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Somali Piracy Situation Escalates

The most recent events in the piracy of the Maersk Alabama indicate an escalation. Earlier this morning the media reported that the U.S. Navy had called in the F.B.I. hostage negotiating team to attempt to free the Alabama's captain who was afloat in a lifeboat along with four pirates, now stalled in the middle of the Indian Ocean. The F.B.I. is now described as fully engaged with the military in seeking the release of Captain Richard Phillips.

The assault on the U.S.-registered Maersk Alabama freighter, loaded with food for Africa, far off Somalia's coast marked the first attack against a U.S.-flagged vessel off Africa since the days of the Barbary pirates more than 200 years ago, a maritime official said.

It is interesting that the hijacking occured in what was a second attempt. Apparently the first attempt was thwarted.

Although now closely guarded by the U.S.S. Bainbridge and being monitored by a P-3 Orion surveillance, the Somali pirates are no less audacious. One of the priates, a thug going by the name of Da'ud has declared that reinforcements were already on route to the scene and that "the situation will end soon." Ominously, the scenarios painted by Da'ud include the U.S. retrieving Phillips and sinking the lifeboat with the pirates aboard, or the pirate reinforcements arriving in time to maintain control of the situation. The alternative, according to Da'ud is if the U.S. uses military force, then, as he said, "I am sure that nobody will survive."

As yesterday, this situation will continue to unfold and it will be interesting to see how rules of engagement with the Somali pirates changes now that an American vessel has been seized. It should also be noted that at least one company, Espada Marine Services is positioned to deploy teams onboard ships to discourage pirate assaults.

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