I’ve reported recently on Task Force 150, a multinational naval operation aimed at putting a stop to Somali piracy off the Horn of Africa. The Danes have made several successful interventions to drive off the pirates and prevent ships from being hijacked.
But that hasn’t been enough to deter the pirates completely. According to Bloomberg:
Somali Pirates Hijacked 11 Ships With 200 Sailors, Bureau Says
Somali pirates hold at least 11 merchant ships with 200 sailors captive as international naval forces fail to secure the main trade route between Asia and Europe, the International Maritime Bureau said.
Commodity carriers and chemical tankers are among vessels that have been taken to hideouts and pirate bases along the East African country’s coast, Noel Choong, head of the bureau’s reporting center in Kuala Lumpur, said by telephone today. The number of ships being held is the most since the IMB began collating pirate-attack data in 1991.
“We are trying to put pressure on the United Nations together with the international community; only they can solve the problem,” Choong said. “It’s just unbelievable that this is happening.”
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Tankers shipping Middle East crude oil to Europe and the U.S. via Egypt’s Suez Canal must first sail through the Gulf of Aden, which lies between Somalia and Yemen. MISC Bhd, the world’s largest shipper of liquefied natural gas, stopped sailing through the gulf after two of its carriers were hijacked. Freight costs may rise should other owners do the same, as vessels would then sail greater distances on alternative routes.
The frequency of pirate attacks may be growing because owners have little option other than to pay ransoms to recover crews, cargo and ships, Choong said. Somalia, affected by civil war, doesn’t have a centralized government with which to tackle the problem.
“If you don’t pay pirates then you won’t get back your ship and crew and cargo,” he said. “If you pay pirates, you are encouraging piracy.”
And there’s the rub: so far the pirates have mostly been paid off, and the worst consequence they have faced is being chased away by gunboats.
It’s time to send a bunch of them off to collect their 72 virgins, pour encourager les autres.
Previous posts about the Somali pirates:
Hat tip: VH.