about the hostages? And that’s where the standoff is.

“That’s a national question to ask based on the flag of the vessel. And the countries by and large have been paying the ransom that the pirates have asked,” he said.

Mullen said the number of successful piracies have gone down, but the incidence of ship seizures were way up.

“It’s got a lot of people’s attention and is starting to have impact on the commercial side, which I know countries raise as a concern,” he said.

“And so there’s a lot more focus on this. It’s a very serious issue. It’s a growing issue. And we’re going to continue to have to deal with it,” he said.

An undated photo of the Sirius Star in South Korean waters.

An undated photo of the Sirius Star in South Korean waters.

The Sirius Star — a crude “super tanker” flagged in Liberia and owned by the Saudi Arabian-based Saudi Aramco company — was attacked on Saturday more than 450 nautical miles southeast of Mombasa, Kenya.

The crew of 25, including British, Croatian, Polish, Filippino and Saudi nationals, are reported to be safe.

U.S. Navy Fifth Fleet Cmdr. Jane Campbell said the super tanker weighs more than 300,000 metric tons and “is more than three times the size of a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier.”

Oil industry insiders say a tanker of this size can carry up to 2 million barrels of oil, and the ship’s operator, Dubai-based Vela International Marine Ltd, says it is fully laden.

A U.S. Navy spokesman said the tanker is approaching Eyl, Somalia, on the Indian Ocean coast. It is routine procedure for pirates to take hijacked ships to shore, where they will keep them while they discuss negotiations.

A multinational naval force including vessels from the U.S., the UK and Russia has been patrolling the Indian Ocean waters seas near the Gulf of Aden, which connects the Red Sea and the Arabian Sea, following a sharp increase in pirate attacks in the region.

Related:

Somali Pirates Capture Biggest Prize Ever: “Supertanker” Loaded With Oil
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Somali Pirates, After Grabbing Biggest Prize, Negotiate for Loot

Read the rest from CNN:
http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/africa/11/17/
kenya.tanker.pirates/index.html?section=cnn_latest

Somali Pirates, After Grabbing Biggest Prize, Negotiate for Loot

November 18, 2008

Vela International Marine Ltd, a Dubai-based marine company which operates the Saudi-owned Sirius Star, said it was working to secure the release of the supertanker and her crew.

A spokesman for the company said all 25 crew were believed to be safe.

The Saudi-owned vessel was hijacked on Saturday, 450 nautical miles south east of Mombasa.

The large oil tanker is owned by Saudi oil company Aramco but was sailing under a Liberian flag.

The Telegraph (UK)

Earlier, a spokesman for the Foreign Office had confirmed that two of those on board are British but could not give any details of their role on the ship.

US Navy spokesman Lieutenant Nate Christensen, of the 5th Fleet, said: “We don’t know the condition of the crew on board or the nature of the pirates’ demands. In cases like this what we typically see is a demand for money from the ship owners but we haven’t had that yet.

This undated picture made at an unknown location shows the Sirius ... 
This undated picture made at an unknown location shows the Sirius Star tanker conducting a trial run in South Korea. Somali pirates have hijacked the Saudi-owned oil tanker the Sirius Star off the Kenyan coast, the U.S. Navy said Monday, Nov. 17, 2008. The tanker owned by Saudi oil company Aramco, is 330 meters (1,080 feet), about the length of an aircraft carrier, making it one of the largest ships to sail the seas. It can carry about 2 million barrels of oil. Lt. Nathan Christensen, a spokesman for the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet, said the Sirius Star was carrying crude at the time of Saturday’s hijacking, but he did know how much.(AP Photo/ Newsis via Daewoo shipping yards and commissioned )

“We don’t know exactly where they are taking it but we know the town of Eyl is a pirate stronghold.”

Eyl is in the northern Puntland region of Somalia and has become notorious for pirate activity over the past months. Dozens of ships are thought to be being held captive there.

The supertanker is the largest ship to fall victim to pirates, the US Navy said. It is 1,080ft (330m) long and can carry about 2 million barrels of oil.

The hijack, which was the first successful attack so far out at sea, raises fears that international patrols nearer the coast and in the Gulf of Aden will not be enough to protect vital trade routes as pirate gangs become ever more audacious.

The Sirius Star was carrying a cargo of crude oil and had 25 crew members on board when it was attacked.

Related:
Somali Pirates Capture Biggest Prize Ever: “Supertanker” Loaded With Oil

Read the rest:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaand
indianocean/somalia/3475792/Somali-pirates-open-t
alks-for-release-of-hostage-crew-on-oil-tanker-
Sirius-Star.html

Somali Pirates Capture Biggest Prize Ever: “Supertanker” Loaded With Oil

November 17, 2008

The U.S. Navy says Somali pirates have hijacked a Saudi-owned oil tanker off the Kenyan coast.

Lt. Nathan Christensen, a spokesman for the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet, says the pirates hijacked the vessel Saturday. The tanker is owned by Saudi oil company Aramco and was sailing under a Liberian flag.

Christensen says the pirates took control of the ship 450 nautical miles southeast of Mombasa, Kenya. He spoke Monday by phone from the 5th Fleet’s Bahrain headquarters.

–Associated Press

Link to Fox News:
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,453030,00.html


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From the BBC

Pirates have taken control of a Saudi-owned oil tanker in the Indian Ocean off the Kenyan coast, the US Navy says.

The tanker was seized 450 nautical miles south-east of the port of Mombasa, a US Navy spokesman said.

Twenty five crew are said to be on board, including members from Croatia, the UK, the Philippines, Poland and Saudi Arabia.

The Sirius Star oil tanker (image from Aramco website)
The Sirius Star made its maiden voyage in March of this year

Read the rest:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7733482.stm
Photo of ship captured by pirates

The U.S. Fifth Fleet said in a release that pirates attacked the Sirius Star, a Liberian-flagged crude tanker owned by Saudi Aramco, the kingdom’s state oil company. It said the ship was operated by Vela International and had a crew of 25, including citizens of Croatia, the U.K., the Philippines, and Saudi Arabia.
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By Barbara Surk
The Associated Press

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (Nov. 17) – Somali pirates hijacked a supertanker hundreds of miles off the Horn of Africa, seizing the Saudi-owned ship loaded with crude and its 25-member crew, the U.S. Navy said Monday.
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It appeared to be the largest ship ever seized by pirates.
After the brazen hijacking, the pirates on Monday sailed the Sirius Star to a Somali port that has become a haven for bandits and the ships they have seized, a Navy spokesman said.
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The hijacking was among the most brazen in a surge in attacks this year by ransom-hungry Somali pirates. Attacks off the Somali coast have increased more than 75 percent this year, and even the world’s largest vessels are vulnerable.
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The Sirius Star, commissioned in March and owned by the Saudi oil company Aramco, is 1,080 feet long — about the length of an aircraft carrier — making it one of the largest ships to sail the seas. It can carry about 2 million barrels of oil.
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Lt. Nathan Christensen, a spokesman for the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet, said the pirates hijacked the ship on Saturday about 450 nautical miles off the coast of Kenya — the farthest out to sea Somali pirates have struck.
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By expanding their range, Somali pirates are “certainly a threat to many more vessels,” Christensen said. He said the pirates on the Sirius Star were “nearing an anchorage point” at the Somali port town of Eylon Monday.
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Somali pirates have seized at least six several ships off the Horn of Africa in the past week, but the hijacking of a supertanker marked a dramatic escalation.
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The pirates are trained fighters, often dressed in military fatigues, using speedboats equipped with satellite phones and GPS equipment. They are typically armed with automatic weapons, anti-tank rockets launchers and various types of grenades.

Read the rest:
http://news.aol.com/article/somali-pirates-hijack-supertanker/250596
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Who Are These Somali Pirates?By Robyn Hunter
The BBC

 

“No information today. No comment,” a Somali pirate shouts over the sound of breaking waves, before abruptly ending the satellite telephone call.
He sounds uptight – anxious to see if a multi-million dollar ransom demand will be met.

He is on board the hijacked Ukrainian vessel, MV Faina – the ship laden with 33 Russian battle tanks that has highlighted the problem of piracy off the Somali coast since it was captured almost a month ago.

But who are these modern-day pirates?

According to residents in the Somali region of Puntland where most of the pirates come from, they live a lavish life.

Fashionable

“They have money; they have power and they are getting stronger by the day,” says Abdi Farah Juha who lives in the regional capital, Garowe.

They wed the most beautiful girls; they are building big houses; they have new cars; new guns,” he says.

“Piracy in many ways is socially acceptable. They have become fashionable.”

Most of them are aged between 20 and 35 years – in it for the money.

And the rewards they receive are rich in a country where….

Read the rest:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7650415.stm