Plenty has been going on in the world of piracy, and in my life as well, so it's worth noting that this will not be a comprehensive summary of recent pirate news, but I'll hit some highlights.
The number one sexiest pirate story right now may or may not actually involve pirates in any way... but it COULD and that's got a lot of people all aflutter.
The Maltese ship the Arctic Sea crewed by 15 Russians disappeared on July 28 after communicating with a station in Dover, England. It is suspected that piratical foul play is afoot.
Four days earlier she had apparently been boarded in the Baltic Sea.
The intruders appear to have left the ship some 12 hours later on a high-speed inflatable and allowed the vessel to continue on its passage but with its communications equipment damaged.
However, there are fears that the 3,988tn ship, carrying about £1m worth of sawn timber from Finland to Algeria, was still under the control of pirates when contact was made with the British Coastguards.
Mark Clark, of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, said Dover Coastguard did not suspect anything untoward as a supposed crew member made radio contact before the ship made its passage along the Channel.
The person on board the vessel told the Coastguard the ship was due to arrive in Bejaia in northern Algeria on August 4 at 11pm.
The Russian Navy has sent a ship that claimed to spot the Arctic Sea on August 13 but now denies the earlier reports. The vessel is presumed hijacked, and it's fairly compelling to think that in the waters around Europe it's still this easy to lose track of a cargo ship.
In other news, the Turkish Navy captured five suspected pirates on August 11.
Also, Merchant Marine Schools are increasing the course loads and available training programs for dealing with pirate attacks and piracy in general.
"... Cadets at the Merchant Marine Academy and SUNY Maritime are being taught to reduce the risk of pirate attacks on their own. "Anti-piracy training has been part of the USMMA curriculum for at least the past 18 years," says Captain Jon Helmick, director of USMMA's Logistics & Intermodal Transportation Program. He adds, however, that "because the enhancement of vessel security in general improves the ability to deal with piracy in particular, it is somewhat misleading to separate out those training topics that are piracy-focused." Academy graduates receive an officer's commission into another branch of the armed forces, either on active or reserve duty. Those entering the reserves often take civilian or government jobs in the maritime industry, including serving on ocean-going merchant vessels, "brown water" coastal trade ships, tugboats, or barges, says Captain Dan Croce, a director at GMATS."
And on a lighter note, Captain Phillips of the Maersk Alabama was interviewed on the Today Show and is still inundated by offers to portray his story.