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US Navy Rescues 13 Iranians from Somali Pirates January 6, 2012

Posted by Chris Mark in Industry News, Piracy & Maritime Security.
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In a move that illustrates the brotherhood of the sea and the disdain for piracy wherever it may be, the US rescued 13 Iranian sailors who had been kidnapped by Somali Pirates.  According to MSNBC, a helicopter from the USS John C. Stennis, responding to a distress call from a merchant ship under attack, chased the pirates to their “mother ship”.  The mothership was an Iranian flagged dhow that had been hijacked earlier.  A counterpiracy team from the USS Kidd then boarded the mothership where they found 15 armed pirates and the 13 Iranian crewmen. The pirates were taken into custody and the Iranians were released in their dhow.  Interestingly, the USS John C. Stennis is the same carrier that Iran had threatened to never allow back into the Persian Gulf.   It is a good day that the Iranian sailors are headed back to their families.

Italian Tanker Hijacked off Oman December 28, 2011

Posted by Chris Mark in Industry News, Piracy & Maritime Security.
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An Italian tanker carrying caustic soda was hijacked early Tuesday near Oman.  The ship was carrying 18 people including 6 Italians, 5 Ukrainians, and 7 Indians.   The ship, which wasn’t named, is owned by Manarvi.

Recommended Book: Pirate State; Inside Somalia’s Terrorism at Sea December 19, 2011

Posted by Chris Mark in Piracy & Maritime Security, Uncategorized.
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Occasionally I will read a book that I think is worth recommending on this blog.  I recently finished Peter Eichstaedt‘s Pirate State; Inside Somalia’s Terrorism at Sea and believe that this is a book that all maritime security professionals with a focus on Africa should read.  Compared to many books on Somali piracy it is an objective look at the state of piracy and what fuels the piracy problem in both Somalia as well as the Niger Delta.  The author discusses the influence of foreign nations, organized crime, over fishing, and other aspect that are at least partly to blame for the issues in Somalia and the Niger Delta which gave rise to piracy.  It  is an easy read and provides some very interesting statistics and facts. You can order the book from Amazon.com at this link.

CyberSecurity & Piracy December 17, 2011

Posted by Chris Mark in InfoSec & Privacy, Piracy & Maritime Security, Uncategorized.
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This past summer I was interviewed by Maritime Executive on the topic of CyberPiracy.  The article discussed the need for increased information assurance practices among shipping companies.  As shipping companies increasingly turn to armed guards and ships increasingly adopt BMP4, hijackings have decreased.  In response the pirates, and those who fund and support the pirates, are looking for new ways to increase their likelihood of successfully hijacking a ship while minimizing the risk to the pirates.  Increasingly, pirates are turning to high tech, and not so high tech, solutions.  It is an established fact that pirates are using information found on the AIS system as well as GPS and satellite phones to locate and coordinate attacks.  Now information is coming forward that the pirates groups are using sources within ports, and shipping companies to identify those vessels that they want to attack.  It has been reported that hackers are being employed to steal data related to cargo as well as the user of armed guards.  While this topic is too broad to discuss in a blog post, I will begin posting a series of articles on cyber security and steps shipping companies can take to minimize the risk of their data being compromised.

This past Fall, I had the opportunity to speak at Hanson Wade anti-piracy event in London.  If you have not attended a Hanson Wade event, they are very worthwhile.  I have spoken at literally scores of events over the past 10 years and few, if any, were as well organized.  The next event is scheduled for April, 2012 in Hamburg Germany.  As luck would have it they have a section on CyberSecurity.  Take a look and see if it is worth attending..

Bosnia & Scott O’Grady December 2, 2011

Posted by Chris Mark in Uncategorized.
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I recently came across a former Marine Reservist who was claiming to have helped save Captain Scott O’Grady.   To remind everyone, Scott O’Grady was the F16 pilot who was shot down in Bosnia in 1995.  He evaded capture for a week or so and was rescued by the Marines.

I read this bio and thought…”this doesn’t seem right”.  As any military vet from any service can tell you, it is often not too difficult to pick out a fraud.  Anyhow, he claims to have helped save Scott O’Grady in 1995 while with the 22 Marine Expeditionary Unit, Special Operations Capable (MEU SOC).  Here is where the story breaks down.

Marines deploy in MEUs.   In short, a battalion of Marines and their support will jump on ships and float around either the Mediterranean or Western Pacific (or elsewhere) for about 6 months at a time doing training or supporting missions.  It is a way of life in the Fleet Marine Force.  Your world revolves around ‘floats’.   So, the 22 MEU floated from Oct 20, 1994 – April 15, 1995.  They were replaced by the 24 MEU.  It just so happens that I served with the MEU CO and Battalion SGTMajor in Somalia in the previous deployment of the 24 MEU.  Captain Scott O’Grady was rescued in June, 1995 by the 24 MEU as Colonel Burndt was the CO.  In short, the 22 MEU was back home on leave when Scott O’Grady was rescued.  More bizarre is I have a picture taken in Hawaii while doing amphibious exercises in June, 1995.  I question how he could have been in K Bay with the unit during the day and then rescuing Scott O’Grady in Bosnia at night?  Maybe I am simply not ‘high speed’ enough to understand.

In today’s world, there are many people who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan.  There are others who want to appear ‘larger than life’ and will attempt to embellish their records to achieve some level of ‘credibility’.   Always question the military service of the person with whom you are speaking.  You may find out that it is not quite what has been told.

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