Yesterday’s attack on the U.S. flagged Liberty Sun was strikingly reminiscent of last weeks attempted hijacking of the Maersk Alabama, which we all know ended in the kidnapping of the ships Captain. Both vessels had a crew of some 20 US nationals, both were carrying food aid to Mombosa, Kenya, and both vessels could only use evasive maneuvering and blockading themselves inside the engine room while waiting for military forces to respond to distress calls and, just like last weeks attack, help came in the form of the USS Bainbridge… SOME FIVE HOURS LATER!
Since Sundays rescue of Capt. Phillips, two vows have been made:
- President Obama vowed that “[the US] is resolved to halt the rise of piracy” and to achieve that goal the is going to have to work to prevent further attacks, be prepared to confront the attacks when they arise and ensure that those who commit acts of piracy are held accountable.
- Somali pirates vowed retaliation in the form of killing hostages if the US and other countries try to attack. It was even stated that “U.S. forces have become our No. 1 enemy.”
So what happened yesterday?
A press release from the Department of Defense stated that the “The USS Bainbridge, [which] was in the general vicinity, responded to ensure Liberty Sun wasn’t in peril”. Unfortunately, the general vicinity in the case of an area of some 1.1 million miles was, in this case, about a 5 hour response time – more than enough time for a vessel to be seized.
Luckily, the evasive maneuvers performed by the Liberty Sun proved successful and the pirates were never able get on board, but the vessel did sustain some damages as a result of the pirates firing rocket propelled grenades and automatic weapons. Luckily!
A pirate whose gang attacked the Liberty Sun admitted Wednesday that his group was targeting American ships and sailors.
“We will target their ships because we know their flags. Last night, an American-flagged ship escaped us by a whisker. We have showered them with rocket-propelled grenades,” boasted Ismail, who did not take part in the attack on the Liberty Sun.
I guess, with this most recent attack on a US merchant vessel and the hijacking of other non-US flagged vessels in recent days, leads us back to the question – Is the US and the rest of the world losing the fight against piracy on the high-seas?