Pirate attacks in Somalia


This picture got to me:

As did this headline:

"…French man killed in front of his son as commandos storm yacht held by pirates …"

I don't know how long it will stay up, but the blog of Tanit, the french sailboat captured by pirates is still active, at: http://tanit.over-blog.fr/. It can also be "sort of" seen in english, by automated translation

Tanit's last blog entry, from March 14 (translated):

"We left Aden March 14th, at 3pm, under a blue sky. […] We have started to run without lights. We are headed to Al Mukalla and we are fully in the pirate zone. However, nothing to report."

As I type this, an American captain, Richard Phillips, is being held hostage, and the headlines are talking about a tug being captured, with 16 crew aboard.

A very sad situation. Perhaps all of the recent headlines will focus the world on this issue, and someone will find a solution, although I haven't the vaguest idea what it would be. Better policing of the waters around Somalia? Until there is a stable goverment in Somalia, and a reduction in poverty, it will not be safe for boats to pass nearby.

-Ken W


3 Responses

  1. Ken,

    The death of the French captain and father is very sad. Thank God The Navy snipers were able to free Captain Phillips and bring his five day ordeal to a positive end. Now that the world is paying attention to the magnitude of the pirate attack situation, a long term multi-national solution will hopefully be forthcoming. Time will tell as you set forth on your next adventure, we’ll all continue to monitor the oceans of the world. You were one of he first to bring the global piracy threat to my attention. Good Luck and stay safe.

    David Evans

  2. Ron:

    I’m just a lowly computer programmer and somewhat naive about these things… but, were I in charge, I’d be thinking like this…

    1) Pay the ransom for Captain Richard Phillips. I am philosophically opposed to paying ransoms, but at this point, a lot of ransoms have already been paid. That cat is out of the bag. The focus needs to be on getting our captain back safely, and then figuring out a “go-forward” strategy. A dramatic rescue puts his life at greater risk, than if a large check is written.

    2) Assemble a multinational coalition to provide secure heavily armed convoys for ships transporting the Gulf of Aden. The pirates will quickly lose interest if their source of revenue dries up.

    3) Hope that a stable government takes hold in Somalia, and apply political, and economic pressure, to encourage its evolution.

    -Ken W

  3. Escorted convoys are the only answer, unless every ship carries competent armed guards. Note that our Navy placed 18 armed guards aboard the Maersk Alabama to see her into the port of Mombasa.

    There is a military axiom that applies to this problem, “area defeats you.” The Navy has never asserted that it can do more than offer “local sea control” for convoys in the North Atlantic! Therefore, they cannot do better than that off Somalia.

    Captain Phillips is in an enclosed lifeboat. This makes rescue by SEALs extremely difficult. Now the lifeboat, which started 300 miles off the coast, has drifted within 20 miles of shore! The USS Boxer, flagship of the anti-piracy task force, has moved into the area to offer her hospital facilities. However, she has a dock which accomodates air cushion vehicles. Maybe she could back up and pick up the lifeboat. Think outside the box.

    The lifeboat cannot be permitted to move any closer to shore and no other pirates can be permitted to approach. Last night, a Navy small boat was fired upon by the pirates as it roamed the area around the lifeboat. We don’t know what they were really doing. Maybe the lifeboat needs to sink if negotiations fail. SEALs can rescue Captain Phillips at that point.

    The death of the French hostage is tragic and ideally should never have happened. Usually you strive for total surprise and the silent killing of all the kidnappers. Pirates on deck in proximity to the hostages are normalluy taken out by snipers on ships or in helicopters. SEALs or Special Boat Service personnel can kill from the water and by silently boarding from underwater. Normally, this is done at night and not in broad daylight, but none of us saw what the French military saw.


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