Pirates vowed revenge after the US Navy killed five of their brethren, and in the last 24 hours, they’ve begun to wreak havoc in the Gulf of Aden again.  Pirates now hold four ships and 60 hostages in their latest spree.  However, note one key difference:

Somali pirates captured four more ships and took more than 60 crew members hostage in a brazen hijacking spree, while the American captain who escaped their grip planned to reunite with his crew and fly home Wednesday to the United States. …

Despite Mullen’s confident statement and President Barack Obama’s warning of further U.S. action, Somali pirates captured two more nautical trophies Tuesday to match the two ships they seized a day or two earlier.

The latest seizures were the Lebanese-owned cargo ship MV Sea Horse, the Greek-managed bulk carrier MV Irene E.M. and two Egyptian fishing boats. Maritime officials said the Irene carried 21 to 23 Filipino crew and the International Maritime Bureau reported 36 fishermen, all believed to be Egyptian, on the two boats.

It was not known exactly how many crew the Sea Horse had, but a ship that size would probably need at least a dozen sailors.

None of the ships are American, and none of the hostages are American, either.  That may be more coincidental than deliberate, as pirates would attack targets of opportunity, and perhaps no American shipping is present at the moment.  But it certainly appears that the pirates have taken one important lesson from watching their colleagues wind up in Davy Jones’ locker after the Maersk Alabama hijacking.

It’s going to take more than one lesson to teach the pirates a lesson.  I’d expect this to continue until we start sinking their ships in port, which will make it clear to everyone that we’ve reached the end of our tolerance for lawlessness.  And if we start sinking them at sea, the lesson may not be as dramatic, but it will eventually make more of the pirates reluctant to leave shore at all.