Sunday, April 12, 2009

Piracy off the coast of Somalia

According to the Daily Oklahoman, tensions are rising in the standoff between the U.S. federal government and pirates off the coast of Somalia.  On Wednesday, April 8, a group of Somalian outlaws attempted to hijack the U.S.-flagged Maersk Alabama.  The crew of the Alabama thwarted their efforts and was successful in driving them off the ship.  However, Richard Phillips, the ship's captain, was taken hostage by the pirates in a lifeboat now drifting on the Indian Ocean out of gas.  The lifeboat is being closely monitored by the U.S. Military. Negotiations with Phillip's captors are ongoing.

I don't think people in this part of the world ever really consider the fact that modern-day pirates do exist.  The notion of seafaring outlaws appears almost wholly dependent upon our memories of the flamboyant, swashbuckling characters of so many subpar Hollywood flicks in the 1930s and 1940s.  Meanwhile, piracy continues to plague the coasts of Africa, India, China, and Japan to this day.

As unpleasant as the events that have unfolded in the last week may be, at the very least they serve to illustrate the point that maritime crime is still a major problem in much of the world.

(This issue has since been resolved and The Daily Oklahoman has pulled the article.)

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