While the US, France, Italy, Denmark and other nations still send frigates to thwart criminals who cause havoc with international trade, the Guardian has learned that Britain has quietly withdrawn its ships from these patrols, even though David Cameron has made Somalia's piracy problem a foreign policy priority.
Piracy cost the world economy $7bn (£4.3bn) last year. Figures show the pirates raised almost $160m from hostage ransoms, but 24 of their captives died.
British businessman David Tebbutt was one of their victims, and his wife, Judith, was held for six months before being released in March.
Because of defence cuts, the UK can deploy only two frigates for contingency operations east of the Suez canal. They have to cover a massive area of ocean stretching from the Gulf to the Falklands. Neither can be committed to piracy full-time, though HMS Westminster "dips in" when it can, sources say......(click here for full story)