Friday, April 4, 2008
"Shiver Me Timbers...Pirates!" Said the First Mate
While the focus of the nation and the world has been mostly on the battles in Iraq and Afghanistan, a sinister scourge has been blooming like algae in the warm waters of the Arabian Sea, the Horn of Africa and the Malacca Straits in South East Asia. Piracy has returned with a vengeance not seen in almost two hundred years to prey on ships and their crews.
The latest headlines today, tells of The hijacking of the French cruise ship Le Ponant, a 288 ft three masted ship that was returning to the Mediterranean after dropping off her passengers in the Seychelles. The pirates thought to be based out of Somalia seized the ship and her crew of 30 yesterday. The French Navy along with the ships of Task Force 150 of the US Fifth Fleet are in the area. Several blogs are following this development better that the MSM, Pirates seize French ship off Somalia.
Information Dissemination and Eagle1 are covering this story with an eye to detail and their minds tuned into the larger strategic picture. They noted a link to a incident map showing piracy in the Horn of Africa. UNOSAT_Somalia_Pirate_Attacks_Map_2007_Highres_v4.pdf (5.9MB).
The map is just the tip of one iceberg that threatens commerce. The Piracy attacks map. gives an overlay of attacks world wide spanning several years.
The good news is that warships from many countries are joining the effort to suppress this threat. Countries that for the past half century have been content to stay in their home waters and let the United States, be the ocean police.
This growing problem comes at a time when our own Navy is challenged about how to construct the fleet for the next half of the 21st century. That debate continues to sputter and flare, as the Navy struggles to build the right combination of ships, as two forces debate having big expensive blue water fighting force or sea control with many smaller ships that can cover a wider area and prevent the incidents as described above, from continuing to be a common occurrence. This debate is being covered in the most insightful manner by Galrahn, at Information Dissemination, with posts like LCS, and Shipbuilding.