Friday, November 21, 2008

"How 'bout them Somali Pirates?"

A good friend argued with me at lunch today that there was no way the U.S. Navy was going to be effective in suppressing piracy off the coast of Somalia. "Very simply," he said, "the Navy doesn't have enough ships to do the job."

I found that very hard to believe. "You mean to tell me," I demanded, "that with all the ships, subs, and planes in our Navy and all the communications and surveillance capabilities at their disposal, they can't track down and smash these little pests if they had a mind to do so?"

"Yes, exactly. You don't understand," he continued patiently, "what a huge expanse of ocean they have to hide in out there and how difficult it is to spot and track their tiny boats, never mind distinguishing them from the swarm of genuine fishing boats that dot the seas. And don't forget, these pirates aren't after loot they'd have to haul back into port on barges; they're after cash they can carry off in their speedboats.

"Even if the whole U.S. Navy were assigned to chase these guys down—which they won't be, given more critical situations elsewhere in the world—the pirates would still slip through their fingers."

I decided I needed to dig deeper into the problem in order to understand what we were up against. Among a lot of others, I came across an article that ran in the some weeks ago that contained a helpful map as well as this sobering observation:

But the pirates’ biggest victim has been Somalia itself. Some 2.6m of the country’s 8m people depend on food aid that comes by sea. French, Danish and Dutch naval ships have escorted ships carrying food from Mombasa to Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital, for the UN’s World Food Programme, but it is a fragile supply line. In May, a Jordanian freighter, the Victoria, carrying sugar for displaced people, disappeared 56km (35 miles) off Mogadishu before being freed a week later. It is hard for the UN to find shipowners willing to take the risk without an armed escort.

You can find the full article here. It's worth reading and thinking about.

1 comment:

wariye said...

I hope you continue writing about this topic and expand on your findings on the account of your research.

But here is what I think. The pirates are out there and are capturing every ship they feel will bring'em revenue. The U.S. Navy can undoubtedly tackle the pirates but it is not in their interest to do so for this reason. Having pirates scare people off helps the U.S. Navy do their secretive operation on the Somali Coast. Furthermore, whatever it is they're doing out there, in the open sea, is definetely not advertised to the American public.

The truth is, the U.S. Navy want the situation just as it is since no one will question why the US ships are sitting uselessly in the Somali waters, as long as there are pirates who will dominate the public interest

P.S. I blog about Somali Pirates and other Somalia related issues on my web site Somali Blog and News.