TDC Security Alert: 20090504

Dynamite found on pirate mothership

Forces from a Portuguese warship seized explosives from suspected Somali pirates after thwarting an attack on the Greek-owned and Bahamian-flagged crude oil tanker Kition late Friday about 100 miles (161 kilometers) north from the Somali coast in the Gulf of Aden.

The suspects fled to a larger pirate mothership without damaging the Kition, but were intercepted by the warship an hour later.

It was the first reported time NATO forces found pirates armed with demolition materials. Found were four sticks of dynamite which can be used to blast open doors, or bulkheads. It was unclear if and how the pirates planned to use the dynamite.

IMB and other guidelines recommend designating a space with locked doors where crews can shelter themselves in the event counter piracy measures fail and armed intruders gain access to the vessel. The seizure of explosives from the group that attacked the MV Kition may indicate the pirates are increasing their capabilities as crews rely on safe shelters as a delaying tactic until help arrives.

TDC Analysis

Pirates possessing demolition material greatly complicates an already difficult situation. Crews can no longer rely on safe havens on board vessels to provide sufficient protection. Dynamite or other explosives detonated on board a vessel can cause casualties, fires and secondary explosions. The use of explosives obviously ups the ante and blows a big hole in the philosophy of allowing pirates to capture crews and hold them for ransom. The only effective shipboard countermeasures to stop pirates from boarding is a well integrated combination of detection, and deterrence using the vessels inherent capabilities combined with less than lethal hailing and warning technology backed up by an armed security force as a last resort.

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