Somali pirates seize American ship, crew; Update: Crew overpowered pirates

posted at 9:28 am on April 8, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

The issue of piracy in the Gulf of Aden hit home for Americans today.  A US-flagged ship and 21 Americans on board got taken by Somalia-based pirates.  The US Navy confirmed the attack this morning (via Mitch Berg):

The Kenya-based diplomat identified the vessel as the 17,000-ton Maersk Alabama and said all the crew members are American. The diplomat spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

The U.S. Navy confirmed that a U.S. flagged ship with 21 members of crew was hijacked early Wednesday off the eastern coast of Somalia.

Spokesman Lt. Nathan Christensen said the attacked happened in the early hours of the morning hours, about 280 miles (450 kilometers) northeast of Eyl, a town in the northern Puntland region of Somalia.

Mitch scornfully refers to this as a “new chance for dialogue”.  What would Janet Napolitano call it?  A stowaway problem?  On-demand course correction?

The Somali pirates have operated in this region for a few years.  Thus far, the world has seemed disinclined to put pressure on the pirates of Aden Gulf, despite the headlines they have grabbed lately.  The US Navy now has an entree into the fight, and it will be interesting to see how the Obama administration reacts.  The US has downlook satellites and a treasure trove of assets with which they can track down the Maersk Alabama and its crew.

Will Obama use that to send the pirates a message about attacking American shipping?  Or will this be a “new chance for dialogue”?

Update: Score one for American merchant marines!  The Maersk Alabama is back under the crew’s control, as the Boss notes in her updates:

American crewmen have regained control of a hijacked U.S.-flagged cargo ship off the coast of Africa, according to CBS News. …

Late Wednesday morning, military sources told CBS News that the crew has regained control of the vessel by overpowering the pirates, taking one pirate into custody and throwing three overboard.

Hopefully they dropped some chum into the water to signal the sharks.  Kick ass, Maersk Alabama!


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