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February 19, 2010

NATO issues new piracy warning

NATO maritime commander, Admiral Sir Trevor Soar today warned seafarers sailing through the Gulf of Aden of the danger of complacency towards pirate attacks.

"Whilst NATO, her maritime partners and other navies are working hard conducting counter-piracy patrols, ships' masters have to accept personal responsibility for the safety of their crew and should have in place the recommended self-protection measures against pirate attacks," said Admiral Soar, who is based at NATO's maritime HQ in Northwood, London.

Self-protection "Best Management Practices'"for maritime shipping have been in place for 12 months. They advise, amongst other things, that vessels that sail through the Gulf of Aden transit within the Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor (IRTC)-- a sea corridor which is patrolled by warships from NATO, the EU Naval Force (EUNAVFOR) and the Combined Maritime Force (CMF) and other maritime nations.

Vessels are also advised not to travel at low speeds or give pirates easy access by leaving ropes or boarding ladders hanging over the side. Larger ships are advised to have water cannons rigged and razor sharp wire around their structure to prevent pirates climbing onboard.

All international vessels transiting the area are encouraged to register with the UK's Maritime Trade Organization (UKMTO), based in Dubai and the EU's Maritime Security Center Horn of Africa (MSCHOA), London. so that their transits can be monitored and any incidents quickly reported by the master of the vessel.

"Since the NATO mission started, there has been a 50 percent drop in piracy incidents in the Gulf of Aden, but there is still a need for vigilance. The monsoon period is due to end and over the next few weeks we may well see a rise in pirate gangs attempting to hijack vulnerable ships". Admiral Soar stated.

Meantime MSCHOA issued an alert warning that a skiff had been spotted at 15:56:24 GMT today at position 1343N - 04822E course N at 10 kts. The skiff had seven persons on board and a ladder. MSCHOA warned that there are indications that the skiff, which has red, white and blue stripes is used for piracy and advised that vessels should consider staying clear of the area.


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