15 April 2009

Analysis: Roundup

Reality TV
Spike, a cable channel, is planning a reality show following the U.S. Navy in antipiracy operations, basing film crews on the USS Boxer and USS San Antonio. It surprises us that the producers are expecting to see enough action to make a TV program. Look at the news page for TF 151 - not the wire feed in the middle but the locally written "Top Stories" to the left. Kind of quiet out there in pirate waters. In that vein, we note that the USN opted to transport Captain Phillips to land by means of warship (the Bainbridge) instead of flying him off. (Note also the Bainbridge arriving five hours after the Liberty Sun called for help according to the NYT; the Boston Globe says three hours later). In 2008 we saw one distress call after another bypass American military channels. It is possible that this is happening again in 2009 and that American warships will continue as busy as the TF 151 news page suggests.

UN Somali envoy calls for "bulk"
The UN Special Representative for Somalia Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah says "I strongly believe that concrete efforts, such as the international maritime presence off the Somali coast, should be increased to help marginalize and suppress piracy." He said, "Without the maritime presence, the pandemic would have been far worse. Those contributing to the international presence are doing an excellent job, but they have a huge area to cover." Meanwhile, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has ruled out "bulking up" naval forces in the region in what appears to be an overt message for piracy policy review teams currently convening in Washington.

Chamber corrects Gortney
Peter Hinchliffe, of the London-based International Chamber of Shipping, says that despite killings during French and U.S. hostage rescues, "I don’t think this will instigate an increase in violence." Hinchcliffe was responding to remarks by the U.S. regional naval commander, Vice Admiral Bill Gortney, who had predicted an increase in retaliatory pirate violence, "No question about it." Hinchcliffe's organization represents 75% of the world's commercial tonnage.