PIRATES ARE ALIVE AND WELL

Johnny Depp had better sharpen his sword.  There is a bunch of really nasty pirates in the Gulf of Aden in the waters off Somalia.

In a Travel Pulse story from March 5, 2009 Fred Olsen Cruise Lines’ Balmoral took evasive action after a suspected pirate threat March 3 in those waters.  There was “suspicious activity” after two small boats followed the passenger liner.  All 1,000 on board were moved to safe havens below deck while the ship took evasive measures and moved.  This is among one of the few passenger ships put in this situation.

A House committee, the beginning of March, looked into a growing security threat which, heretofore, has been against tankers and industrial ships.  There were more than 130 pirate attacks last year in this area.  Top Defense and State Department officials told lawmakers that the U. S. Navy and a coalition of allies have curbed, but not done away with the pirate attacks.

Boarding attacks spiked last summer resulting in private shipping lines readily paying large ransom fees to rescue their crews and vessels.  One of the most spectacular raids was the capture in November of the huge Saudi cruide oil tanker  Sirius Star.  The ship was released January 10 after ransom payment was made by air drop.  This same group captured a Belize-flagged Ukrainian cargo ship off the coast of Kenya laden with tanks, grenade launchers and ammunition reportedly bound for a rebel faction in Sunan’s civil war – ransom was$3.2 million.  And we thought all we had to worry about was the economy?

www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/mar/05