Pirates? Pirates have captured an American merchant vessel? Off the coast of West Africa? Pirates, as in “AAARRRRGGGGGhhhhhhhhh, Mateys! Make the bastids walk the plank!”
Fifteen men on a dead man’s chest/ Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum
Drink and the devil had done for the rest/ Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum.
The mate was fixed by the bosun’s pike/ The bosun brained with a marlinspike
And cookey’s throat was marked belike/ It had been gripped by fingers ten;
And there they lay, all good dead men/ Like break o’day in a boozing ken/ Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum.
from Robert Louis Stevenson’s, Treasure Island?
Uh, no. Not like that at all. According to crew member Ken Quinn in a phone interview with CNN, the ship, the 508-foot long Alabama, was carrying food aid bound for the Kenyan port of Mombasa when it was seized. The ship’s owner is Virginia-based Maersk Line, Ltd. Twenty American crew members were on board.
Quinn said the pirates were armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles, but the freighter’s crew carried no weapons. The Americans locked themselves in the compartment that contains the ship’s steering gear, where they remained for about 12 hours. The pirates “got frustrated because they couldn’t find us,” he said.
According to the NY Times online...
"There have been more than 50 pirate attacks this year off of the Somali coast, with the bulk of the attacks occurring in the Gulf of Aden, which separates the Arabian peninsula from the Horn of Africa. Sixteen ships with more than 200 crew remain in pirate custody, most of them docked a few miles off the Somali coast while ransom negotiations with the ship owners take place, said Lt. Nathan Christensen, a spokesman with the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet.
"About 15 international naval vessels, including three American Navy ships, now patrol the pirate-infested waters, many under an American-led task force created to combat piracy.
"At the time of the attack on the Maersk Alabama, the closest patrol vessel was some 300 nautical miles away, the Navy said. Most of the patrol vessels are concentrated in the Gulf of Aden, and as a result, the pirates have expanded their reach into the open seas. The Navy would not comment on whether its patrol boats were now following the hijacked vessel."
So, a quick couple of comments and some fast unasked-for advice to the, um, pirates, from a US-based liberal radio talk show host: Are you out of your goddam minds? You hijacked a US merchant vessel that does regular business with the US Defense Department? You are holding the ship’s captain hostage? Are you this determined to die a fiery death? Are you aware we use really, really nasty missiles that can shred human skin into tiny little strips faster than you can say Davy Jones’ locker? Give it up, pirates. Release the captain. Admit a terrible mistake and back out of the room. Quickly. You will lose this game of high-seas grab-ass, trust me. Now, do what I’m suggesting. Hurry! By the time this is posted on my web site you may already be very, very dead.
Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum, my ass.