Barack Obama Responds to Piracy and Pirates

Posted: April 13, 2009 in boat, boats, sailing, yachting
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President Barack Obama appeared to move up the piracy issue on his agenda today in light of the situation with the U.S. ship attacked by pirates last week, saying the United States would work with nations elsewhere in the world, “to halt the rise of piracy.”

Captain Freed from Pirates

Captain Freed from Pirates Ships Crew

“I want to be very clear that we are resolved to halt the rise of piracy in that region and to achieve that goal, we’re going to have to continue to work with our partners to prevent future attacks,”  said Obama.

The  rescue operation of Richard Phillips from pirates won praise abroad but it was uncertain how far Obama wanted to go to engage the pirates.

The U.S. appears to be considering options including adding Navy gunships along the Somali coastline and launching a campaign to disable pirate “mother ships.” Some military strategists believe it may ultimately be necessary to attack the pirates’ bases on land in Somalia. But few international allies have the appetite for another land operation in Somalia, where a U.S. military foray in the early 1990s ended in humiliation. And the cost in civilian casualties would likely be extremely high, some warn.

The chief mate aboard the US-flagged Maersk Alabama was among those urging strong U.S. action. “It’s time for us to step in and put an end to this crisis,” Shane Murphy said. “It’s a crisis. Wake up.”

New details emerged Monday about the pirate standoff.

Fearing the pirates‘ lifeboat was approaching the Somali shore, where they could escape, the Bainbridge rammed it back out toward sea, that happened before the Bainbridge put a tow line on the lifeboat to help it navigate the choppy sea. The four pirates that attacked the Alabama were said to be between 17 and 19 years old. “Untrained teenagers with heavy weapons,” Gates told a group of students and faculty at the Marine Corps War College. “Everybody in the room knows the consequences of that.”

Phillips was taken hostage in an enclosed lifeboat that was soon shadowed by three U.S. warships and a helicopter. Navy SEAL snipers parachuted from their aircraft into the sea, and were picked up by the USS Bainbridge, a senior U.S. official said. Snipers got the go-ahead to fire after one pirate held an AK-47 close to Phillips’ back. Snipers killed three pirates with single shots shortly after sailors on the Bainbridge saw the hostage-takers “with their heads and shoulders exposed,” Gortney said.

Pirates currently hold more that 230 sailors  hostage in more than a dozen ships and 1 private sailboat anchored off the pirate haven of Somalia.

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