Friday, January 16, 2009

Here be pirates

The piracy problems of the coast of Somalia is going to make for a lot of materials for movie producers and novelists. Just take for instance the story from the Star newspaper below:

moment for heli crew

LUMUT: Confronted by pirates off the
Somalia coast was a nerve-wrecking moment for our navy boys.

Sazalee Shoib, commander of the Super Lynx helicopter unit, was watching over
the MISC container vessel Bunga Mas Enam which had stalled due to mechanical
problems in November last year.

Below, two skiffs (speedboats) filled
with the pirates were already near the vessel with six other skiffs rushing to
the scene.

Commander Sazalee said there was a possibility that the
pirates carried rocket launchers and other weapons.

So he kept a safe
distance but close enough to show the pirates that he meant business.

“Under the rules of engagement, we are not allowed to fire unless fired
upon first,” said Commander Sazalee when met at the naval base here yesterday.

The pirates, probably considering their options, decided not to do

After an hour, they retreated upon seeing the warship KD

The KD Mahawangsa had sailed to the Gulf of Aden on Sept 7
last year to escort merchant ships plying the pirate-infested Gulf of Aden.

One of its mission was to escort the Bunga Mas Enam and another merchant
ship to Djibouti, Soma­lia.

KD Mahawangsa commanding officer Kapt
Khalid Jaafar said the container vessel had fallen an hour behind due to the
mechanical failure. The vessel’s crew then radioed in to say that eight skiffs
were approaching the vessel.

“I decided to send the Super Lynx team (to
watch over the vessel) while we make our way back to the vessel,” Kapt Khalid

He said it was an anxious moment for him and his crew.

KD Mahawangsa returned to base here on Dec 17 and was replaced by the KD Sri

A filepic of the warship escorting the MISC trade vessel to its

Our navy has been escorting our ships in the dangerous waters of Somalia ever since some Malaysian ships were taken ransom. It used to be, pirates just boarded a ship, killed everyone on board and sailed away with the loot. Today, a ransom fetches a higher price.

The military commanders from the joint patrol team would have probably considered sending in commandos to rescue their ships already. The French send in commandos to take down some pirates after paying of the ransom for a french boat.

Even the Chinese are sending their warships to the African coasts to patrol. This would be their first major overseas naval mission ever since Admiral Cheng Ho sailed with his fleet to Africa almost 600 years ago.

Almost all the great nations of the world stated out as a trading maritime empire. Malacca was famous for their Orang Laut, the sea people who protected the trade routes. They were pirates by trade but the Sultan got them to 'protect' the routes for the state.

Cheng Ho sailed to south east asia and even battled pirates and attacked their bases. He even brought back the pirate commanders all the way to China to execute them. I think that's the way it should be done.

In a movie world, SAS and Delta force commandos would be swimming into the pirate's base to plan explosives around the town. Another team of commandos will be boarding all the ransomed boats to take out the kidnapppers on board. The lead commando will engage in a hand to hand fight with the pirate commander. As the alarm is alerted, the explosives go off creating a distraction for the commandos to sail away all the ransomed boat.

In the real world, the commandos black hawk helicopter will be shot down over the pirate's town and massacred. All the town's inhabitants including women and children will get blown up in an air strike; all the hostages will be executed by the kidnappers and the captured oil tankers will sink and leak oil all over the african coasts killing all sea life. Hrmm... yeah, I think this would make for a more realistic movie.

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