Somali Pirates and Rising Naval Powers
Brian Wilson & James Kraska | Yale Global | January 2009
125 vessels were attacked by Somali pirates in the Gulf of
Aden, one third of which were successfully boarded. Among them was
a hijacked Saudi super tanker laden with oil and a Ukrainian ship carrying 33
Russian armoured vehicles. Both incidents intensified international concern
over the possible capture of more "sensitive cargo," such as radioactive
material The Somali pirates have collected $50 - 300 million through ransoms. The
lasting legacy of the pirates could well be their role as a catalyst, spurring
European navies to coordinate action and bringing the naval forces of rising
world powers to the high seas.
In 2008 the European Union authorized its "first major out-of-area maritime deployment," Operation Atalanta, to counter piracy in the Gulf of Aden, through which 7 to 12 percent of the world's oil is shipped annually. India has also deployed multiple frigates and destroyers, and in December China sent two destroyers and a logistics ship to protect the nearly 1,200 Chinese merchant vessels that annually travel through pirated waters. Earlier this year the US 5th Fleet initiated Combined Task Force 151, an international coalition against piracy based in Bahrain.
The United Nations Security Council has progressively adopted resolutions allowing for greater use of force off the Horn of Africa, and UNSC Resolution 1851 adopted in December permits states to used armed force onshore to fight piracy. As the EU begins projecting power at sea and the new navies of China and India join the traditional navies of the United States, United Kingdom, France and Russia, naval coordination under UN auspices is necessary to avoid provoking inter-state tension in already troubled waters.
This summary was prepared by the Atlantic Community editorial team from "Anti-Piracy Patrols Presage Rising Naval Powers" published here by YaleGlobal, January 2009.