Sunday, November 06, 2005

Ho Ho Ho and a Bottle o' Rum

You might have seen this rather unusual story in the news:

"Pirates armed with grenade launchers and machine guns tried to hijack a luxury cruise liner off the east African coast Saturday, but the ship outran them, officials said. Two boats full of pirates approached the Seabourn Spirit about 100 miles off the Somali coast and opened fire while the heavily armed bandits tried to get onboard, said Bruce Good, spokesman for the Miami-based Seabourn Cruise Line, a subsidiary of Carnival Corp. The ship escaped by shifting to high speed and changing course."

Apparently...not so unusual and there is often quite a degree of professional organization. I did some digging and found some interesting info. Apparently there are fifty to several hundred of these pirating incidents a year and they are probably under reported. Most incidents are against commercial craft but private craft are known to have been attacked. The concentration of piracy incidents continues to be located in areas with little or no maritime law enforcement, political and economic stability, and a high volume of commercial activity. Incidents of piracy tend to occur in four regional areas: Southeast Asia, Africa, South America, and Central America. Furthermore, most incidents of maritime crime occur in coastal waters with nearly 80 percent of all reported piracy incidents occurring in territorial waters.

Today's piracy is more than a nuisance to commercial shipping. It affects maritime traffic in vital shipping lanes, particularly in Southeast Asia. Attacks on oil supertankers hold the potential to ignite environmental disasters. Attacks by pirate craft may invite military reprisals, and there is a continuing problem off the coast of China with what amounts to state-sponsored piracy by some official Chinese craft.

Check out this article from a British newspaper that starts: A typical Radio Singapore broadcast is “here is the shipping forecast; shippers should expect high incidents of sea piracy, hijacking and murder in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore. Crews should be especially alert in waters off Indonesia’s Aceh Province. Beware of heavily armed speed boats, but even fishing boats should be regarded as a potential threat.

rest of article: