Sea Transportation: Somali Pirates Get Ambitious


November 6, 2005: Incidents in which merchant ships have been captured by pirates off the Horn of Africa, since the beginning of 2005, total 12, two more than the equivalent period last year. In addition, several fishing vessels have been taken as well. Currently three freighters, from small "flag of convenience" countries, and three Taiwanese fishing boats are still in the hands of pirates, but are being closely observed by Western naval forces.

Recently, even a small (302 passengers and crew) cruise ship, 160 kilometers off the Somali coast, and headed for Kenya, was attacked by two speedboats full of heavily armed Somali pirates. The crew repelled boarding attempts using a sonic cannon, one of the many American developed "non-lethal weapons" to appear on the market in the last decade. The cruise ship had a plan for dealing with pirate attacks, and successfully carried it out in this case, getting away with only minimal damage to the ship (several bullet holes, one passenger cabin damaged by an RPG rocket and one injured crewman). The cruise ship believed itself relatively safe from Somali pirates, as there have never been attacks that far off the coast. The two speedboats were either operating from a larger ship, knew when the cruise ship would be in the area, or were just very reckless and lucky. The attack was made at 5:30 AM, and when the cruise ship got up to top speed, it was able to get away from the smaller (20-25 feet long) and slower pirate craft. There were apparently fewer than a dozen pirates involved, and it is interesting to speculate on what would have happened if they had gotten on board and taken control of the cruise ship. Among the 151 affluent passengers were carrying 48 Americans, 22 Britons, 21 Canadians, 19 Germans and six South Africans. A mass mugging may have ensued, but hostage taking (for ransom) was also a possibility.


Article Archive

Sea Transportation: Current 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 1999 



Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close