A Pirate Sails For Parts Unknown

Another year has come and gone. Rosh Hashanah has made its appearance followed by Yom Kippur and here I sit, Jack the pirate king. Or is it more accurate to say on this Talk Like a Pirate Day that Jack the Pirate King no longer runs a kingdom. The man who mastered all that he saw got caught up in this and that and in the process lost his kingdom.

Would that be more truthful and more accurate to say that now he rules over a kingdom of ash and shadows. The man who was the Pirate King could be referred to as he who has mastered memory and nothing more. Or maybe not. Maybe the joy and beauty of being a pirate is that what you lose can always be recovered because a pirate is not limited by rules or convention.

Been a while since I raised my flag and spent time as the scourge of the seas. Been far too long since the thunder of my cannons and the clang of my steel caused men to quiver in fear. Been far too long since that wench brought me some grog and more than a while since I spent time on my private beach.

Time to chase that which lies just around the bend and to roam where the wind and waters send me. Arrrrgh!

Past posts that discussed pirates:

Haveil Havalim- The Once & Future Edition– Contains a Pirate Post.
Do You Have An Accent

Pirate Attacks Down Sharply

Today is Talk Like a Pirate Day

The Jewish Pirates of The Caribbean

Talk Like a Pirate Day
Talk Like a Pirate Day

Israeli Security Repels Pirates

Ynet reports that an Italian cruise ship was attacked by pirates. However the assault was successfully repelled by their Israeli security team.

An Italian cruise ship with 1,500 people on board fended off a pirate attack far off the coast of Somalia when its Israeli private security forces exchanged fire with the bandits and drove them away, the commander said Sunday.

Cmdr. Ciro Pinto told Italian state radio that six men in a small white boat approached the Msc Melody and opened fire Saturday night, but retreated after the Israeli security officers aboard the cruise ship returned fire.

“It felt like we were in war,” Pinto said. None of the roughly 1,000 passengers and 500 crew members were hurt, Melody owner Msc Cruises said in a statement issued by its German branch.

Domenico Pellegrino, head of the Italian cruise line, said Msc hired the Israelis because they were the best trained security agents, the ANSA news agency reported.

The Somalian Pirates Successful Business Model

In our continuing series of posts about the Somalian pirates we are pleased to present an interview with a former FBI agent (Jack Cloonan) who specializes in negotiating with pirates.

In it he discusses the hierarchy, intelligence of the pirates and how they communicate.

Here are a few excerpts for your review.

SPIEGEL: How does the money get delivered to the pirates? For example, are speedboats used?

Jack Cloonan: Delivering money is an extremely difficult part of the negotiation process because once you strike a deal, you do have to deliver the ransom. We used to rent tugboats in Mombasa. But the tugboat captains — some of whom have delivered ransoms repeatedly — have actually charged more for the delivery of the ransom than the actual ransom amount. What we do is, we cruise to a certain agreed-upon location with coordinates, you get within sight, the delivery is made from a bagman to the bad guys and then you hope that the pirates do the right thing. They generally do.

SPIEGEL: From your experience with the Somali pirates, are they intelligent people? Or are they simply thugs?

Cloonan: They’re not stupid. They know that they’ve got a life — they can leverage that. They know that it’s a successful business model. They know that they can operate in this wide swath of area almost with impunity and they can pick and choose. And they’re developing better strategies. They’re going further out from the coast because they know the ships have been advised by the International Maritime Bureau to stay a minimum of 200 nautical miles offshore. If ships come in within say 50 or 100 miles, they’re easily stopped.

And they are effective — for example, when they call family members to induce stress. I think shooting off a gun during a telephone call and saying you just killed someone is pretty effective. I think moving ships and threatening to beach them is effective. The fact that they anchor the ships within sight of each other is very intelligent. Some are better than others.

SPIEGEL: In terms of the sociology of the pirates, do you have a sense of their hierarchy or of their structures?

Cloonan: Oftentimes when we’ve been engaged you’ll see that there’s a commander who’s in charge once they get on board. And that situation can be very fluid. You might be dealing with Ahmed one day, maybe for two days, and then he gets frustrated and you get somebody else that comes on. As these things go on — and they can typically last a month or more — you’ll have several representatives from the pirates but then at some point where you’re really getting close and you’re getting frustrated and they’re getting frustrated, invariably the decision-maker comes forward. I equate it to buying a car in the United States. You’re dealing with somebody and negotiating and then finally he just throws his hands up and says: “All right, I’ve got to go talk to my manager.” And then they come back in and make a deal.

Our experience with the pirates suggests to us that there is an organizational structure. So if we’re not making progress with somebody on board during the negotiations, then we ask for the right person, the decision-maker. He could be on land, he could be on board.

If you read the whole interview you’ll see that Cloonan addresses the question of the best way to try and prevent these incidents. His suggestions include taking a different route and escorts for the ships.

I’ll avoid snarky comments about that and suggest that non lethal measures may not be the most effective tool for dealing with these criminals. But then again, I am just a guy writing this from the comfort of my keyboard, so what do I know.

Pirates Hijack Two More Ships

CNN is reporting that Somali pirates have hijacked two more ships.

(CNN) — Pirates off the coast of Somalia seized two freighters Tuesday, proving they remain a force to contend with just days after the U.S. Navy dramatically rescued an American captain held by other pirates.

First, pirates in the Gulf of Aden on Tuesday hijacked the MV Irene EM, a 35,000-ton Greek-owned bulk carrier, according to a NATO spokesman and the European Union’s Maritime Security Center.
The crew of the Greek carrier was thought to be unhurt and ships have been warned to stay clear of the area for fear of further attack, the Security Center said.

Later Tuesday, pirates on four skiffs seized the 5,000-ton MV Sea Horse, a Lebanese-owned and Togo-flagged vessel, said Cmdr. Chris Davies of NATO’s Maritime Component Command Headquarters in Northwood, England.

Details about the ship and its crew weren’t immediately available.

NATO has an ongoing anti-piracy mission off Somalia called Operation Allied Protector. The mission involves four ships covering more than a million square miles, Davies said.

A U.S.-led international naval task force, Combined Task Force-151, is also patrolling in the region.

It is time to stop paying ransoms in a currency other than bullets and missiles. Otherwise you do nothing but encourage these men to continue to engage in piracy. A stern message needs to be sent sooner, rather than later.

Pirates Vow to Kill Sailors

The story about the American Sailor who was rescued from the Somalian pirates had a happy ending for the captain but generated a strong response from a couple of pirates.

“MANAMA, Bahrain (CNN) — U.S. Navy snipers fatally shot three pirates holding an American cargo-ship captain hostage after seeing that one of the pirates “had an AK-47 leveled at the captain’s back,” a military official said Sunday.

The captain, who’d been held in a lifeboat in the Indian Ocean since Wednesday, was rescued uninjured, Navy Vice Adm. Bill Gortney told reporters.

Capt. Richard Phillips’ ship, the Maersk Alabama, was stormed by pirates 350 miles off Somalia on Wednesday morning. He was “resting comfortably” on the USS Boxer after his rescue Sunday night, according to the Navy.”

The deaths of these pirates followed the deaths of other pirates who were killed in a rescue operation mounted by the French. These actions angered two pirates who have vowed to kill American/French sailors. (Am I the only one rolling my eyes about two pirates.)

The military actions angered Ali Nur, a pirate who is based in Gara’ad, a coastal village in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland, in northern Somalia.

“From now on, after the killings by the U.S. and France, we will add some harsher steps in our dealings with hostages, particularly American and French hostages,” Nur told a journalist.

Big talk from a pissant who is safely ensconced in a little hole. He and his fellows are working hard towards convincing the world to do something about piracy off the coast of Somalia. I don’t necessarily expect that we’ll see warships routinely providing an escort, but we will see ships that are better equipped for defense.

The end result will be more dead pirates and rightly so.