Modern Pirates On The
By James Donahue
Nov. 15, 2005
The publicized attack
on the Carnival Cruise Line ship Seabourn Spirit last week appears to be the tip of the iceberg when it comes to pirating
on the high seas.
That the cruise liner
was equipped with a modern long range acoustic device (LRAD) developed as a military weapon and used to repel the raiders
is a clear indication that a pirate attack was not only expected, it has become more common at sea than the public has been
It appears that pirating
has been a big business at sea in recent years but the story has been hushed up for fear that the information would frighten
customers away from the cruise line business.
What happened to the
Seabourn Spirit was enough to frighten the passengers all right. Two open boats, apparently launched from a mother ship, approached
the liner with machine guns and a grenade launcher firing. They were attempting to force the unarmed liner to stop and be
The crew, however, turned
on the sound machine and used it to drive off the invaders. The LRAD is said to be loud enough to break ear drums of anybody
within a few hundred feet of the direction of the sound blast. It did not affect the passengers aboard the ship because it
was pointed at the pirates.
They said the captain
of the liner, Sven Erik Pedersonand stood on the bridge in his bathrobe, giving commands, as the Seabourn Spirit attempted
first to ram the raiders. Then the liner escaped by changing course and racing off at full speed.
The worst that happened
was that one member of the liner’s crew was hit by flying shrapnel and an unexploded grenade was found lodged in a wall
on the superstructure. It had to be removed by explosive experts after the liner made port.
The crew and passengers
on the liner was lucky. Other ships caught in the same area off the East African coast in recent weeks have not been as fortunate,
one news report stated.
Reuters News said it
has learned that five vessels were attacked in that same area within the past week. An estimated seven ships have been commandeered
by the pirates and the crews are still believed to be held captive or possibly murdered after the ships were plundered, according
It is believed the pirates
are operating from a “mother ship” that is prowling the busy Indian Ocean corridor.
This unnamed and unidentified
“mother ship” has been spotted three times since late July drifting off the northeast coast of Somalia. It is believed to be the vessel that launches the
speedboats that attack the ships on the open sea.
A major trade route passes
just off the coast of Somalia. Passing
vessels are carrying key commodities like oil, grain and iron ore from the Gulf and the Red Sea down to the Mozambique
Channel. Thousands of merchant ships follow this route on their way to the Cape of Good Hope
This particular gang
of pirates has become so threatening that the world’s largest shipping companies have called upon the U.N. International
Maritime Organization and the U.N. Security Council to urgently address the problem.
the Somali coast has escalated sharply - - it is very worrying,” said Andrew Mwangura, of the Kenyan Seafarers’
Association. He said he knows of nine ships that have been seized to date.
The Reuters report said
32 pirate attacks have been recorded in the area since mid-March, including raids on ships carrying supplies for the U.N.
World Food Program.
Mwangura said more than
100 crew members from nations all over the world are known to be held at this time for ransom.
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