What happened aboard the S/V Quest and the USS Sterett may take a little time to figure out, but the initial word is, something went horribly wrong.
There’s no profit in killing a hostage, ever, either tactically (you lose that payday) or strategically (more resistance every time you sail). If people were being sensible, the pirates might have had a chance to just sail away with the Quest and chalk up this encounter with the USN as a near miss, but saying so after the fact doesn’t revive dead hostages or keep you out of the brig. And in situations like this, mistakes are very, very costly.
What happens from here on out is hard to say. There are too many hostages for some grand sweeping operation to free them all, so cutting off the pirates at the knees is not going to be a snap operation. And even if there were less than 660 people over 30 ships to rescue, a single retaliatory bold strike won’t cure the situation the way a stable Somalia would, which could take years to develop. And in the interim American-flagged vessels may be in more danger in those waters as the fallout from this incident metastasizes, with angry crews looking for revenge or treasures that don’t require living hostages to deal with. It’s easy to think that American warships might have little more to fear, but one never dismisses a person who is mad and/or crazy and determined enough to make any damn fool plan work…
No, there’s no such thing as victimless crimes or an easy mark, and if anything what happened to the Adams and their friends is stark proof of that. But will the costs this time be far greater…?
After this horrible incident, we could use a laugh, and this small advert cartoon with a few scallywags comes close to offering a few.
Lord, let’s hope we’re not entering a time where people start saying, “Remember when we could laugh at pirates?” (Do cut them some slack, as they probably meant to say “with pirates.”) It would be a cruel day should pirates go back to being universally feared…