Piracy off the coast of Somalia escalated in 2008, causing a significant disruption to the world’s marine transportation system and endangering the life of many merchant mariners. As part of the Maritime Administration action plan for addressing piracy off the Horn of Africa, pertinent information is consolidated and shared for easy access to the current status of pirates in the region and tips on how to deal with a possible encounter. The information is intended to assist ship owners, operators, and other maritime industry representatives to be prepared to prevent seajackings. A big part of this effort has been led by NATO in Operation Ocean Shield, which is in turn forms part of the bigger U.S. military-led Operation Enduring Freedom – Horn of Africa (OEF-HOA).
OEF-HOA is the military operation defined by the United States as combating militant Islamism and piracy in the Horn of Africa. Ocean Shield is in turn NATO’s contribution to OEF-HOA, as an anti-piracy initiative in the Indian Ocean approved by the North Atlantic Council in 2009. As part of the NATO team, the Royal Danish Air Force has provided the aerial reconnaissance necessary to identify and engage suspected pirates before they can strike against NATO interests. By all appearances, the Dutch have become NATO’s Pirate Hunters.