US, British forces rescue Italian ship from Somali pirates
The Italian crew steered the hijacked ship toward awaiting NATO forces in the Indian Ocean. Eleven Somali pirates were captured.
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"The operating area of Somali pirates is a zone through which passes a third of the West's oil and 20 percent of other cargo, it is a zone of primary economic importance," said shipowners federation president Paolo d'Amico.Skip to next paragraph
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Somali pirates, operating from the shores of the lawless state in the Horn of Africa, have raked in millions of dollars a year in ransoms from scores of hijacked ships from around the world, including oil super tankers.
"We do indeed want more governments to deploy armed military guards on merchant ships whilst they are transiting the high risk piracy area," he said.
"The Italian move is an example to other governments of the need to take this issue very seriously indeed. This year alone 400 seafarers have been held hostage by Somali pirates, and 15 have lost their lives."
Some 24 Italian ships have been hijacked this year in the area compared to 31 last year but the high season for piracy is about to begin after the end of the monsoon.
Last month the shipping industry called on the United Nations to create an armed military force to be deployed on vessels to counter the escalating menace from armed seaborne gangs.
While there has been a growing acceptance of using armed security guards, sovereign military forces are preferred by the shipping industry because they have clearer rules of engagement and the reduced risk of legal issues in the event of fatalities.
Negotiations often take many months before hijacked ships and crews are released for ransom. The Socotra 1, a Yemeni-owned ship, was seized on Christmas Day 2009 and is still being held.
The Montecristo left Liverpool on September 20 heading for Vietnam, and passed through the Suez canal at the beginning of October. It was escorted by a Japanese warship -- part of an international anti-piracy force in the area -- as it crossed the Gulf of Aden.
While naval patrols, including vessels from the European Union, the United States and other nations such as South Korea, Iran and Turkey, have curbed the number of attacks in the Gulf of Aden, piracy in the Indian Ocean has continued to rise due to the vast tracts of water involved, which represent a huge logistical challenge for foreign navies.