Somali Pirates Hold U.S. Ship Captain Hostage

The FBI has sent hostage negotiators to try and obtain the release of the U.S. Maersk Alabama captain Richard Phillips being held hostage by Somali pirates. The pirates have sent reinforcements to their comrades.

Captain Phillips selflessly volunteered himself to protect the other crew members. Let's hope for his safe return. [More...]

I remember the stories my smuggling clients in the 80's told about being attacked by pirates in the South China seas when bringing boatloads of pot and Thai sticks back to the U.S. They made it sound exciting.

What's happening in the Indian Ocean sounds awful. It also dampens my enthusiasm for visiting the Seychelles, Mauritius and the Maldives, all places I would like to go one day.

One more from Jimmy Buffett:

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    Sailing around that part of the (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by inclusiveheart on Thu Apr 09, 2009 at 02:20:35 PM EST
    world is not for the faint of heart.

    If you want to go to the Seychelles, fly.

    Years ago I was all set to buy a ticket to go there and they had a coup the day before we were going to buy the tickets.  Weirdly, that's not the only exotic place I was about to take off to that has suddenly had a coup.  But I've still always wanted to go to the Seychelles.

    Except... (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by DancingOpossum on Fri Apr 10, 2009 at 08:44:42 AM EST
    European ships have been looting Somalia's seas of their greatest resource: seafood. We have destroyed our own fish stocks by overexploitation - and now we have moved on to theirs. More than $300m-worth of tuna, shrimp, and lobster are being stolen every year by illegal trawlers. The local fishermen are now starving. Mohammed Hussein, a fisherman in the town of Marka 100km south of Mogadishu, told Reuters: "If nothing is done, there soon won't be much fish left in our coastal waters."

    This is the context in which the "pirates" have emerged. Somalian fishermen took speedboats to try to dissuade the dumpers and trawlers, or at least levy a "tax" on them. They call themselves the Volunteer Coastguard of Somalia - and ordinary Somalis agree. The independent Somalian news site WardheerNews found 70 per cent "strongly supported the piracy as a form of national defence".


    Did we expect starving Somalians to stand passively on their beaches, paddling in our toxic waste, and watch us snatch their fish to eat in restaurants in London and Paris and Rome? We won't act on those crimes - the only sane solution to this problem - but when some of the fishermen responded by disrupting the transit-corridor for 20 per cent of the world's oil supply, we swiftly send in the gunboats.

    Johann Hari, "You Are Being Lied to About Pirates"

    http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/johann-hari/johann-hari-you-are-being-lied-to-abou t-pirates-1225817.html

    Reinforcement? Hah! (none / 0) (#1)
    by gyrfalcon on Thu Apr 09, 2009 at 02:14:40 PM EST
    There are four pirates and the captain in a powerless lifeboat floating 300 miles out to sea with only the USS Bainbridge for company since the freighter has been sent away to deliver its cargo.  "Sending reinforcements" is bluster.  Even if they tried, they're not going to be allowed anywhere near that lifeboat.

    I would also like to point out that this incredibly brave and selfless captain is a Vermonter. :-)

    Give it to them... (none / 0) (#4)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Thu Apr 09, 2009 at 05:11:24 PM EST

    A new rope would be just about right.  Certainly better than making piracy profitable.

    All the pirates (5.00 / 2) (#5)
    by jondee on Thu Apr 09, 2009 at 05:17:42 PM EST
    are lacking is a good lobbying firm who'll have their backs; thats the way piracy is supposed to be done in the 21st century.

    Until this latest hijacking (none / 0) (#7)
    by oculus on Thu Apr 09, 2009 at 05:19:25 PM EST
    the media (including NPR) seemed to warming to the "cause" of the pirates.  

    I don't see the pirates... (none / 0) (#18)
    by kdog on Fri Apr 10, 2009 at 10:44:06 AM EST
    being much different than any government in the world...you wanna do business you pay the vig, and if you don't pay the vig you get held captive by men with guns.

    The US government locks people up for tax evasion...think of the pirates as tax collectors or toll collectors....its not that far off.


    They keep doing it because companies pay. (none / 0) (#6)
    by connecticut yankee on Thu Apr 09, 2009 at 05:18:50 PM EST
    Huge amounts of money are dropped to these guys all the time.

    They need to start killing them at a rate that reduces the value of piracy.  That's what they did with the old pirates too.  It works.

    I oppose murder (none / 0) (#10)
    by MrConservative on Thu Apr 09, 2009 at 09:45:38 PM EST
    If Somali Pirates will (none / 0) (#8)
    by CoralGables on Thu Apr 09, 2009 at 06:10:33 PM EST
    get us two Buffett tunes, I might have to root for the underdogs. It does make one wonder however, how did the Pittsburgh Pirates ever get their name. Were there once pirates patrolling the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers?

    There were, in fact... (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by desertswine on Fri Apr 10, 2009 at 03:20:38 PM EST
    river pirates along the Ohio prior to, say, the 1830's or so. They would prey upon the flatboats that plied up and down the river.

    Yep (none / 0) (#9)
    by Wile ECoyote on Thu Apr 09, 2009 at 06:15:19 PM EST
    along with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

    The USS Haliburton is on it's way to help . . . (none / 0) (#11)
    by nycstray on Thu Apr 09, 2009 at 10:08:06 PM EST
    oh, the irony . . . .

    so apparently (11PM local news) the pirates don't have enough fuel to get back to shore?

    Halyburton (none / 0) (#12)
    by gyrfalcon on Thu Apr 09, 2009 at 11:37:07 PM EST
    is the spelling, according to the piece i read.  Nothing whatsoever to do with The Halliburton-- who are also, of course, pirates.

    Going by local news and the Ap (none / 0) (#13)
    by nycstray on Thu Apr 09, 2009 at 11:43:03 PM EST
    Even as more Navy ships, including the guided-missile frigate USS Haliburton, arrive near the Horn of Africa, there will be fewer than two dozen international warships patrolling an area nearly five times the size of Texas.


    It may just be the news is used to a "certain" spelling . . .  {grin}


    It's Official (none / 0) (#15)
    by CoralGables on Fri Apr 10, 2009 at 06:46:03 AM EST
    USS HALYBURTON (FFG-40), an Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate, is a ship of the United States Navy named for Pharmicist's Mate Second Class William D. Halyburton, Jr. (1924-1945). Halyburton was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroism while serving with the 5th Marines, during the Battle of Okinawa.

    WSWS on threat of intervention in Somalia (none / 0) (#14)
    by Andreas on Fri Apr 10, 2009 at 02:43:46 AM EST
    Except (none / 0) (#17)
    by CoralGables on Fri Apr 10, 2009 at 09:32:18 AM EST
    When someone is poaching lobster in the Florida Keys, the poacher is arrested. We don't seize the next ship that passes 300 miles off our coast. If the Somali's can illegally seize a ship, they certainly have the means to legally seize a trawler violating their fishing laws within their coastal waters. Their current approach deserves no sympathy.

    Exactly. (none / 0) (#19)
    by connecticut yankee on Fri Apr 10, 2009 at 10:54:57 AM EST
    Like the "fishermen" are getting the lion's share of the million dollar ransoms.  

    Somewhere, there is the pirate leader, and he's probably just a warlord who has decided to expand his territory into the sea.  Somalia isnt exactly run by a friendly fisherman league.