08 April 2009

Incident: Maersk Alabama boarded

The 17,000-ton U.S. registered container ship Maersk Alabama was briefly seized by pirates in the Indian Ocean along with its captain and crew of 20 this morning. Boarders abandoned their own boat, reported to have sunk, and gained access to the vessel by being hoisted in on the Alabama's own lifeboats. Crew then ousted the boarders by taking hostage a pirate; the rest of the boarding party escaped with the ship's captain and an Alabama lifeboat. An exchange of hostages failed when the crew released the Somali pirate they were holding and the pirates refused to release the captain. USS Bainbridge, a destroyer was sent to the scene. (AP, 04/08/09)

The attack occurred near 7:30 am about 240 nm SE of Eyl. "A spokesman for World Food Program confirmed that part of the ship's cargo was being ferried on its behalf, including 4,000 metric tons of corn headed for Somalia and Uganda, and 1,000 metric tons of vegetable oil earmarked for refugees in Kenya. It was expected to dock in the Kenyan port of Mombasa on April 16." (LA Times, 04/08/09)

The boarding party totaled four men. The American crew "had been training for such a hijack and put that into action, foiling the pirates." "When the pirates first appeared, the Alabama crew, conscious that the nearest US naval vessel was more than 300 miles away, took evasive action for three to five hours to win time, but the four pirates eventually boarded just before dawn. Ken Quinn, the second mate, told CNN the crew locked themselves in a secure compartment and remained there for 12 hours. The pirates 'got frustrated because they couldn't find us', Quinn said." (The Guardian, 04/08/09)

World Agenda: why can't international warships stop the Somali pirates? (The Times, 04/07/09)

African pirates copy ideas for ransom riches (CNN, 04/08/09)

Pirates, ships and bounties: a recent history (The Guardian, 04/08/09)

Young Somalis get rich as high-tech buccaneers (Globe and Mail, 04/08/09)