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PostPosted: Wed Oct 01, 2008 6:07 pm 
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Somali pirates seize Ukraine ship carrying tanks
By Jeffrey Gettleman
September 27, 2008


Naval ships deployed as pirates vow not to surrender

NAIROBI, Kenya: For a moment, the pirates must have thought that they had really struck gold — Somalia-style.

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The gun-toting, seafaring thieves, who routinely pounce on cargo ships bobbing along on the Indian Ocean, suddenly found themselves in command of a vessel crammed with $30 million worth of grenade launchers, piles of ammunition, even battle tanks.

But this time, they might have gotten far more than they bargained for. Unlike so many other hijackings off the coast of Somalia that have gone virtually unnoticed — and unpunished — the attack Thursday evening on the Faina, a Ukrainian vessel bringing military equipment to Kenya, has provoked the wrath of two of the most powerful militaries on the planet. The United States Navy was in hot pursuit of the ship on Friday. And the Russians were not far behind.

"This is really getting out of control," said Mohamed Osman Aden, a Somali diplomat in Kenya. "You see how many countries are involved now? These pirates aren't going to get away with this."

Somalia's 1,880-mile coastline is crawling with pirates, a serious problem given that so much of the country is dependent on emergency food aid, which comes mostly by ship. The pirates are highly organized. They work in teams. There is even a pirate spokesman (who could not be reached for comment on Friday). They seem to strike with increasing impunity, grabbing everything from sailing yachts to oil tankers. They then usually demand millions of dollars in ransom for the ships and their crews.

And people usually pay — a response that Somali and Western officials say is fueling the problem. This year is one of the worst on record, with more than 50 ships attacked, 25 hijacked and at least 14 currently being held by pirates. The waters off Somalia are now considered the most dangerous in the world.

As for the Faina, it might have looked like the kind of slow-moving, easy prey that pirates have hit time and time again. But its booty is not the kind that can be easily pawned off at port.

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(EPA) A Russian T72 tank similar to the one taken by pirates

Each Soviet-designed T-72 tank weighs more than 80,000 pounds. The pirates would need special know-how, not to mention special equipment, to unload them — assuming, of course, that they could make it to port with the Navy on their tail.

Somalia's pirates are typically former fishermen who have turned to the more lucrative work of plying the seas with binoculars and rocket-propelled grenades. They travel in light speedboats, deployed from a mother ship far out at sea, and they have attacked tankers as far as 300 miles from the coast. Pirates even tried to attack an American naval supply ship this week. The ship fired warning shots at them. The pirates sped away.

"These pirates are getting bolder ever day," said Andrew Mwangura, the program coordinator of the Seafarers' Assistance Program in Kenya, which tracks pirate attacks. Somali officials say the pirates are growing in numbers, with more than 1,000 gunmen at their disposal, and they have evolved into a sophisticated organized crime ring, with their headquarters along the rocky shores of northern Somalia. One official close to the Somali government described the pirates as an oceanic "mafia" and said they had netted millions of dollars, which they use to buy fancy cars and big houses.

"Paying the ransoms is just making this worse," said the official, who was not authorized to speak publicly.

Mohamed, the Somali diplomat, said: "This is not a Somali problem. This is an international problem. Shipping across this entire region is imperiled by this."

Western countries have tried to crack down on piracy, with different navies patrolling the waters and escorting United Nations-chartered ships transporting much-needed food to Somalia. Twice this year, French commandos battled with pirates who hijacked French yachts. On Friday, Kenyan and Western officials said that an American warship was steaming toward the hijacked ship to intercept it, and the Russian Navy announced that it, too, was sending a warship, named the Dauntless. This could lead to a showdown with the pirates in the middle of the Indian Ocean. With that many hostages aboard a floating ammunition depot, things could get complicated. The $30 million in Ukrainian arms were bought by the Kenyan government, one of America's closest allies in Africa.

"This is a big loss for us," said Alfred Mutua, a spokesman for the Kenyan government. But, Mutua was quick to add, since the ship had not reached Kenya yet, the cargo was still the Ukrainians' responsibility. The ship, registered in Belize, was supposed to pull into Kenya's Mombasa port this coming Monday. But on Thursday around 5 p.m., when the Faina was about 200 miles offshore, it was surrounded by three speedboats, according to Interfax, the Russian news service. Communication was suddenly cut off. It was a typical pirate tactic.

According to the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry's Web site, 21 people were aboard: 17 Ukrainians, three Russians and a Latvian. An official at the Mombasa port said the ship was carrying 2,320 tons of "project cargo," a term usually used to describe heavy machinery. But according to diplomats and Interfax, the cargo included 33 refurbished T-72 tanks, "quite a significant amount of ammunition" and grenade launchers. The supplier was a state-owned Ukrainian company. Ukrainian and Kenyan officials emphasized that the arms deal was perfectly legal.

Somalia's pirates tend to hide their captured ships in isolated coves, ferrying people and cargo back and forth in dinghies, which are not exactly built for transporting 40-ton pieces of solid-steel military equipment.

"If there are tanks on board," said one Western diplomat in Kenya, "I don't think there's a chance in hell they can get them unloaded." More worrisome, he said, was the prospect of the small arms, like the grenade launchers, falling into the hands of insurgents. In the past week, insurgents linked to Somalia's ousted Islamist movement have waged withering attacks on Somalia's transitional government forces in the capital, Mogadishu. Dozens of civilians have been cut down in the cross-fire, and thousands are fleeing the bullet-pocked city once again.

Somalia has been enmeshed in chaos for 17 years, since the central government collapsed and clan warlords carved the country into fiefs. The fighting, however, has intensified since December 2006, when Ethiopian troops invaded the country and overthrew a grassroots Islamist movement that controlled much of Somalia. Ethiopian and American officials said the Islamists were sheltering Qaeda terrorists, and the American military helped the Ethiopians hunt down Islamist leaders.

The United Nations World Food Program has said that the conflict and recent drought have pushed millions of Somalis to the brink of famine. More than 3 million people, nearly half the population, need emergency food to survive. Pirates have threatened the pipeline of food into the country because of the constant hijackings on the high seas.

Michael Schwirtz contributed reporting from Moscow, and a Somali journalist from Mogadishu, Somalia.

Source: International Herald Tribune.

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 Post subject: Re: Somali pirates
PostPosted: Wed Oct 01, 2008 6:23 pm 
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And for some slightly different information on this story, for example the arms are meant for Sudan (against the current arms embargo) by way of Kenya.

====================

3 Somali pirates die in Ukraine ship shootout
Reuters
Tuesday, September 30, 2008

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Somali pirates

NAIROBI: Rival Somali pirates arguing over what to do with a hijacked Ukrainian ship and its cargo of 33 tanks engaged in a shootout on board, killing three of their number, a maritime group said on Tuesday.

Pirates seized the MV Faina off the Somali coast last week and have demanded $20 million in ransom.

U.S. navy ships are within sight of the boat, whose capture has sparked controversy over the destination of its military cargo and thrown an international spotlight on rampant piracy in one of the world's busiest shipping areas.

Andrew Mwangura, of the East African Seafarers' Assistance Programme, said rival factions among the roughly 50 pirates guarding the Faina had argued over whether to give in to international pressure to free the cargo and 20-man crew.

"There was a misunderstanding yesterday between the moderates and the radicals on board who do not want to listen to anyone," said Mwangura, whose Kenya-based group is monitoring the saga via relatives of the crew and the pirates.

"The moderates want to back-peddle. The Americans are close, so everyone is tense. There was a shootout and three of the pirates were shot dead."

The U.S. navy has said the ship, which was heading for Kenya's Mombasa port, was carrying T-72 tanks, grenade-launchers and ammunition ultimately bound for south Sudan via Kenya.

A fragile peace has held in south Sudan since 2005 after more than two decades of war with the north. A major arms shipment could violate the terms of that pact unless it was specifically authorised by a north-south committee.

But Kenya says the armoury was for its military. "It is the property of the Government of Kenya and we have documentation to that effect," said military spokesman Bogita Ongeri.

In Kenya, civil groups have demanded the government to explain why it would spend so much on military equipment when it is struggling to help refugees from post-election violence.

Taking advantage of chaos on shore in Somalia, where an Islamist-led insurgency has been raging for nearly two years, pirates have hijacked more than 30 ships this year and attacked many more.

Most attacks have been in the Gulf of Aden between Yemen and north Somalia, a major global sea artery used by about 20,000 vessels a year heading to and from the Suez. The pirates have also struck in the busy Indian Ocean waters off south Somalia.

Source: Times Of Oman.

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 Post subject: Re: Somali pirates
PostPosted: Wed Oct 01, 2008 6:47 pm 
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And for yet another slightly different take on the story... from the Russian p.o.v.

==================

September 29, 2008, 19:39
U.S. Navy fleet surrounds hijacked ship

Several U.S. battleships are currently surrounding the Ukrainian ship which was hijacked by Somali pirates last week. Their purpose is to prevent the unloading of the 33 tanks and other military equipment that is currently onboard.

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Russia has also deployed a ship to the area with the intention of rescuing the remaining crew members and ensuring the safety of Russian citizens.

The captain of a hijacked Ukrainian ship being held off the coast of Somalia has died. Conflicting reports suggest he died of heart attack or hypertension. Other crew members are reported to be in good condition.

Three Russians, seventeen Ukrainians and a Latvian are being held hostage. The pirates have initially demanded a ransom of $US35 million, reportedly lowering their demands to $US5 million. However, some reports still suggest that the pirates' demand remains around the $US20 mark.

Some diplomats in the area, more notably Kenyan representatives, consider the possibility of traditional ransom less and less possible. According to them, too much international media attention is attached to the situation on the ship for the pirates to yield to an exchange.

Mikhail Voitenko - Russian maritime expert and a leading world expert on piracy - considers the international focus to be set too strongly on the wellbeing of the tanks and not the wellbeing of the crew.

According to Voitenko, efforts should concentrate on saving the crew and the only way to do that is for the Ukrainian government to shift the focus of the international community away from the tanks and their potential effects on the Somalian political situation.

He suggests that if worse comes to worse, the rescue operation should allow Faina to go down together with the tanks and the crew should be saved.

The international environmental group ECOTERRA is concerned by the potential repercussions of the situation.

"If the falcons from the US, Russia, Ukraine and last but not least some ill-advised Somali politicians would get their way and drive the case to an end by military means, a major humanitarian and environmental disaster would be created", ECOTERRA spokesman Dr. Hans-Juergen Duwe stated.

Questions over Ukraine's arms trade legitimacy

The Ukrainian defense minister confirmed that the tanks were on their way to Kenya in an official deal between Kiev and Nairobi. Nevertheless, some reports have suggested that the ship was in fact headed for the Sudan. Both the Ukrainian and Kenyan ministries of foreign affairs have issued reports refuting these claims.

However, the incident has raised questions in some quarters over the legitimacy of Ukraine's arms trade.

Ukrainian parliament deputy Valery Konovaluk says the number of illegal arms trade deals from Ukraine has increased in the last several years.

And for him, the details of this story do not quite add up.

"We know that there was an official contract, but strangely enough prices vary for the very same items sold to different states. We believe that large sums evade contracts and don"t reach the defense ministry to stay in somebody"s pockets. And the investigation into this incident I believe will reveal a lot - in particular if there was anything else on the vessel apart from tanks," says Konovaluk.

The incident comes only a month after the legitimacy of Ukraine"s weapon sales to Georgia was making waves among Kiev"s political circles, during Russia"s military action in South Ossetia.

Ukrainian politicians are drawing comparisons between the events in African waters and those in the Caucasus.

Politicians in Ukraine believe that this piracy incident may in fact help the country as it"s not the first case of illegal arms trading. Ukraine"s parliament has launched several investigations into similar cases. But for now, rescuing the crew members remains a top priority.

Was the capture of Ukrainian ship pre-planned?

Mikhail Voitenko believes that the capture of the Ukrainian ship was possibly a set up and not an accident.

"The captain of the vessel should have kept to a distance of at least 250 miles from the coast," writes Voitenko on his website dedicated to fighting piracy on the seas.

The captain of the Lehmann Timber, which was held earlier this year and was eventually released, was told by pirates that they are afraid to venture out too far into the water and by keeping a distance of at least 200 nautical miles from the coast the ship can practically avoid attack.

"The fear is being intercepted while transferring the ship from the point of capture to the place where it will be held," says Voitenko.

According to those who have been in pirate captivity, the only chance the crew has of freeing themselves is when the ship is being led to harbour. The pirates are few and usually in a very excited state and the crew are still located in their positions around the ship.

Once the ship comes to a stop and is anchored, a large group of pirates comes aboard and forces the crew into a place where they can all be seen. This eliminates the possibility that the crew can free themselves without casualties, thus resulting in the death of part or all of the crew.

Source: Russia Today.

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 01, 2008 6:55 pm 
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It seems to me that Ukrainian president Yuschenko is in hot water over the Somali pirate thing. Tanks were sold by Ukraine to Sudan, which has an arms sales embargo because of Darfur and war in south Sudan. The company that sold tanks is controlled directly by President Yuschenko. Either he broke arms sales embargo (which really looks good for Ukraine's bid to join Nato) or he "didn't know" about sale which makes him look completely incompetent.
The ship was seized by the Somali pirates and that opened the can of worms.

It is also interesting that Ukrainian PM Timoshenko has made clear she and her government are not involved, as arms sales are all controlled entirely by President Yuschenko. Ukrainian parliament is investigating. Yuschenko wants parliament dissolved so they stop investigating. So far they have uncovered that Yuschenko authorised sales of anti-aircraft missiles to Georgia, at a third of their value, just before Georgia invaded South Ossetia. And after the war a weapons storage facility in Kharkov, in Ukraine, went up in flames, consuming all documents regarding the transaction of arms to Georgia. How "lucky"

Yuschenko and Saakashvili are also linked on a personal level because one is the godfather of the other's child and Saakashvili speaks fluent Ukrainian because he studied there long ago.

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 Post subject: Re: Somali pirates
PostPosted: Thu Oct 02, 2008 8:27 pm 
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Somali pirates say they will fight commando raid
October 2, 2008
By MOHAMED OLAD HASSAN
Associated Press Writer

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Pirates holding Ukrainian-operated ship Faina off the coast of Somalia, receive supplies while under observation by the guided-missile cruiser USS Vella Gulf (not shown) on Monday, Sept. 29. 2008.

MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) -- Somali pirates on a hijacked cargo ship holding battle tanks and hostages said Thursday that they were ready to battle any commando-style rescue attempt.

The warning came a day after the Somali government gave foreign powers a blank check for using force against the pirates, while U.S. warships continued to circle nearby and a Russian frigate headed toward the standoff.

"Anyone who tries to attack us or deceive us will face bad repercussions," the pirates' spokesman, Sugule Ali, told the Associated Press by satellite telephone from the Ukrainian ship MV Faina.

Ali sounded calm and relaxed despite being surrounded by a half dozen Navy vessels and buzzed by American helicopters.

Navy officials decline to comment on the possible use of force, but they warn the pirates against harming the 20 crew members or trying to unload the ship's cargo of 33 Soviet-designed T-72 tanks and other weapons. They make clear they won't allow the arms to fall into the hands of an al-Qaida-linked Islamic movement that is battling Somalia's government.

Ali said the pirates planned to release the ship with crew and cargo intact after receiving the $20 million ransom they have demanded. They seized it Sept. 25 and are no anchored off the coast of central Somalia.

"We have nothing to do with insurgents or terrorist organizations. We only need money," he said. "We would never reduce the ransom."

The Faina's hijacking, the most high-profile this year, illustrates the ability of a handful of pirates from a failed state to menace a key international shipping lane despite the deployment of warships by global powers.

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Graphic shows statistics on pirate attacks worldwide

Ali specifically warned against the type of raids carried out twice this year by French commandos to recover hijacked vessels. The French used night vision goggles and helicopters in operations that killed or captured several pirates, who are now standing trial in Paris.

Russia, whose warship was not expected for several days, has used commando tactics to end several hostage situations on its own soil, but dozens of hostages have died in those efforts.

The Faina standoff will probably be resolved with a ransom payment like nearly 30 other hijackings this year, said Roger Middleton, who published a report on Somali piracy for a London-based think tank, Chatham House, on Thursday.

But the negotiations might drag on, he said.

"In some of these instances pirates have held out for almost two months," Middleton told the AP. "They know how to wait things out. I think the likeliest conclusion to this, and the swiftest, is the payment of ransom. The alternative for the shipping company and the international community is that the ship is sunk and her crew die."

Hijackings of this Horn of Africa nation are being conducted with increasing sophistication by pirates equipped with rocket-propelled grenades, satellite phones and global positioning systems.

Middleton estimated they have already pulled in up to $30 million in ransoms this year.

A Danish intelligence company specializing in maritime security said Thursday that Somali pirates make an average of $1 million per hijacked vessel and hold ships for an average of five weeks before freeing them.

On Wednesday, the Somali government authorized foreign powers to use whatever force is necessary to free the Faina.

A U.N. Security Council resolution in June gave permission to nations to send warships into Somalia's territorial waters to stop "piracy and armed robbery at sea" if such operations were taken in cooperation with the weak Somali government in Mogadishu.

But foreign warships in the area have not deterred piracy off Africa's longest coastline. On Thursday, the Bahrain-based spokesman of the U.S. 5th Fleet, Lt. Nathan Christensen, said the Navy received reports of three more failed attacks on shipping in the Gulf of Aden.

Middleton said the risk of hijackings threatened to further drive up prices for the oil and other goods being shipped to Europe and America from the Middle East. He said insurance rates for vessels traveling by Somalia had jumped tenfold.

___
Associated Press writers Barbara Surk in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Pauline Jelinek in Washington and Katharine Houreld, Anita Powell and Tom Odula in Nairobi, Kenya, contributed to this report.

___
On the Net:
USS Howard: http://www.howard.navy.mil/default.aspx

Source: Breitbart.

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 Post subject: Re: Somali pirates
PostPosted: Sun Oct 05, 2008 3:36 am 
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4 Fronts for Pirate-Navy Battle as U.S. Descends on Captured Ship
By David Axe
September 29, 2008

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Somali pirates in small boats are seen alongside the hijacked Faina. (AP Photo/U.S. Navy/Ho)

Introduction

Deep in what this weekend became the most notorious pirate hideout since Neverland, Somali buccaneers are currently hunkered down in the Indian Ocean with the biggest pillage of their biggest year: the Ukrainian cargo vessel Faina, loaded with 33 T-72 tanks, plus small arms, rockets and ammunition — all headed for Sudan, a U.S. Navy spokesperson confirmed this morning. As its USS Howard destroyer reached the area and more foreign ships descended on the hijacked boat, however, the U.S. Navy"s response to Thursday night"s capture may signal a new stage in this cat-and-mouse game of modern-day piracy.

From ramshackle beginnings four years ago, Somali piracy has evolved into a lucrative industry, reportedly bringing in 10 times as much cash as the country"s once-thriving fishing industry. But after a year in which pirates operated with near impunity and seized nearly 60 ships for around $1 million ransom each, the international community is finally taking action by assembling a sophisticated naval force to fight back.

The fate of the Faina remains to be seen, with its captain already dead, a $20 million ransom in negotiations and would-be rescue ships awaiting orders and continuing to monitor the situation. But two high-tech and highly successful engagements so far this year — in addition to several others featuring robotic arsenals — might provide an attack plan that could finally begin to shut down the reinforced band of pirates.

One week after the April attack on French luxury yacht Le Ponant by pirates wielding AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades, a French Navy helicopter carrier, with a U.S. military drone reportedly in support, launched a daring raid to rescue the yacht"s crew of 30 and nab six pirate suspects in the process. On September 16, the French Navy launched a second raid to free a 60-year-old French couple and their yacht, with commando swimmers dropping in off a helicopter and quietly climbing aboard to arrest and kill several hijackers.

Will stealth maneuvers and current technology be enough for the international rescue squad — a collection of U.S., French, German, British, Canadian, Danish, Pakistani and other nations" navies known as Task Force 150 (TF-150) — to fend off the next major attack? Or, with robotic ships still not set for antipirate duty, does a long held-up contract for a new fleet of war vessels hold the key to ending Somali piracy? We take a look back at the naval-criminal match-ups from the recent ramp-up on the high seas to find answers for the next round of battle.

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The Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Howard (Photo by U.S. Navy)

1. Mother Ship Connection

Sometimes detaching from larger trawlers — as the Somali gang did from a Yemeni vessel in April — pirates tend to ride six apiece in small speedboats, or skiffs. The boarding teams and commandos that are the naval forces' weapons of choice travel in rigid-hulled inflatable boats and helicopters. But the distances involved — combatants might start out hundreds of miles apart — mean both sides rely on mother ships for fortification.

Early pirate raids took place within 50 miles of the Somali coast, close enough for skiffs launched directly from land. But their hunting grounds are waters through which 10 percent of Persian Gulf oil must pass, so crucial commercial ships started moving farther and farther away, in a bid to just avoid the mounting violence. And the pirates adapted too, seizing vessels — then loading them with radios and GPS units — in an effort to carry the skiffs as far as 250 miles offshore. Switching mother ships on a regular basis helps the pirates avoid detection and remain "pretty damn sophisticated," says Martin Murphy, an analyst with the Washington, D.C.—based Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.

By the same token, naval forces tasked with fighting piracy find themselves rolling out bigger and bigger mother ships of their own. At some 500 ft in length, with space for eight small helicopters in addition to her boats, the French Jeanne d'Arc upped the scale of this new battlefront when it saved Le Ponant this spring. Earlier this month, the 1,000-ft American assault ship Iwo Jima arrived in the region with more than a dozen choppers and AV-8B Harrier attack jets onboard, plus the usual assortment of boats. When the Howard missile destroyer pulled in this morning, it ramped up the weaponry with an AEGIS system — not to mention antisubmarine rockets, torpedoes and more.

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Boeing's ScanEagle UAV. (Photograph courtesy of The Boeing Company)

2. Drone Race

Raids to recover captured ships and sailors are dicey affairs. Murphy cites the Le Ponant raid as too "close" for comfort, stressing that a better strategy going forward may be to deter piracy altogether rather than entering ship-to-ship combat following an abduction. "Once pirates are onboard, they've got the upper hand," Murphy says. "There's not much you can do without the risk of killing what you're trying to protect."

But the Harardhere area off the Somali coast sprawls across tens of thousands of square miles — far too much pirate-controlled ocean territory for a dozen warships to scan at once. "We're not always there" when pirates attack, says a U.S. Navy officer who asked not to be named due to the sensitive nature of ongoing diplomacy and military tactics in the region. "There are times when we can do something, and times when we can't."

To help cover more water and hunt down pirate skiffs and their cavernous anchor spots, the U.S. military has deployed drone aircraft, including models that can be launched from the decks of warships. Large, armed Predator drones flying from Djibouti, north of Somalia, have helped spot suspected terrorists by land in Somalia, but the American Navy appears to be using smaller ScanEagle drones for maritime operations.

Old-fashioned radar seems to have been how U.S. and Russian ships chased down the Faina over the weekend, and despite the heavy artillery onboard, potential hostage casualties make using weapons by sea and air a dangerous option in terms of whacking pirate ships. But a U.S. drone reportedly helped spot targets during the Le Ponant raid in April. That same month, another unmanned aircraft, described at the time as small enough to be "carried by three people," crashed in the southern Somali town of Merka, at the time a hotbed of piracy. And three years ago, the Navy tested out a catapult for launching 40-pound, camera-equipped drones from ships, as well as a net to recover them.

Even so, to shrink the area that warships must patrol, TF-150 has outlined a secret "maritime security patrol area," probably around 200 miles off the Somali coast. Murphy says the plan essentially outlines a safety lane for navies to concentrate their warships in before sending out VHF radio messages to commercial vessels, which can then be closely monitored in the no-pirate zone.

But that hasn't stopped rebel bands from seizing commercial freighters in the patrol area. "The feeling is they misaligned it," Murphy argues. Somali pirates — many of whom once were once professional fishermen — know the region and are familiar with likely shipping lanes. They're "not stupid," Murphy says.

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A sailor stands beside an LRAD device on the deck of the Cyclone-class patrol ship USS Typhoon. (Photograph courtesy of US Navy)

3. Self Defense

"We're encouraging mariners to take necessary precautions," the U.S. Navy source says. But TF-150 warships aren't always around, and there are big differences in the antipirate arsenals when ships as varied as personal yachts and commercial freighters are running the dangerous gamut around Somalia.

For civilian mariners working with the U.S. Navy, there's plenty of firepower onboard. The Pentagon's oilers and cargo ships, for example, are run by civilians but protected by Naval security teams armed with machine guns. On Sept. 23, the oiler John Lenthall fired at two suspected pirate skiffs thanks to its onboard naval attaché. "The rounds impacted the water approximately 50 yards from the closest boat and resulted in both small boats ending their pursuit," the Navy reported in a press release.

But for strictly commercial vessels, arming for self-defense can be ideologically problematic, and therefore they tend to be less up-to-date with defense technology. "Active defense mechanisms — men with guns — obviously raise all kinds of legal problems," says Tim Colton, a maritime consultant based in Florida. For that reason, the wealthier shipping lines have fitted their vessels with nonlethal weapons and not-so-new systems. These include the Long-Range Acoustic Device (LRAD) — a focused, painful beam of high-pitched sound blasted up to several hundred yards — and high-powered water cannons. In 2005, a cruise ship used an LRAD to ward off Somali pirates, and a Norwegian tanker fitted with water cannons fought off a pirate raid earlier this month.

But even these countermeasures have liabilities. "Passive defense mechanisms," Colton explains, "are very expensive." One U.S. admiral this month recommended that major shippers start hiring mercenary-style armed security teams to travel onboard ships in Somali waters. But that strategy may raise even more legal issues, and shipping companies may have to wait for a more codified attack plan from the TF-150 in the wake of last week's hijacking before rearming themselves.

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General Dynamics' USS Independence (left) and Lockheed Martin's USS Freedom (right) are battling for a U.S. Navy contract.

4. Future Ship Battle

Even as the international coalition grows — Indian officials said before last week's raid that they were considering helping TF-150, and the Faina's high-profile capture may invite more countries to sign on — the pirates' increasing fortification is demanding next-gen answers. The pirate base at Eyl is so heavily fortified that even the French military has ruled out launching raids if captured ships are too close. In a surprise move, the Russian Navy is sending two heavily armed warships to patrol near TF-150 with orders to protect Russian citizens, including mariners, "no matter where they are." Meanwhile, some shipping companies are having to shell out bonus bucks to keep at-risk crews from mutinying; this month the Filipino government ordered that mariners passing Somalia would get double pay.

The fight could escalate further as the U.S. Navy finally brings into service a new class of vessels optimized for, among other things, combating pirates. While it can hunt submarines and support special forces in major warfare operations, the $600-million Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) could soon be the first modern class of small warship successfully outfitted for coastal mother ship duty against lower-tech threats. Cited by Sen. John McCain at the first presidential debate on Friday as "a little ship" exemplifying "out-of-control" defense spending, the LCS contract is down to two competing designs: Lockheed Martin's 380-ft Freedom was handed over to the Navy this month, with General Dynamics's 420-ft. Independence slated for March.

Each of the planned 55 LCSs features a large empty bay that can be plugged with "mission modules" for different tasks. One surface-warfare module includes facilities for launching and controlling flying and seaborne robotic scouts. The module also features the Running-Gear Entanglement System — essentially a tough net that can be strung out to ensnare skiffs' propellers. With its robots, the LCS can see farther than existing warships, perhaps allowing it to plug some of the gaps in TF-150's security-lane coverage. Meanwhile, the entanglement system will give LCSs a non-lethal option for taking down the pirate boats its robots help spot.

Even with the potential for new pirate-fighting ships, diplomacy may offer as many permanent solutions as technology, analysts tell PM. That means encouraging the formation of a Somali government that can clear out pirates' land bases — these days concentrated in the northern town of Eyl. Despite August talks in Djibouti attended by the U.S. State Department, however, fighting on land — and at sea — actually has grown fiercer. "Insofar as piracy is not a good thing, we are not defeating it," Murphy says.

The fallout from another rescue in the next several days, however, should do a lot to change that, so stay tuned.

Source: Popular Mechanics.

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 Post subject: Re: Somali pirates
PostPosted: Tue Oct 07, 2008 6:30 pm 
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Developed countries push back vs. pirates
October 4, 2008
By JAMEY KEATEN
Associated Press Writer

Image
Somali pirates in small boats hijacked the arms-laden Ukrainian freighter Faina on Thursday.

DEAUVILLE, France (AP) — Armed pirates aboard fast-moving skiffs have increasingly turned the shipping lanes off Somalia into a lucrative hunting grounds: commandeering vessels large and small and leaving the world's maritime powers frustrated about how to stop the seafaring bandits.

Now, however, momentum is growing for coordinated international action to back up the sharp response after the stunning seizure late last month of a Ukrainian cargo ship laden with tanks and heavy weaponry — as the pirates quickly found themselves encircled by U.S. warships and receiving only silence to their demands for millions of dollars in ransom.

It could be a sign of a more aggressive and unified front in the one of the world's most important shipping lanes.

Several European Union countries are planning to launch an anti-piracy patrol, and Russia announced Friday it would cooperate with the West on fighting the pirates. U.S. warships, meanwhile, are being diverted from counterterrorism duties to respond to the hijackers.

America and some of its allies already have 10 warships in the area in the Gulf of Aden, north of Somalia on Africa's eastern elbow and between the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea.

France's defense minister this week — meeting in northern French seacoast town of Deauville — said eight EU countries have volunteered to take part in an anti-piracy operation off Somalia that could get a formal go-ahead next month.

Nobody has any illusions that the patrols — which officials say would at first involve only three frigates — will halt piracy through the Gulf of Aden, which is crossed by some 20,000 ships each year.

"It's a positive development, but whether it's sufficient is another matter," said Roger Middleton, an expert on East Africa at Chatham House think tank in London.

French defense officials say the EU plan will be modeled on successes of another operation designed to protect World Food Program convoys destined for Somalia, a mostly lawless state where warlords and Islamic militias have replaced government control in many regions. The French officials note that none of the 27 relief deliveries was hit by pirates.

International cooperation also has yielded results against piracy in Southeast Asia, where Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore have teamed up to fight bandits in the Malacca Strait.

But there are obstacles to the campaign against Somali pirates. Not least is lack of support from Somalia's embattled leaders — busy fighting Islamic insurgents — as well as the vast expanse of sea to cover and the tricky task of telling a pirate vessel from a fishing boat.

"Frankly we could put 250 boats out there and we'd never be sure we're free from hostage-takings," said one French defense official on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly on the issue. "It's a little bit like fighting the drugs trade — there's no watertight solution."

EU defense officials say the best they can hope for is to deter the pirates, whose prey has included merchant ships, aid vessels and even a cruise ship and a luxury yacht.

But with many in Somalia driven to desperation because of violence at home and the high cost of prevention, results could take years.

"What is lacking at the moment is a deterrent," said Noel Choong, head of the piracy reporting center of the International Maritime Bureau. "As long as there is no deterrent, the pirates will find ways to attack."

He added: "Navy boats can't be everywhere at all times."

Developed countries are contemplating their full potential arsenal: France has led a charge at the United Nations for legal powers to use force against pirates off Somalia; others floated ideas of using decoy ships to lure pirates into traps or launching amphibious assaults on pirate beachheads.

Few doubt the urgency. The Maritime Bureau's Choong said that through Friday, 67 pirate attacks have been recorded in the Gulf of Aden this year — including 26 ships hijacked. Of these, 12 boats and more than 250 crew members are still in the hands of pirates. Crew members have rarely been harmed, although the captain of the Ukrainian ship died after it fell into the pirates' hands.

"We are seeing ships being attacked every few days. We have never seen this kind of numbers before," said Choong.

The bandits are growing increasingly daring and clever. They spot potential victims from fishing boats or from the shore. From "mother ships" far out to sea they attack using smaller quick boats, clambering aboard their prey with ladders and grappling hooks. Some are armed with rocket-propelled grenades and have even tried to attack at least one U.S. Navy ship.

As with pirates of yesteryear, those in Somalia are lured by money. Chatham House estimates that the pirates have reaped up to $30 million in ransoms this year alone, and there's the risk that some may end up in the hands of terror groups.

But history also offers another lesson for the modern pirates: big powers have fought back hard.

Britain threw its formidable naval might to bring the heyday of Caribbean pirates to a close in the early 18th century. Less than a 100 years later, the young American nation fought North African pirate strongholds along the so-called Barbary Coast — battles that are recalled in the "shores of Tripoli" stanza in the Marines' Hymn.

The fight against the new breed of piracy is well-suited to international cooperation, particularly these days with the world's pre-eminent naval power — the United States — managing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The economic stakes are high in the Gulf of Aden: It is one of the world's busiest shipping lanes, and rerouting vessels around the Cape of Africa would be costly.

France, which now holds the rotating EU presidency, wants the 27-member bloc to muscle up in defense, and Somalia's pirates may be a limited test case with other countries bogged down, shrunken or uninterested.

The highest-profile incident was last week's hijacking of the MV Faina, a Ukrainian ship carrying 33 Soviet-designed tanks and weapons. The Faina, with 20 crew members on board, was anchored Friday near the central Somali town of Hobyo, with six U.S. warships within a 10-mile radius.

Some say shipping companies must do more — mainly by keeping a better lookout for small boats nearby. The IMB recommends round-the-clock radar watches and use of a tool called Secure Ship — a "non-lethal, electrifying fence" that sends out a 9,000-volt pulse to repel potential intruders.

___
Associated Press writers Barbara Surk in Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Elizabeth A. Kennedy in Nairobi, Kenya; Vijay Joshi in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Steve Gutterman in Moscow, and Paul Ames in Brussels, Belgium, contributed to this report.

Source: Breitbart.

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 Post subject: Re: Somali pirates
PostPosted: Sat Oct 11, 2008 10:44 am 
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Official: Greek tanker hijacked near Somalia
Oct 11, 2008

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) -- A maritime official says a Greek chemical tanker with 20 crew members has been hijacked by armed pirates in the Gulf of Aden near Somalia.

Noel Choong of the International Maritime Bureau says the ship was sailing from Southeast Asia to the Suez Canal when it was seized late Friday.

He says this brings the number of attacks this year in Somali waters to 69, with pirates raiding ships off eastern Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden flanking the country's northern coast despite U.S.-led patrols.

He says a total of 27 ships have been hijacked in the attacks, and 11 remain in the hands of the pirates along with more than 200 crew members.

Source: Breitbart

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 Post subject: Re: Somali pirates
PostPosted: Fri Oct 24, 2008 10:04 am 
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Somali pirates get ransom, release Thai cargo ship
October 19, 2008
By SALAD DUHUL
Associated Press Writer

MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) - It's been a busy, profitable week for Somali pirates: They hijacked one South Korean bulk carrier Wednesday, released another South Korean cargo ship Thursday and let a hijacked Thai ship go Saturday after getting a ransom.

Somali minister Ali Abdi Aware reported the release of the Thai ship after the ransom, but said Sunday it was not clear exactly how much money was paid.

Aware, the minister for foreign affairs for the semiautonomous northern Somali region of Puntland, said Puntland forces will be hunting for the pirates. Earlier this week, Puntland forces freed a Panama-flagged cargo ship from pirates in a gunbattle that killed one soldier.

Somalia, which has had no effective government since 1991, has become the world's piracy hotspot.

There have been 73 attacks this year in the Gulf of Aden that forms the northern Somalia coastline, and about 29 ships have been hijacked, according to the International Maritime Bureau.

The freed Korean ship had been hijacked for over a month. Korean officials said its 22 crew were safe but would not say whether a ransom was paid.

Nearly a dozen ships and over 200 crew remain in the hands of pirates, including the hijacked Ukrainian arms ship MV Faina, for which pirates have demanded an $8 million ransom.

U.S. warships are still surrounding the Faina to keep the pirates from unloading its cargo of battle tanks and heavy weapons.

The hijacking of the Faina and heightened concern over the chaos in a key shipping route has prompted NATO, the European Union and India to send warships to help the U.S. Navy ships that have been patrolling the region.

The Gulf of Aden, which connects the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean, is one of the world's busiest waterways with some 20,000 ships passing through it each year.

Source: Breitbart.

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 Post subject: Re: Somali pirates
PostPosted: Thu Nov 06, 2008 10:15 am 
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Pirates protected from EU task force by human rights

A new EU naval task force will be unable to take tough action against Somali pirates because it must respect their human rights, its commander has admitted.

By Justin Stares in Brussels
1 November 2008

The pirates of old at least knew where they stood if captured - they would be jailed and hung, or possibly made to walk the plank. But those policing the high seas today have no such potent sanctions to impose on 21st century buccanneers, as the human rights of the successors to Blackbeard and Captain Kidd are being put first.

The European Union's first naval task force is due to arrive next month in the Gulf of Aden to combat the region's unprecedented piracy scourge, which is being fuelled by the demand for cash and weapons in lawless Somalia. Ten EU countries, including Britain, have pledged support for the force - yet they may find it difficult even to make an arrest.

"In the old days, when the navy would catch a pirate, they would tie his hands and feet and throw him back in the sea," said Captain Andres Breijo, the Spanish head of the new anti-piracy mission, in an interview with The Sunday Telegraph. "Now they have human rights." Somalia is a "failed state", Capt Beijo added, and the West fears that if the pirates were handed over to the Somali authorities they would be tortured or executed.

Instead, his task force will only be permitted to keep a protective watch over merchant ships in the pirate-infested waters, which punctuate one of the world's most important trade routes between the Indian Ocean and the Suez Canal. Despite the presence of the US Fifth Fleet in Bahrain, and Royal Navy vessels also in the vicinity, dozens of ships have been hijacked this year, including a Ukrainian vessel carrying battle tanks and World Food Programme vessels delivering humanitarian aid to the heavily armed pirates' war-torn homeland.

Capt Breijo was reflecting the frustration felt by Europe's admiralty due to their restrictive rules of engagement. Modern European navies are now so mindful of the legal loopholes they face in tackling pirates that they often instruct commanders to simply let them go. After deciding pirates would not be successfully prosecuted if brought back to Europe, the Danish navy set free a crew of ten in September, dropping them off on a Somali beach after holding them for six days. The Royal Navy admits, unofficially, that it is under similar instructions. "What can you do?" said Capt Breijo. "They don't belong to any nation."

So far only the French have taken firm action, sending special forces troops to free their nationals and escape adding to the ransom payments worth $100 million (£62 million) a year to the heavily armed gangs. But now EU warships will lead commercial vessels in convoys through the most dangerous waters. Capt Breijo said that despite their tough image, modern-day pirates were in fact opportunists who ran at the first sign of armed resistance. A brace of French frigates, the EU vanguard, is already in operation, accompanied by a Spanish reconnaissance aircraft. But the EU cell is already receiving five requests a day for protection from shipowners and can only fully protect two ships on each of the frigates' fortnightly sailings.

Capt Breijo admitted that this was inadequate given that there were around 300 ships navigating the Gulf of Aden every day. The protection offered to shipping will be improved with the arrival of the main flotilla as well as a separate Nato protection force. The situation is however unlikely to improve until European capitals and the United Nations Security Council adopt guidelines allowing for maritime criminals to face trial. The causes of the piracy scourge will also need to be addressed. "What is clearly missing is the final solution: going ashore into Somalia," said Peter Hinchliffe, marine director of the International Chamber of Shipping.

Source: Telegraph UK.

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 Post subject: Re: Somali pirates
PostPosted: Thu Nov 06, 2008 4:51 pm 
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[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Wplw55nhRM[/youtube]
Some actual footage of pirates alongside a ship

What's next, we should apologise to the pirates for interfering with their livelihood? Perhaps bring along an IKEA boat where they can shop for free?

They're pirates! And maybe they are desperate people who just want to feed their families, and maybe they are simply cutthroats who deserve anything they get. But they are the ones kidnapping and threatening people and peaceful vessels so let's not give them the 5-star treatment, please!

Idiots.

:x

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 Post subject: Re: Somali pirates
PostPosted: Sat Nov 08, 2008 11:01 am 
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Pirates seize Danish ship, 13 crew near Somalia
November 8, 2008

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — A maritime official says pirates have hijacked a Danish cargo ship with 13 crew members near Somalia.

Noel Choong of the International Maritime Bureau in Malaysia says the ship was sailing from the Middle East to Asia when it was seized Friday in the Gulf of Aden. The ship flies a Bahamas flag but operates out of Denmark. Choong says the bureau has warned ships in the area to take extra precautions to deter pirates. No further details were immediately available.

There have been 81 attacks this year in the African waters, with 32 ships hijacked. Choong says 11 vessels remain in the hands of pirates along with more than 200 crew.

The attack comes despite increased international cooperation to crack down on pirates near Somalia.

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 Post subject: Re: Somali pirates
PostPosted: Tue Nov 11, 2008 9:14 am 
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Pirates seize Philippines ship near Somalia
November 11, 2008

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) - A maritime official says pirates have hijacked a Philippines chemical tanker with 23 crew members near Somalia.

Noel Choong of the International Maritime Bureau says the ship was heading to Asia when it was seized Monday in the Gulf of Aden by pirates armed with automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenade launchers.

The bureau has issued an urgent warning to ships to take extra measures to deter pirates. No further details were immediately available.

This brought the number of attacks this year in the African waters to 83, with 33 ships hijacked. Choong says 12 remain in the hands of pirates along with more than 200 crew members.

The attack comes despite increased international cooperation to crack down on pirates in the Gulf of Aden.

Source: Breitbart

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 Post subject: Re: Somali pirates
PostPosted: Fri Nov 14, 2008 7:20 am 
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From Times Online
November 12, 2008
Royal Navy in firefight with Somali pirates

Image
(MoD) The Royal Navy described the boarding as 'compliant'

Michael Evans, Defence Editor and Rob Crilly

Pirates caught redhanded by one of Her Majesty"s warships after trying to hijack a cargo ship off Somalia made the grave mistake of opening fire on two Royal Navy assault craft packed with commandos armed with machineguns and SA80 rifles.

In the ensuing gunfight, two Somali pirates in a Yemeni-registered fishing dhow were killed, and a third pirate, believed to be a Yemeni, suffered injuries and subsequently died. It was the first time the Royal Navy had been engaged in a fatal shoot-out on the high seas in living memory.

By the time the Royal Marines boarded the pirates" vessel, the enemy had lost the will to fight and surrendered quietly. The Royal Navy described the boarding as "compliant".

The dramatic confrontation, the latest in a series of piracy incidents in the Gulf of Aden in recent months, took place 60 miles south of the Yemeni coast and involved the Royal Navy Type 22 frigate, HMS Cumberland, which has a Royal Marine unit on board, on short-notice standby to engage in "non-compliant boardings".

HMS Cumberland, on anti-piracy patrol as part of a Nato maritime force, detected the dhow which was towing a skiff, and identified it as a vessel which had been involved in an attack on the Danish-registered MV Powerful earlier yesterday. The pirates had opened fire on the cargo boat with assault rifles.

Under rules of engagement which allows the Royal Navy to intervene when pirates are positively identified, the commandos were dispatched from the frigate in rigid-raider craft and sped towards the pirates" dhow. The Ministry of Defence said the Marines circled the pirates" boat to try and persuade them to stop.

As they approached, however, several of the pirates, a mixed crew of Somalis and Yemenis, swung their assault rifles in their direction and opened fire. The MoD said the Royal Marines returned fire "in self defence", and then boarded the dhow — a stolen Yemeni-registered fishing vessel.

Image
(Royal Navy) HMS Cumberland has a Royal Marine unit on board to engage in 'non-compliant boardings'

The commandos found guns and other "paraphernalia" on board the dhow and a handful of terrified pirates. The MoD said it was unclear whether the Yemeni who died had been shot by the Marines or was wounded from a previous incident involving the pirates.

The gun battle was in stark contrast to the Royal Navy"s last encounter with a boatful of armed men - when crew members of HMS Cornwall, also a Type 22 frigate, patrolling in the Gulf in rigid raiders, were surrounded by heavily armed Iranian Revolutionary Guards in March last year. Eight sailors, including a woman, Leading Seaman Faye Turney, and seven Marines were taken hostage without a shot being fired, and detained for 13 days. The Commons Defence Committee described the incident as "a national embarrassment".

Yesterday"s battle signalled a new policy of maximum robustness for the Royal Navy on the high seas. Captain Mike Davis-Marks, a senior spokesman for the Navy, said: "This is bound to have an impact on pirates who for the last two years have been getting away with seizing vessels and receiving large ransoms. Now suddenly there"s the threat of death and this may force them to think again, but they are determined people, so we"ll have to see."

The Russians claimed a helicopter based on their own frigate Neustrashimy had also taken part in yesterday"s battle, though the Royal Navy knew nothing about it. The Royal Marine commandos who boarded the pirates" dhow were supported by a Lynx helicopter from HMS Cumberland, the MoD said.

Source: Times Online UK.

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 Post subject: Re: Somali pirates
PostPosted: Fri Nov 14, 2008 7:48 am 
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:goodjob:

It's about time someone did something about these pirates.

:happy0064: :happy0005:

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