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Thursday, April 09, 2009

Somali Pirates: Navy Destroyer on Scene of Hostage Event

In the on-going tale of the Somali pirates who took and lost a U.S. flagged container ship (see here, here) but have kept its captain as a hostage, the latest event is the arrival of a U.S. destroyer on scene, as reported here:
Second mate Ken Quinn earlier told broadcaster CNN that the crew was in touch with the captain, who had a ship radio.

The USS Bainbridge, part of a coalition naval force sent to combat piracy in the region, arrived early Thursday morning to assist the crew.

The crew of the USS Bainbridge was believed to be negotiating with the pirates, although the US Navy Fifth Fleet refused to comment.

Speers said the navy was 'in control of the situation.'

US Navy forces are reluctant to storm ships to free crew members being held hostage, instead concentrating on preventative measures.
The captain is being held on one of the ship's boats, near the container ship, as set out here:
The destroyer USS Bainbridge, one of a half-dozen warships that headed for the area, arrived at the scene this morning a few hours before dawn, said Kevin Speers, a spokesman for the company that owns the Maersk Alabama. He said the boat with the pirates was floating near the ship, the first with an American crew to be taken by pirates off the Horn of Africa.

Speers said officials were waiting to see what happens when the sun comes up. Crew members had been negotiating with the pirates Wednesday for the return of the captain.

The crew of the Alabama managed to disable the ship at about the time the pirates came aboard, according to a senior U.S. military official.

A family member said Capt. Richard Phillips surrendered himself to the pirates to secure the safety of the crew.

"What I understand is that he offered himself as the hostage," said Gina Coggio, 29, half sister of Phillips' wife. "That is what he would do. It's just who he is and his responsibility as a captain."
UPDATE: Some interesting points here by Canadian journalist Daniel Sekulich, including a rap on the knuckles for some reporters who appear to be in "defeatist" mode:
I'd like to comment on a piece posted on the Foreign Affairs website by blogger Elizabeth Dickinson. Entitled "Pirates on a spree", it sums up what a number of people are feeling, especially in light of the hijacking of at least five vessels in the last two days. However, in my estimation she only gets things about half right.

Dickinson wonders,"How are a bunch of former fisherman (sic) defeating the world's navies?", which is wholly incorrect. Somali pirates are by no means defeating navies, for they go out of their way to avoid encounters with warships patrolling the region's seas. Indeed, pirates there are not 'defeating' anyone - they are threatening and attacking mariners in a manner intended to maintain the inflow of money to the various gangs and warlords who control these criminal ventures. Unlike, for instance, terrorist groups, pirates do not wish to defeat or vanquish an enemy; they wish to exploit a resource - ships and seafarers - on an ongoing basis.
It's time to force some changes in the pirates business model.

UPDATE2: Latest Piracy Event Slide from the NATO Shipping Centre:(click to enlarge)

Note that NATO shows the present location of many captured ships. The Live Piracy Map, which can be found here shows the location of the capture:

Red arrow points to reported location of Maersk Alabama.

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