U.S. Navy Forms Pirate Defense Force in Gulf of Aden

January 8, 2009

The U.S. Navy has created a special unit, called Combined Task Force 151, to combat piracy in the Gulf of Aden, according to CNN and other news sources. The Navy's move is in response to increased pirate attacks in the area off Somalia's coast -- including a failed attack on a cruise ship, Oceania's Nautica -- that led to the U.N. Security Council passing a resolution allowing nations to take stricter measures against pirates in this region.

The United States' pirate-fighting naval unit was formed from an existing force in the area that was guarding against drug and weapons trafficking and will begin operations in mid-January. The U.S. hopes other nations will join together in a coalition of navies; other countries independently attacking piracy in the Gulf of Aden include Germany, China, India, Iran and Russia. The goal of the U.S. unit will be to deter and disrupt pirate activity; the force does not, however, have the authority to strike at pirate vessels out to sea or pirate bases ashore, as reported by the Associated Press.

Since pirate attacks have increased near Somalia, several cruise lines, including Hapag-Lloyd, Peter Deilmann and Plantours & Partner, have altered itineraries so passengers would not have to travel through this dangerous region. Cruise lines with ships still scheduled to sail through the Gulf of Aden include Royal Caribbean, P&O Cruises and Azamara Cruises.

--by Erica Silverstein, Associate Editor

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