Beached on the Somali coast

Two images, separated by the same number of years, reflect the success had by the multinational and multiagency counter-piracy efforts off the Horn of Africa.

Earlier this month EUStranded-Al-Amal-off-the-Coast-of-Somalia-1024x680NAVFOR issued a short release about the rescue of crew members from the Yemeni fishing vessel Al Amal (pictured left) that had beached on Somalia’s Puntland shore. The timeline follows as a Spanish MPA (that’s a maritime patrol aircraft to readers in the UK) does a flyby of the beached craft and gathers information that is then passed onto local authorities who, in collaboration with the UNODC, rescued the stranded crew.

It’s not just navy ships and MPAs that are keeping this stretch of water safer than it has been for many years, as tentative development of a civil infrastructure inside Somalia’s quasi-independent Puntland region and the use of PSMCs has seen incidents of piracy and robbery-at-sea plunge.NAHAM-31-623x393

Rewind a couple of years however and a similar image told a far different tale as the barely-floating hull of the Oman-flagged FV Naham 3 (pictured right), loaded with pirates and hostages, was beached in Puntland’s Galmudug region after it’s at-sea anchor, the bulk-carrier MV Albedo, sank in shallow water during a storm. While some hostages have since been released after ransoms were paid, 26 are still being held inside Somalia.

The Nato Shipping Centre’s list of successful hijackings details a reduction of incidents from a high of 40 pirated vessels from 117 attacks in 2010 to a single recorded (unsuccessful) attack in 2014. It has to be noted that the hijacking of local, or indeed illegal, fishing vessels are often not recorded.

While we praise the recent success of the search and rescue mission performed by EU NAVFOR and the Puntland authorities it should also be remembered that many seafarers, victims of the regions not-too-distant lack in maritime security, still wait for their own chance at freedom.

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