U.S.-Flagged Maersk Texas Thwarts Attack in Gulf of Oman Protecting Yourself Before, During, and After a Pirate Attack


Piraten-Prozess in Hamburg

Journalist nennt Drahtzieher

Freitag, 25. Mai 2012
Einer der beiden Hintermänner stecke möglicherweise auch hinter dem Angriff auf den Hamburger Frachter "Taipan". Foto: KomrowskiEiner der beiden Hintermänner stecke möglicherweise auch hinter dem Angriff auf den Hamburger Frachter "Taipan". Foto: Komrowski
Ein Journalist hat im bundesweit ersten Piraten-Prozess in Hamburg erklärt, er kenne die Namen möglicher Hintermänner. Zwei Männer, die aus Somalia stammten und in London lebten, seien nach seinen Informationen in Piraterie verwickelt, sagte der Fernsehjournalist vor dem Hamburger Landgericht. Einer der beiden stecke möglicherweise auch hinter dem Angriff auf den Hamburger Frachter "Taipan" und sei mit mindestens einem der zehn in Hamburg Angeklagten verwandt. "Er war involviert in die Finanzierung von Aktionen dieser 'Taipan'-Geschichte", sagte der Journalist. Mehr: Im "THB Täglicher Hafenbericht" http://damu7n2j5d7gw.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/MaritimeSecurity.Asia-Thayer-Efforts-to-Ensure-Maritime-Security-in-East-Asia.pdf

Iranische Marine kommt zu Hilfe

US-Frachtschiff vor Piraten gerettet

Freitag, 25. Mai 2012 Die iranische Marine hat nach Medienberichten erstmals ein US-Frachtschiff im Golf von Oman vor somalischen Piraten gerettet. Der unter US-Flagge fahrende Frachter "Maersk Texas" sei am Mittwoch von mehreren Piratenschiffen eingekreist worden, berichtete die staatliche iranische Nachrichtenagentur Irna jetzt. Die iranische Marine habe eingegriffen und die Piraten in die Flucht geschlagen. Die US-Marine ist bereits zweimal iranischen Schiffen gegen Piraten zu Hilfe gekommen. Seit mehr als 30 Jahren gibt es zwischen den beiden Ländern keine diplomatischen Beziehungen.

A) U.S.-Flagged Maersk Texas Thwarts Attack in Gulf of Oman [UPDATE]24.05.

B ) Protecting Yourself Before, During, and After a Pirate Attack 28.03.

By gCaptain Staff On March 28, 2012 The Horn of Africa-

A) U.S.-Flagged Maersk Texas Thwarts Attack in Gulf of Oman [UPDATE]

By gCaptain Staff On May 23, 2012


Maersk Texas

Lots of rumors were flying around maritime circles this morning of a rather involved pirate attack on the U.S.-flagged Maersk Texas today in the Gulf of Oman.  In the end the attack was thwarted by a shipboard security team, but we heard rumors of up to 20 skiffs were involved in the attack and also that ALL the skiffs were actually just local fisherman.

As it turns out, however, the vessel was attacked and most of the rumors were not in fact true.

Reaching out to Maersk Line, Limited,  which is the jones act arm of Maersk and owner of the Maersk Texas, the company confirmed the attack and offered gCaptain the following statement on the incident:

Maersk Line, Limited confirms its U.S. flag vessel, Maersk Texas, thwarted an attack by multiple pirate skiffs at noon local while transiting the Gulf of Oman, northeast of Fujairah.  All hands onboard are safe and unharmed, and the vessel is proceeding on its voyage. Numerous skiffs with armed men in each boat quickly closed on Maersk Texas. Maersk Texas activated defensive measures per the U.S. Coast Guard-approved Vessel Security Plan. Despite clear warning signals, the skiffs continued their direct line toward Maersk Texas and the embarked security team fired warning shots. The pirates then fired upon Maersk Texas, and the security team returned fire per established U.S. Coast Guard rules of engagement. Many small craft and fishing boats were in the area and were not involved in the incident.

Maersk Line, Limited reportedly employs Trident Group security teams onboard their vessels, the same group shown in a viral video shooting “warning shots”at approaching pirate skiffs.  If it was a Trident team on the vessel, we know there is some video of the attack that will likely be reviewed, and up to Maersk on whether or not it will be released.

MAERSK TEXAS is currently sailing from Shuaiba, Kuwait to Beaumont, Texas, according to the Maersk-Linie website.

UPDATE: The U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence has just released a warning for the area of the attack on the Maersk Texas.  The warning does not mention the attack specifically, but warns of some odd behavior by skiffs in the area, possibly indicating a new pirate tactic that could address some of the rumors we heard previously of the Maersk Texas attack.

Merchant vessels operating in the Gulf of Oman, Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea, Persian Gulf, Red Sea, and Somali Basin are advised to maintain vigilance against and report abnormal or atypical small boat behavior, to include potential surveillance. This includes merchant vessels at anchorage either in or near territorial waters. Merchant vessels are encouraged to differentiate between fishing vessels from potential bad actors intertwining themselves within legitimate fishing activity. If fishing gear or actual fishing activity is not observed, take all appropriate counter-piracy and force protection measures to prevent piracy, illegal boardings, and/or waterborne attacks. In accordance with Best Management Practices (BMP), please maintain communications with UKMTO and report any abnormal incidents.

Follow up reports on the incident indicate that the Maersk Texas was assisted by an Iranian warship immediately following the attack, as well as later by the Australian frigate HMAS Melbourne.

The MAERSK TEXAS is one of two newly built multi-purpose dry cargo ships – the other is the MAERSK ILLINOIS – that the MLL acquired in September 2011 to sail for Maersk-Rickmers U.S. Flag Project Carrier, or Maersk-Rickmers for short, a company established to provide U.S. customers with heavy-lift breakbulk and project cargo shipping requiring U.S. flag service.

Related Articles:

  1. Weekly Piracy Update: Gulf of Oman and Indonesia Heating Up
  2. Maersk Line Limited, Rickmers-Linie Announce U.S. Flagged Heavy-lift Partnership
  3. Mass Attack: IMB piracy report a cause for concern
  4. Royal Navy Thwarts Pirate Attack
  5. Maersk Alabama Thwarts Another Pirate Attack Using Armed Guards

Tagged with: maersk line limitedsomali pirates

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gCaptain Staff

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  By Captain Richard Madden Depending on the source, piracy in the Gulf of Aden/Horn of Africa (GOA/HOA) region is estimated to be costing the world economy between $5 and $10 billion every year.   As average consumers none of us want to see this cost absorbed by price increases on the goods we buy every day.  As merchant mariners, shipping companies, and industry organizations, it is much more personal.  While keeping the pirates, thieves or terrorists off the ship is the ultimate goal, we need to ensure that we are protected before, during and after the attack. Rules of Engagement Webster’s Dictionary defines Rules of Engagement (ROE) in part as, “Directives issued by competent military authority, which specify the circumstances and limitations under which forces will initiate and/or continue combat engagement with other forces encountered.”  Typical ROE will include everything from presence as the minimal force applied to lethal force.  Increasing the levels of force to achieve the desired result is the Escalation Of Force (EOF). Rules of engagement exist for BOTH the vessel’s protection and the protection of those operating in the vicinity – including “suspicious” vessels.   International Maritime Organization (IMO) Gets Involved For years, the implied stance of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the maritime branch of the United Nations, precluded the use of armed guards.  The unsanctioned and increasingly effective use of armed guards from 2009 through 2011 did not escape their attention, however.  In September 2011, the IMO released MSC.1/Circ.1405/Rev.1,“Interim Guidance to Shipowners, Ship Operators and Shipmasters on the use of Privately Contracted Armed Security Personnel (PCASP) On Board Ships in the High Risk Area,which addressed the hiring and management of PCASP/PMSC (Private Maritime Security Company), as well as discussing the Rules for the Use of Force (RUF).   The above circular offered guidance on RUF starting with, “PCASP should be fully aware that their primary function is the prevention of boarding using the minimal force necessary to do so.”  It goes on to say, “PMSC should provide a detailed graduated response plan to a pirate attack as part of its teams’ operational procedures. PMSC should require their personnel to take all reasonable steps to avoid the use of force.” In short, while the arming of security personnel is becoming accepted, caution must be taken to ensure the minimum force necessary is used.  In all instances, proper identification of the potential threat and intent is crucial. Protecting Yourself Before the Attack It should come as no surprise that vessels having a well-determined and frequently drilled anti-piracy plan do not get taken by pirates.  Vessels that operate frequently or exclusively in high-risk waters may experience a higher number of piracy incidents, but still will not be hijacked.  In the end, it all comes down to preparation. Preparation falls into two distinct categories.  The first category is the equipment or the tools you have in your anti-piracy toolbox.  Many companies are hiring armed security or PCASP, but they cannot be the only means available in your EOF protocol.  While PCASP can fulfill the minimum level of force – presence – and the maximum level of force – lethal, they fail to provide an intermediate or non-lethal category. It may be argued that the PCASP provide a non-lethal level of force through warning shots, but as will be illustrated below, this sometimes proves lethal anyway.  The effectiveness of warning shots in a marine environment is questionable due to the loud (may not be heard over an outboard) and chaotic (splashes of rounds hitting the water may not be seen) environment.   Long Range Acoustic Devices (LRADs) can fill this gap in levels of force by serving both as a long-range communication device and a non-lethal deterrent. The second category of preparation concerns procedures and personnel.  First, procedures (including a scaled EOF) must be agreed upon between the vessel’s Master and the PCASP.  Second, those procedures must be communicated to all personnel as required.  Third, these procedures must be drilled until all are thoroughly familiar with them.  In a piracy attempt, time is of the essence.  When an unidentified skiff begins its approach is not the time for the bridge crew to be considering a course of action – it is time to be putting the preplanned and drilled procedures to use. The average piracy incident lasts between 6 and 12 minutes…The pirates board the ship or go away. The enemy – or is it? When you say, “Somali pirate skiff,” almost any merchant mariner conjures up the image of a low white or blue fiberglass boat with an outboard engine.   Add in multiple persons carrying AK-47s or RPGs and a hooked ladder and you will send chills down the spine of the toughest seaman.  Unfortunately, take away the weapons and boarding ladder and you’re describing typical fishing boats in the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea, Gulf of Oman and Persian Gulf.  Sounds like a recipe for mistaken identity and possibly, disaster. When you say, “Somali pirate mother ship,” many imagine the ubiquitous dhow or trawler.  Add in a couple of skiffs (see above) in tow and you definitely have a suspicious vessel.  The problem is although pirates have used these mother ships effectively – ranging as far as Indian coastal waters, the Gulf of Oman and Mozambique Channel – there are far more non-pirate dhows and trawlers in these waters. Positive Identification and Determining Intent Required Before we get to how to determine the intent of a suspicious vessel, let’s take a look at why positive identification is required.  Since 2000, there have been several well-documented cases of mistaken identity with tragic results. USS Cole : October 12, 2000 : While in port at Aden, Yemen for refueling, the U.S. Navy destroyer was approached by a small boat.  The USS Cole was equipped with an arsenal of lethal force, but had no way of identifying an approaching small boat as being an explosives-laden suicide bomber.  The resulting explosion caused the death of 17 U.S. Navy sailors, injury of 39 sailors and over $250 million in damage to the ship.   MV Global Patriot : March 24, 2008 : This containership was approaching the Suez Canal northbound from the Red Sea.  As the vessel was under charter to the U.S. Military Sealift Command, a U.S. Navy security detachment was embarked on the vessel.  As is typical in this area, numerous small boats approached the Global Patriot, trying to sell cigarettes and souvenirs.  Despite being warned off by flares, one boat continued to approach.  The security team claimed they fired “warning shots” at this point, but in the aftermath, one Egyptian was dead and three injured. FV Ekawat Nava 5 : November 18, 2008 : In route to Yemen with fishing supplies onboard, this Thai trawler was hijacked by Somali pirates.  Shortly thereafter, the Indian Navy frigate INS Tabar approached, demanding that the “mother ship” stop and be boarded.  Despite attempts to use the crew as human shields, the trawler was fired on and destroyed by the Indian Navy vessel.  Of the sixteen-man crew, only one survivor was found. MT Enrica Lexie : February 15, 2012 : While in route to Fujairah, UAE, the Italian-flagged tanker was transiting some 22 nautical miles off the coast of India when it had a close encounter with an Indian fishing boat.  Whether the fishing vessel was making way or drifting is unclear, but it somehow came within 100 meters of the tanker.  This caused the security team onboard the tanker to fire “warning shots” at the fishing boat.  Of the eleven Indian fisherman onboard the boat, two were killed.  Initial reports indicate that a scaled EOF was not used contrary to guidance from the IMO. Sorting Out the Pirates From the Fishermen  / Protecting Yourself During the Attack First, you must have situational awareness.  A few questions can help determine your situation.
  1. Where am I?  Being in coastal waters (i.e. within 15-20 miles of the coast) and seeing a skiff is far different than being 600 miles offshore and seeing a skiff.
  2. What is the other vessel doing?  Is it approaching me?  Is it drifting?  If the vessel is drifting, maybe a course change by your vessel will open the distance or failing that, prove that the boat wants to approach.
  3. What can you see in, on or around the other vessel?  Are they towing skiffs?  Can you see fishing buoys in the water?
  4. What do the small boats in this area normally do?  This is a much more difficult question if you are new to the area, but one which senior officers should be able to answer.
In any situation, positive identification of intent is critical.   The US Navy employs an LRAD Second, you must have procedures in place for determining intent.  Remember those procedures everyone drilled until they were thoroughly familiar?  This is where they are implemented.  As part of a layered anti-piracy defense strategy, a Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD) will provide captain and crew time and distance to distinguish between piracy threats and fishermen. When a vessel’s crew spots a suspicious vessel and attempts to contact it by radio fail, initiating LRAD’s alert tone followed by a multi-language warning broadcast provide the first step in a scaled EOF. This critical first step in the EOF can be taken with LRAD at over 3000 meters  (1.5 nautical miles) – significantly greater than the range of small arms or rocket propelled grenades (RPGs). If the verbal warnings are ignored and the threatening vessel continues to close, the powerful LRAD deterrent tone can be used to delay the attack and allow the ship’s crew time to take shelter in the citadel while the armed security prepares their full suite of non-lethal and lethal responses. Many times, when LRAD is used at a distance, the threatening vessel withdraws after concluding that their target is well prepared and potentially carrying armed security.  By portraying a “hard target,” vessels can often discourage pirates, causing them to seek out a “soft target” elsewhere.  If armed security guards are aboard, a scaled EOF must be conducted in accordance with RUF or the contact definitively identified as hostile prior to opening fire and using lethal force. Every watch officer needs to be knowledgeable about the initial actions to take in a piracy situation. LRAD – Proven at Sea Since 2005, LRAD systems have proven to be an integral tool in a scaled EOF protocol, starting with the thwarted attack on the cruise ship Seabourn Spirit.  The use of LRAD as a deterrent in the Horn of Africa region continued with its use by a Japanese Navy destroyer in preventing the hijacking of a Singaporean tanker in April 2009. Aboard USNS Lewis and Clark in May 2009, verbal warnings delivered by LRAD and evasive maneuvering proved successful when two skiffs approached with ill intent. Capt. Steve Kelley, Commander, Task Force 53 commented on the foiled pirate attack, “The actions taken by Lewis and Clark were exactly what the U.S. Navy has been recommending to prevent piracy attacks – for both commercial and military vessels.” After the well publicized attempted hijacking of Maersk Alabama in April 2009, the vessel was equipped with LRAD systems.  In November 2009, LRADs were used to successfully deter a pirate attack, along with other defensive measures.  Maersk Alabama has had various opportunities to prove the LRAD systems place in a scaled EOF protocol again, while successfully repelling multiple piracy attempts in 2010 and 2011. “Due to Maersk Alabama following maritime industry’s best [anti-piracy] practices such as embarking security teams, the ship was able to prevent being successfully attacked by pirates,” said Navy Vice Admiral William E. Gortney, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command and U.S. 5th Fleet. “This is a great example of how merchant mariners can take proactive action to prevent being attacked, and why we recommend that ships follow industry best practices if they’re in high-risk areas.” In late January 2011, the South Korean Navy used LRAD during their successful rescue of the Norwegian-owned, South Korean-operated chemical tanker, Samho Jewelry. The South Korean Navy deployed LRAD to alert the hijacked crew of the rescue operation and to broadcast warnings to the pirates that had seized the ship. During the same month, the luxury cruise liner, Spirit of Adventure, deployed LRAD as part of their measures to thwart a pirate attack in the Indian Ocean. Protecting Yourself After An Attack There may well come a time when all the preparation and non-lethal defenses fail to deter a pirate attack and lethal force is employed.  When that time comes, a vessel can expect a full investigation into the incident at their next port.  This investigation might be by the ship’s flag state or by the nation in whose waters the incident occurred. During this investigation, many questions will be asked about the chain of events and actions taken, particularly if lethal action was taken causing death or injury.  It is at this point that LRAD will continue to prove its worth and potentially keep the captain and security guards out of prison and the shipping company from significant corporate and financial liability. LRAD, being an audible deterrent, works in concert with the vessels existing voyage data recorder (VDR), which provides a time stamped record of all audio on the vessel’s bridge and bridge wings.  This audio recording, along with the other information captured by the VDR such as the radar screen image, will show at what distance non-lethal action was initiated and demonstrate the scaled escalation of force that was implemented. Preventing Piracy Through Preparation The violence directed towards mariners held hostage is rapidly escalating, as is the average ransom for a pirated vessel.  With piracy in the Indian Ocean and Horn of Africa continuing, and piracy increasing off the West coast of Africa, this threat to commercial mariners is not going away for the foreseeable future.  Therefore, the proper outfitting of vessels and development of a scaled EOF/RUF protocol is essential. Not only are these protocols essential for the protection of vessels from piracy, but also for the protection of mariners and shipping companies from both civil and criminal liability. LRAD is an essential capability in both of these critical areas.  It has proven its value operationally many times and, to date, no U.S. Navy ship or commercial maritime vessel equipped with LRAD systems have been involved in any accidental shooting incidents.  LRAD systems continue to save lives on both sides of the Long Range Acoustic Device.   Captain Richard Madden is a maritime consultant and SUNY Maritime graduate with over 20 years of industry experience.  He holds a USCG Unlimited Master’s license and has sailed on government vessels, offshore towing vessels, tankers, container ships, coastal towing and general cargo vessels.  He has extensive, first-hand, anti-piracy experience while operating in the Gulf of Aden/Horn of Africa (GOA/HOA) area.  

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  4. HMS Monmouth and Royal Marines Thwart Pirate Attack
  5. ONI Alert: Pirate Attack Group Located in central Arabian Sea
Tagged with: anti-piracy About The Author

gCaptain Staff

gCaptain is the top-visited maritime and offshore industry news blog in the world. Since 2006, gCaptain has proven to be a highly effective platform for information sharing and source for up-to-date and relevant news for industry professionals worldwide. If you enjoyed this article, please share it!   Will it be Transocean to the Rescue, or Perhaps Rowan? Total Considers Options at Elgin North Sea Oil Market Largely Unfazed by Elgin and Franklin Shutdown  
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