An American cargo ship was attacked by pirates armed with grenade launchers and automatic weapons in the Gulf of Aden on Tuesday, but the attackers failed to take over the ship, which was able to continue with its delivery of humanitarian food aid to the Kenyan port of Mombasa.
The ship, the Liberty Sun, was damaged in the attack but the crew members were not hurt, according to a statement from the shipowner, Liberty Maritime, of Lake Success, N.Y.
“We are under attack by pirates, we are being hit by rockets. Also bullets,” a crew member aboard the Liberty Sun, Thomas Urbik, said in an e-mail message to his mother, the Associated Press reported. “We are barricaded in the engine room and so far no one is hurt.”
Mr. Urbik said a rocket had “penetrated the bulkhead but the hole is small. Small fire, too, but put out.”
The attack occurred shortly before noon, a United States Navy spokesman said. By the time the U.S.S. Bainbridge arrived — about six hours later — the pirates had fled. The Bainbridge, the navy destroyer involved in the rescue last week of another American cargo ship, was escorting the Liberty Sun to Mombasa on Wednesday.
Snipers aboard the Bainbridge killed three Somali pirates on Sunday in the dramatic rescue of Richard Phillips, the captain of the Maersk Alabama. During a botched hijacking of the Alabama last week, the pirates seized Captain Phillips and held him at sea in a lifeboat for four days. But Captain Phillips was freed when the American snipers picked off the pirates in the lifeboat — at dusk, using night-vision scopes.
Equip US ships with the following:
- Long Range Acoustic Devices (commonly known as LRADs) – These sound cannons are non-lethal and they work.
- High-voltage electric fences along ship railings
- Powerful foaming agents and extreme glues which could be sprayed onto decks prior to a boarding by pirates.
- Powerful blinding searchlights
- Fire-hoses to repel boarders.
- Unmanned aerial vehicles (commonly called UAVs) fitted with cameras to watch approaching pirates and assess threats
How do we fix conditions in Somalia?
Despite the criminality and desparation of their acts, no one can doubt that these pirates have courage. They now know they will be killed if they attack US ships, but they continue to do so. Based on this character, if they could be turned into a unified force for a greater good than their own gain, they would be formidable. The only way to turn an enemy is to understand what it is he seeks, and to help him get close to that without doing the damage he currently is.
Is poverty alone the problem in Somalia? How are the pirates getting weapons? How are they communicating? What are the natural resources of the country? What is the most likely candidate for a stable Somali government?
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