You Sank My Trawler!The owner of the Ekawat Nava 5 is not at all happy. He says that his fishing trawler was chased by pirates and called for help. When the Indian frigate INS Tabar showed up, it sank his trawler.
He could be right.
One of the Ekawat Nava 5's crew survived six days in the water before getting rescued, another is quite definitely dead, and the rest are missing: quite possibly on the bottom of the ocean, along with the ship.
The Indian navy says that it can tell the difference between a fishing trawler asking for help, and a pirate mother ship whose crew is threatening to blow them up. And, that what they sank was not a fishing trawler.
They could be right.
It's quite possible that the pirate ship sank the trawler, and then the Indian warship sank the pirate ship. Why the pirates would sink a ship, rather than hold it for ransom, I don't know. Maybe they figured it would be more profitable to loot the trawler and sink it.
I'm glad I'm not one of the people who has to sort that mess out.
Pirates Not Winning Popularity ContestsActually, a sailor who was freed after his ship was ransomed said, " 'I wish that no one else ever has to go through this -- (hijackers) are not human but rather animals,' " perhaps rather strongly put, but he had been under a great deal of stress.
Pirates: Popular, no; Rolling in Money, YesLooks like the Somali pirates, as a group, made $150,000,000 in ransoms in 12 months. I don't know what their overhead is, but my guess is that they've managed to hang on to quite a bit of that.
And, glad as I am to see hostages freed with no more damage than a deep-seated grudge, paying ransom does have drawbacks: " 'What other alternative does a shipowner have?' said Peter Hinchcliffe, marine director of the London-based International Chamber of Shipping. 'It is an appalling situation paying money, knowing that that will further enhance the capability of the criminals ashore.' "
In other words, shipowners are paying the pirates to upgrade their ships and weapons, so they can hijack more ships.
21st Century Piracy: Not Likely to End NicelyI'm no 'hawk,' but I doubt that the pirates in Somalia - and start up operations in east Asia - will stop pulling in six figures a year just because someone asks them nicely.
Centuries of diplomacy and sweet reason didn't stop the Barbary pirates a few centuries back, but the Marines did. And yes, there were other players involved, too.
I'm afraid that, sooner or later, someone's going to have to use force to end today's piracy.
In the news:
- "Sunken 'pirate ship' was actually Thai trawler, owner says "
CNN (November 25, 2008)
- "Freed sailors: Pirates are animals"
CNN (November 25, 2008)
- "Pirates collect $150 million in ransoms"
CNN (November 21, 2008)