While the Somali pirates are vowing to get revenge and maybe be a little tougher next time, the U.S. is looking at a victory in its first encounter with the scourge of piracy off the horn of Africa out of the lawless state of Somalia, even as the pirates hold ships and crews from other nations.
Chalk one up for the U.S. Merchant Marine or more directly the captain and crew of the of the Maersk Alabama container ship, and the U.S. Navy. The crew fought off pirates. The captain, Richard Phillips, was clever enough to allow himself to become a hostage in return for his ship being allowed to escape. The captain was brave enough to attempt escape, even though he failed, but at last on Sunday Navy personnel were able to shoot three of the pirates holding the captain on an enclosed life boat.
I have had to rewrite parts of this blog several times as the details came in, but like I say at the end of this post, this is not a news story, just a commentary on a job well done (you can get the news from your normal sources of course).
As I understand things now, by the time the final rescue was effected, the life boat had lost power and was acutally being towed by the Navy vessel USS Bainbridge. But the pirates were still holding Captain Richard Phillips at gun point. But two of them made the fatal mistake of exposing themselves outside and were shot and then snipers shot the third through a porthole (or some type of opening) as he was apparently threatening Phillips with a weapon.
A fourth pirate was on the Bainbridge negotiating but was arrested.
Sitting here safe at home (as I earlier admitted in my previous blog) I thought maybe giving himself up to the pirates was an unwise move. But I guess Captain Phillips, a 1979 graduate of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, knew some things I did not and was more clever than I might have thought. And anyway, apparently his plan worked. And we all have to be happy and proud of that.
I for one am especially proud of all involved on our side, the Merchant Marine crew members and their captain and the U.S. Navy.
The U.S. can be justifiably proud that we have taken a stand against piracy on the high seas, as we did once before in the early 19th Century on the Barbary Coast. This time it was off the Horn of Africa.
I also give kudos to the French forces that retook a pirated vessel the other day, even though sadly one hostage was killed. But that is the risk that sometimes has to be taken. Giving in to piracy is like giving in to a bully, it simply encourages more bad behavior.
(Blogger’s Note: This is a commentary not a news story. Some of the details of the rescue are not clear in news accounts I have heard and read so far. The only thing for sure is that it is indeed good news. I did read that one pirate claims they have learned a lesson — be tougher next time. But I think you have to head off force with force, anyway.)
Correction: In my original draft that I posted earlier in my haste I in part incorrectly indentified the container ship as the USS Alabama (making it sound like a Navy ship — I should have left off the USS). It is of course a private freighter owned by a company called Maersk, flying the American flag and called the Alabama.