Marine News, November 23, 2011: Top military official of the European Union confirmed that there is indeed a shortage of warships required for the piracy mission at Somalia and this gap isn’t likely to be filled before March next year.

EU Military Committee chairman, Hakan Syren said that this shortage will pose to be a problem without elaborating his statement further. To counter this claim, a military official of the EU later said that this shortfall will not affect the piracy mission much as it comes in a period when attacks by pirates mostly decline.

After a meeting with the defense chiefs of 27 EU states, Syren at a news conference said that, “The … commander has a minimum level of both maritime patrol aircraft and ships; and during quite a limited time … the number of ships is below the red line”.

Syren is blaming economic crisis along with exhaustion from NATO’s operation in Libya for this problem. In this operation European members of NATO maintained a sea mission for seven months to enforce an embargo of United Nation’s arms which was in force till around the end of October.

Pirates have raked in millions by hijacking ships along the Somali Coast. According to EU’s anti-piracy task force, EU Navfor, currently there are10 vessels and 243 crew members who are being held hostage by them.

However, Navfor says there is a positive side to this, as out of the 165 hijacking attempts made this year only 24 resulted in actual hijackings, which is an improvement over last year.

It has been estimated that piracy in the waters has cost global economy somewhere between $7 billion-$12 billion this year. Therefore, there is still a long way to go to counter piracy and effective steps should be taken immediately and quickly.