Wednesday, April 8, 2009

American Crew Retakes Hijacked Ship

Within the last day the Mearsk Alabama, with a 20-person American crew, was hijacked off the coast of Somalia while carrying aid supplies from Denmark to Kenya. This marked the first time since 1800 that an American crew had been successfully taken by pirates. The hijacking was tough--the four pirates chased the vessel for 5 hours, and were repeatedly knocked away by powerful water hoses.

The shipping company had pirate insurance (this exists), and was ready to pay to get the ordeal over with. But they didn't get the time to negotiate.

The 20 American crewmen overpowered the four pirates, taking one into custody on the ship. Pentagon reports have confirmed that the ship is back under American control. Watching the story unfold, I was wondering whether the US Navy would try to bail the crew out, and it appeared that they had been asked to back off by the ship's owner, who was ready to pay up (or, alternatively, knew what his crew was capable of).

If word of the incident spreads, Somali pirates may come better-armed in the future, but they would then risk escalating the problem to the point that it becomes less costly to the rest of the world to simply hunt and kill the pirates, rather than patrol and pay ransoms.

But Americans don't react passively these days to being hijacked, and probably won't ever again. Somali pirates may be better about doing their homework on their target in the future.
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