For those that thought the Somali pirates would avoid another run in with the US Naval forces… even for awhile… wrong.
The Liberty Sun sustained damaged from rocket propelled grenades and automatic weapons when Somali pirates attempted to seize her. The ship is carrying food aid for CARE and the World Food Programme, and headed for Mombassa.
There were no injuries and the families of the crew members have been notified.
The USS Bainbridge, which had rescued the Maersk Alabama, was on site within hours, although the pirates had already left by the time the warship got there.
Nor have they been deterred, seizing two Egyptian fishing vessels, the Greek freighter M.V. Irene and a Togo-flagged freighter named the Sea Horse. They also attacked a Liberian freighter, the Safmarine Asia, with the same method as the Liberty Sun…. and lost another fish there.
Noel Choong, who heads the International Maritime Bureau’s piracy reporting center in Kuala Lumpur, said pirate attacks this year had risen to 78, with at least 19 ships hijacked and more than 300 crew members still in pirates’ hands. Each boat carries the potential of a million-dollar ransom.
Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the United States can’t end Somali piracy by itself and noted that 16 nations have warships in the region, which is roughly four times the size of Texas.
When Mullen was asked today whether the United States had considered attacking the pirate strongholds in Somalia, the admiral told ABC’s “Good Morning America”: “I’ve asked and we’ve been doing this. We’ve initiated a review on the Joint Staff to look broadly and widely and deeply at the overall strategy.”
Secy of Defense, Robert Gates, doesn’t see the need to beef up the military attacks, saying those decisions are being made “moment by moment”.
On another front, Secy of State, Hillary, is attempting to push other nations to build naval forces against the piracy.
“This could escalate violence in this part of the world, no question about it,” said Vice Adm. William Gortney, the 5th Fleet commander in the region.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates said, “There is no purely military solution to” the piracy plague.
“What we’re trying to do is work with a number of countries in the region and around the world to help bring some political and economic stability to Somalia,” said State Department spokesman Robert Wood.
Clinton was looking to convene the international contact group of European and African states on the unrest in East Africa.
What other navies? Just how many of these Euro and African nations have naval forces of any significant size??