A merchant ship knocked seven suspected pirates into the Gulf of Aden when it rammed their small boat and capsized it as they tried to board the ship, Europa Press reports (in Spanish). The suspected pirates were rescued by a Spanish naval vessel.
In fact, it was the same naval vessel — the Marqués de la Ensenada — that responded to an attack last month on the MSC Melody cruise ship. So let’s hear it for La Armada Española.
The captain of the Spanish ship, by the way, is named Alfonso Carlos Gómez Fernández de Córdoba. So dashing! (With Spanish accent: “I am Capitan Alfonso Carlos Gómez Fernández de Córdoba. Put down your swords or prepare to die … Also, don’t drip on my deck, por favor.”)
It is deeply disturbing that the seas are not safe from piracy in 2009, but somehow heartening to read about cruise ship passengers throwing tables and chairs onto the pirates trying to board their ship.
The Australian newspaper The Age reports that passengers “threw plastic tables and chairs at AK-47-wielding pirates who were trying to board” the MSC Melody off the East Coast of Africa over the weekend. The ship’s security forces returned fire from the pirates, who were driven off.
A Spanish warship responded to the cruise ship’s distress call, chased down and captured nine Somalis suspected in the attack and turned them over to the Seychelles Coast Guard, according to Reuters.
The attack occurred 650 nautical miles off the coast of Somalia, outside the area where pirates normally operate. The CEO of the company that owns the Melody said it will no longer route ships along the East Coast of Africa, The Australian reports.
The navies of the world’s maritime nations could easily stop piracy off the east coast of Africa, writes Arthur Frommer, and their failure to do it is astonishing.
Freighters have long come under attack by pirates based in Somalia, and the threat is spreading to cruise ships. On Nov. 28 a German naval vessel chased pirates away from a German cruise ship in the Gulf of Aden, and two days later a luxury cruise ship outran two pirate skiffs that were firing on it.
Other cruise lines are rerouting ships or even flying passengers over pirate-infested waters. Sailors on private yachts have been forming convoys.
Some nations have been getting more aggressive, including India, which captured 23 suspected pirates last week. The Bush administration is pressing the United Nations for permission to pursue pirates onto land.
Frommer suggests that travelers and the cruise industry agitate for action against this threat to travelers and voice their concerns to Congress and the incoming Obama administration.