Somali pirates are back in the news after kidnapping a couple from Tunbridge Wells (my hometown incidentally) as they sailed their yacht from the Seychelles to Tanzania. I hope they are released safe and sound but I can’t help thinking their course was reckless, given the number of attacks on boats and ships – many bigger and faster than the Chandlers’ Lynn Rival.
Now it emerges that some of these other ships have begun using armed guards. The debate has rumbled on for a long time, and this recent comment piece at Lloyd’s List ends by once again arguing that taking guns to sea solves nothing…
In truth, seafarers are innocent targets in a dilemma that can only be mitigated by unified government naval protection and, ultimately, by solving the complex political woes of Somalia and its neighbours. Encouraging seafarers to shoot back would only endanger seafarers’ lives.
But in a press release that I almost didn’t read, from the EU’s anti-piracy taskforce, it seems that vessels are now taking things into their own hands. Gone are the unarmed security teams. Now we have armed fishing boats.
In the afternoon of October 27th 2009, 350 nautical miles east of Mogadishu, Somalia a French Fishing Vessel was attacked by pirates in two attack skiffs. The pirates opened fire on the Fishing Vessel. Her embarked military Vessel Protection Detachment (VPD) fired warning shots after which the pirates broke of [sic] their attack.
This is the inevitable result of our collective inability to come up with ways of tackling Somalia’s problems and cannot lead anywhere good.