Somali pirates capture huge oil tanker

Amazing.

How long can this go on?

The longer that shipping companies and their countries continue to allow ships being held hostage, the better equipped and organized the pirates will get; the longer their range will be; the more ships and the more valuable ships they will hijack; the higher ransoms they'll demand; and the more difficult they will be to eventually eradicate.

These trends are already underway:
The location of the latest attack, far out to sea, suggested that the pirates may be expanding their range in an effort to avoid the multinational naval patrols now plying the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea.

“I’m stunned by the range of it,” said Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, at a news conference in Washington. The ship’s distance from the coast was “the longest distance I’ve seen for any of these incidents,” he said.

The vessel was headed for the United States via the Cape of Good Hope when it was seized, Reuters reported.

[...]

Only a few years ago, the average ransom was in the tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Now payments can range from $500,000 to $2 million.

The pirates’ profits are set to reach a record $50 million in 2008, Somali officials say. Shipping firms are usually prepared to pay, because the sums are low compared with the value of the ships.

[...]

Maritime experts recently have noticed a new development in the gulf — the pirates’ use of “mother ships,” large oceangoing trawlers carrying fleets of speedboats which are then deployed when a new prize is encountered.

“They launch these boats and they’re like wild dogs,” said Mr. Choong in Kuala Lumpur. “They attack the ship from the port, from starboard, from all points, shooting, scaring the captain, firing RPGs and forcing the ship to stop.”

Comments

verbatim said…
It seems that one mother ship was sunk today by India. Luckily India is also there because Europe is too afraid to hurt anyone.

http://edition.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/africa/11/19/somalia.pirates/index.html

Also an interesting article "Pirates' luxury lifestyles on lawless coast" at today's CNN.
denis bider said…
That's just awesome :-)

Thanks for that link :-)
Daniel said…
At least for oil tankers solution is not trivial.
They could hire an armed escort to be aboard, but it's very risky to engage them as they're approaching, because speedboats which pirates are usually employing are hard to hit, hardly the case for pirates who have to hit an enormous sitting duck- hard to miss :)
A few RPG's (as I read they don't lack them) + a ship full of oil = fireworks.
Alternative is to let them embark and conduct closed-quarters combat, also a risky strategy given they are usually well experienced in warfare from their war torn homeland.
Daniel said…
Perhaps a feasible option would be an escort of a armed ship.
My guess is that as long as ransoms are cheaper, they won't use it.
dasblinkenlight said…
Unfortunately, India may have sunken a trawler, not a pirate "mother ship": http://edition.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/africa/11/25/thai.trawler.india.navy/index.html.

This is a classic "lion vs. an army of fleas" battle, where the lion can't win. People facing hunger are not easily persuaded by words, kind or harsh; words and a gun always fared better (c). Unfortunately for the civilized world, rule #1 of thretening someone with a gun is that you must be ready to pull that trigger if you need to, something the west is completely unprepared to do.
Marko said…
Opportunity and inequality makes the thief. Its very natural occurrence.

Solution isn't killing, because if you kill poor, then rich will have to work and wipe their own ass themselves, not very shiny future. Slavery is much better alternative, for slave owners at least ;)
cybermanikan said…
I'd have to concur with Marko. We may not like it but piracy as a market depends on the fact that there are few other viable economies within which to trade.

Reminds me of that South Park episode, if you want a laugh.

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