Monthly Archives: April 2009

Going on the Account: Red Skies at Night for Phillips

What a way for this to end

 

The rescue of Captain Phillips demonstrates how things are changing over there:

 

First, there’s one country’s ships that the Somali pirates may want to think twice about going after.  The resolution was certainly not in their best interest despite their efforts, and going with force to terrorize other prizes are likely to cause even more pain; the Somalis are in this for the money, not for blood, so this makes no sense.

 

Second, there are lessons learned for the USN even in success (better than in failure) that are going to be applied in the Indian Ocean.  American flaged vessels are not likely to be plying those waters alone and unarmed after this; the disruptions and loss of profit margins are going to be borne gladly after the Maersk Alabama incident.

 

One big change hoped for is an acceleration of the effor tto give the Somalis a state; that in the end will be the best solution to this situation.

 

The Modern Age of Piracy has had its watershed moment, and the tone of the narrative changes.  Hopefully for the better…

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Going on the Account: The Course We Took to Get Here

As part of the coverage Americans are immersing themselves in thanks to the Maersk Alabama seizure (which as of this postingis still a standoff, the captain and his captors in the lifeboat tailed by the USS Bainbridge and Halyburton), the AP posted this 101 piece on the Somali pirate movement.

 

Much like all bands of pirates, the Somalis too are driven by status and economics.  While there are considerable difference between these pirates and the ones in popular memory (the ones portrayed by Errol Flynn and Johnny Depp), there are the same underlying causes for these groups, and indeed all pirates.  When any population is marginalized and feels the need to grab the wealth that goes past them, then becomes driven to grab more and more of it, you have the perfect breeding ground for pirates.

 

For all the claims of the difference between Jack Sparrow and Ahmed Mohamed Nur, they both have a lot more that they share.  It’s not too much of a stratch to see them across the table from each other, swapping stories…

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Going on the Account: Why We Be Boarded in Years to Come

There’s an interesting piece about pirates by Annalee Newitz at io9.com, prompted of course by the seizure of the Maersk Alabama.  While she spends most of the piece giving her readers the 101 on pirate history, an audience thatusually focuses more on superheroes and SF films, she makes an interesting point drawing comparisons between the English seadogs of Elizabeth’s time and the Somali pirates of today, how the former would go on to shape the geopolitics of the future the way the current buccaneers may do later on.

 

Also of interest are some of the points brought up by the readers there.  For a bunch of folks used to discussing science fiction, they have some interesting things to say about the Modern Age of Piracy…

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Going on the Account: Part the One Hundred Thirtieth

Part the One Hundred Thirtieth is now up, and may be read here.

A quick warning: I’m going to be on the road next week, which means that while I can get things set to post on time, I may have problems fixing page links. To keep following the story, check for the latest parts on the right-hand side of the page (or “to starboard” if you prefer) in the box with the heading Pages.  Links will be set at the first opportunity; my apologies ahead of time for any dropped lines.

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Going on the Account: Now the Waiting Begins

Just a quick note with reference to the latest on the Maersk Alabama.  This gives a lot of good background on the situation as well, and can bring up to speed folks who hadn’t been paying as much attention the last few months.

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Going on the Account: Standoff at Sea

The Bainbridge is waiting out the pirates holding Captain Phillips from the Maersk Alabama

 

The captors’ options are not good here:  They’re in open water, supposedly out of fuel, with a frigate atop them.  Surrender means imprisonment, and harming the hostage would not serve their ends either.  The threat of harm keeps them from being taken out already, but unlike the Faina incident they don’t have their backs covered.

 

So far most crews plying the trade off Somalia are in it more for the money than for any other reason, which gives this the same dynamics as a robbery gone wrong turning into a hostage negotiation.  Our hopes are for Captain Phillips and his family that like most such cases, the resolution is quick and peaceful.

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Going on the Account: Staying On Station

The story of the Maersk Alabama unfolds faster than a hurricane hitting shore.  The latest from AP:  The captain is still in the hands of the pirates, and the USS Bainbridge is on station to deal with the matter.

 

Here’s where it gets interesting…

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Going on the Account: But Wait, There’s More!

Ends up it’s not over yet.  The Maersk Alabama  story continues, with the crew in control of the vessel but the pirates holding the captain hostage.  As I write this, the USN is sending vessels to intercept.

 

Something tells me there may be action there along the lines of the march to the shores of Tripoli, sooner rather than later.  With a US flagged vessel now attacked, there could be action ashore, not against individual seized vessels (as discussed here), to cut off the pirates at their bases. 

 

Who wants to take bets on ‘Operation Deactur’ getting a go by June 1st?

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Going on the Account: Preparing for a Long Sieg- Oh, Wait…

Well, that didn’t take long.   It’s still early for all the details to come out, but this could make for an interesting sea tale once the crew of the Maersk Alabama get debriefed.

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Going on the Account: And Now We’re Involved with Number Six

Word came in of the seizure of the Maersk Alabama.  Looks like it’s time for the Americans to get their attention drawn back to the Indian ocean again…

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Going on the Account: Prepare to Be Boarded, the New-Fashion Way!

Like we could talk about pirates without mentioning the biggest digital piracy act so far perpetrated.

 

And if you’re more into physical property being seized, there was this dispatch from the Indian Ocean

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Going on the Account: Dead Men Do Tell Tales

Word is that Michael Crichton is coming out with a new book, finished just before his death; entitled PIRATE LATITUDES, it’s a tale about pirates set in 1665 in the tradition of his earlier adventure work THE GREAT TRAIN ROBBERY.

 

Like him or not for some of his stands and projects, it sounds like it’ll be an interesting read when it comes out.  And even if it somehow does for the Sweet Trade what TIMELINE did for the Hundred Years War, it certainly deserves some notice for making an effort.

 

Still; 1665, eh?  Why then, I wonder…?

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