Friday, April 10, 2009

U.S. (and Obama administration) "no ransom" policy tested in piracy crisis


The latest wrinkle in the “pirates’” saga in the western Indian Ocean, off Somalia and down toward the Horn of Africa, is that Richard Phillips, the skipper of the Maersk Alabama, jumped the lifeboat and tried to swim to the Bainbridge. I suppose that if you work in commercial shipping, you should be able to swim as well as Michael Phelps.

The United States has a policy that it will not pay ransom to terrorists to free civilians, although it will use all other law enforcement and military means. Civilians can be put in harms way for the greater good, and this reminds one of Israel's policy of never negotiating with terrorists to free civilians.

CNN has a forum to allow visitors to respond on how the government is responding, here.

The latest CNN story is from Barbara Starr, reporting from Manama Bahrain, here.

Perhaps this is the first major international crisis for the new Obama administration, as predicted during the primaries last year by now Vice President Joe Biden when he was himself a presidential candidate.

Private shipping companies typically do not like to carry weapons, but use noise (loud enough to pop eardrums) and tasers to try to stop pirates from boarding. But private shipping companies to pay a lot of attention to their own maritime security.

Actually, maritime workers can sometimes be impressed into Naval service. Visitors may want to read about the United States Merchant Marine, and there is a Merchant Marine Academy, which is one of the five service academies, on Long Island, link here. http://www.usmma.edu/. For the Merchant Marine and "don't ask don't tell" see this reference on my GLBT blog for June 2008.

April 11:

A Somali warlord is reportedly negotiating with the Navy to drop the ransom demands in return for "safe passage" for the pirates from the Navy. Is this "giving in"?

Breaking news: Sunday, April 12, 2009, 1:15 PM EDT
. Mr. Phillips has been released (CNN). Follow the media. CNN link is here, and will change with developments today.

Mr. Phillips gradated from the Massachusetts Maritime Academy in 1979 (not the Merchant Marine Academy).

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