Maritime lawyer recommends blockade of Somalia
The United States should consider blockading Somali ports if it wants to stop piracy in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean, an independent admiralty lawyer said Wednesday
'The Department of State ought to go to the U.N. and propose a protectorate of Somali waters where we'd begin to run their exclusive economic zone (offshore), where we'd set up checkpoints,' said Mark Tempest, at a conference on piracy held by the U.S. Naval Institute in Annapolis, Md.
'If you're going to leave a Somali port, we're going to look your boat over and make sure you're not carrying ladders and RPGs (rocket-propelled grenades),' said Tempest, who writes a maritime security blog for the institute.
Boats that fail to check in would get quickly visited by an armed helicopter and instructed to turn back or face the consequences, he said.
Tempest said British, Turkish and Dutch forces have recently taken military action close to shore and sunk some small pirate boats.
Stephen Carmel, senior vice president for Maersk Line Ltd., cautioned that fencing off the Somali coastline is easier said than done. Somalia's coast is equivalent to the distance from the tip of Maine to Jacksonville, Fla.
'That takes a lot of ships to blockade. And an awful lot of hardware is going to be used up in that mission for a long time,' he said. The U.S. Navy may not be willing to divert so many resources to such an exercise when it has its hands full with other critical missions around the world.
Maersk Line Ltd. operates some ships in the region carrying U.S. military cargo and World Food Program aid.
Pirate activity has picked up again off the Somali Coast in recent weeks following the end of the monsoon season when rough waters make it difficult to operate small attack boats. During the first three quarters of 2010, pirates based in Somalia have attacked 127 ships and successfully hijacked 35, according to the International Maritime Bureau. ' Eric Kulisch