Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A Quarrel Among Pirates

Remember the Somali pirates who inadvertently hijacked a shipload of tanks and weapons from Ukraine? Now that both the Russian and American navies have taken an interest in their activities, the chances that the pirates will return home with their skins intact grow slimmer with each passing day.

The hijacked ship is anchored in a Somali port, surrounded by vessels from the U.S. 5th Fleet. Recent reports indicate that the pirates are now quarreling among themselves, and that three of them have been killed.

According to Bloomberg:

Somali Pirates Are Said to Die in Fight on Ukrainian Ship

Sept. 30 (Bloomberg) — Three Somali pirates died in a shootout as they argued over how to deal with a hijacked Ukrainian ship carrying a cargo of battle tanks, a maritime official said. Pirates contacted onboard the ship denied there had been a fight.

Pirates seized the Faina, a Belize-flagged vessel with a crew of 17 Ukrainians, three Russians and one Latvian, on Sept. 25. It is carrying at least 30 Soviet-designed T-72 tanks to Kenya. U.S. warships have surrounded the boat, now anchored off the Somali port of Hobyo, to prevent the cargo being unloaded.

U.S. naval officers don’t have independent confirmation of a shootout, though they are aware of reports of one, Lieutenant Nate Christensen said by telephone from the U.S. 5th Fleet base in Bahrain.

“Misunderstanding between moderate and radical pirates on board increased last night until they opened fire between them, leaving three of them dead,” Andrew Mwangura, head of the Nairobi-based Seafarers Assistance Program, said by telephone.

“Moderate and radical pirates”??

What makes a pirate “moderate”? Does a radical want to cut the throats of captives, while a moderate wants to chain them in the bilge? Do moderates feed mouldy biscuits to their prisoners, while the radicals feed the prisoners to the fish?

The pirates, however, have denied that there’s any conflict among the buccaneer staff:
- - - - - - - - -
A pirate on board, who gave his name as Da’ud Elmi Adde and who said he’s deputy spokesman, denied Mwangura’s claims. “We have only one commander and we take the orders from him,” Adde said. “There is not a little bit of difference between us.”

Adde said Sugale Ali Omar, who has been the pirates’ onboard spokesman so far, was unavailable.

So the pirates have both a spokesman and a deputy spokesman. Do they also have a Human Resources Department? And do they form focus groups to help them determine more effective pirating strategies? Recycle their bilge so as to promote more environmentally-friendly privateering?

One of the crew members being held hostage has succumbed, allegedly due to natural causes:

Omar yesterday confirmed that a crew member had died from hypertension. Russian state broadcaster Vesti-24 reported on its Web Site that it was the Russian captain, Vladimir Kolobkov.

The U.S. 5th Fleet says it has several ships in the vicinity of the Faina. The only one it has identified is the destroyer USS Howard.

“We will maintain a vigilant watch over the ship and remain on station while negotiations take place,” Rear Admiral Kendall Card, Task Force Commander, said in a statement. “Our goal is to ensure the safety of the crew, to not allow off- loading of dangerous cargo and to make certain Faina can return to legitimate shipping.”

The U.S. Navy is allowing small boats to bring food and other supplies from land.

I admit to a secret desire for the U.S. to withdraw its forces from the scene and let the Russians take over operations. When the Russians finish with the pirates, there won’t be enough left of them to interest the seagulls.

But with the Americans (or the Europeans) in charge, there will be lengthy negotiations, and even if ransom isn’t paid, when the pirates are captured they’ll end up in the charge of human rights lawyers and the race-grievance industry. They’ll be giving press conferences and talking to the TV cameras about the plight of the indigenous people of Somalia in the wake of predatory colonialism.

No, let the Russians deal with them.

The shipping companies, however, are criticizing the naval authorities:

A group of shipping associations and a seamen’s trade union yesterday released a joint statement criticizing Western navies for not protecting shipping.

“The pirates are now attacking ships on a daily basis with machine guns and rocket propelled grenades, and are currently holding over 200 seafarers hostage,” the group said on the International Transport Workers’ Federation Web site. “The pirates are operating with impunity, and governments stand idly by. If civil aircraft were being hijacked on a daily basis, the response of governments would be very different.”

I don’t understand why commercial ships can’t equip themselves for their own defense. Surely a couple of modest-sized guns mounted on the deck fore and aft would be sufficient to take care of the problem…?

Or is there a logistical problem here that I’m missing?


Previous posts about the Somali pirates:

2005 Nov 5 Barbary Pirates Redux
    8 Update on the Somali Pirates
    14 The Mother Ship
2006 Mar 24 The Jamaica-Somalia Connection
  Apr 8 The Taliban, Somali-Style
  Jul 5 Pirates in the Strait
2007 Jun 5 Somali Pirates Take Danish Hostages
    6 The Territorial Waters of a Failed State
    8 Q-Ships for the Somali Coast?
    11 Pirates Demand Ransom for Danish Seamen
    13 Q-Ships, Pirates, and the Waters off Somalia
    25 The Danica White Runs Out of Food and Water
  Jul 11 Gossip-Mongers in Denmark
    21 The Danica White: Eight Weeks and Counting
  Aug 22 The Danica White Has Been Released
  Nov 24 Yo Ho Ho and a Bottle of Snaps
2008 Apr 21 A Spanish Danica White?
    29 Reputed $1.2 Million Paid to Free Spanish Hostages...
  May 2 A No-Pursuit Policy for Pirates
  Aug 23 Targeting the Somali Pirates
    23 More on Task Force 150
  Sep 8 Danish Ship Averts Pirate Attacks
    11 Those Undeterred Somali Pirates
    26 The Russians are Chasing the Somali Pirates

20 comments:

Proud Infidel said...

Baron, this Somali pirate problem baffles me because it would be so easy to solve. Like you said, the ships can be armed, I would imagine some well placed 50 caliber machine guns would do a lot to deter these slimeballs. Or how about a merchant ship full of soldiers with a few hidden heavy caliber guns and machine guns could be used to lure them in before wasting them.

Of course, we have the bizarre attitude of the British who seem to be more concerned about the human rights of pirates than the safety of honest folks. Let's face it, the British are a lost cause though, and who knows what politically correct claptrap the US Navy may be forced to operate under. You're right, let the Russians take care of the pirates. I'm sure they will do the right thing and terminate them with extreme prejudice.

Anonymous said...

All merchant ships used to be armed back a few centuries. Time to do it again.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, "Merchant Ships" are not, and cannot be, armed. At least, not with lethal weapons (guns). A few, very few, ships have high dB noise generators, which make the pirates "uncomfortable". In the olden days, a pirate would end up doing a dance at the end of a rope. It's time to go back to those times!

awake said...

“Moderate and radical pirates”??

Absurd. As absurd as referring to the the distinction between the Somali Muslim pirates as moderate and radical Muslims, when in actuality, the distinction between the pious and nominal is far more accurate.

John B said...

"Or is there a logistical problem here that I’m missing?"

This is a persistent topic among sailing discussion boards - i.e. arming of vessels. It appears there is a patchwork quilt of regulations around the world regarding firearms possession on board ships but the general consensus is that most jurisdictions place strict restrictions on all firearms. Now just think of the problem of carrying heavy machine guns through varying ports of call. Yachts in Bermuda even have to temporarily surrender their Very pistol flare guns while in port.

Of course during most of the time these regulations have been in effect piracy hasn't been much of a problem so arming ships hasn't been a concern. One additional factor is the complex registration procedures and crewing of most ships. Long gone are the days of U.S., U.K. or Norwegian ships being crewed by their own skilled sailors. Now it's more likely a Liberian registered ship owned by a company registered in the Cayman Islands chartered to a Panamanian operator with a Korean captain and a crew from China of the Philippines - all paid low wages. I expect many operators have been more afraid of their own crews than of pirates - at least until now.

BTW - I too was kind of happy to see the Ruskies arrive on the scene - no political correctness there.

Robin Shadowes said...

I only say one thing. Parley!!!!!

CarnackiUK said...

Parley!!! sez you.

'Tip 'em the Black Spot' sez I.

Right between the eyes.

Western Initiatives said...

This is hilarious! Who would have thought pirates (pirates!?) would still be harrassing the civilised world in the 21st Century? It's good to see the Russians appear on the scene.

PRCalDude said...

The "moderates" want to just kill the prisoners. The "radicals" want to rape then kill the prisoners.

Consul-At-Arms said...

"The hijacked ship is anchored in a Somali port, surrounded by vessels from the U.S. 5th Fleet."

Nice port you get here. It'd be a shame if something happened to it.

Fjordman said...

Keira Knightley is a moderate pirate.

Anonymous said...

Really now, how can the U.S. government be expected to do anything about these misrepresenters of Islam when the economy needs scocializing? First things first.

And do we really want the Russians to do naughty things to the "pirates" who, after all, stopped a shipment of death-machines from reaching it's victims?

Henrik R Clausen said...

It's good to see the Russians appear on the scene.

Yeah. They're focused, and they're brutal. Proper medicine for pirate scum. Also, the Russians are not busy trying to push extortion schemes through their parliament, as they have their pockets lined already. They can focus on getting the job done.

Actually, while the world is busy watching the Bush administration frantically trying to get more money for their friends, the Russians might have some peace and quiet to get the job done their way.

I don't care much that the delivery was of dubious value to the West, and might cause trouble later. It's the principle that matters, of protecting trade and private property. Here I trust the Russians more than I trust the Americans. And the Americans more than I trust Europeans. And, finally, Europeans more than I trust the EU.

If the state of Somalia (whoever that is this week) doesn't deal with the problem itself - and it won't - my interpretation of international law is that we have the right to do so.

Afonso Henriques said...

I must be a terrible person because this made me smile.

Steve said...

Reminds me of those films where some hapless thief accidentally nicks a shitload of mafia money.
'Oh nooooooooo' - bang!

Go, Pooty!

Marianne said...

Let's hear it for the Russian Federation, Za druzhbu myezhdu narodami!

awake said...

Fjordman said...
Keira Knightley is a moderate pirate.

9/30/2008 1:20 PM


Agreed.

Consul-At-Arms said...

I've quoted you and linked to you here: http://consul-at-arms.blogspot.com/2008/10/re-quarrel-among-pirates.html

Henrik R Clausen said...

The Russian gunboats will (according to Danmarks Radio) arrive at the scene tomorrow, October 2nd.

This spells trouble for the pirates. As the article quotes 'commentators' for, "the Russians have a less dialogue-oriented approach to pirates".

Application of superior firepower seems warranted.

no2liberals said...

At least we know what the cargo is on this ship.
We don't know what is on the Iranian ship.

"“That ship is unusual,” he was quoted as saying. “It is not carrying a normal shipment.”

Some of the pirates became ill, their hair fell out, and they died in a few days?
Sounds like radiation poisoning, to me.