Finally, an International Naval Pirate Mission

Le Ponant with pirates on board - hijacked in April this year
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After months of talking, following the United Nations edict to allow foreign ships to pursue pirates in Somali waters, it seems likely there will be an EU headed deployment of ships headed for Somalia in December - just in time for next year's raft of cruising yachts headed for the Red Sea. Climate dictates that yachts which want to transit the Red Sea normally begin their journey in February.

A total of four ships have been hijacked in the waters off Somalia in 48 hours, a record number that has prompted the launch of the naval mission to recover the vessels, reports Reuters.

One Iranian and one Japanese vessel, as well as one German-operated cargo ship were all seized on Thursday, Aug. 22. A Malaysian oil tanker was hijacked the previous day.

Noel Choong of the International Maritime Bureau said on Friday that the naval force based in the region is monitoring the movement of the vessels, which appeared heading toward Somali territorial water. 'A naval coalition warship has been sent to the area,' Choong added. Naval forces from the United States, France, Germany, Pakistan, Britain and Canada are operating in the Gulf region.

The waves of crime at sea have sparked concern worldwide and the European Union is planning a naval deployment to the Horn of Africa. German marines will reportedly take part in the mission, reports AP. According to Thomas Raabe, spokesperson for German Minister of Defense Franz Josef Jung, Germany's involvement is 'highly likely.' The deployment is slated for December.

Preparations on an EU level are currently underway for the EU-spearheaded deployment and France and Spain are also expected to play a significant role.

The four ships hijacked on Wednesday and Thursday had a total of 96 crew members on board. IMB have reported 24 attacks on vessels there between April and June this year.

Two known attacks on yachts have occurred, one on a luxury French yacht, the crew being held for a week before being released after a ransom was paid. The second attack was on a German cruising yacht. In this incident, the yacht was abandoned and the two German nationals kidnapped and held for 41 days in the highlands of Somalia before being released. A ransom was also paid in this instance.

Many yachts currently in Asia and the Pacific and wanting to reach the Mediterranean in the coming season will be watching for developments before deciding whether to take the longer route around the Cape of Good Hope.