Friday, February 13, 2009

Arrrgh, matey! Busted.

USS Vella Gulf

The United States Navy seized sixteen pirates in two separate incidents in the Gulf of Aden off of the coast of what used to be Somalia. Thursday an American helicopter patrolling from the USS Vella Gulf fired warning shots at gunmen in two small boats that had opened fire and tried to board the Indian-flagged vessel Premdivya. Bad idea messing with US Navy, the pirates surrendered posthaste.

In a separate incident the Associated Press reports seven other pirates armed with AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades, tried to board the Marshall Islands-flagged vessel Polaris using a ladder from their skiff, but were captured by the USS Vella Gulf. All of the pirates were subsequently transferred to the USNS Lewis and Clark.
"Associated Press Television News footage from aboard the Lewis and Clark showed some of the men, handcuffed and wearing leg shackles and white jumpsuits... They were given a meal, a blanket, a towel and a bar of soap, but they were not allowed to talk to each other. U.S. forces assisted by a translator were trying to get information from the men, such as their ages and nationalities. The men were then taken to a holding area surrounded by razor wire and guarded."

The limits on Empire and anti-pirate action are tricky as we have referenced for you previously. The United States recognizes no sovereign government in the country once called Somalia. The nationalities by which these pirates refer to themselves have more to do with tribes and clans than countries recognized by the United Nations. (Don't get the Clarion Content started on the distinctions that must be made between a nation and a state or a country.) The United States, facing this jurisdictional difficulty, has previously stated it would hand over suspected pirates to Kenya. We are not really sure what the logic there might be.

The A.P. also reported that the Russian navy said that its nuclear-powered heavy missile cruiser Peter The Great interdicted and seized ten pirates closing in on an Iranian-flagged fishing trawler. The Russian say that the pirates were caught with automatic rifles, grenade-launchers, illegal narcotics and a large sum of money.

The London-based International Maritime Bureau said since the beginning of January, twenty-two vessels had been attacked, and three hijacked. It said calm, good weather made it easier for the smaller pirate skiffs to ambush ships. It also said seven ships have been released recently, possibly pushing pirates to try to "replenish their stocks."

*all links were added by the Clarion Content. (Links do not imply endorsement.)

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