Here is a nice fuzzy headline for you: Pirates free Taiwanese shipLINK2

This can be interpreted as the pirates freed a ship from a reef, or that they freed a ship after getting a ransom.

Piracy off the coast of Somalia is not new, but is now in resurgence, with pirates using GPS systems and going out to sea in “mother ships”, from which their smaller vessels can attack tankers and larger cargo ships. There is a nagging worry that Al Qaeda will use these tactics both as a way for funding local groups or to harass traffic coming from the Persian Gulf.

“In 23 percent of the attacks, tankers were the targets,” Mukundan said. “The fact that these ships carrying dangerous cargoes may be temporarily under the control of unauthorised individuals remains a matter of concern.

“We have also seen, for the first time, ships being attacked simultaneously by a number of small pirate boats, firing weapons at the bridge of the vessel,” he said.

Yet piracy is not a new problem, nor is the coast off of Somalia the most dangerous area for sailors…similar incidents have occured off the coast of Nigeria, off the coast of Bangladesh, and in the Indian Ocean near Malaysia and  Indonesia. Such hijackings rarely hit the paper, but when they involve Filippino sailors, it does get in the local papers here.

Usually the pirates either steal everything not tied down and then leave,  or hold sailors for ransom. This quickly becomes a “win-win” situation for pirates: they steal everything and get paid on top of it. At the worse, they simply kill everyone and still get away with murder, and lots of loot.

But the US Fifth fleet and an international task force has been patrolling in the area, and it seems that some of the ships are getting involved in fighting the danger.

The Smithsonian magazine has a long article about it HERE. In other words, lots of stuff going in the “war on terror” that you probably don’t hear Katie Couric talking about.
Today’s USA Today has a little better headline: Somali pirates leave hijacked ships

and the story continues:

The United States has now intervened four times in one week to help ships hijacked by Somali pirates. Sailors boarded a North Korean ship to treat crewmembers who overpowered their hijackers, and a U.S. naval vessel fired on pirate skiffs tied to a Japanese-owned ship.

So the next time you read about Pirates “leaving” or “freeing” a ship, read the whole story.
Because unless you read the whole article, you might not notice that the reason they released the ship was that the big bad US Navy sort of said: Go ahead, punk, make my day

The latest fishing vessel freed by the U.S. Navy had two Taiwanese and 12 Chinese crew members aboard when it was hijacked 137 miles off the coast of Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, in May….
Two other boats hijacked by Somali pirates in May were freed after U.S. Navy personnel spoke to them by radio.



Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. Her website is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket. Her son in law is in the US Navy serving in Iraq.

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