Sea Transportation: Somali Mother Ships Remain At Large


p> December 18, 2007: For the past two months, the U.S. Navy has been operating within Somali territorial waters, against Somali pirates. So far, this has only resulted in two American destroyers following a 6,300 ton Japanese tanker, taken over by pirates, to the village the pirates were using as a base. There, the U.S. warship harassed the pirates, who made threats, but eventually lowered their ransom demands and got off the tanker. This particular pirate base supports about 200 gunmen, and half a dozen or more speedboats. The American warships destroyed several of the speedboats, and promises to destroy more. But there are several nests of pirates along the 3,000 kilometers long Somali coastline. There are also one or more larger ships, capable of taking speedboats 300-400 kilometers off the coast, where most shipping now operates. These "mother ships" support the speedboats full of armed men, that actually take the merchant vessels or fishing boats. U.S., and other NATO warships, are trying to develop tactics that will make it possible to nail the pirates before more ships are taken. So far, that has proved difficult.

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