This photo was taken aboard a ship I was visiting years ago when I lived in Pohang, South Korea and was involved in volunteer work at the port. I remember being amused that such a poster would be aboard a modern vessel. “This is the 21st century”, I thought. “Pirates are surely a thing of the past, aren’t they? Something for adventure films like “Pirates of the Caribbean”.”
Since that time, Somali pirates have obviously been reported more and more in the news and I’m sure just about everyone has heard (enough) about various pirate activity over the years. I remember applauding the South Koreans for storming a Korean vessel that had been captured by Pirates earlier this year and rescuing all of the 21 crew members, killing 8 pirates and dragging another 5 of them back to South Korea to be sentenced there. Good job, South Korea!!! I wonder why international troops are not taking the threat more seriously. I read somewhere that such piracy could cost the global economy something like 12 billion dollars a year. Here’s a good article on “the real cost of piracy” and just bear in mind that this was written in 2009.
I had never heard of pirate activity around Oman before so I was quite suprised to read the recent article about pirates hijacking a ship off the waters in Oman. (Read about it here from Muscat Daily) According to that article, 12 merchant ships have been hijacked so far this year in or around Omani waters! I totally agree with Sjoerd Both, a maritime security consultant and former commander of the regional coalition Combined Maritime Forces, who stated that “until the international community is ready to inflict real pain on the pirates nothing will change for the better.” Here’s a good argument for more decisive action from a New Zealand blogger.
The most recent hijack was not done miles and miles off the coast. This was done in what should have been the safe confines of the port of Salalah! This is, in my humble opinion, like a declaration of war on the Sultanate of Oman and I say that Oman should act with full force to not only protect its own waters but take charge in ridding the seas of these vermin. Another motivation to fight this piracy is the fact that some of the ransom money shelled out to these thieves goes directly into terrorists’ hands.
I’m glad that the Omani government is taking at least some action. Since the hijacking of MV Fairchem Bogey and its 21-member crew, round the clock naval patrols have been initiated around Salalah. I hope they will take stronger actions in the near future against these Somali thieves.
Maybe this could be an answer to some of the unemployemnt issues with young men in the Sultanate. Sign them up for the navy. Have a new fleet of gunships built and blow the pirates out of the waters. That would surely put Oman on the map and the Sultanate would be doing the world a big favor!