Monday, December 8, 2008

Pirates in the News, November 2008

The prize for single most exaggerated headline since the last time I wrote a digest of pirate news unquestionably goes to Fox News. Kudos, solid Fnord.

The most publicised recent pirate attack is the capture of the Sirius Star a Saudi owned Oil Tanker. For those of you raised in caves or only recently arriving in the modern era people are touchy about oil, the ownership of it, the transport of it, and Saudi Arabia, a country whose main export and source of political clout is oil, is not exactly pleased to have 3 rafts of destitute pirates capture their ship without firing so much as a shot. The pirates on the other hand, have their eyes on the fat ransom this ship will undoubtedly bring them, and fairly accustomed to constant and unceasing strife in their homeland where the most profitable career is either pirate or leader of a militia, and there being a substantially larger number of job openings for pirates are not scared of a little saber rattling, or some actual saber slashing when you get right down to it.

Time has a nice slide show of Somali pirates
, Slate on Washington has a pirate correspondent now, and other news sources are taking notice of this issue and covering it in depth. Pirate attacks are up! Up! UP! but if you've read this blog you know that. Various E.U. countries continue to vie for the top spot in the international armadas patrolling the trade corridor. Shipping in the Gulf of Aden is getting more and more protected. Sailors are getting increased pay incentives to work there. Somalialand, a breakaway enclave seeing independence from Somalia (which is at best described as anarchic) has offered port to anti-pirate efforts. Even the local paper of my landlocked, Sonoran Desert hometown has seen fit to weigh in on the international goings on.

Here are some pirate news stories that are less glamorous than the Sirius star:
Cameroon has fired two military officers who failed to prevent a pirate attack.
Russian and British ships foiled a pirate attack, a British Ship captures a pirate skiff. Two British Sailors jumped off their hijacked ship and were rescued by helicopter.

But as if these stories weren't juicy enough, India destroyed a pirate ship,

The INS Tabar opened fire on a pirate ship after it came under attack Tuesday evening, leaving the burning ship to sink. There was no mention of rescuing or capturing its crew.

oh wait, India sank a Thai Trawler fishing in Somalian waters. Ooops.

Well, maybe it had just then been taken by pirates...

But it turns out now that the “mother ship” may not have been in pirate hands very long. According to the CNN report, the ship was the trawler Ekawat Nava 5, which had been headed from Oman to Yemen to deliver fishing equipment when it was attacked by pirates off the Horn of Africa, according to Wicharn Sirichaiekawat, owner of the Ekawat Nava 5. The pirates were still taking control of the ship when the Tabar moved in, he said.

Mr. Sirichaiekawat learned of his ship’s fate when a Cambodian crewman was found alive by a passing ship after he had been adrift in the gulf for six days. He had survived the gunfire from the Indian Navy and the sinking of the ship, and was taken to a hospital in Yemen, where he is recovering. Fourteen other sailors from the trawler were still missing and one was confirmed dead, the owner said.

The trawler may have simply been in the wrong place at the wrong time but there's certainly enough in this story to make it interesting.

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