• British Foreign Minister Henry Bellingham.
    British Foreign Minister Henry Bellingham.

The seemingly ever-increasing number of piracy attacks in the Red Sea in the vicinity of Somalia may be about to do an about-turn, if the speech of a British minister is any indication.

Foreign Office Minister Henry Bellingham, in a speech to the British Chamber of Shipping, referred to the need to step up counter-piracy measures on a collective basis. He also mentioned a "more robust response to piracy" and some recent successful actions against the pirates.

"The EU Naval Force protects the Gulf of Aden and World Food Programme shipping. But our navies have also been given a stronger mandate to act against mother ships and hijacked ships at sea, and the Royal Navy is ready to do so.  Indeed, many of you will have seen the reports of the positive role played by the Royal Navy alongside a US Navy frigate yesterday as part of a NATO operation in securing the safe release of an Italian merchant ship, and the detained pirates are now in Italian hands heading for prosecution.

"I am also heartened to hear from EUNAVFOR that both pirate dhows which have put to sea so far this season have been put out of service, one of them at the bottom of the sea. And also that a pirate whaler acting as a supply ship was also sunk last week through a joint EU/NATO operation  Rules of Engagement are already strong, and the naval operations will be given the legal authority they need to deliver effective action. This Government is 100 percent behind a more robust response to piracy, and we are glad to see the Royal Navy, EUNAVFOR and NATO leading the way."

- Caroline Strainig

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