Eyes of the Fleet

Eyes of the Fleet

Friday, May 01, 2009

Somali Pirates: "The Ship was never taken"

Some highlights from the testimony of Maersk Alabama Captain Phillips here:
"One solution is not going to solve this problem," Capt. Richard Phillips told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. "Nevertheless, I do believe that arming the crew, as part of an overall strategy, could provide an effective deterrent under certain circumstances."
Senators agreed with Phillips that private security or senior crewmembers need to be armed to thwart attackers.

"We have an inherent right to self-defense in international waters," said Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va.

Lawmakers basked in the captain's reflected glory.

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., called Phillips "an inspiration" and said it was "great to be in someone's presence who is so esteemed."

Committee chairman John Kerry, D-Mass., said he was "thrilled" to meet Phillips, who traded in his blue work shirt and ball cap for a gray suit, baby blue button-down shirt and blue tie for the occasion. But when Kerry mentioned the reaction of average people when they heard that "an American ship got taken," Phillips jumped in.

"If I could interrupt the senator," he said, "the ship was never taken." The hearing room broke out in applause.
The Maersk chairman sounded a rational note (rare in DC) by discussing the adaptive pirates:
Phillips said ships need to do more to deter pirates from getting aboard vessels. But he rejected as impractical Kerry's suggestion that razor or electrified wire be draped on ship railings and noted that although the Alabama had fire hoses, which can be used to repel attackers, the pirates "went where the fire hoses weren't."

The pirates, he said, "are evolving, and we must stay with the curve and evolve with them."
Senator Kerry highlighted the difference between himself and a sea captain in this exchange:
Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry, D-Mass., asked Phillips whether he was going to return to sea in the dangerous region off the Horn of Africa. Phillips said he would.

Curious, Kerry asked whether that was OK with Phillips' wife. Behind the captain, Andrea Phillips nodded.

"She's a good wife. She supports whatever I" decide, Phillips answered.

Kerry's eyebrows went up.

"I couldn't get away with that," he noted, referring to his outspoken wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry.
A spine is what Capt Phillips has . . .

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