Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Arming vessels is the correct deterent to hijackings

After the Maersk Alabama was hijacked the first time, 7 months ago, there was disagreement between the sailors, owners, and military regarding the necessity of armed guards onboard vessels sailing off the East Coast of Africa.

If I remember correctly, the U.S. crews were insisting, but the owners and military were reluctant.

Apparently the crews won out, which prevented the Maersk Alabama from being hijacked a second time.

From The New York Times

LONDON — Seaborne raiders in a high-speed skiff tried again on Wednesday to commandeer the Maersk Alabama, the American-flagged ship seized by pirates in April, the United States Navy said.

The United States Navy Central Command said four suspected pirates in a skiff came within 300 yards of the Maersk Alabama at 6.30 a.m. Wednesday about 600 miles off the northeast coast of Somalia as it headed for the Kenyan port of Mombasa.

But a security team on board the Maersk Alabama responded with small-arms fire, long-range acoustical devices painful to the human ear and evasive maneuvers to thwart the attack, the Navy said in a statement.

And of course, now everyone is taking credit for arming ships:

“Due to Maersk Alabama following maritime industry’s best practices such as embarking security teams, the ship was able to prevent being successfully attacked by pirates,” said Vice Adm. Bill Gortney, the commander of the Central Command. “This is a great example of how merchant mariners can take pro-active action to prevent being attacked.”

No injuries or damage were reported, the Navy said.

However, on the flip side, the pirates killed the Captain of a ship they hijacked.

In a separate episode, the captain of a hijacked chemical tanker was reported to have died of gunshot wounds inflicted when pirates seized the MV Theresa with 28 North Korean crew members northwest of the Seychelles on Monday. The spate of attacks reflected the increasing boldness of pirates roaming far from their bases in Somalia to seize vessels and sailors to hold for ransom.

As this is North Korean vessel, we will have to watch the progress of this hijacking. Who knows what North Korea might do.

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