When Sarah Palin booked a flight to Europe, the French immediately surrendered.

calendar   Thursday - April 14, 2011

Not Too Surprising

Stats: 1Q 2011 Worst Year For Piracy

Sea piracy worldwide hit a record high of 142 attacks in the first quarter this year as Somali pirates become more violent and aggressive, a global maritime watchdog said Thursday.

Nearly 70 percent or 97 of the attacks occurred off the coast of Somalia, up sharply from 35 in the same period last year, the International Maritime Bureau’s piracy reporting center in Kuala Lumpur said in a statement.

Attackers seized 18 vessels worldwide, including three big tankers, in the January-March period and captured 344 crew members, it said. Pirates also murdered seven crew members and injured 34 during the quarter.

“Figures for piracy and armed robbery at sea in the past three months are higher than we’ve ever recorded in the first quarter of any past year,” said the bureau’s director Pottengal Mukundan.

He said there was a “dramatic increase in the violence and techniques” used by Somali pirates to counter increased patrols by international navies, putting large tankers carrying oil and other flammable chemicals at highest risk to firearm attacks.

A further 45 vessels were boarded, and 45 more reported being fired upon.
In a recent show of force, the Indian navy captured 61 Somali pirates on a hijacked ship off India’s west coast.

Elsewhere, nine incidents were reported off Malaysia, including the hijacking of a tug and barge off Tioman Island.

Five incidents were recorded for Nigeria and three attacks against vessels in Lagos.

I am not sure if “floating burglary” counts as piracy. In Indonesia and off the west coast of Africa, most of the reported criminal activity is of bandits who break into ships in port, but there have been hijackings in those areas too.

The numbers above are for the January to March period; since then there have been at least a dozen more attacks. When I look through the ICC reports one thing stands out: ships that can defend themselves even a little bit don’t get robbed or hijacked. Here’s one that did, and got away from a whole swarm of pirates:

A passenger ship underway noticed a group of about 20 skiffs near the port bow at a distance of 3nm. Five skiffs were seen to break out from this group and head towards the vessel. At a distance of around 600-700 meters the armed security team noticed around five to seven pirates armed with RPG and guns were seen in each skiff and instructed all crew members to stay inside the ship. As the skiffs approached closer the security team fired warning shots and the skiffs moved away. At the same time three more skiffs approached the vessel from the starboard side at a distance of 800 meters. The security team noticed arms on board these skiffs and fired warning shots when the skiffs closed to a distance of 600 – 300 meters. The pirates aborted the attempted attack and moved away. Master informed a warship in the vicinity and all ships in the area via VHF channel16.

And here’s one that didn’t:

About ten pirates armed with weapons boarded a general cargo ship underway. The ten crew members went into the citadel and requested for assistance. Pirates managed to get access into the citadel and took hostage the crew members and took command of the vessel.

The passenger ship was just outside the Straits of Hormuz, just beyond the Persian Gulf in the Gulf of Oman. This is just about the busiest shipping lane in the world; with all the world’s navies patrolling the area, you’d think it would be wall to wall coverage, armed to the teeth. Yet a whole squadron of pirates lay in wait like a gang of muggers in an alley, and once informed, the navies did not engage in a turkey shoot.

The bulk carrier was several hundred miles to the east, 30nm off of Ras al Masirah along the Omani coast east of Yemen.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 04/14/2011 at 07:46 AM   
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calendar   Tuesday - April 12, 2011

drew,lyndon and all bmews regs. remember your blood pressure before reading

This honestly is a coincidence.  Not normally here this early. Caught this in the morning paper and knew I couldn’t ignore it.

What the heck do ya make of this?

He said he was unconvinced that they had enough evidence to convict the pirates – even though they were heavily armed, were carrying hostages and had confessed


What a load of rubbish this is.  No wonder pirates are so successful.  Word in the newspapers reports that they are becoming more violent too.

This is most definitely an RCOB story.  And btw, with regard to the one Drew posted on another pirate capture.  The article didn’t say what our guys did with the black bastards.  Probably read em Miranda rights or something else ridiculous.

Here ya go. Look at this. You may want a calming drink first.

HMS Nursemaid:

Shame as Navy seizes 17 armed Somalis, gives them halal meat and nicotine patches… then sets them free!


When a Royal Navy warship captured a crew of Somali pirates, it seemed like a rare chance to strike back at the ruthless sea gangsters.

The 17 outlaws were armed with an arsenal of AK 47s and rocket-propelled grenades, and had forced hostages on a hijacked fishing vessel to work as slaves for three months.

But instead of bringing them to justice, the British servicemen were ordered to provide the pirates halal meals, medical checks, cigarettes – and in one case even a nicotine patch – before releasing them in their own boats.

The extraordinary treatment – revealed in a Radio 4 documentary to be broadcast tonight – came at a time when Somali piracy is causing mayhem to shipping in the Indian Ocean.

More than £60million was paid in ransoms last year and pirates currently hold 30 ships and nearly 800 hostages.

HMS Cornwall is one of two Royal Navy frigates patrolling two and a half million square miles of ocean to try to capture pirate ships.

The apparent breakthrough came in February when the captain of a merchant ship crossing the ocean radioed to say he had seen something suspicious.

A helicopter was scrambled and spotted a Yemeni fishing vessel which had been hijacked by pirates and was being used as their ‘mother ship’ to attack other vessels.

Armed Royal Marines launched boats and swooped on the pirates, who were found with nine AK 47s plus rocket-propelled grenade launchers and boarding ladders.

The five slave crew from the fishing vessel were released and the 17 pirates initially detained on board the warship.

Commander David Wilkinson, Cornwall’s captain, said: ‘This team admitted their intention was to commit piracy activities.’

But after compiling the evidence against them and submitting it to his superiors he was ordered to ‘set up arrangements for putting them ashore in Somalia’.

Before being freed, the pirates were given a medical check-up in accordance with UK law and food which included a halal option to take into account religious needs.

After showing they were compliant, some were given cigarettes, and one was given a nicotine patch on medical advice because his tobacco withdrawal had caused his heart rate to soar.

Close to shore, the British servicemen set them free in two skiffs which they had earlier seized from the gangsters – with no food and just enough fuel to get them to land.

MP Henry Bellingham says said the Government is reviewing the ‘catch and release’ approach to piracy

As they stepped off the warship, Commander Wilkinson told the head of the pirate gang: ‘If you are a leader, go back and lead for good.

‘If you are going to carry on in this trade, expect to find me and my colleagues waiting for you. And if I see you again, it’s not going to go well.’

Commander Wilkinson added that he believed the order to free the pirates was the ‘right decision’ because he was not convinced bringing them back to the UK would have been a deterrent.

He also said he was unconvinced that they had enough evidence to convict the pirates – even though they were heavily armed, were carrying hostages and had confessed.

The decision to release the pirates was made by the UK’s Maritime Component Commander based in Bahrain after considering UK policy and law.

Foreign Office Minister Henry Bellingham said the Government is reviewing the ‘catch and release’ approach to piracy.

‘It is not going to happen in the future unless there isn’t any other alternative.’

The Sea Gangsters is on BBC Radio 4 tonight at 8pm.


“If you are going to carry on in this trade, expect to find me and my colleagues waiting for you. And if I see you again, it’s not going to go well.”

Right.  Bet the pirates were shaking with fear at that threat.


Posted by peiper   United Kingdom  on 04/12/2011 at 04:59 AM   
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calendar   Monday - April 11, 2011

Don’t Ask, And The Navy Won’t Tell

USS Mason Intercepts Pirate Mother-ship in Arabian Sea


Guided missile destroyer USS Mason (DDG 87), flagship of the Singapore-led Combined Task Force (CTF) 151, freed a dhow from suspected pirates in the Arabian Sea, April 10.

The FV Nasri was initially sighted on April 9, by an Australian Maritime Patrol Aircraft. USS Mason, being the nearest warship, was tasked immediately to close and investigate.

Mason and its embarked helicopter located the Nasri early on the morning, April 10. The helicopter’s crew saw 16 personnel, a motored skiff, a ladder and several oil barrels on board. The personnel on the dhow complied with verbal warnings to stop, and assemble on the deck where they could be clearly seen.

The boarding team from Mason searched the dhow and found weapons and other common piracy paraphernalia, such as ladders and excessive fuel drums. They identified 11 of the men as suspected pirates, and five as members of the dhow’s crew.

Pirates are known to use the crew of captured vessels as hostages and also to operate their vessels as mother-ships from which to launch further attacks.

The Nasri was returned to its crew and departed the area.

Republic of Singapore Navy Rear Admiral Harris Chan, Commander, CTF 151, was delighted with the coalition effort and said, “the success of this operation is a testament to the operational readiness of CTF 151 and its units. As USS Mason has demonstrated, we are able to respond swiftly to disrupt any pirate activity, and will continue in our efforts to ensure the security of maritime activity in this region.”

So the 5 hostages got their little dhow back and went on their merry way. And the 11 pirates ... ?

I wonder if we have new material for those sharks in the latest Snickers ads?



Posted by Drew458   United States  on 04/11/2011 at 09:05 PM   
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calendar   Sunday - April 03, 2011

Rolling Rolling Rolling

UAE “special forces” Captures Pirates, Frees Ship

Under Sharia Law, Will Heads Roll?

UAE Special Forces stormed a hijacked Dubai-bound ship yesterday, rescuing the crew and arresting all the pirates who had seized it.

Special counter-terrorism units, with support from the Air Force and Air Defence, as well as the US Fifth Fleet, stormed the MV Arrilah-I, a bulk carrier en route from Australia to Jebel Ali, the Armed Forces General Headquarters said in a statement.

The ship was hijacked in the Arabian Sea, east of Oman, early on Friday.

The military said the vessel was now headed towards Emirati shores, guarded by UAE Special Forces. The pirates will be handed over to the Ministry of Interior once they arrive in Dubai.

The Armed Forces said the rescue showed the UAE’s commitment to acting “firmly” in the face of piracy, adding that the country would “not succumb to such threats”.

The 37,000-tonne ship is owned by the Abu Dhabi National Tanker Company and the National Gas Shipping Company, two subsidiaries of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc).
Pirate attacks are estimated to cost between US$7 billion (Dh25.7bn) and $12bn annually in losses to the global economy, according to a December study by the One Earth Future Foundation.

See, even the arabs can take down pirates if they feel like it. And muzzies have no compunction at all about killing fellow muzzies. They simply apply their “religion”, and it’s “Hassan chop!”


Meanwhile, at the other end of the continent, certain people have no compunction at all about killing anyone. As the battle for the presidency rages on in the Ivory Coast, word gets out about a head chopping massacre. At least 1000 dead in the streets, whacked into chunks by barbaric animals for the “crime” of ... of nothing really. Just being in the way I guess. Typical africa.

Machete thugs hack to death 1,000 in just one town as Ivory Coast battle rages

A thousand civilians have been found massacred in a small town in Ivory Coast amid worsening civil conflict in the West African state.

The victims were discovered by aid agency workers in Duekoue. Some had been shot and others hacked to death with machetes.

It was not clear last night who carried out the attacks, but the area is thought to be in the control of supporters of Alassane Ouattara, who won Ivory Coast’s election late last year. President Laurent Gbagbo has refused to step down.

Red Cross spokesman Dorothea Krimitsas warned: ‘There is a risk this kind of event can happen again.’

Last night 10,000 refugees crowded into Duekoue’s Catholic church, guarded by 1,000 United Nations peacekeepers.

Yeah, and?? Then what happened? You don’t ever ever hear a story out of Africa that starts “10,000 refugees hid out in a church” without the follow-on “where they were all burned to death by opposition forces while useless blue helmets stood around picking their asses”.  So far ... that news hasn’t been reported. Keep your fingers crossed.

Col. Chaib Rais, the U.N. military spokesman, told The Associated Press that nearly 1,000 peacekeepers at Duekoue “are protecting the Catholic Church with more than 10,000 (refugees) inside and we have military camps in the area.”

But he said “I have no special report of (mass killings).”

Rais said there was fighting in and around the town on Sunday and Monday, between forces loyal to the rival leaders.

On Monday, fighters loyal to Ouattara took Duekoue.

ICRC spokeswoman Dorothea Krimitsas said “communal violence” erupted there, apparently on Tuesday.

International and Ivorian Red Cross teams visited Duekoue Friday and saw a “huge number of bodies,” estimated at more than 800, she said.
Human Rights Watch issued a statement Saturday saying it had documented abuses, with the vast majority perpetrated by forces loyal to Gbagbo against real or perceived Ouattara supporters, as well as against West African immigrants and Muslims.

“The documented abuses include targeted killings, enforced disappearances, politically motivated rapes, and unlawful use of lethal force against unarmed demonstrators,” the statement said. “These abuses, committed over a four-month period by security forces under the control of Gbagbo and militias loyal to him, may rise to the level of crimes against humanity.”

Africa ... it’s where you want to take your next vacation. NOT IN TEN MILLION YEARS THANK YOU VERY MUCH !!

Oh - the bit of info that should not be lost in the story of this atrocity? The UN “peacekeepers” already control the town where this atrocity occurred. So, WTF are they good for? Why did this happen? Did they forget that they’re there to protect people, not just treat the local underage girls like whores while stuffing their pockets with whatever they can steal or extort?

JOHANNESBURG - More than 800 people have been massacred in a western Ivory Coast town where hundreds of U.N. peacekeepers are based, the International Federation of the Red Cross said Saturday, but the U.N. military spokesman said he had no information about mass killings there.

The Roman Catholic charity Caritas put the toll at more than 1,000 dead, an estimate reached by its workers who visited the town of Duekoue on Wednesday.

The REAL title that these new reports should have is UN Cowards Allow Vile Giant Massacre To Happen Under Their Noses, Do Nothing To Prevent It.

Yeah sure, “Colonel” Rais didn’t know nothing ‘bout no killings. Not a thing. Didn’t see or hear anything, even though Duekoue is a tiny town of perhaps 40 streets and covers one square mile. Pull it up on your map software and see.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 04/03/2011 at 09:18 AM   
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calendar   Thursday - March 17, 2011

First Time In 190 Years

US Court Sentences Pirates To Life + 80 Years

First Piracy Conviction In US Since 1820


rope would have been cheaper

Five Somali men, convicted of attacking a US Navy ship [ USS Nicholas ], have been sentenced to life in prison by a Virginia court. Tuesday’s sentencing is the harshest yet for accused pirates as the US tries to halt piracy off Africa’s coast.

The federal prosecution relied upon rarely-used 19th century maritime laws, and was the first piracy case to go to trial since the Civil War, when a New York jury deadlocked on charges against 13 Southern privateers.

The five Somali men were convicted on federal piracy charges on November 24 last year.

Prosecutors argued during trial that the five had confessed to attacking the USS Nicholas on April 1 after mistaking it for a merchant ship.

Presiding judge Mark Davis also sentenced them to an additional 80 years in prison for firearms charges in connection with the hijack attempt. The trial held at Norfolk, home port to USS Nicholas and one of the largest naval bases in the world, also witnessed the first-ever conviction by a U.S. jury in a piracy case since 1820.

Attorney Neil MacBride told reporters that the sentence pronounced by the trial court was the longest ever in a piracy case. The buccaneer convicted in 1820 was executed.

The hijacking of ships near the coast of Somalia has cost the shipping industry millions of dollars. Pirates have continued to attack foreign ships in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean, defying an armada of warships trying to protect the key maritime route. The fight against piracy has been hampered by legal ambiguities over the appropriate venue to prosecute captured suspects.


an appropriate venue?

The UN’s special adviser of piracy has called for $25 million to be spent on setting up special courts for suspected pirates in Somalia’s semi-autonomous enclaves of Puntland and Somaliland, as well as in Tanzania.

Jack Lang, a former French culture minister, on Tuesday recommended that the specialised courts be set up over the next eight months to begin to try some of the 90 per cent of suspected pirates who are released because nowhere can be found to try them. The courts would operate under Somali laws.

Somalia, which is in the midst of a conflict between a largely powerless government and armed groups seeking its overthrow, lacks the legal infrastructure to try pirates.

Kenya and the Seychelles have prosecuted dozens of suspects handed over by foreign navies, who patrol of the Gulf of Aden in an attempt to protect some of the world’s busiest shipping lanes. However, both have said they would have difficulties coping if all the seized pirates were sent to them.

‘Pirate economy’

Lang was briefing members of the UN Security Council on the increasing threat of piracy, which costs the global economy an estimated $7 billion to $12 billion a year.

“Pirates are becoming the masters of the Indian Ocean,” he said. “The pirate economy ... is having a destabilising effect on Somalia and the entire region owing to rising prices, insecurity of energy supplies and loss of revenue.”

About 30 ships, ranging from fishing boats to bulk carriers, are currently held by Somali pirates. Around 1,900 people have been taken hostage since the end of 2008.

Lang also recommended that two special prisons be built, one in Somaliland and one in Puntland, with capacity of 500 prisoners each, with a third to be built in Puntland soon afterward. Any such project will have to be authorised by the Security Council, which took no immediate decision after listening to Lang’s oral presentation. Lang also proposed all countries should make piracy a criminal offense and impose universal jurisdiction for it, meaning they could prosecute pirates whatever their nationality and wherever the offense took place.

Phooey. Wimp solution. All nations should acknowledge that piracy at sea is a capital offense, even if it’s the one and only capital offense in the country, even if the country doesn’t have any seashore. All surviving captured pirates should be sent to a tribunal in the Seychelles, tried and then executed. The Seychelles has hundreds of tiny uninhabited islands. Rename one Gallows Island and start building gibbets. The UN pays the Seychelles government $150,000 for every pirate tried and hung and left to rot in the tropical sun.

And they’d better get a move on ...


same old, same old, but with half a happy ending

At approximately 0730Z on 16 March, the Bulk Cargo Carrier MV SINAR KUDUS was pirated approximately 320 nautical miles North East of the island of Socotra in the Somali Basin. Within 24 hours of being taken, she was used to launch an unsuccessful attack on the MV EMPEROR.

The MV SINAR KUDUS, which is Indonesian flagged and owned, was on its way to Suez (Egypt) from Singapore when it was attacked.  Details of the attack are not known at this time but initial reports from the crew stated that 30 to 50 pirates had boarded and taken control of the vessel.  The MV SINAR KUDUS has a crew of 20, all Indonesian.

Within 24 hours of the attack, the MV SINAR KUDUS was used to launch a further attack on the Liberian flagged Bulk Carrier MV EMPEROR.  A skiff with 5 pirates on board was launched from the SINAR KUDUS and attacked the EMPEROR but was repelled by the armed force from the merchant vessel.  The EMPEROR was subsequently reported to be safe.

MV POLAR, MV IRENE SL, and several smaller hijacked vessels are currently being used as motherships. We’re barely halfway through March, and there have been at least 20 incidents so far. At least half a dozen pirate groups are operating in the western Indian Ocean. Large groups of pirates swarming the ships seems like an escalation to me.

Oh, and one hijacked ship was released, after paying ransom; the mid sized tanker MV Hannibal II and her crew was set free after more than 4 months in captivity.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 03/17/2011 at 12:07 PM   
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calendar   Tuesday - March 15, 2011


Indian Navy Captures Pirate Mother Ship, 61 Pirates


The operation is one of the most successful since Somalian pirates escalated their campaign of extortion and kidnap on the Indian Ocean two years ago.

The Indian authorities have yet to disclose the nationality of the suspects but they are believed to be from either Somalia or Yemen.

They were arrested after an Indian naval ship closed in on a hijacked fishing vessel just under 700 miles off the Kerala coastal port of Cochin.

The boat was carrying 61 suspected pirates and 13 of the boat’s crew who had been held captive.

The suspected pirates had hijacked the boat, the Mozambique-flagged Vega 5 in December last year and had since used it as a base for attacks on other ships.

They were finally caught on Sunday after they opened fire on the approaching Indian naval ship. They were forced to jump overboard when their own vessel was set ablaze [and] caught fire in fierce retaliatory fire from the Indian ship.

The 13 original crew members were freed in the raid. Indian officials said they found 80 to 90 small arms or rifles and some heavy weapons on the fishing vessel.

So what they’re really saying is that they managed to pluck 61 pirates from the drink, and that the prisoners were freed after the ship was captured. Unfortunately, in order to capture the ship it was necessary to shoot it full of holes, set it on fire, and sink it. Gee, too bad. Best idea: don’t shoot at the navy; they can shoot back much better.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 03/15/2011 at 08:47 AM   
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calendar   Monday - March 07, 2011

Hijacked Tanker Rescued


“I’m king of the worl ... oops!”

“suspected" Somali pirates surrender on board MV Guanabara

USS Bulkeley Captures Pirates, Frees Oil Tanker

no shots fired, no pirates killed

MANAMA, Bahrain – A request for assistance from a Japanese-owned merchant vessel in the Somali Basin led to Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) warship USS Bulkeley (DDG 84) securing the release of the vessel and its 24 crew members from four suspected pirates, Mar. 6.

At approximately 3.00pm local time, Mar. 5, the oil tanker MV Guanabara reported it was under attack when it was 328 nautical miles south east of Duqm, Oman. Bulkeley, assigned to CMF’s counter-piracy mission Combined Task Force (CTF) 151 was directed to intercept Guanabara, supported by the Turkish warship TCG Giresun of NATO’s counter-piracy Task Force 508.

Following confirmation from Guanabara’s master that the suspected pirates were on board and his crew had taken refuge in the ship’s “citadel”, Bulkeley’s specialist boarding team, supported overhead by its embarked SH-60 helicopter, secured the Bahamian-flagged vessel and detained four men.

There was no exchange of fire at any time during the operation to release the MV Guanabara. The decision on what to do with the suspected pirates is ongoing.

USS Bulkeley is a 10 year old Arleigh Burke class destroyer nearly 510 feet long with a crew of 380.

MV Guanabara is a medium tanker, 106,045 dwt, 755 in length, built in 2007. 


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 03/07/2011 at 07:49 AM   
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calendar   Monday - February 28, 2011

Will This Wake People Up?

Pirates Hijack Danish Boat With Three Children on Board

Probably not.

Pirates have seized a Danish sailboat with four adults and three children on board, Denmark’s government said Monday.

The ship was hijacked Thursday while traveling through the Indian Ocean and is now on its way to Somalia, Denmark’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Charlotte Slente told DR News, a national TV News channel in Denmark.

A Danish couple, their three children—aged 12-16—and two crew members were on board.

“It has now been confirmed that the sailboat was hijacked by pirates in the Indian Ocean,” the ministry said in a statement.

Most hostages captured in the pirate-infested waters off East Africa are professional sailors, not families. Pirates are not known to have captured children before.

Earlier Monday, the European Union Naval Force said Somali pirates hijacked a Greek-owned cargo vessel with 23 crew on board.

The MV Dover was seized Monday in the north Arabian sea, 260 miles northeast of the Omani port of Salalah, the naval force said. The MV Dover was on its way to Yemen from Pakistan when it was attacked. It was registered with shipping and naval authorities.

There are three Romanians, 19 Filipinos and a Russian aboard the Panama-flagged vessel. There is no communication with the ship and no information regarding the condition of the crew.

If you’ve ever wondered where the money goes, you are not alone. A large part of it goes to islamotherfugging terrorists. Just like you thought it did.

Some analysts - such as the Kenyan-based security consultant Bruno Schiemsky - say pirates have given as much as 50% of their revenue to the Islamist al-Shabab militia in the areas it controls.

However, al-Shabab has stated that it opposes piracy.

Sure it does. Against fellow muslimes perhaps.

One country that does seem to be involved in Somali piracy is Yemen.

Maritime security experts say the ‘mother ships’ from which pirate attacks are launched are often refuelled, resupplied and even armed in Yemen.

A UN report said: “Members of the Harardhere pirate group have been linked to the trafficking of arms from Yemen to (the Somali towns of) Harardhere and Hobyo, which have long been two of the main points of entry for arms shipments destined for armed opposition groups in Somalia and Ethiopia.”

It’s likely that the truth about all the money made from piracy will never be uncovered.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 02/28/2011 at 03:29 PM   
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calendar   Tuesday - February 22, 2011


All 4 American hostages murdered by pirates

In some sort of odd falling out amongst thieves, Somali pirates fired on a trailing American warship in the middle of the night and then gunned down the 4 Americans aboard their 58’ sailboat that the Somali pirates had hijacked a few days before.

Navy responded, captured all the pirates. Found 2 dead pirates on the boat. Shot and killed one in the process and gutted another one with a knife. 15 or more pirates arrested.

I don’t know what Obama is going to do, but I sure can figure out what Ronald Reagen and Teddy Roosevelt would have done.

Four American hostages on board a yacht hijacked by pirates last week were killed by their captors Tuesday, U.S. Central Command said in a statement.

The vessel, named the Quest, was being shadowed by the military [USS Sterret] after being captured by pirates off the coast of Oman on Friday. Officials had said earlier Tuesday it was less than two days from the Somali coast.

Ship owners Jean and Scott Adam and Phyllis Macay and Bob Riggle were found shot by U.S. forces who boarded the vessel about 1 a.m. ET, officials said.

The forces responded after a rocket-propelled grenade was fired at a U.S. Navy ship about 600 yards away—and missed—and the sound of gunfire could be heard on board the Quest, U.S. Navy Adm. Mark Fox told reporters.

“Despite immediate steps to provide life-saving care, all four hostages ultimately died of their wounds,” U.S. Central Command said.

The incident took place as negotiations involving the FBI were underway for the hostages’ release, Fox said. Two pirates had boarded a U.S. Navy ship on Monday for the negotiations, he said. He told reporters he had no information on details of the negotiations or whether a ransom had been offered.

Two pirates were found dead on board the Quest, he said. In the process of clearing the vessel, U.S. forces killed two others, one with a knife, Fox said. Thirteen others were captured and detained along with the other two already on board the U.S. Navy ship. A total of 19 pirates were involved, he said.

The Americans were sailing the world on a Christian mission to distribute bibles when they were ambushed last week by pirates in dangerous waters nearly 300 miles off the Somali coast. On board the yacht were Jean and Scot Adam from California and Phyllis MacKay and Bob Riggle from Washington state.
It was only after the gunfire was detected, according to the military official, that point US special ops forces boarded the Quest and engaged the pirates. Until weapons were fired at the Quest , US forces did not assault the yacht, according to the official.

“As [U.S. Forces] responded to the gunfire, reaching and boarding the Quest, the forces discovered all four hostages had been shot by their captors. Despite immediate steps to provide life-saving care, all four hostages ultimately died of their wounds,” according to a statement released by U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Florida.

The last time pirates targeted an American vessel - the Maersk Alabama in 2009 - the heist ended with all but one of the pirates killed by US navy sharp-shooters.

“They think they are Americans, they must be rich and able to pay whatever ransom is demanded. However, I think these pirates have made a grave mistake,” said Steve Ganyard, former deputy assistant secretary of state, ABC News consultant [speaking earlier]. “I think in this case they pushed the United States government just too far, and I think there will be a drama that will play out in the days to come.”


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 02/22/2011 at 12:31 PM   
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calendar   Thursday - February 17, 2011

half good news

HMS Cornwall boards dhow, rescues 5 hostages,

captures 17 Somali pirates,

then sends them home with milk and cookies

Yay!!! Woo hoo!!

2/16/2011 - Boarding teams from the British Navy frigate HMS Cornwall rescued five Yemeni fishermen and captured 17 Somali pirates last week during a rescue operation the Gulf of Aden, the Royal Navy confirmed Tuesday. The hostages were the original crew of a fishing dhow who had been held hostage aboard their Yemeni-flagged vessel for 92 days, the Royal Navy said in a statement.

Since taking the dhow on November 11, 2010, the pirates used it as a “mother ship” for raiding operations, equipping three skiffs with powerful outboard motors, ladders and other paraphernalia, according to the statement.

The rescue operation was carried out Thursday by boarding teams from the Cornwall, supported by Lynx helicopters, according to the statement. The frigate had received a distress call from a South Korean merchant vessel in the area, whose crew had become suspicious of the dhow’s actions.

After rescuing the fishing crew and apprehending their captors, the Cornwall restored the vessel to its rightful Yemeni owners, the Royal Navy said.

The group of about half a dozen sailors and Royal Marines, dispatched from a British warship that is part of an anti-piracy mission in the region, found and destroyed several weapons, including rocket-propelled grenades.

Boo! Hiss!

The pirate vessel, a dhow, was returned to the rescued Yemeni crew, who were able to make their way home, while the 17 pirates were taken aboard HMS Cornwall and deposited in Somalia, where they were released. Under international law, Britain does not have the jurisdiction to arrest suspected pirates unless attacked.

Brits must be loosing their Viking heritage. Here’s how the modern jarls do it:

2/13/2011 - NATO says that a Danish warship has freed a hijacked fishing vessel and arrested 16 suspected Somali pirates.

Sunday’s press release says the HDMS Esbern Snare stopped a suspicious vessel with two skiffs on deck. The warship fired warning shots and sent a boarding party to the hijacked Yemeni vessel.

NATO says there were 16 suspected pirates and two Yemeni hostages on board. The original fishing crew of nine people had been held for a year but most of them had been released.

Better, but not best. Here’s a real Viking, and of course he’s an embarrassment to the Norwegian authorities:

OSLO, Norway — A Norwegian shipping magnate was strongly criticized Wednesday for suggesting that pirates captured off the Horn of Africa should be sunk with their skiffs or executed on the spot.

“When (piracy) implies a great risk of being caught and hanged, and the cost of losing ships and weapons becomes too big, it will decrease and eventually disappear,” Jacob Stolt-Nielsen said in an op-ed in Norwegian financial newspaper Dagens Naeringsliv.

The 79-year-old is the founder of Stolt-Nielsen Ltd, one of Norway’s biggest shipping companies. He stepped down as chairman two years ago but still serves on the board.

“Pirates captured in international waters have always been punished by death, often on the spot,” Stolt-Nielsen wrote Tuesday, arguing that modern navies should deal with the problem like Roman pirate hunter Pompey did more than 2,000 years ago.” “Not arrest them and say, ‘naughty, naughty, shame on you,’ and release them again, but sink their boats with all hands,” he wrote. “The pirates won’t be frightened by being placed before a civilian court.”

The article drew sharp criticism in Norway, a seafaring nation known as a peace broker in many of the world’s armed conflicts and as the home of the Nobel Peace Prize.

Jacqueline Smith, president of the Norwegian Seafarers Union, described Stolt-Nielsen’s views as “barbaric” and said killing pirates could endanger the 700 seafarers now held as hostages in Somalia.

Bloody Socialists. Of course they’re barbaric! You meet fire with fire, or else you get burned. What are you going to do, send down a longship full of Vikings and threaten to clog dance at the pirates unless they go home?

“Perhaps I was a bit tough in the commentary, but I’m just telling it like it is,” Stolt-Nielsen told DN, “The way to solve the pirate problem is to sink the pirates and their ships.”

“The only way to fight piracy is to hang the pirates,” he said. “The only language they understand is force.”


Jacob Stolt-Nielsen: heroic modern Viking

Somali pirate researcher Mohamed Husein Gaas warns of possible reprisals on Norwegian crews and ships in the wake of Jacob Stolt-Nielsen’s uncompromising remarks.

His statements were not well received by the Somali community in Norway, according to the paper. Mohamed Husein Gaas believes Mr. Stolt-Nielsen’s idea will make pirates deliberately target Norwegian ships and sailors.

“Pirates are very vindictive. Rumors spread really fast, and all the locals down there digest Norwegian and international news”, he tells DN.

He also believes killing the pirates would not solve the problem, because they do not care about being killed.

“They are not rational. Local Somalis live daily with the fear of dying anyway.”

Shirdon Abdikarim, general manager of the Somali Resource and Rehabilitation Centre in Oslo is also concerned about the consequences of the shipping magnate’s remarks.

He knows they are familiar with the various shipping companies’ designs and flags, enabling them to distinguish the vessels from several hundred meters.

“The statement puts the Norwegian, and other sailors and hostages in great danger”.

Pussies. Muzzie sell-outs. “Researcher” Yeah, he researches what times the ships sail and tells the damn pirates. He’s an enabler, guaranteed. And an apologist.

BTW, WTF does effin’ OSLO have a damn “Somali Resource and Rehabilitation Centre” in the first place. Wouldn’t getting the hell out of Somalia all the way to lovely Norway be rehabilitation enough?


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 02/17/2011 at 10:25 AM   
Filed Under: • Pirates, aarrgh! •  
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calendar   Wednesday - February 02, 2011

Gurhkas In The Indian Navy?

“Not In My Waters” Indian Admiral Throws Down the Gauntlet

After Navy Captures And Sinks Pirate Mothership

12 hour battle captures 15 pirates and kills 10, frees crew, sinks fishing boat


Thai fishing boat Prantalay 14, hijacked in April, used as pirate mothership

The Indian Navy and the Coast Guard in a joint operation on Friday, destroyed a pirate mother ship, Prantalay, off the Lakshadweep group of islands and arrested 15 pirates.

They also rescued 20 fishermen of Thailand and Myanmarese nationalities who were being held hostage by the pirates after Prantalay was hijacked by them on April 18 last year. Since its hijack, the vessel was being extensively used by the pirates to launch attacks on merchant vessels passing along the shipping lanes off the island chain.

“The vessel has been a risk to international shipping for many months and has carried out several attacks,” said the Navy in a media release. 

As reported by The Hindu on Friday, a Coast Guard Dornier aircraft on Friday shooed away two skiffs that were closing in on MV CMA CGM Verdi, a Bahama Flagged container ship, about 300 nautical miles west of Lakshadweep. “Seeing the aircraft, the skiffs immediately aborted their piracy attempt and dashed towards the mother vessel Prantalay, which hurriedly hoisted the two skiffs onboard and set a westerly course to escape from the area. This action cleared all doubts of Prantalay being used by pirates as a mother vessel. Whilst the Coast Guard and Navy Dorniers continuously tracked Prantalay, Indian Naval Ship Cankarso (a recently commissioned Water Jet Fast Attack Craft) which was already deployed in the area for anti-piracy patrol, was directed to intercept and investigate Prantalay,” said the Navy.

According to the Navy, Cankarso fired a warning shot well ahead of the bows of Prantalay to compel it to stop in keeping with internationally accepted norms. Instead of stopping, however, Prantalay suddenly opened fire on INS Cankarso. The warship returned limited fire in self defence. Thereafter, it was observed that a fire had broken out on Prantalay (mother vessels are known to carry additional fuel drums to fuel the skiffs). Personnel were also seen jumping overboard, the Navy said.

INS Cankarso recovered 20 fishermen of Thai and Myanmarese nationalities. These were the original crew of the fishing vessel and were being held hostage for several months. Fifteen pirates were also recovered, under humanitarian considerations.

Blindfolded and handcuffed, they were produced in a sort of line-up today in Mumbai. Minus their AK-47s, they looked less potent than their at-sea avatars. The 15 men, many of them Somalian, are pirates captured over the weekend off India’s coast.

There were 25 pirates originally and they trespassed into Indian waters at 10.30 am on Friday and tried to hijack a container ship off the coast of Lakshwadeep.

The target ship’s call for help was picked up by a Coast Guard aircraft. The Indian Navy’s INS Cankarso pitched in for a 12-hour battle. Ten pirates were killed and their hostages - 20 fishermen from Thailand and Myanmar were rescued.

India is not yet clear on how to try these men. Ten Somali pirates are awaiting trial in a Kochi jail, in the absence of any international law to try pirates. 

And we were doing so well up until that paragraph!

NEW DELHI: The Navy’s sinking of a pirate ‘mother vessel’ off the Lakshadweep Islands will send a “strong message” to the sea brigands that India will not tolerate their nefarious designs anywhere near its waters, Navy chief Admiral Nirmal Verma told TOI [the Times Of India] on Sunday.

“There is no question of anybody messing in our waters or area… it’s absolutely unacceptable to us,” Admiral Verma said.

Pirates have begun to operate with impunity far away from their bases in and around Somalia since last year, with some even launching attacks in the eastern Arabian Sea near the Lakshadweep Islands.

India in response has deployed some Navy and Coast Guard frigates and fast attack craft, along with patrol aircraft, helicopters and marine commandos, to “locate and disable pirate mother ships and skiffs” and “sanitise” the area.

“After our stepped-up deployment there, the trend is that the pirates have begun to move westwards, back towards the African coast,” Admiral Verma said.

How about that, a fighting navy? Will wonders never cease?


Meanwhile, EU Forces Screw Up Rescue,

Fail To Seize Ship Or Initiative

A German ship-owner has confirmed the death of a sailor during a failed bid to free a cargo ship seized by Somali pirates off the Seychelles last week.

A Seychelles patrol ship opened fire while trying to free the Beluga Nomination on Wednesday, the head of Bremen-based Beluga told German media.

One pirate was killed and the others shot dead a crewman in retaliation, Niels Stolberg said.

Mr Stolberg described the response to the hijacking as a “disaster”.

The cargo ship, which is 9,775 dead weight tonnes, was captured last Monday by armed pirates using a skiff, 390 nautical miles (722km) north of the Seychelles.
BBC map

A Seychelles patrol boat appears to have reached the hijacked vessel first, with a Danish warship from Nato’s counter-piracy force only arriving after the fatal clash.  When the Seychelles boat opened fire the pirates “evidently lost control”, Mr Stolberg told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper. In the ensuing confusion, reports suggest the crew tried to overwhelm their captors, and two crew members managed to escape.

“The pirates shot dead one of our men, probably in a fit of anger,” Mr Stolberg said.

Nato spokeswoman Lt Cdr Jacqui Sherriff told the BBC News website that when the Danish ship, the Esbern Snare, reached the scene, the master of the Beluga Nomination urged it to keep its distance because of the earlier clash.

“We did not want to inflame the situation so we backed off,” Cdr Sherriff said.

The German ship owner described attempts to rescue them as a “disaster”.

“The crew spent two and a half days in a reinforced room but nobody came to help them,” he said.

“The international community has failed. An absolutely uncoordinated intervention like that is totally incomprehensible.”

Mr Stolberg added that the cargo ship’s navigational equipment had been damaged in the shooting and the pirates had called out another captured ship, the York, to assist it in reaching the Somali coast.

Pointing out that the pirates had been exhausted and disorientated after the shooting, he criticised both the Nato force and Navfor, the EU’s counter-piracy force, for failing to intervene.

An attempt to rescue the pirated German freighter Beluga Nomination off the coast of Somalia ended in tragedy, with at least one crew member dead. Now shipowners are demanding that the German military protect their ships. Some have already resorted to hiring armed guards.

“There is a major danger of escalation if merchant ships have armed guards,” Roger Middleton, an expert on Somalia for London-based think tank Chatham House, told the Christian Science Monitor in 2009. “If pirates approach an unarmed ship, they might shoot to scare. But if they approach a ship and that ship fires back on them, they will shoot to kill.”

Until now, however, mercenaries have proven to be both deadly and efficient. For instance, when Somali pirates attacked the Panamanian freighter Almezaan last March, the armed guards on board opened fire. When the Spanish warship Navarra, which was part of the EU’s military operation in the region, arrived at the scene somewhat later, they saw two bullet-riddled assault boats speeding away from the freighter, with six surviving pirates and one dead pirate on board.

German shipowners are also vehemently calling on the German government to provide protection for their vessels, preferably in the form of soldiers. They argue that the attack on the Beluga Nomination showed that the passive concept of the safe room or citadel only works if warships attack the pirates quickly enough. Offen, a large Hamburg-based shipping company, has decided that armed guards will always be on board its ships in the future when they pass through the pirate zone.

Niels Stolberg, head of the Bremen-based Beluga shipping company, proposes stationing three ships in strategic locations in the Indian Ocean. Like armed security officers on commercial flights, German soldiers would board potentially endangered ships and, once they had passed through the Indian Ocean, would then be taken off the ships again. The owners would pay a portion of the costs, says Stolberg. The German Shipowners’ Association supports Stolberg’s plan.

Hey, isn’t this exactly the plan I came up with 2 years ago? Except my plan called for quick release mounts for 40mm Bofors guns and small missiles.

Sounds to me like international patience is about worn out with these little bastards. The shipping companies have tried the soft solutions like their governments wanted, and they aren’t working. Now they’ll start doing what works. Are such actions beyond the line? No ... because a ship far at sea is by actual definition “beyond the line”. Arm them up and shoot to kill. What the hell, if the islamos can have a nebulous war on the West, then western businesses can declare a war on Somalia. Somebody has to.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 02/02/2011 at 04:38 PM   
Filed Under: • Pirates, aarrgh! •  
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calendar   Thursday - January 27, 2011

Sitting Duck, Plucked

Pirates Capture Slowest Ship On The Ocean

Nearest help more than 1000 miles away


MV Beluga Nomination, top speed 7.4 knots (8.5mph)

On the afternoon of 22 January 2011, the MV BELUGA NOMINATION was attacked by a skiff, with an unknown number of suspected pirates on board. Small arms were used against the vessel during the attack.

The attack took place in the Indian Ocean, 390 nautical miles north of the Seychelles. The MV BELUGA NOMINATION is an Antiguan and Barbudan flagged, German owned, general cargo vessel which was on passage to Port Victoria in the Seychelles at the time of the attack. There is no information on the condition of the mixed crew of 12 (Polish, Filipino, Russian and Ukrainian) at this time. EUNAVFOR are monitoring the situation.

MV BELUGA NOMINATION was registered with MSC(HOA) and had reported to UKMTO.

When the pirates boarded the vessel the crew went into a citadel which the pirates were eventually able to enter. I
The nearest EU NAVFOR warship at the time of the attack was over 1000 Nm away. The warship was waiting to escort a World Food Programme (WFP) vessel delivering vital humanitarian aid to Somalia, which is EU NAVFOR’s primary task within its mandated mission. The remainder of the EU NAVFORs warships were even further away carrying out tasks in the IRTC (Internationally Recognized Transit Corridor), which is their secondary task within the mandated mission.

After the crew, consisting of a Polish captain, 2 Ukrainians and 7 Philippinos, had radioed the emergency, they took shelter in the citadel. But the pirates welded open the room with professional equipment and took control over the vessel, heading west for the Somalian coast. A surveillance plane of the Seychelles Coastguard reached the ship only on Jan 25 and saw 4 hijackers on deck. A patrol boat of the CG followed the ship for some time but had to return due to bad weather. No ship of the Atalanta-forces was able to provide help in time. The German frigate “Hamburg” was in Djibouti for bunkering purposes, and it would have taken 3-4 days to reach the vessel, and also the closest navy ship would have been 1000 miles away.

Evolution in action: Ship crews have taken to locking themselves in a safe room (ie., a citadel) where the pirates can’t get at them. These rooms often contain additional controls for the ship. So now we’re seeing pirates bringing a cutting torch onboard with them. I guess thicker doors and walls for these rooms will be next, perhaps with water cannons mounted above the doors operated from inside.

The MV Beluga Nomination was built in 2006 as the MV BBC Ireland, is 132 meters long with a 16 meter beam, and has a top speed of only 7.4 knots. Less than 9mph! She is a general cargo container ship with a capacity of 9775 dwt, which means this is a pretty small ship. A coastal freighter for the poorer parts of the world. That would explain the low speed: a smaller engine uses less fuel, and you need to watch every penny with small cargo runs.  It took a couple of days before the authority types would admit that the ship was actually hijacked, but at this point it’s undeniable.

1000 nautical miles away from any other ship, putting along at 8mph. This one was a no-brainer. A sitting duck.

Hang on a second ... the one source page may have been in error. According to the builder’s page, this ship has a 5217hp Caterpillar diesel engine, and can go 14.8 knots. Which is 17mph. Still slower than a pirate speedboat, but not as totally pathetic as I was lead to believe at first. Even so ... from what I gather, the ship was bound for the Seychelles, which is 1000 miles from anywhere, and it’s smack dab in the middle of Somali Pirate waters, which have grown considerably this past year. What are they supposed to do, let the Seychelles starve? But it seems rather sneaky, perhaps ironic, that while the navy was busy protecting an aide ship bound for Somalia, Somalis were busy hijacking a ship somewhere else. It’s almost like they knew the navy would be busy. And far away.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 01/27/2011 at 04:33 PM   
Filed Under: • Pirates, aarrgh! •  
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calendar   Friday - January 21, 2011

South Korea, Eff Yeah

South Korea Storms Ship, Kills Pirates, Rescues Crew


South Korean special forces stormed a hijacked freighter in the Arabian Sea on Friday, rescuing all 21 crew members and killing eight assailants in a rare and bold raid on Somali pirates, South Korea said.

The military operation in waters between Oman and Africa, which also captured five pirates and left one crew member wounded, came a week after the Somali attackers seized the South Korean freighter and held hostage eight South Koreans, two Indonesians and 11 citizens from Myanmar.

“We will not tolerate any behavior that threatens the lives and safety of our people in the future,” South Korean President Lee Myung-bak said in a brief televised statement, adding that the rescue was a “perfect operation.”

The successful raid is a triumph for Lee, whose government suffered harsh criticism at home in the weeks following a North Korean attack in November on a South Korean island near disputed waters. Critics said Lee’s military was too slow and weak in its response to the attack, which killed two marines and two civilians.

With a South Korean destroyer and a Lynx helicopter providing covering fire, South Korea’s special navy forces stormed the hijacked vessel in a pre-dawn rescue operation that left eight of the pirates dead and five captured, Lt. Gen. Lee Sung-ho told reporters.

image The 11,500-ton chemical carrier Samho Jewelry was sailing from the United Arab Emirates to Sri Lanka when it was hijacked. It was the second vessel from South Korea-based Samho Shipping to be hijacked in the past several months.

In November, Somali pirates freed the supertanker Samho Dream and its 24 crew — five South Koreans and 19 Filipinos — after seven months of captivity.

Pretty sure that the Samho Dream was also being used as a mothership while the pirates had her. That’s got to be embarrassing for the country that owns/operates/crews the ship, don’t you think?

[South Korea’s] President Lee Myung-bak went live on national television to announce the successful conclusion of the five-hour operation, 1,300 kilometers northeast of Somalia.

Mr. Lee told the country South Korea will not tolerate future attacks on any of its nationals. On board the Malta-flagged chemical tanker was a crew of 11 Burmese, eight South Koreans and two Indonesians. It is operated by South Korea’s Samho Shipping.

Military officials in Seoul say a South Korean naval destroyer, the Choi Young, with 300 special forces aboard, tailed the hijacked ship for days before moving in early Friday.

Two other South Koreans are currently being held hostage by Somali pirates, following the hijacking of their 241-ton fishing trawler, the Keummi 305, last October in waters off Kenya’s Lamu Island.

A total of 29 vessels and 693 hostages are known to be held captive by pirates off the coast of Somalia.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 01/21/2011 at 08:14 AM   
Filed Under: • Pirates, aarrgh! •  
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calendar   Friday - January 14, 2011

The World Still Exists, Part I

New Word Enters Somalian Lexicon: “D’OH!”

Somali Pirates: Still Stupid After All These Years

Pirates hijack freighter full of weapons, take crew, set ship adrift

The crew of a Danish weapons ship have been kidnapped by pirates in the Gulf of Aden off Oman, but in an unusual departure from normal practice, the vessel was not seized, a report said Thursday.

Sources told the TradeWinds shipping publication that the 2,000-tonne ship, The Leopard, was carrying “sensitive” cargo, believed to include weapons.

Vessels operated by the Leopard’s Danish operator, Shipcraft, routinely carried nuclear items, although none were believed to have been on board this vessel, it said.

The six crew—two Danes including the captain, and four Filipinos—had been taken to a seized Taiwanese fishing vessel being operated as a mothership, the report added.

The ship had meanwhile been located and searched by the Turkish navy and no trace of any pirates or pirate skiffs had been found.

Nato sailors searched the abandoned vessel. Its cargo is said to be intact.

The Nato sailors from a Turkish warship, the Gaziantep, boarded the M/V Leopard on Thursday, when it was found to be drifting.

It is not clear why the ship was immobilised, said a spokesman for the EU’s Navfor anti-piracy mission.

“We believe the ship was carrying arms, ammunition and explosives, and we believe the cargo is still intact,” said the spokesman, Wing Commander Paddy O’Kennedy.

One single shipload of weapons would be enough for any Somali warlord to arm enough followers to take over the entire country. At the very least it would keep his pirates armed to the teeth for years to come. Like I said, d’oh!!


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 01/14/2011 at 12:20 PM   
Filed Under: • Pirates, aarrgh! •  
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Not that very many people ever read this far down, but this blog was the creation of Allan Kelly and his friend Vilmar. Vilmar moved on to his own blog some time ago, and Allan ran this place alone until his sudden and unexpected death partway through 2006. We all miss him. A lot. Even though he is gone this site will always still be more than a little bit his. We who are left to carry on the BMEWS tradition owe him a great debt of gratitude, and we hope to be able to pay that back by following his last advice to us all:
  1. Keep a firm grasp of Right and Wrong
  2. Stay involved with government on every level and don't let those bastards get away with a thing
  3. Use every legal means to defend yourself in the event of real internal trouble, and, most importantly:
  4. Keep talking to each other, whether here or elsewhere
It's been a long strange trip without you Skipper, but thanks for pointing us in the right direction and giving us a swift kick in the behind to get us going. Keep lookin' down on us, will ya? Thanks.


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GNU Terry Pratchett

Oh, and here's some kind of visitor flag counter thingy. Hey, all the cool blogs have one, so I should too. The Visitors Online thingy up at the top doesn't count anything, but it looks neat. It had better, since I paid actual money for it.
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