Examination of Witnesses (Question Numbers
Captain David Reindorp RN and Dr Campbell McCafferty
29 June 2011
Q113 Chair: I welcome members
of the public to this sitting of the Foreign Affairs Committee.
We are doing an inquiry into piracy off the coast of Somalia,
and the purpose of today's session is to question MOD officials
and serving officers on the UK's involvement in NATO and the Combined
Task Force counter-piracy operations and its overall counter-piracy
The first two witnesses in this session are
Captain David Reindorp, Head of the Defence Crisis Management
Centre in the MOD, and Dr Campbell McCafferty, Head of Counter-Terrorism
and UK Operational Policy, also MOD. I extend a very warm welcome
to you both. I am very pleased that you have been able to accept
our invitation to come here today. Perhaps you would like to start
by describing what happens in an attack on a ship when pirates
try to take it over. Can you talk us through a situation?
Captain Reindorp: Perhaps I can
start by saying there is no such thing as a standard pirate attack,
so what I will give you is a generic example. Most attacks occur
either from a single skiff, a small vessel, or from two skiffsgenerally
not more than that. Each skiff contains between two and six pirates.
They are armed with a range of weapons, normally small arms, ranging
from the traditional AK47s to RPGs. They will manoeuvre one of
the skiffs to come alongside the vessel and they will throw up
a line on a hook, a grappling rope or some form of apparatus by
which they can climb up on to the freeboard of the ship. If they
are detected during that, they will usually fire at the ship,
generally in and around the bridge, aiming either to get the master
to slow down or to clear their way on to the freeboard. Once they
have got on to the ship, they will proceed to the bridge and take
I think the only other point to bear in mind
is that, although you hear lots of talk about motherships, we
have not yet seen motherships be used in an actual attack. That
is simply because they are not very manoeuvrable and they cannot
get alongside a ship.
Q114 Chair: Is it obvious when
a boat coming alongside is a pirate vessel, or are some of them
Captain Reindorp: As someone who
has been the master of a ship, the captain of a ship, I would
say that you generally know where you expect someone to come alongside
you and where you do not expect that. I would suggest that in
the middle of the Indian Ocean or the Gulf of Aden, you do not
expect it, so yes, to my mind, it would be particularly obvious.
Q115 Chair: So you would be pretty
entitled to treat anyone coming close as suspicious?
Captain Reindorp: There are close
passes. Particularly in that part of the world, there are lots
of small craft around, and they frequently do not get out of your
way, so taking action based on a close pass would perhaps be a
bit too precipitate, but you should certainly not be expected
to ignore it.
Q116 Chair: One of the issues
that we will be looking at when we have had all the evidence is
what reaction there should be from a ship, which is vulnerable,
if a boat is coming alongside. Of course, it would be disastrous
if it was an innocent boat and a counter-attack took place. That
is the problem.
Dr McCafferty, would you like to say anything
on that point? Do not feel obliged to answer every question.
Dr McCafferty: No, I certainly
won't. I think what we demonstrate today is what Lord Levene said
is a closely integrated civ-mil relationship in the Ministry of
Defence, so I will not answer every question. [Interruption.]
I think we might be moving them out of London.
All I would say, Chairman, is that your final
point is exactly correct. The difficulty in identifying a pirate
attack, and separating pirates from fishermen going about their
normal business, is absolutely key to how you deal with piracy
in the Indian Ocean.
Q117 Chair: They are using motherships;
how do we respond to this development? I gather that the three
forces each have a slightly different approach to dealing with
this. What are the guidelines now to ships going through the area
in relation to motherships?
Dr McCafferty: It is all covered
in the best management practices. As Captain Reindorp said, you
will not actually see the motherships do the attacks; it still
remains the skiffs, because of their manoeuvrability. I think
it is fair to say that, as the pirates have changed tactics and
used motherships to get around monsoon seasons and to launch attacks
further out, the international community and the international
navies operating in the Indian Ocean have also changed tactics
and looked to increase the capabilities that they have available
to them, such as increased ability to board what we call complex
shipsships with many deckswhich is what the mothership
would look like. It is a much more complicated business, but we
have adapted our tactics and our forces to be able to cope with
Q118 Chair: If the Navy is aware
that a ship has been boarded, do you then stand off? I seem to
recall that you do not go back on to fight it out.
Captain Reindorp: No, standard
policy is not to do that. Standard policy is to hold off, monitor
what goes on and take what action that we can, but our prime overriding
interest once a ship has been boarded is the safety of the lives
on boardof the hostagesand quite a few incidents
show that to take precipitate action is the wrong course.
Q119 Chair: Where are the ships
taken once they are caught?
Captain Reindorp: They are taken
to a variety of anchorages off the coast of Somalia. There are
probably four or five in operation at any one time, but they do
Q120 Rory Stewart: Coming in behind
that, given the way in which the attacks are generally mountedthe
classic attack you describedpresumably, three or four armed
men on a boat would make it quite difficult for a pirate to climb
up a ladder, and therefore if these companies were to employ private
security, they would significantly enhance their ability to deter
Captain Reindorp: Statistics can
be interpreted in many ways, but I think it is safe to say that
any ship that follows best management practice, which can include
a variety of things such as manoeuvring and posting extra lookouts
to enable the ship to turn and, if necessary, run awayand
those sorts of general guidelines stands a statistically much
higher chance of avoiding capture. The statistics also show that
any ship that employs on-board protection, private or public,
has a much greater chance of avoiding seizure. In fact, I think
I am correct in saying that no ship with a VPDvessel protection
detachmenton board has been successfully seized.
Q121 Rory Stewart: The implications
of that, Campbell, is that if no vessel with such a unit has ever
been seized, surely that is a very good reason to say that ship
owners should be pushing ahead to have more security teams?
Dr McCafferty: I think it is definitely
something we need to keep under review, and the Department for
Transport in the United Kingdom has the lead for that policy.
The challenge comes, as I said, in that like everywhere else,
the more guns there are around, although there is a deterrent
effect, you also have the increased opportunity or potential for
the wrong people to be shot.
Q122 Sir Menzies Campbell: How
many knots does one of these skiffs make?
Captain Reindorp: They tend to
have quite large outboard motors on the side. I would not hazard
a guess at the speed that they can go, but I think we can assume
that they would be faster than the average merchant ship that
they would approachI mean, these things can do up to 30
or 35 knots. A lot of that, of course, is dependent on sea state.
Q123 Sir Menzies Campbell: Not
many warships could do 35 knots.
Captain Reindorp: Not many, sir,
Q124 Sir Menzies Campbell: The
obvious form of retaliation is to use weapons, but are there other
means, such as steam hoses and things of that kind, which if properly
directedcourageously directed, because you may have to
expose yourself to use themthat offer possible alternatives?
Captain Reindorp: There is a variety
of possible alternatives, which range from ranging razorwire and
barbed wire across the most vulnerable parts of your ship to access
to rigging fire hoses and having a water curtain over the side
of the ship. There are also non-lethal sonic weapons, which I
know some elements in the shipping industry have used. Yes, there
are quite a few ways.
Q125 Sir Menzies Campbell: Finally,
is it your judgment, from your experience, that the shipping companies
are alive to the possibility of using those various means, or
are some of them, to put it rather bluntly, simply careless?
Captain Reindorp: It would only
be my judgment, but I think you could generalise and say that
there are two camps: there is the majority, who are aware of the
security measures available and will take them based upon a risk
assessmentonly they can determine that the risk their ship
faces justifies their taking those sort of actions; and there
are perhaps one or two shipping companies, or individual shipping
entities or masters, who are either not aware or choose not to
take those measures under any circumstances.
Q126 Mr Ainsworth: Dr McCafferty,
you said that as the pirates have changed their methodology and
increased their use of motherships, so navies in the area had
upgraded their capabilities. Do we ever board motherships? Have
we ever boarded one?
Dr McCafferty: I am not sure.
We are straying into difficult realms here: the boarding of motherships
is generally an SF capability, so I am not able to comment.
Q127 Mr Ainsworth: So you do not do it?
The purpose of the question is that if we tell people that as
they changed their methodologies, so we upgraded our capability,
we are giving people the impression that there is a naval solution
to this problem, but there isn't, is there? We do not board motherships,
do we. I am not aware of any instance where we have boarded a
mothership, so why give that impression?
Dr McCafferty: I think it is fair
to say that, while we as the UK have not boarded motherships,
we have put in an enhanced boarding capability that would allow
us to, should we be in a position where there was a mothership,
with evidence of piracy. The challenge comes from the fact that
the ships that do the attackswhere there is clear evidence
of piracyare skiffs rather than motherships. That probably
explains why we have not boarded a mothership.
Q128 Mr Ainsworth: Yes, but the
problem, in effect, is that until there is actually an attack
in progress, there is little we can do. Even if we boarded a mothership,
what would we do? Is not that the horrible truth that the world
needs to know?
Dr McCafferty: I think that is
right. There is a large number of fishermen in the Indian Ocean,
so you have to look for evidence that demonstrates that they are
pirates and not fishermen going about their business, but it is
not the first time that military forces have dealt with agile
adversaries, who change their tactics.
Q129 Mr Ainsworth: There were
a few Icelanders who mucked us about a few years ago, weren't
Dr McCafferty: Certainly in Iraq
we saw people who would put weapons down, because then they were
not presenting a threat and therefore we could not prosecute in
the way that we would normally. It is the same with pirates: when
they see a naval vessel approaching, they will often throw the
paraphernalia overboard, and then we do not have the evidence
which with to chase a prosecution.
Q130 Ann Clwyd: Can you describe a typical
pirate? In the public mind, pirates still have a romantic, swashbuckling
image. What kind of people are they? What motivates piracy?
Captain Reindorp: The early days
of what press reports and academic works describe as subsistence
pirates, who go to sea because they have had their livelihood
taken away from them, are long gone. We must differentiate between
what we call "foot pirates"I know it is a tautologyand
pirate leaders and investors. Your average foot pirate who goes
to sea is somebody who is prepared to take quite a considerable
risk in order to gain what to us would be a negligible reward.
They are generally not terribly well educated and they have quite
a difficult life ashore, but actually, these days, they are part
of a very structured business model. They are the bottom part
of an investment chain whereby a group of investors have got together,
financed the creation of a pirate capability and sent it to sea
in order to prey on innocent merchant ships on the high sea and
bring them back for financial reward.
Q131 Ann Clwyd: Some of the work
that NATO has been doing has been to correct misinformation.
What kind of misinformation was being given to the Somali people
and how do you correct it?
Captain Reindorp: It is not my
area of expertise, but I think the work that NATO has been doing
has been to separate the image that you brought up of the pirate
as a sort of Robin Hood type, robbing the rich to give to the
poorgenerally a moralistic actorfrom what he actually
is, which is a simple maritime criminal.
Dr McCafferty: Colin Freeman,
in his article on the BBC website today, highlights the fact that
the Somali people themselves are beginning to see this as difficult
for them, because what starts at sea the kidnappingcan
move to land and then aid workers, journalists and people who
are generally there to help the overall situation become potential
victims as well. It is those sort of messages that NATO is trying
to get out.
Q132 Sir Menzies Campbell: We
tend to see this as pirate skiff against merchant ship, but if
the people in the skiffs are at the bottom of the food chain,
is there any way in which we can cut the chain higher upfor
example, if large sums of money are handed over by way of ransom,
can we keep tabs on these and stop money laundering and things
of that kind? Is that the sort of interruption we would be looking
to do as well as to deal with the front line?
Dr McCafferty: It is something
that the international community see as a key prioritychanging
that risk-reward calculus, not for the foot soldier but for the
pirate ganglord. Tracing money is at the nexus of a whole lot
of criminal activity. If you can pinpoint that, you would actually
solve a lot of problems with organised crime. People are well
aware of the opportunities that money laundering presents, but
unfortunately it is not simple. Some of the new money laundering
laws that they are trying to bring in to the region should make
some of that a lot easier.
Q133 Chair: Dr McCafferty, you
are the Head of Counter-Terrorism. If a British ship was hijacked,
do you follow closely the release effort?
Dr McCafferty: Apart from, obviously,
the Lynn Rival and the Chandlers, it has been UK-flagged vessels
that have been hijacked. Although my job title is Counter-Terrorism
and UK Operational Policy, it would not be the Counter-Terrorism
team that would look after it; it would be Captain Reindorp and
his team who would follow what happened.
Q134 Chair: I am sorry, I thought
that one was military and one was more operational. I will put
the question to you both, then. How much knowledge do you have
about ransom payments?
Captain Reindorp: The best way
to answer that, sir, would be to say "as much as we need
to do the job that we do". Once a ship is taken, there are
two ways of releasing it: one is for the ransom to be paid, and
the other one is for it to be released through military means.
That is not something that my team would deal with. Releasing
a ship is a hostage rescue situation, managed from a Special Forces
Dr McCafferty: The Foreign Office
counter-terrorism directorate lead on all UK hostage situations,
which would include hostages who were taken by pirates.
Chair: I had some detailed questions
on that, but I will save them for another occasion.
Q135 Mr Watts: Can you tell us
something about the commitment of assets and forces to dealing
with this problem? Perhaps you could give us some indication whether
you expect the assets and forces to go down, to increase, or to
stay about the same?
Captain Reindorp: Are you talking
about UK forces?
Mr Watts: Yes.
Captain Reindorp: In respect of
UK forces, the MOD remains committed to contributing to the international
effortand it is an international effort, not a UK or a
coalition-type efforton counter-piracy, particularly Somali
piracy. Our current intention is to continue to retain command
of the EU Operation Atalanta, and General Buster, who you saw
last week, is the commander of that. We currently intend to do
that until the expiry of the current mandate, which is December
next yearDecember 2012. We also intend to commit forces
to the Coalition Maritime Force grouping, which may be available
for counter-piracy. CMF is one of three international coalitions
that are currently ranged against the pirates.
Q136 Mr Watts: What will be the
impact of scrapping the four frigates?
Captain Reindorp: The impact of
scrapping the four frigates is that there will be four frigates
less. The impact in terms of counter-piracy
Q137 Mr Watts: So would the answer
to the first question be that you see assets and forces going
down rather than staying the same?
Captain Reindorp: Assets will
Q138 Mr Watts: So you, as the
British contribution, will have fewer resources, forces, etcetera
to deal with this problem? Okay.
Turning to air surveillance, what impact will
the abolition of Nimrod have on your ability to track pirate activity?
Dr McCafferty: What you have to
remember is that all the operations that Captain Reindorp referred
tothe EU Operation Atalanta, the NATO Operation Ocean Shield,
and the CMF operationare coalition operations. The coalition
commander decides what assets he requires, then he makes a request
for assets from the members of that coalition. In counter-piracy
there is also a number of non-aligned nations supplying assets,
so it is not the case that if you take away any British asset
it leaves a gap. As I said, this is a coalition and you change
the balance of the assets in a coalition all the time. It is normal
practice in coalitions.
Q139 Mr Watts: Can you guarantee
that after the loss of the four frigates and Nimrod, some of the
coalition partners will provide more facilities to bridge that
gap? That that has been agreedit is going to happen.
Dr McCafferty: I do not think
we would say that it has been guaranteed; priorities change all
the time. At the minute we have assetsparticularly maritime
assetsworking in what we call Operation Ellamy and the
Libya operations that we would not have had six months ago. At
all times, every nation has to look at its operational priorities
and the assets it has, and then allocate them appropriately. However,
as Captain Reindorp said, there is no intention for the Ministry
of Defence or for HMG to reduce what they are doing in terms of
counter-piracy. It still remains an important operation.
Q140 Mr Watts: There is a decision
to reduce UK assets, and you tell us that you are now dependent
on other coalition partners to bridge that gap. If they fail to
do that, or wish to do it for their own operational reasons, there
could well be a reduction in the assets available to deal with
this problem in the future.
Dr McCafferty: There could be.
Q141 Mr Watts: It is a bit confusing
when you look at the command structure, because there seems to
be three different organisations with different engagement rules.
How do you bring that together? How is such a confused structure
Captain Reindorp: There are three
key coalitions: there is the European Naval Force one, Operation
Atalanta; there is the NATO one; and there is the Coalition Maritime
ForcesCMF-150. As you say, each has a different command
structure, and there is a variety of reasons why they need that,
largely to do with the contributing nations. Some will not want
to play with the EU, obviously because they are not European;
some will not wish to be part of NATO; and some will not wish
to be part of any of them, and that is where you get the independent
players, such as China, Japan and South Korea.
Probably the best co-ordination mechanism is
something introduced by the EU naval forces, which is known as
SHADEthe shared awareness and deconfliction environment.
It meets regularly; it generally works out of Bahrain, which is
the home of the headquarters of the Coalition Maritime Force,
but the chairmanship is rotating. Although, the last time round,
the CMF US-led forces hosted SHADE, I am pretty sure in saying
that NATO actually chaired it, and one or two others, including
sometimes the single playersthe non-aligned nationshave
been given the opportunity to co-chair SHADE. It is very effective.
It is probably the best example of maritime security co-operation
that we have ever seen. You have upwards of 25 nations and industry
and the insurance world, and so on, coming together in a single
location to talk, share their problems and agree a co-ordinated
Q142 Mr Watts: Would it not be
better if they all had the same engagement rules? What stops that?
Captain Reindorp: The idea of
NATO, the European Union, the Russians, the Chinese and the Iranians
all having the same rules of engagement is not sensible, I'm afraid.
Q143 Mr Watts: Okay. Finally,
can I go on to your involvement, if any, with local clans? Do
we engage with the local clans in Somalia to set out what the
dangers are of their pirates taking part in such activities? Could
we do more, or do you think that that is a lost cause and that,
no matter what we do to talk to them, it is not going to have
Captain Reindorp: Here, I have
to fall back on my role, which is strategic advice and the direction
of UK operations. We per sethe UKdo not get individually
involved. I am aware that both NATO and the EU have done that,
and they have done it with some success. As to whether more would
be beneficial, yes, more will always be beneficial. It is a question
of applying what assets you have in the best possible way.
Q144 Chair: Going back to the
question about the different command structures and rules of engagement,
is there an overlap or duplication of effort between the EU and
NATO operationsleaving aside the third one and the independents?
Captain Reindorp: When you get
three coalitions plus a series of independent actors working together,
there will always be areas of overlap. Seeking clearly defined
boundariessaying, "You have one part of the ocean.
You have another part. You have a third part. You individual guys
all mill around in the middle."will not work, because
they will all bring, for the right or wrong reasons, their own
agendas. One of the purposes of SHADE and one of things it is
very good at doing, on an informal basisbear in mind that
SHADE has no authority or poweris to to attempt to deconflict
and to ensure that what assets are available are broadly shared
in non-overlapping areas.
Q145 Chair: Is there a problem,
though, with different structures?
Dr McCafferty: I do not think
that there is any evidence to suggest that there is a problem.
You look at it and it appears clumsy. SHADE has been a pragmatic
approach to bring together the actors in the area, and that has
removed the duplication.
Q146 Chair: If you were starting
with a blank sheet of paper, would you set up the structure that
we have now?
Captain Reindorp: If I was starting
to put it together now, I would have a different end point in
mind, but I would accept the current position as a good compromise.
Q147 Chair: That is an answer
to a different question. What about the question I asked? If you
were starting again, what would you do?
Captain Reindorp: I think, in
ideal policy terms, perhaps; but as a practitioner, probably not.
Q148 Rory Stewart: Can I keep
pushing on that? Unity of command is central. Can you tell us
what on earth the reason is? I can understand Russia and China,
but Russia and China do not belong to any of these three coalitions,
so that is a red herring. Why on earth can the countries in the
current three coalitions not create one coalition?
Chair: We have the Minister, who can
perhaps answer that, coming next week.
Dr McCafferty: I suppose the simple
answer is that you would have to look at what the principal reason
is. If I am right, the EU mission was set up to look after the
World Food Programme and to protect its ships. The Coalition Maritime
Forces mission is broader than counter-piracy. It looks at counter-terrorism
and counter-proliferation in the Gulf. You would have to go back
and get the three coalitions to concentrate on one set of objectives.
They all have missions that go beyond counter-piracy. It is not
impossible, and perhaps that is something you need to look at
as you move forward, but you need to go back to the genesis of
the three operations to see why there are three.
Q149 Sir Menzies Campbell: Do
any of them come with caveats imposed by their national Parliaments?
As you know, that happens with land forces in NATO and has been
a particular bone of contention in Afghanistan. Do we have maritime
Captain Reindorp: I am fairly
sure we do. We impose national caveats on any coalition contribution
we make, so it is fair to assume that others would, too. Would
we know what they are? Probably not.
Q150 Rory Stewart: To continue
on that, the UK has a range of naval commitments, and Dr McCafferty
talked about matching resources to priorities. How does anti-piracy
compare with the UK's other naval commitments? Can you give us
a rough ballpark figure of how many UK naval resources and how
much time is directed towards piracy, rather than other kinds
of operation around the world? A third? 10%? 5%? How important
is it to the UK Navy?
Captain Reindorp: At the moment,
counter-piracy is not what we would consider a standing task,
so it is not something on which we are directed politically to
focus on a 365-day basis. Nor is it a contingent task that we
are currently doing on an enduring basis for a limited time period.
It fits outwith those two parameters.
Q151 Rory Stewart: Will you explain
to the amateur what those two definitions mean?
Dr McCafferty: A standing task
would be something that you do for the defence of UK maritime
integrity, which would be a task to which frigates are attached
for the entire period. There is another task called Atlantic Patrol
Task North, which is in the Caribbean and is there for disaster
relief during the monsoon season. It deals with counter-narcotics,
so that is a task that carries on. We currently have Libya, which
is a task to which we have committed a frigate. Piracy is another
task that we do when those assets have been allocated.
Q152 Rory Stewart: Those are the
priorities. Is it one way of saying that piracy is a lower priority
than your standing and contingent tasks? Do the other commitments
Captain Reindorp: Yes.
Q153 Rory Stewart: What are the
implications of those commitments for the amount of resources
that we have left to deploy against piracy?
Dr McCafferty: Obviously, if you
have higher priorities, you put your resources towards those higher
priorities. If resources become available, you move to the next
level. There is no military commander in the country who will
not ask for more resources. We have to live within a budget, and
we have to work with the resources and the operational priorities
that we have.
Q154 Rory Stewart: We were talking
earlier about vessel protection. What is your sense of the UK's
guidance and policy on vessel protection?
Captain Reindorp: The first point
to make clear is that that is not an MOD part of ship, if I may
use a naval term; it is a Department for Transport part of ship.
We are currently engaged with the Department for Transport and
helping it to understand the implications of a change in its current
policy. Its current policy is driven by extant UK law, which forbids
the carriage of private weapons onboard Red Ensign-flagged ships.
Dr McCafferty: The Home Office
would have the lead on that.
Q155 Rory Stewart: To repeat,
under UK law you currently cannot carry a weapon on a UK-registered
Captain Reindorp: My understanding
of UK law is that the carriage of private weapons onboard most
ships is illegal. There are one or two exceptions, of which I
am not aware, but I know that they exist.
Q156 Rory Stewart: If we were
able to overcome that prohibitionif the law changed and
it became possible for ships to defend themselves properlywhat
would be the remaining role for the Navy? Let's say these ships
got to a situation where they could effectively prevent a pirate
from climbing up a rope on to their deck. What would the British
Navy be doing?
Dr McCafferty: If you stopped
the pirate attacks, we wouldn't be doing counter-piracy.
Q157 Rory Stewart: Your assessment
is that it's unlikely to stop the pirate attacks?
Dr McCafferty: To go back to what
I said right at the start, the pirates have proven incredibly
agile in changing their tactics. It may well be that if you put
armed protection detachments on to vessels, you find yourselves
in an arms race. It may deter some pirates; it may just encourage
pirates, in acts of desperation, to arm themselves more.
Q158 Rory Stewart: Is there any
evidence of that? I agree, as a hypothetical situation, but given
what we know about the piratesgiven their resources, given
the kind of kit they usethere's not much evidence that
they are likely to get to a high-tech stage, is there?
Captain Reindorp: There is very
good evidence that they are adaptive. We have seen them adapt
their tactics on several occasions. The use of motherships is
a change in their tactics which allows them to overcome the monsoon
periods which had previously seen fallow periods. Monsoons had
strong winds, strong waves: no piracy. The use of motherships
allows them to overcome that. So that is evidence of adaption,
Q159 Rory Stewart: If I put this
in very stupid, blunt terms, for my final question: if we look
at, for example, fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan, the major
concern of the military is not that the Taliban are going to be
able to get F-16 fighter jets. They tend, much like your pirates,
to rely primarily on Kalashnikovs, RPGs or IEDs of various sorts.
The likelihood is that there will beand continue to bea
massive asymmetry between the potential of the West, our navies,
and wealthy shipowners, and these pirates. In Afghanistan, the
problem is not usually defending a fixed position. It does not
usually involve doing the equivalent of preventing people from
climbing on to your deck. The threat is of a different sort. The
asymmetric threat isn't one that would lead to well-defended vessels
Captain Reindorp: I think the
problem is that we are perhaps focusing on the military as a solution
to the problem, but that will only ever be a palliative. It will
address the symptoms, but it will not address the cause. To try
to drill down into your question, it doesn't have to be simply
that pirates get better weapons. It could equally be that they
choose to execute their hostages, which is a situation that we
would not wish to get into, and would make it even more difficult
for us to have whatever effect that we can.
Q160 Chair: In the Caribbean,
the US law enforcement agencies have been using shipriders. Are
there any lessons that can be learned from them?
Captain Reindorp: I am reasonably
au fait with what they are doing.. Shipriders are put onboard
ships where a bilateral sort of agreement exists between the US
and the ships that they board. There isn't that sort of bilateral
agreement for counter-piracy, so while it is a model, it is not
really an exemplar.
Q161 Mr Watts: The Committee previously
heard that some 94% of pirates that are arrested are released.
Is that a correct figure? I think most people would think it strange,
if they found someone burgling their house, that they would be
arrested and then released the following day. Isn't this an incentive
for pirates to continue?
Dr McCafferty: It may be semantics,
but with a burglar in your house, you have evidence of burglary.
The challenge in the Indian Ocean, as we've said, is catching
the pirates in the act with the evidence. Where we have been able
to put evidence together, the UK has been successful in prosecuting
pirates, albeit a small number. The challenge is always finding
enough evidence that will convince the local authorities or countries
in the region to try to prosecute.
Captain Reindorp: That is one
of the key parts. To go back to your analogy, if you find a burglar
in your house, there is a defined mechanism and route for him
to be dealt with. Unfortunately, there is not one of those with
Q162 Mr Watts: Is there anything
legally that prevents us from trying these people in the UK?
Captain Reindorp: Not that I am
aware of, but I am not a lawyer.
Q163 Mr Watts: So where would
we normally prosecute pirates?
Dr McCafferty: We would look to
prosecute in Kenya. Because the problem is on their borders, they
have taken large numbers of pirates from the international community
for prosecution. They do that on a case-by-case basis, depending
on identifying a Kenyan nexussomething that identifies
it as Kenyan. Similarly, we have an agreement for the Seychelles
to take any pirates that we capture where there has been a Seychelles
nexus. The Foreign Office works continually with partners in the
region to look for other countries that will take pirates. We
do that through the form of MOUs. However, as I say, it is a Foreign
Office rather than a Ministry of Defence lead.
Q164 Mr Watts: Why should they
prosecute pirates when we do not?
Dr McCafferty: I do not think
that it is the case that we do not. Certainly if there was a case
where there was a strong UK nexus, where it was a UK crew or a
UK master, then we would look to prosecute. There would be a number
of policy challenges around that, but we would look to prosecute.
With the other pirates, the reason that the regional partners
do it is that they see itmuch as I was describing from
the BBC articleas a local or a regional issue that they
have to tackle.
Q165Mr Watts: Is the prosecution of pirates
something that we should give further thought to and perhaps take
more effective action in the future?
Dr McCafferty: It is another area
that could be reviewed. As I said, there is no legal reason why
we do not: there has never been a pirate arrested in a case that
has had that strong UK nexus.
Q166 Mr Ainsworth: Continuing with Kenya
and others, what is the current status of the agreement with Kenya?
Is it extant?
Dr McCafferty: There is no extant
MOU. The MOU was that they would take pirates on a case-by-case
basis depending on the evidence that we gathered and whether or
not they felt there was a Kenyan locus in the incident. The MOU
expiredI cannot remember the precise dateand there
was concern at the time that this was a big hole in the armoury.
However, since then, the Kenyans have continued to look at prosecutions
on a case-by-case basis, and so we have carried on and would still
look to use Kenya if we had a locus there.
Q167 Mr Ainsworth: Is it not true
that we have only ever taken 20 to Kenya for prosecutions? We
were the first to have an agreement with Kenya, yet there are
other nations that have sent more to Kenya for prosecution than
Dr McCafferty: I think 20 is the
right number for the UK. However, as you rightly identified, they
do have large numbers of pirates being prosecuted there from other
nations. It is not a deliberate decision not to take pirates to
Kenya. It all is to do with the evidence that we collected when
we were involved in a piracy incident, or the evidence we have
seen of piracy. It is to do with the evidence collected and whether
there is a case that can be made and whether that case has a locus
in Kenya. It is not a deliberate policy not to go to Kenya.
Q168 Mr Ainsworth: Do we have
an agreement with the Seychelles?
Dr McCafferty: My understanding
is we have a formal MOU with the Seychelles.
Q169Mr Ainsworth: How many have been
sent to the Seychelles for prosecution?
Dr McCafferty: No one from the
UK has been sent to the Seychelles as yet.
Q170Mr Ainsworth: What people do not
necessarily understandwe had evidence last week where we
were told that prosecution was potentially the answer to this.
Are there circumstances where there is evidence to pursue a prosecution,
yet we are not pursuing one, because we do not have a regional
agreement or because we are not prepared to bring those people
back to the UK?
Dr McCafferty: I am not aware
of any. The case tends to stand or fall on the identification
of the evidence and the local nexus.
Q171 Mr Ainsworth: So you would
not feel that prosecution is
Dr McCafferty: I think that prosecution
has to play a part in this, because it is a constabulary action.
Anything that we can do to build up the number of regional partners
that are willing to take on prosecutions, and perhaps take on
appropriate cases ourselves, all has to be part of the answer,
because, as I say, it is a constabulary action, rather than a
military action. The challenge is gathering the evidence.
Q172 Mr Ainsworth: What amount
of effort are we putting into new agreements and partnerships,
and what countries are we targeting?
Dr McCafferty: That is probably
a question for the FCO. I am not trying to be evasive, but they
will be able to give you a much clearer answer in terms of who
they are working with.
Q173 Mr Ainsworth: Can I ask one
question on a different issue? I do not know whether there is
an answer. This is what Captain Reindorp said earlier. Why is
it the area of special forces only on hostage rescue?
Dr McCafferty: We have to be very
careful with what we say about special forces operations. I think
the simplest answer is that it is the complexity of the operation,
the absolute centrality of the safety of the hostages and the
additional training and judgment that the special forces bring
that means that, for most hostage rescue operations, you would
look to special forces.
Q174 Mr Ainsworth: That is hard
Dr McCafferty: They would be the
first port of call.
Q175 Mr Ainsworth: But they can't
be, because there aren't that many of them. They are not necessarily
in the right area at the right time.
Dr McCafferty: That is always
going to be an issue, but if you look at the hostage rescue attempts
that we have had recently not just in Afghanistan, but also in
the Indian Ocean with the Americans and the French, and the fact
that most hostages have been killed during hostage rescue attempts,
that policy might well be correct.
Mr Ainsworth: I agree.
Q176 Sir Menzies Campbell: Who
makes the decision about when to prosecute?
Dr McCafferty: First, the commander
of the ship and the people who have done the boarding would look
for the evidence and gather it together, then they would seek
legal advice from the UK maritime component commander, who is
based in Bahrain. Naval lawyers there will look at the evidence
that has been gathered and decide
Q177 Sir Menzies Campbell: The
Judge Advocate, or at least what was once the Judge Advocate.
Captain Reindorp: Yes. That evidence
pack would be presented to whom we think would consider prosecuting.
They then have to decide whether the evidence is sufficientwhether
they are willing, on the evidence that we can present to them,
to accept the case for prosecutionso there is a transactional
nature to this business.
Q178 Sir Menzies Campbell: And
while we are doing that, the alleged piratesgiven the presumption
of innocencemust be kept in custody?
Captain Reindorp: Yes.
Q179 Sir Menzies Campbell: Do
we do that on board the ship that has picked them up, or is there
some land installation?
Captain Reindorp: There are different
ways of doing it, but each will be determined by the legal constraints
that we are forced to operate under. We will abide by whatever
direction we are given.
Dr McCafferty: Ordinarily, unless
there was a threat to life, we would not look to take the pirates
on board the naval vessel, unless we believed that there was a
strong possibility of prosecution. If it looked as though their
ship was sinking then we would, obviously, take them on board,
but ordinarily we would only take them on board if we felt there
was a strong case for prosecution. We might subsequently be unable
to follow through on that and then we would release the pirates,
as you are aware.
Q180 Sir Menzies Campbell: That
puts a very heavy responsibility on the officer in command of
the ship. Not only does he have to manoeuvre the ship and carry
out the operations, but he must then form a judgment as to the
extent to which the evidence that is discovered is sufficient
to be referred upwards for the possibility of prosecution.
Captain Reindorp: He would, though,
make that decision based on recommendations and expertise provided
to him. The ship's CO will not decide unilaterally; he will have
a very well briefed, very knowledgeable legal team, sometimes
on board the ship, sometimes on reachback at the various headquarters,
sometimes back to us in the Ministry of Defence. However, you
are right: it would be his call, based on his judgment of that
Q181 Sir Menzies Campbell: Who
decides where to prosecute?
Dr McCafferty: Once we see the
evidence, it may point towards one of our regional partners.
A process of negotiation would then begin with their criminal
justice system to find out if they accept that the evidence we
have is sufficient for prosecution.
Q182 Sir Menzies Campbell: Not
only do you need a forum to prosecute, you need to have a place
to put people who may be convicted. How is that arrived at, and
is it necessarily the same as the forum in which the prosecution
Dr McCafferty: If the Kenyansto
use Kenya as an examplehad taken the case on and were prosecuting,
the ship would take the pirates to Kenya and there would be a
handover, at which point they would be arrested. It would then
be for the Kenyans to detain them until trial and, if found guilty,
for their sentence.
Q183 Sir Menzies Campbell: That
must depend on whether this Kenyan court has jurisdiction.
Dr McCafferty: That is the key
point. I talked about how the Kenyans have to decide whether there
is a Kenyan locus. The question they ask themselves is, "Do
we have jurisdiction in this case?"
Q184 Sir Menzies Campbell: Do
I take it that if there is any question of a prosecution by the
British authorities, we have to ask ourselves if we have jurisdiction?
Dr McCafferty: That is correct.
We would, hypothetically, be looking for a key UK nexus such as
UK hostages or UK casualties. That would give us the jurisdiction.
Q185 Sir Menzies Campbell: This
may be an impossible question to answer, but do we go looking
for the nexus? What is our attitude? Are we activist in the
issue of prosecution, or do we take a less committed view?
Dr McCafferty: I do not think
there is a commander on a ship in the Indian Ocean working in
counter-piracy who does not want to see the end of piracy. It
is not that we take the easy option. The professionalism of our
commanders is such that they are trying to get the evidence and
trying to move towards prosecution.
Q186 Sir Menzies Campbell: You
have given us a very clear account of what is obviously a very
complicated processnot even one process, but a set of processes.
What I derive from your evidence is that there is an overwhelming
need to simplify this, so that the connection between capture,
prosecution and, if necessary, sentencing, can be dealt with much
more expeditiously, without having to have negotiations with partners
who may prove very difficult to negotiate with, for a variety
of reasons, political and otherwise.
Dr McCafferty: A lot depends on
the strength of the evidence, and that is where the legal advice
that comes to the commander, based on experience of what has happened
previously, is absolutely key. The Royal Navy would not take pirates
on board a ship unless they felt that there was a strong possibility
of a prosecution, because of that aspect of having to detain them
potentially for long periods of time if you got into a protracted
negotiation. Everything is designed to reduce the likelihood of
Q187 Sir Menzies Campbell: That
brings us full circle and comes back to my point about the enormous
responsibility you place on the captain of the ship, because it
is he who, even with legal advice on board or if he can call back
and ask for legal advice, ultimately signs the bottom line. That
is true, isn't it?
Captain Reindorp: It is, yes.
Q188 Mr Watts: Most of the attacks
will be in international waters, but it seems to me that there
would be jurisdiction if a British ship was boarded by pirates.
What does Kenya get out of this? Why has Kenya been identified
as a place where we send pirates? It generally would not have
many ships in international waters or any jurisdiction. Why have
we chosen Kenya?
Captain Reindorp: If I can give
you a practitioner's view of international law as it sits, from
a ship driver's perspective rather than a lawyer's perspective,
my understanding is that piracy has universal criminal jurisdiction.
Virtually any nation is required to support every nation in suppressing
piracy. That includes prosecution, from seizing and taking to
prosecution and incarceration. On the one hand you can say that
you need a nexus, but on the other hand you can say that there
is a universal jurisdiction here.
The issue turns for me, as a practitioner, on
one of simple practice. You could be doing this 1,800 miles out
into the Indian Ocean; it would take you five or six days to get
a pirate back if you had to steam him back, and you may not want
to send your one and only helicopter off to do that, because that
might be better used looking out for and trying to deter and interdict
pirate operations. This is not simply an issue of jurisdiction;
it is also an issue of practice, which comes from the unique maritime
environment in which it is happening.
Q189 Ann Clwyd: Can you tell us
a bit more about how crews from other countries may act as hostages
but are not hostages at all and are, in fact, hand in glove with
the pirates? Do you have any evidence of that?
Dr McCafferty: I do not think
we have evidence of that. What we have seen on a number of occasions
is the pirates, as part of this move to using larger motherships,
using vessels that they have pirated, and the crew from that pirated
vessel is coerced into crewing the ship so that the pirates can
go off and pirate other vessels. I am not sure that we have seen
any evidence of pirated crews or hostages joining the pirates
and working with them.
Captain Reindorp: We have seen
evidence of it working the other way, where you get on board a
vessel that has been pirated and the pirates suddenly decide that
they are hostages. That presents another practical challenge,
particularly if you do not have the ability to understand the
language and they have thrown their weapons overboard, or, indeed,
everyone else on the boat has an AK47 as well, whether they are
an innocent fisherman or a suspected pirate.
Q190 Ann Clwyd: That makes it
very difficult for naval crews trying to determine what to do
in those circumstances.
Captain Reindorp: Yes indeed.
That is a classic indication of why a military solution is both
practically and theoretically not the answer to this problem.
Q191 Ann Clwyd: Do you have any
information about where pirate ships are being serviced and refuelled?
Captain Reindorp: There are known
locations where they are taken. The anchorages are well known,
although I cannot list them off the top of my head. We have intelligence
on where their infrastructure is, but I would not want to go into
it in this forum.
Q192 Chair: We are quite interested
in this point, but I can recognise why you do not want to go into
it. Would you think about how this information could be given
Captain Reindorp: You are going
to visit General Buster's HQ, are you not?
Chair: We are.
Captain Reindorp: He would be
perfectly placed to help you understand that question.
Q193 Chair: That is helpful. Dr
McCafferty, you are also responsible for counter-terrorism, as
we discussed. Do you see any link between terrorism and medium-level
Dr McCafferty: A large number
of intelligence agencies around the world are trying to find that
link. There has not been any evidence of a link between the pirates
and al-Shabab, the terrorists in Somalia. From the pirate perspective,
they have in their eyes a working business model that allows them
to take pirate ships. If the linkage to al-Shabab in particular
changed that risk-reward calculus for them quite substantially,
that link to terrorism would change entirely the international
Where you might see the link is in the terrorist
financing. I do not think there is a crossover of money, but on
Mogadishu high street, there is not a pirate money launderer beside
the terrorist money launderer; there is probably a money launderer.
If we could get intelligence that allowed us to take out that
crossover, then you might well start to have an impact on both
terrorism and piracy. As I said, I think people are looking hard
for those links.
Chair: Rory wants to ask a question and
he has made it clear to me that it is a short one, preferably
with short answers.
Q194 Rory Stewart: It seems to
me that we are not succeeding in defeating the pirates. We are
just pushing the problem round the ocean. You are very doubtful
that these boats will be able to defend themselves; you do not
think there is a military solution. The root cause lies in Somalia
and we do not have a solution to that. It is not a priority for
us in terms of our tasks and not that much UK shipping is being
attacked. So why are we bothering?
Dr McCafferty: Looking at Somalia
as a wholethis is partially with my counter-terrorist hat
onI think Somalia presents a growing threat to the United
Kingdom. What we are doing in terms of counter-piracy is part
of that wider Somalia strategy. We have to find a way to improve
conditions in Somalia, working with the Transitional Federal Government
therethe TFGin a way that stabilises things. That
might take decades but we need to contain and allow those benefits
to be seen in order to protect the UK from those security threats.
Chair: Thank you both very much. In a
short space of time you have given us a lot of information. The
fact that I have let the session overrun by nearly 20 minutes
is a tribute to the quality of the information you have given
us. Thank you both very much indeed. It is much appreciated.