News / Africa

US Admiral: Commercial Ships Need Armed Guards to Fight Pirates

Admiral Mark Fitzgerald during his VOA interview, 21 Apr 2010
Admiral Mark Fitzgerald during his VOA interview, 21 Apr 2010
Meredith Buel

U.S. Admiral Mark Fitzgerald says commercial ships in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean should carry armed guards to help defend against Somali pirates.

"The area is enormous and we just do not have enough assets to cover every place in the Indian Ocean," said Fitzgerald, who commands U.S. Naval Forces in Europe and Africa.

While trying to open a corridor through the Gulf of Aden, some of the pirates have been forced into the Indian Ocean as far away as the Seychelles.

"There has got to be security on these ships in my opinion," said Fitzgerald. "Those security detachments that are on some of the large commercial ships have been very effective.  It is up to the commercial industry to figure out how to deal with this.  But I do not think that we can give them a 100 percent guarantee that we can protect them, nor should we."

Somali pirates have stepped up hijacking attacks in recent months, making tens of millions of dollars in ransom by seizing ships, including oil tankers, despite the presence of dozens of foreign naval vessels. They have been particularly active in recent weeks, and now hold about 20 ships with hundreds of crew members.

The U.S. Navy says it has five to 10 ships, ranging from speed boats to frigates, involved in counter-piracy efforts off the coast of East Africa.

Fitzgerald says Somalis enriched by piracy are buying up properties in the Kenyan cities of Nairobi and Mombassa, as well as in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  He says the international community must organize a joint campaign to crack down on those who finance the pirates.

"We really need to go after, in my opinion, the money, the logistics, how are they being supported with ships, fuel, those kinds of things," he said. "And we really need the rule of law piece to be fixed so that when we do catch these pirates, we are able to bring them to justice."

The admiral says it is difficult to find countries willing to prosecute the pirates.

He says the U.S. State and Justice departments are working on a plan to prosecute pirates being held on board Navy ships.

The United States and international partners are helping to train African navies through what are called African Partnership Stations.  According to Admiral Fitzgerald, the program focuses on enforcing a country's laws in its own waters.  

"It is a lot cheaper and a lot more constructive to train the allies how to do the job and let them enforce their own territorial seas, their own economic exclusion zone, than for us to have to come down there in a shooting war," said Admiral Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald says it is unrealistic to expect a stable government in Somalia anytime soon, so there needs to be a stronger international effort to address the piracy problem.

The admiral cautions that naval patrols alone will not solve the dilemma because calmer waters are now allowing the pirates to operate thousands of kilometers off the African coast.

You May Like

Polls Open in Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid