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Official: German, Japanese Forces to Evaluate Tanker Hijacked by Somali Pirates

International forces are set to assess the situation of an oil tanker allegedly seized by Somali pirates on Monday, a U.S. defense official told USNI News on Tuesday.

German and Japanese military aircraft will be dispatched to see the condition of Aris 13 and its crew, a United Arab Emirates-owned bunkering tanker that was seized off of Puntland region sometime on Monday, the official said. As of Tuesday morning, there were no plans to task additional U.S. forces to the region.

News reports place the ship at anchor off the town of Alula off the Gulf of Aden. The Associated Press quoted an official from the semi-autonomous Puntland region who said, “over two dozen men boarded the ship off Somalia’s northern coast, an area known to be used by weapons smugglers and members of the al-Qaida-linked extremist group al-Shabab.”

The hijackers have turned off the tankers locator beacon making keeping track of the ship harder for international anti-piracy forces.

The Sri Lankan government confirmed eight of its sailors were aboard the ship, according to a report in the BBC.

If the ship was indeed hijacked it would be the first time a commercial ship was taken by pirates in the region since 2012.

Retired Rear Adm. Terry McKnight, who first commanded the U.S.-led Combined Task Force 151 from 2008 to 2009 during the height of the Somali pirate crisis and author of the book Pirate Alley, told USNI News on Wednesday that reduction in military forces focused on an anti-piracy mission increased the risk for commercial traffic.

“With no successful piracy attacks since 2012, NATO terminated Ocean Shield on Dec. 15, 2016,” he said.
“With less forces to patrol over a million square miles of ocean in the Gulf of Aden, the door is open for more piracy attacks.”

Additionally, McKnight said a lack of a Somali coast guard and the lack of work opportunities for young men are still lingering problems that could also lead to a rise in piracy.

“Somalia is still a very poor country. They will always look for ways to make money and with over 20,000 vessels passing through the Gulf of Aden each year ships are primed for the taking,” he said.
“No matter how much success we have at sea preventing piracy, the real problem is still how we prevent piracy from Somalia.”


  • old guy

    How, in reason’s name could these pirates board a tanker whose deck is 40 feet above the waterline? Helicopter, ladders, catapult. It seems to me that one .30 caliber machine gun and a box of grenades would, handily defeat the boarders, orc am I missing something?

    • graylens

      What you are missing is the fear that the oil tanker cos. have of being sued or facing criminal charges for self defense against the pirates. Also the mistaken (stupid) idea that violence will only encourage more violence. Piracy used to be a capital crime with proper punishment.

      One of these days the pirates will branch out and get a cruise ship

      • old guy

        I haden’t thought about the cruise ship aspect. Scary. I hope the crews are armed. I do know, in detail about the 1804 defeat of the Navy by the swarm of pirate Dhows. I have long campaigned on this point. It was when the Marines were put ashore that the pirates were obliterated. You know,”……..’to the shores of Tripoli.
        “Old techniques, new application.

        • Adam

          Great point old guy. I recently read “Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates: The Forgotten War That Changed American History” by Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger (2015). It’s a good book and it is amazing how we are still fighting the same enemies and ideologies now as we were back at the birth of our nation. I wish more people, politicians especially, knew our history better as we seemed doomed to repeat our failures.

          • old guy

            AMEN. The Kilmeade book is great, but it does not stress, enough, the resistance, at that time, to any action to anger the Barbary pirates. Instead of demanding an unconditional surrender, we withdrew as soon as they stopped. We should have gone in and incarcerated, or executed, EVERY potentate that caused US sailor deaths. We could have put an end to Moslem expansion then and there.
            I guess it was just an early form of “rules of engagement”?

  • Eyes open

    OK. I understand that the shipping companies do not want to spend the money for armed guards but how about a series of high pressure steam nozzles that will flush anybody off of the side as they try to climb up?

    And getting sued by criminals committing a crime? That only happens in the US!

  • John B. Morgen

    Deploying the USS America or small type aircraft carriers, along with a frigate squadron would be ideal for confronting pirates in the region. Such a naval force could be stationed in a Kenyan port, if Kenya would allow such a deployment.

    • Donald Carey

      The only “small type” aircraft carriers the USN has are amphibious force ships. With the proper load-out of aircraft that would be all that would be needed. Forget Midway sized, conventional powered ships – they would be a total waste of money.

      • John B. Morgen

        We have been over this issue before, again, smaller aircraft carriers is the prudent means to build aircraft carriers with the shortest amount of time, which means more hulls are deployed; plus, more power projections from afar, not including the amphibious LHAs or LHDs. An improved Midway class aircraft carrier would make the an idea class design template for building smaller CVs. Building one $13 billion USD, USS Gerald R. Ford class (CVN-78) is a waste of funds.

        • Donald Carey

          I realize your mind has been long made up (feelings over facts, perhaps), but I will reply for the sake of any others who might read this thread.
          Don’t take this personally, but, for an alleged expert, you are woefully misguided.
          Here are the facts:
          The U.S. Navy builds supercarriers for two reasons: 1 – Because they are the most effective and 2 – because they can.
          Other countries don’t build supercarriers not because they don’t want to, but because they cannot.
          It is very simple, really.

          • John B. Morgen

            Here you go again, showing your inept bias of understanding naval policy and how it shapes foreign policy. You’re stuck in a rut in regards of a premise based on the United States Navy cannot conduct operations without having super aircraft carriers (CVB)[N]; moreover, the Fleet is vastly inferior in regards to the number’s game; and that is, we have fewer carriers that might have to fight in too many theaters of operations if a major war were to breakout. Smaller carriers cost less than super aircraft carriers, which means more hulls can be deployed a lot faster than waiting for the next availability of a super aircraft carrier. However, your logic does not make any sense because super aircraft carriers costs are unnecessary to build. The United States Navy had the very same problem during World War II, which it was resolved by converting 9 light cruisers of the Cleveland class into light aircraft carriers (CVLs); and it worked—really.

          • Donald Carey

            Again, your bias (small CV fanboy), shows. The Cleveland conversions were far from ideal, even the improved version (the Saipan class), were unsatisfactory. While I agree we need more CV’s, a bunch of small, fragile, conventionally powered el-cheapo’s with tiny air wings is not the answer. If anything was learned in WW-II, it was that sending forces in penny-packets only succeeded in producing casulties.
            On another subject, if you are such an expert and educator, why don’t you become an editor on Wikipedia? Like it or not, E-resources are the wave of the future – a true educator would jump in.

  • xxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx

    Some countries will not allow ships into there ports with weapons on board even under customs seal in a locked safe.

    There are lots of rules in ports about not having guns – most of that is
    because people don’t want guns moving in or out of their country – even
    legal ones. The risk of arms smuggling or fights breaking out at the
    port between armed sailors etc. far outweighed the value guns – which
    was none. Times change, laws may need to change to keep up with it.

  • Donald Carey

    Your view is just that, your view. 50-60 K ton CV’s aren’t going to be built for the U.S. Navy now or in the forseeable future.

    Your design reminds me of some I have seen in hobby publications back in the 1950’s – for a supposed expert to propose it is ludicrous. Hull-mounted ASW torps? That’s what you put on ASW helocopters, 6.1 inch guns? Is it going to be providing artillery support for the Marines? I could go on.

    As for Wikipedia verses your highfalutin, college student/professor only, pay-for view sites, Wikipedia has them all beat by a mile. If you would drop your prejudice and give Wikipedia a fair look you might be suprised. Remember, if you are really such a scholor, you could be an editor there. Oh, you only work for pay – excuses, excuses. Chicken seems more like it to me.

    (You couldn’t be an empty wind-bag, could you?)

    • John B. Morgen

      I hate to bust your bubble of reality, but the United States Navy has already built such an aircraft carrier, and has already deployed her. She is the USS America (LHA-6), although she is not really a full-fledged amphibious assault ship; she could carry 1,687 troops if needed. She is a concept prototype for future smaller aircraft carriers, maybe the next small carrier will be 60,000 tons. The matter of having smaller carriers than building anymore super aircraft carriers has been mentioned in the USNI Proceedings journal for several times.

      As for you Donald Carey, you really do not know much about warships or naval architecture, or naval history. Let me enlighten you. Both the USS America (CV(A)-66), and the USS John F. Kennedy (CV(A)-67) were mounted with a bow SQS-23 sonar, however, in addition, eight Essex class ASW aircraft carriers were also mounted with SQS-23 or the SQS-26 bow sonars. In fact, during the 1960’s the United States Navy was about to build an ASW class carrier from keel up, and mounted with a bow sonar; furthermore, the carrier would have been around 60,000 tons.

      As for Wikipedia, my comments about it still stands. I hope you are not planning to go college, and major in history because you are going to have many clashes with your professors over the issue of using Wikipedia as a source for information…..

      • Donald Carey

        Again with the thinly veiled insults – your arrogance seems to be only equaled by your lack of reading comprehension. Nowhere did I mention sonar, I had issue with your hull-mounted torpedoes, which haven’t been used in many years (except for subs, of course). Surface vessels in the U.S. Navy that do have torpedoes have them deck mounted, not in tubes below the water-line. In any case, an aircraft carrier should never be close enough to an enemy sub to use ship-mounted torpedoes (except, perhaps for long-range rocket launched). As for your paper ASW CV, it was never built (just like a lot of other unworkable fantasies that have been designed over the years), and is therefore irrelevant.

        The LHA’s are not the ships you want (overgrown Essex types), they are meant for amphibious assault. If you really are an expert, you would already know that future builds will revert to a well deck design – so much for your theory.

        As for going to college, I already did that and graduated, too, but not in history. I took a major that had good job potential, Pharmacy (not that I don’t think history is important, but the job market for historians sucks).

        My comments about Wikipedia still stand – your tiny sites (which no one has ever heard of and you have not named), can’t hold a candle to it. Again, you speak from profound ignorance.

  • Donald Carey

    My reply (which was NOT a diatribe), never disputed any sonar dome, but I guess you missed that. As for Jane’s (note correct placement of the apostrophe), it is now also going digital, which will enhance it’s ability to correct mistakes (not always their fault, some governments do try to deceive). As for Wikipedia, I never said it was my only source – I do have a library of books on naval history and ship design, many purchased from the Institute.

    At any rate, your attitude towards me tells me that when your mind (such as it is), is made up, trivial things like facts are meaningless. Therefore, I am ending this conversation as I have better things to do.