Remember the Somali pirates who inadvertently hijacked a shipload of tanks and weapons from Ukraine? Now that both the Russian and American navies have taken an interest in their activities, the chances that the pirates will return home with their skins intact grow slimmer with each passing day.
The hijacked ship is anchored in a Somali port, surrounded by vessels from the U.S. 5th Fleet. Recent reports indicate that the pirates are now quarreling among themselves, and that three of them have been killed.
According to Bloomberg:
Somali Pirates Are Said to Die in Fight on Ukrainian Ship
Sept. 30 (Bloomberg) — Three Somali pirates died in a shootout as they argued over how to deal with a hijacked Ukrainian ship carrying a cargo of battle tanks, a maritime official said. Pirates contacted onboard the ship denied there had been a fight.
Pirates seized the Faina, a Belize-flagged vessel with a crew of 17 Ukrainians, three Russians and one Latvian, on Sept. 25. It is carrying at least 30 Soviet-designed T-72 tanks to Kenya. U.S. warships have surrounded the boat, now anchored off the Somali port of Hobyo, to prevent the cargo being unloaded.
U.S. naval officers don’t have independent confirmation of a shootout, though they are aware of reports of one, Lieutenant Nate Christensen said by telephone from the U.S. 5th Fleet base in Bahrain.
“Misunderstanding between moderate and radical pirates on board increased last night until they opened fire between them, leaving three of them dead,” Andrew Mwangura, head of the Nairobi-based Seafarers Assistance Program, said by telephone.
“Moderate and radical pirates”??
What makes a pirate “moderate”? Does a radical want to cut the throats of captives, while a moderate wants to chain them in the bilge? Do moderates feed mouldy biscuits to their prisoners, while the radicals feed the prisoners to the fish?
The pirates, however, have denied that there’s any conflict among the buccaneer staff:
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A pirate on board, who gave his name as Da’ud Elmi Adde and who said he’s deputy spokesman, denied Mwangura’s claims. “We have only one commander and we take the orders from him,” Adde said. “There is not a little bit of difference between us.”
Adde said Sugale Ali Omar, who has been the pirates’ onboard spokesman so far, was unavailable.
So the pirates have both a spokesman and a deputy spokesman. Do they also have a Human Resources Department? And do they form focus groups to help them determine more effective pirating strategies? Recycle their bilge so as to promote more environmentally-friendly privateering?
One of the crew members being held hostage has succumbed, allegedly due to natural causes:
Omar yesterday confirmed that a crew member had died from hypertension. Russian state broadcaster Vesti-24 reported on its Web Site that it was the Russian captain, Vladimir Kolobkov.
The U.S. 5th Fleet says it has several ships in the vicinity of the Faina. The only one it has identified is the destroyer USS Howard.
“We will maintain a vigilant watch over the ship and remain on station while negotiations take place,” Rear Admiral Kendall Card, Task Force Commander, said in a statement. “Our goal is to ensure the safety of the crew, to not allow off- loading of dangerous cargo and to make certain Faina can return to legitimate shipping.”
The U.S. Navy is allowing small boats to bring food and other supplies from land.
I admit to a secret desire for the U.S. to withdraw its forces from the scene and let the Russians take over operations. When the Russians finish with the pirates, there won’t be enough left of them to interest the seagulls.
But with the Americans (or the Europeans) in charge, there will be lengthy negotiations, and even if ransom isn’t paid, when the pirates are captured they’ll end up in the charge of human rights lawyers and the race-grievance industry. They’ll be giving press conferences and talking to the TV cameras about the plight of the indigenous people of Somalia in the wake of predatory colonialism.
No, let the Russians deal with them.
The shipping companies, however, are criticizing the naval authorities:
A group of shipping associations and a seamen’s trade union yesterday released a joint statement criticizing Western navies for not protecting shipping.
“The pirates are now attacking ships on a daily basis with machine guns and rocket propelled grenades, and are currently holding over 200 seafarers hostage,” the group said on the International Transport Workers’ Federation Web site. “The pirates are operating with impunity, and governments stand idly by. If civil aircraft were being hijacked on a daily basis, the response of governments would be very different.”
I don’t understand why commercial ships can’t equip themselves for their own defense. Surely a couple of modest-sized guns mounted on the deck fore and aft would be sufficient to take care of the problem…?
Or is there a logistical problem here that I’m missing?
Previous posts about the Somali pirates: