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14 Sep 2009 11:00
International forces patrolling the waters off Somalia are prepared to deal with an expected surge of piracy in the wake of the end of the monsoon season, their top commander says.
United States Navy Rear Admiral Scott Sanders, who commands Combined Task Force (CTF) 151 set up in January, was speaking after the US Department of Transportation Maritime Administration warned last week of a likely increase in piracy.
“We are prepared for a lot of contingencies. We are proactively taking action every day and not waiting for something to happen,” Sanders told the German Press Agency, dpa, by telephone from aboard the USS Anzio as it patrolled the Gulf of Aden Monday.
The Maritime Administration warning urged mariners not surrender at the first sign of a threat, calling on them to travel at “maximum sustainable speed” through “high threat areas”.
According to figures collected by the coalition since January, evasive manoeuvres carried out by ships that came under attack had prevented 88 hijacking attempts by pirates.
The advisory gave information on how to request escort service in a convoy, although the coalition prefers securing a permanent route from the Gulf of Aden up to the east coast of Oman, known as the Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor (IRTC).
“No ship that has travelled through the 600-mile long IRTC had been successfully pirated,” Sanders said.
He added that while convoying was affective, permanent deployment of forces through the IRTC provided better use of resources and protection for more vessels.
Sanders downplayed concerns that major piracy acts could extended into the Gulf, saying it would be very hard for piracy to flourish there because of the presence of solid governance and proper legal systems inland, emphasising that piracy starts on the shore.—Sapa-dpa
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