Navy Shadows Pirated Ship Off Somalia

Navy Shadows Pirated Ship Off Somalia
September 29th, 2008  
Team Infidel

Topic: Navy Shadows Pirated Ship Off Somalia

Navy Shadows Pirated Ship Off Somalia
Wall Street Journal
September 29, 2008
Pg. 21

By Chip Cummins and Sarah Childress
A U.S. Navy destroyer over the weekend caught up with pirates who commandeered an arms-laden cargo ship off the coast of Somalia, increasing pressure on the attackers in a standoff that began Thursday.
A Navy spokesman said the guided-missile destroyer USS Howard was maintaining visual and radio contact with the Faina, a Belize-flagged, Ukrainian-owned vessel that was carrying an arms shipment to Kenya. The ship was anchored Sunday near the central Somalia port of Hobyo, the Navy said.
The ship's cargo -- tanks and other arms -- is the most valuable known haul by organized bands of pirates who prey on ships in the Gulf of Aden and along Somalia's east coast. Local pirates typically demand ransom for hijacked ships, crew and cargo.
The U.S. dispatched the Howard to track the vessel after it was attacked Thursday. Moscow said it was also sending a ship to the region after the hijacking. Still, it isn't likely the pirates would have been able to offload the heavy military equipment, even if the U.S. Navy wasn't watching them.
Lt. Nathan Christensen, a spokesman for the U.S. Fifth Fleet, based in Bahrain, said the pirates are conducting negotiations with the vessel's owner over the fate of the ship.
The Associated Press reported late Sunday that the captain of the cargo ship, speaking by satellite phone, said one crew member had died of hypertension. Lt. Christensen said he was aware of reports of a death aboard, but couldn't confirm them. "We're actively monitoring the situation," he said.
In a statement, the Fifth Fleet said two previously pirated vessels, the Capt. Stefanos and the Centauri, were anchored near the Faina.
The Navy said the Faina was owned by Kaalbye Shipping of Ukraine and was carrying a cargo of T-72 tanks, a Russian model, and related equipment. The ship's crew included Ukrainian, Russian and Latvian sailors. The Ukrainian shipping company wasn't immediately reachable for comment.
Kenya's government said in a statement it wasn't negotiating with the pirates, but that efforts to recover its military cargo were "going on well."
The hijacking is the latest in a series along the Horn of Africa. The rising number of attacks this year in the Gulf of Aden, one of the world's busiest shipping lanes, have sent insurance rates higher for many ship owners along the route.
In August, the U.S. Navy designated a special patrol area in the gulf to help thwart pirates, but attacks have continued. The French military has intervened twice in the region, capturing pirates who seized two French yachts. Last week, two unidentified boats menaced an American naval replenishment oiler, which fired warning shots to ward them off.
Piracy off Somalia also is disrupting the shipment of food aid to the country. "It's been an extreme challenge," said Peter Smerdon, a spokesman for the World Food Program in Nairobi. The group ships 90% of its food to Somalia by sea, but the increased threat of hijacking has left many carriers unwilling to make the trip.
The WFP says more than three million people in the country now need aid, a 70% increase since January. Rising global food prices and worsening economic conditions in Somalia, which for years has lacked a working central government, have exacerbated aid needs.
The increase in piracy attacks is "coming at a time that we need to double the tonnages we're taking to Somalia every month," Mr. Smerdon said.
After several pirate attacks in 2005 and 2007 on ships making WFP runs, shipping companies have been reluctant to make the trip unaccompanied, he said. Last year, the WFP was forced to cut in half the amount of aid it shipped.
Beginning in November, ships carrying WFP aid have been escorted by French, Danish and Dutch navy ships. Canadian ships are now escorting shipments, but their tour of duty is set to end late next month. The WFP has been unable to line up new volunteers, putting the shipments in jeopardy.
September 29th, 2008  
A Can of Man
It's the same as before. They're using hunger as a weapon. They draw in the aid workers then loot them for supplies.

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