30 September 2008

Updates on the MV Faina and the hijacked tanks

The piracy off the coast of Somalia has been a problem for several years. The lack of central government in the country has obviously hampered enforcement issues, but the maritime powers of the world have shown little enthusiasm for tackling the problem, either.

Well, now the pirates have everyone's attention. The hijacking of a merchant vessel carrying arms and ammunition - including 30+ T72 tanks - has caused quite a stir. Suddenly, everyone's got an opinion on how to protect merchant vessels in the area.

Some opinions have recommended treating them as a latter-day Barbary pirate enclave. However, the Barbary Pirate threats only ended for good when the French occupied much of the North African coast. Last time we checked, the French occupation of Algeria ended just splendidly.

Other options are being discussed. Popular Mechanics ran a recent article about non-lethal defense technologies that could be used to repel pirates, as no one is particularly eager to arm untrained merchantmen. Blackwater (natch) has not only volunteered to help protect merchant vessels, they've recently purchased a sizeable ocean-going vessel from which they could execute and control high-seas naval operations.

Or, there's always the defense mechanisms used by the mystery hijacked Iranian ship, that was supposedly carrying a cargo of "minerals". In an odd set of, uh... 'coincidences', most of the pirates involved in that hijacking died under mysterious circumstances that closely resembled radiation poisoning.

For now, though, the Somali Pirates are well-cornered by foreign warships, including at least one US frigate, the USS Howard. Those tanks aren't getting off-loaded any time soon.

By: Brant

No comments: