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Monday, March 7, 2011

USS Bulkeley secures MV Guanabara – Piracy off Oman – what is Tupi Gurani ?

Perhaps Piracy is  at its ugly  peak now – unlike most other crimes, maritime piracy is not simply a trafficking issue – it is not movement of illegal goods, contrabands or something else but it is one of violence, that too organised one against proper legal logistics.  Though it is not restricted to a single area, Somalia piracy is in news again and again. Two groups one based at Puntland and other in the south-central Mudug province have been giving sleepless nights to traders and sailors around the globe.

The fall of dictator who ruled for 22 years has brought in chaos not only for the land but for the globe.  Mohamed Siad Barre was the military dictator who was the President of Somali Democratic Republic from 1969 to 1991.  Somalia attained independence in 1960 and the Barre lead military came to power.  He tried his hand in reforms and even introduced a new writing script for the Somali language.  Military and civil service spanned to rural areas to educate nomadics.  After the collapse of the regime the country effectively split into 3 and the transitional Federal Govt no longer has full control of its sovereign territory.

Somalians claim that the piracy is a fall out of the victimisation of local fisher folk in the war to protect their territorial waters being exploited by international fishing companies taking over the tuna rich region covertly.  Over a period of time, the political aim stands forsaken for monetary gains and their regime of coast line attack seemingly is increasing ever.    Besides the operation from forested inlets and islands, Somali pirates have on land sanctuaries from where they are able to negotiate and receive huge ransoms. The huge stash of dirty money will only harm their economy further is the sad news.  

Piracy, the modern war of armed hoodlums in small numbers is threatening the shipping industry.  The no. of ships captured is on the increase – it is not only the ship and laden cargo – not only the delay and loss of control and loss of regular operations and money flow – it has a human angle – that of hundreds of sailors whose life is under threat and the sad plight of families of such sailors – uncertainty of their existence and the psychological plight  - all cannot be narrated to be understood.  

There have been international efforts to counter piracy which includes flotilla of warships and aircraft patrolling the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean.  With all this, a Japanese owned merchant vessel in the somali basin MV Guanabara was reportedly under attack at around 328 NM south east of Duqm, Oman but fortunately was saaved by CMF which also secured the release of the vessel alongwith its 24 crew members from four suspected pirates.
USS Bulkeley 

It was CMF Warship USS  Bulkeley (DDG 84) which secured the release after it was directed to intercept and was  supported by the Turkish warship TCG Giresun of NATO’s counter-piracy Task Force 508.  The master of the vessel Guanabara had confirmed that pirates were on board and his crew had taken refuge.  USS Bulkeley’s team supported by SH 60 helicopter secured the vessel detaining the captors.  Reportedly there was no exchange of fire anytime during the operation.    CMF is a multi-national naval partnership existing to promote security stability and prosperity across the international waters in the middle East.  In accordance with United Nations Security Council Resolutions, and in cooperation with non-member forces, CMF’s mission is to disrupt piracy and armed robbery at sea and to engage with regional and other partners to build capacity and improve relevant capabilities in order to protect global maritime commerce and secure freedom of navigation.

Combined Task Force 150 is  a multinational coalition task force for fighting Somali piracy by establishing a Maritime Security Patrol Area (MSPA) within the Gulf of Aden.  It comes a great relief that US & Turkish combine could secure the japanese owned oil tanker in such a short time after it was attacked by Pirates around 3 pm on Mar 5th 2011.  

The saviour  USS Bulkeley (DDG-84) is an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer in the United States Navy. She was named after Vice Admiral John D. Bulkeley, who was a World War II Medal of Honor receipient.  Bulkeley was laid down on 10 May 1999 by Ingalls Shipbuilding and launched on 21 June 2000 in Pascagoula, Mississippi. She was commissioned on 8 December 2001 and is currently homeported at Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia.   John Duncan Bulkeley  was a Vice Admiral in United States Navy known for his action in WW II.

Though unconnected, the State of Guanabara was a former Brazilian state that existed from 1960 to 1975.  It was named after the guanabara bay, an oceanic bay located in southeastern Brazil.  It is part of Rio de Janeiro now.  The bay is 31 km long and 28 km wide at its maximum and derives names from language Tupi-Guarrani which includes 50 languages of which Guarani and Tupi also form part of.  

Regards – S. Sampathkumar

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