Laying it on with a trowel

Naive Americans will be lapping this up.

Reporting from Mombasa, Kenya -- The first mate of the cargo ship Maersk Alabama, whose crew defeated an attempted hijacking, today urged President Obama to defeat the Somali pirates terrorizing one of the world's busiest shipping channels.

Shane Murphy said the crew had vowed to use its experience last week to save other crews in future.


In the jubilance that followed Sunday's dramatic sea rescue of the ship's skipper, Murphy said the U.S. Navy's efforts to save Capt. Richard Phillips offered inspiration to the nation at a difficult juncture.

"In America now, things are down. It's not the best of times. Hopefully everybody in America can latch onto this maybe and use it as a sign of hope to show what being American is about," he said in Mombasa, Kenya, where the ship is tied up.


Murphy, 33, called for strong American action against Somali pirates, who typically base themselves in the ocean in "mother ships" and launch their attacks using powerful speedboats, boarding with grappling hooks or ladders.

"We would like to implore President Obama to use all his resources and increase his commitment to end this Somali pirate scourge," he said, reading from a prepared statement. [PREPARED BY WHOM?]


"It is a crisis. Wake up!" he said. "This crew was lucky to be out of this with every one of us alive. We won't be that lucky again."

"Right now there are still ships being taken, right now as we are standing here. America has got to be at the forefront of this. It's time for us to step up and put an end to this crisis.


In Washington, Obama pledged today to take action. He praised the U.S. Navy personnel who had freed Phillips and insisted that the United States was prepared to act against such piracy.

"I want to be very clear that we are resolved to halt the rise of [piracy] in that region," Obama said. "And to achieve that goal we're going to have to continue to work with our partners to prevent future attacks, we have to continue to be prepared to confront them when they arise, and we have to ensure that those who commit acts of piracy are held accountable for their crimes."

A crew of 16 on an Italian ship was the most recent to be taken hostage. It was seized Saturday and arrived the following day in Somalia, where a ransom will likely be negotiated. Some estimates put the number of seafarers being held hostage in the region at about 270.

Somali piracy has increased dramatically since 2007, with 42 ship hijackings last year, as increasing numbers of Somalis try to get a cut of the lucrative ransoms shipping companies pay. But the first kidnapping of Americans galvanized U.S. attention last week.


Murphy said the crewmembers of the U.S.-flagged but Danish-owned Maersk Alabama wouldn't release the exact details of what happened during the initial attack on their cargo; instead, they planned to use the information to help other crews evade or repel pirates.

"This group here has a lot of valuable knowledge that's going to save lives, and that's what we're doing here," he said. "That's why we haven't been able to talk to you. We're trying to gather this knowledge and put it in a package."

Murphy spoke to Phillips on Sunday after U.S. military snipers killed the three pirates holding the skipper. The first mate said the crew was looking forward to being reunited with him.

"I just got off the phone with our captain, Richard Phillips, for the first time, and it was an extremely emotional experience for all of us to actually hear his voice and to hear the condition he was in.

"Ultimately everybody here today has the captain to thank for their lives and their freedom," Murphy said. "But additionally it was an entire crew-wide effort. You will find there are going to be many stories of individual heroism coming out of this. But as a group, everybody played a part, everybody."

Murphy hinted the crew stuck to a minutely detailed plan [?????] to overcome the pirates. He said the crew never fought the pirates, but neither did they ever surrender their ship.

"We never gave up," he said.


Murphy said the U.S. should lead the fight against piracy, no matter what nationality the hijacked crews were: "At sea, it's a global community; it doesn't come down to nations. There's a whole world out there and we all look out for each other."

Murphy spoke emotionally of the sacrifice merchant seamen make to support their families, spending most of their time at sea, and he described the mutual support between crewmembers.

"We don't go home to our families. We work out here. These are our families. It's not always easy. But in times of crisis, just like a family, we're there for each other."
And let us know forget that ISRAEL is the country who wants these waters internationalized. Why is that? Galal Nassar in Al-Ahram Weekly, December 2008:
SEAS OF STRATEGIC IMPORTANCE: Somalia perches on the most important maritime channels in the world. Through this passageway passes Arab oil on its way to European and American markets. It is also a relatively inexpensive route for the shipment of Western industrial products to Asia and Africa. Approximately 10 per cent of the world's maritime cargo passes through these waters, according to recent statistics. The maritime channel has special strategic significance for Washington and Israel. For the former, it serves as the vital link between the US's Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean and its Fifth Fleet stationed off the coast of Bahrain and its Seventh Fleet in the Indian Ocean. Tel Aviv, meanwhile, has not forgotten that Egypt together with Yemen closed the Bab Al-Mandeb upon the outbreak of the 1973 October War, which came as an additional blow to Israeli and international shipping with the closure of the Suez Canal following the Israeli occupation of Sinai in 1967. Israel has been pressing for the internationalisation of the Red Sea. With its ships no longer confined to a narrow lane as they pass to and from the port of Eilat, it would have much greater manoeuvrability in those waters as well as the opportunity to secure supply lines for its naval units. There is no overstating what a military advantage this would bring to the Hebrew state and what a threat this would pose to Arab national security.


malcontent said...

Please send armed escorts for the merchant vessels that sail through this sea. If the world wants the support of the most capable armed force on the high seas, then we can rent out the US Navy. That would certainly solve the irresistable appeal of ransom for these hungry thugs AND give America a solid export opportunity.

It just costs money, right? Let everyone be earnest about this security initiative. We need to know who will pay for the security and a basic outline of operations involved before America absorbs this as yet another unfunded service. Jon-boy Bolton wants us to invade Somalia by this weekend but he has yet to detail how exactly this should be funded. Not that I would ever want anyone to follow Jon-boy's mustache of doom anywhere...

US Navy needs a marketing staff ASAP.

Sis said...

Thanks for leading me to the Al-Ahram article; I was looking for it last night. I will leave the article for W to read. When I told him what was really going on off the Somalia coast, he gave me the eye-role.

I felt like Ebert At The Movies this weekend - like I was handed the script prior to the show so I could critique the debut. However, I already read the book, which is always more interesting and never the same as the Hollywood production.

Greg Bacon said...

Maybe they could try hijacking another airliner and flying it into an American flag shipped?

That worked pretty good on 9/11.

I like it that they won't release the name of that Somali "pirate" that said America is our #1 enemy and must be defeated.

Maybe he trained with Bin Laden?

Or maybe he's from Tel Aviv? One thing's for sure, by the end of the week, Obama will engage in a time honored American tradition required of all new presidents; sending in flights of F-16's to blow the hell out of some poor fuckers living in hovels.

Damn, I love the smell of napalm in the morning!

A. Peasant said...

malc, it would seem that private contractors like blackwater can make money here, as i'm sure they know.

sis, it's even bigger than i expected -- the show that is. this isn't for nothing.

greg, yes there does seem to be a little secrecy brewing about the edges. noticed that too.

malcontent said...

Newshoggers have a good discussion of piracy now as well.


legal mumbo jumbo

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