Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Pirates, ahoy


Bottles of rum

Regular readers of the Clarion Content know that we have been following what is happening in piracy off of the coast of Somalia. Old friends of the editorial staff know we have been following the issue since the predominate area for pirates was the Strait of Malacca.

If you are interested in piracy too, we wanted to sling you a fun batch of fresh links. We try to scatter links throughout posts, so old piracy posts will have further links.

This batch is a five part special series we ran into on the BBC's website.

This first one was written by an embedded correspondent who is on a Turkish NATO warship on patrol for food aid ships making the run from Mombasa, Kenya to Mogadishu. It includes a conversation with a captain of a freighter previously taken by pirates.

The second is about how modern day pirates collect their ransoms. It is tricky business. They aren't taking down Spanish galleons filled with the gold of the New World. They have Saudi oil tankers with two million barrels of oil. There is no practical way for them to sell or dispose of such booty. The method then, is that they grab and hold the ship for ransom. Again, fascinating anecdotes!

The third article is written about the change in life in the pirate town of Eyl on the eastern coast of what used to be Somalia, and now is nominally considered by some the country of Puntland. There is a lot of got rich quick money in the town and whole networks are springing up around the pirates.

This one breaks down a bit about how the pirates do it. According to the BBC there are, "Ex-fishermen, who are considered the brains of the operation because they know the sea...Ex-militiamen, who are considered the muscle - having fought for various Somali clan warlords...and the technical experts, who are the computer geeks and know how to operate the hi-tech equipment needed to operate as a pirate - satellite phones, GPS and military hardware."

There is also one about the technological responses Empire is developing to respond to piracy, including deadly sounds beams and ringing ships with electrical fences. (You don't just, "stand-to to repel boarders" anymore.)

Finally, there is a last piece that is about some of the conundrums of international law that make it more difficult to address piracy. For instance, did you realize that according to the BBC, a warship cannot simply open fire (on a suspected pirate vessel,) an inspection has to be carried out "with all possible consideration," first.

Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum indeed!

1 comment:

Aaron said...

Of course, as far as that last bit goes, it may be that the BBC's interpretation of the rules of engagement might not be exactly the same as the Russian or American Navies interpretation.