I reside just minutes from the Atlantic Ocean and the coast of North Carolina and those barrier Islands along our coast which made for wonderful hiding places for the pirates of yesteryear. The Coast of North Carolina is drenched in folklore about pirates. The infamous Blackbeard was captured here and decapitated. The sports teams of at least one noted university here are named “The Pirates.” So, we Tar Heels have a colorful history of interaction with pirates as does our sister state to the south.
That was then. This is now.
Again the high seas are infested with pirates. Their aim is the same… to rob and steal. But now, they have added ransom.
Recently we heard of an Ocean Liner being attacked, but managing to speed away. A few days later, in the same waters, a freighter was attacked. It, too, managed to get away. As I write, at least one of the largest vessels afloat, an oil tanker, is being held for ransom by a handful of modern day blackhearts in full view of the world, and the world’s navies, including warships of the US Navy.
Our own Caribbean is littered with modern day pirates. Yachts disappear to show up at some other location, with a different registration, and different name. Sometimes passengers disappear, too.
On at least two different occasions in our history, under two Presidents, Thomas Jefferson and Teddy Roosevelt, the US Navy, and Marines, had to rid the coast of Africa of pirates. The Barbary Coast Pirates.
I bring up these particular pirates because they were based along the African coast, mainly the North African coast. The pirates we seem to be having the most trouble with today are also on the African coast, but the east African coast…the coast of Somalia to be more exact. So far this year, alone, those pirates have attacked over 90 ships. They have managed to hijack 39 freighters, tankers, and fishing vessels. At least 14 of them are currently anchored, under heavy guard, off pirate villages along the coast of Somalia. Estimates run as high as 30 million dollars paid in ransom money.
Turns out it is not as easy today as it used to be to take on the pirates. All sorts of national and international laws tie the hands of governments and makes them less than eager to take on a couple of dozen men with small arms and two or three rubber boats. But there is an outfit, based here in North Carolina, eager to do what the governments of the world sea powers are reluctant to do. I speak, of course, of Blackwater Worldwide.
Equipped with their own warship, the McArthur, Blackwater is looking to provide a new service to the merchant navies of the world. Blackwater offers to escort paying customer’s ships through the pirate infested waters, safely. Their plan is simple: Issue verbal warnings to approaching vessels which appear to have piracy in mind, followed by a few shots in the air, and if that fails… then the sharpshooters aboard a couple of helicopters, flown from the deck of the McArthur, will do their job by taking out as many barefooted pirates as it takes to discourage the attack.
Already Blackwater is receiving inquiries from dozens of shipping companies and shipping insurance companies concerning Backwater’s services in escorting their ships through the world’s most dangerous waters.
There is an excellent article on all of this here.
The country of Somalia still has no functioning government and it is a breeding ground for this type of activity.
Teddy Roosevelt, the last President of the United States to deal with Barbary Pirates, had the opportunity to use the big stick he carried and, he did just that. He sent seven battleships from the Atlantic Fleet to the North African Coast. It worked and the pirates backed down.
This blight on the oceans will not go away if we turn a blind eye. It will get worse. Eventually they will manage to stop and board a passenger liner and death and destruction will be the result. Or, terrorists will seize an oil tanker, sail her into the harbor of one of the world’s great cities, and blow it up with unbelievable death and devastation as the result.
Now is the time to hunt them down and destroy them… even if that means following them to their center of operations in the seacoast villages of the country, or countries, providing them safe haven.