Pirates on the High Seas

I’ve been working on a redesign of my business websites and juggling a few other things this week and I’m posting sporadically, but I wanted to note briefly on the news of the pirates seizing the American ship today off the coast of Somalia. The ship was on its way “to the Kenyan port of Mombasa and was carrying food and other agricultural materials” for the World Food Program. The pirating off the coast of Africa is becoming more and more of a problem:

There have been more than 50 pirate attacks this year off of the Somali coast, with the bulk of the attacks occurring in the Gulf of Aden, which separates the Arabian peninsula from the Horn of Africa. Sixteen ships with more than 200 crew remain in pirate custody, most of them docked a few miles off the Somali coast while ransom negotiations with the ship owners take place, said Lt. Nathan Christensen, a spokesman with the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet.[…]

Piracy has become a multi-million dollar business in Somalia, a nation that has limped along since 1991 without a functioning central government. A captured Ukrainian arms freighter hijacked off Somalia’s coast in 2008, for example, was released in February when its owners paid $3.2 million in cash, dropped by parachute.

Armed with automatic weapons, the pirates often attack the large merchant ships from small speed boats, then scale the towering ship hulls with hooks and ropes and overtake the merchant crews, which are generally unarmed.

I’ve been a bit fascinated by the resurgence it seems of piracy on the high seas. One would think this could be connected to the global economic mess, as the increase in crimes such as robbery are often connected to economic downturns. Just a thought.

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