"While dictators rage and statesmen talk, all Europe dances — to The Lambeth Walk."

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Germans & Greeks Smite Somali Pirates

Somali pirates have been a problem off the Horn of Africa for some time now, taking their nation's violent lawlessness out to the high seas and spreading it far beyond their borders.

They capture foreign vessels, impound them with their crews, then demand an exorbitant ransom from the company which owns the ship or is paying for the goods to be transported.

Most attacks occur in the Gulf of Aden, but the pirates have been increasing their range, reaching the coasts of Kenya and Yemen.

In 2008, 111 vessels were attacked and 42 captured. 11 are still being held by the pirates as ransom negotiations continue. So far this year, another 7 ships have been seized, despite the efforts of an international naval task force.

So, as you can see, the pirates are running a pretty successful and lucrative operation for peasants from one of the most backward countries on earth. But it doesn't always go their way, and they are prone to rather amusing mistakes.

The best known of these incidents is that whilst collecting a ransom for the release of Saudi-registered oil tanker MV Sirius Star (loaded with $100 million of crude oil), five pirates overturned their boat and drowned, weighed down by the $3 million ransom which had been dropped from a plane.

However, I now have a new favourite in my 'How not to be a successful Somali pirate' section:

SAN'A, Yemen (AP) — 'Seven pirates opened fire on a German naval supply ship in the Gulf of Aden but were chased down and captured by an international anti-piracy task force, the U.S. Navy and European officials said Monday.

Meanwhile, Yemen reported that pirates killed a Yemeni fisherman and wounded two others in an attack on a fishing boat Saturday, also in the Gulf of Aden.

The expanse between Somalia and Yemen is one of the world's busiest waterways and the thousands of ships passing through each year have been plagued by pirate attacks.

In the attack on the German ship, pirates apparently mistook German FGS Spessart supply vessel for a commercial ship when they opened fire on it on Sunday afternoon, U.S. Navy 5th Fleet spokesman Lt. Nate Christensen said.

The German sailors returned fire and pursued the skiff while also calling in for support. Several naval ships — including a Greek and a Dutch frigate, a Spanish warship and the USS Boxer — sped to the area while a Spanish marine aircraft and two U.S. Marine Cobra helicopters joined the pursuit.

Five hours later, Greek sailors reached the pirate skiff, boarded it and seized the seven suspects and their weapons, including assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades, the Greek navy said. The suspects were disarmed and transferred for questioning to the German frigate Rheinland-Pfalz where they remain Monday, pending a decision on whether they will be legally prosecuted, Christensen said.

Germany's Ministry spokesman Christian Dienst said no one was injured in the attack, the first on a German naval ship in this area.'

Piracy rule number one; do not open fire on a modern Western naval vessel. You will lose.

1 comment:

Holger Awakens said...

GREAT STORY! Dontcha just wished you could have seen how big those pirates' eyes got when the Germans uncovered those deck guns?!!

Do they still believe in "walking the plank" in the German Navy? :)