Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Oh, those wily Somalis...

The Italians mean business. They're hunting for the Somali pirates on a destroyer equipped with modern radar, infrared, helicopter support, and a cannon with a 10 mile range! They're stalking the nefarious buccaneers alongside support warships - over a dozen - from the US, Greece, India, Russia, Denmark, Saudi Arabia, France, and Great Britain. And they STILL CAN'T CATCH THEM!

The pirates are whizzing around willy-nilly on fiberglass boats, for fuck's sake. A single .50-mm round would shatter one of those into painful shrapnel. They carry assault rifles, maybe a rusty old RPG. No cannons. No torpedoes. Just, as the NY Times put it (link in the pic above), "...attacking ships in beelike swarms of 20 to 30 skiffs..." I can help but yell, "FOR THE SWARM!" upon visualising two or three dozen pirate skiffs zipping around a Saudi oil tanker.

Another thing - apparently, maritime law on international waters is a fairly grey area, and the pirates have used this vagueness to their great advantage. Several times their compatriots have been captures, only to be immediately released once their captors figured out they had no idea whose jurisdiction they were in. I love this quote, also from the NYT: "Italian officers on pirate patrol seemed uncomfortable at the thought of actually capturing a real live pirate." Ha!

Suffice to say, we still live in a world where high-sea treachery is an issue, and American cruise ships in international waters are still threatened by actual pirates. I'm sort of glad for that.

(Note: Picture above is courtesy of the New York Times, on an Italian patrol in the Arabian Sea. Blue-eyed Italian girl with machine gun? I'll take two.)

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