It’s been an interesting week in piracy news.
This year’s Volvo Ocean Race is a bit different. Because of the threat of piracy, the organizers arranged for the sailboats to be loaded on to an armed cargo ship to be covertly transported through high-risk pirate areas. With each boat costing more than $2 million, there is good reason to be cautious.
The result of months of planning, the first hush-hush operation happened last month during the second leg of the race. All the teams convened at an undisclosed port in east Africa, where they were lifted onto a freighter, and later deposited in the Indian Ocean about one day’s sail from the finish line in Abu Dhabi. Then, when it was time to start the third leg, the 15 ton boats were loaded up on to the Dutch ship Happy Diamond. Once again surrounded by armed guards and barbed wire, the boats were delivered discreetly to a secret port, later revealed to be Maldive capital Male. The teams are off again, and at the time I write this Team Telefónica has just taken the lead in day 5.
I found this operation fascinating, particularly because I am halfway through The Pirates of Somalia by Jay Bahadur. I followed the precautions of the race organizers plans with interest, as they didn’t quite match what I had been reading. Piracy, according to Bahadur at least so far, is a crime of opportunity not necessarily advanced intelligence operations. I think everyone would agree though that finding multi-million dollar sailboats covered in internationally recognized brands unguarded in the Indian Ocean would be an amazing opportunity for a pirate. So, of course, the abundance of caution is a good idea
The other amazing story from this week was when the U.S. Navy SEALs, rumored to be SEAL Team Six of Bin Laden fame, impressed the world again, making headlines with a daring rescue of two hostages in Somali this week. The team parachuted into Somalia to save Danish Refugee Council Demining Group aid workers Jessica Buchanan, 32 of America, and Poul Hagen Thisted, 60 of Denmark. Nine suspected pirates were killed in the firefight that ended a more than 3 month ordeal that began when the two were kidnapped at gun point while travelling to the airport having just completed a workshop on landmines. Frustratingly, as international efforts have stepped up on the high seas, pirate mayhem like this is growing more frequent on land.