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April 8th, 2009
08:56 PM ET

Evening Buzz: Danger on the High Seas

Attackers hijacked the Maersk Alabama, shown here, formerly known as the Alva Maersk.

Attackers hijacked the Maersk Alabama, shown here, formerly known as the Alva Maersk.

Maureen Miller
AC360° Writer

Tonight on the high seas off the coast of Somali, a potentially deadly standoff is underway. Four pirates armed with assault riffles are holding an American hostage, Captain Richard Phillips. We're told he's being held in a 28-foot lifeboat.
Just moments ago, a U.S. Navy ship arrived on the scene.

The captain's crew has regained control of their U.S. freighter. At one point they tried to get their captain back. In a ship-to-shore phone call with CNN, one of the crew members told us, "We had a pirate we took and kept him for 12 hours. We tied him up and he was our prisoner." The crew gave back their prisoner, but the pirates reneged on the plan and kept the captain.

The crew is now trying to offer the pirates whatever they can, including food, but they admit it's not working.

Just who are these pirates and what do they want? We'll dig into those questions tonight on AC360°.

While doing research on this story today I found some alarming statistics on piracy.

– Six vessels have been hijacked in the last 48 hours
– Since January, there have been a total of 66 hijackings
– Pirates are still holding 14 ships and 260 crew members as hostages
– More than 100 hijackings last year, including 42 off the coast of Somalia

Source: International Maritime Bureau

The big question tonight: Will the U.S. Navy take action against these pirates holding Capt. Phillips. Do you think they should? Share your thoughts below.

Join us for this story and more starting at 10pm ET.
See you then!


Filed under: Maureen Miller • The Buzz
soundoff (59 Responses)
  1. Ashley H

    Cargo ships, cruise liners, and ship that could possibly be hijacked, should carry weapons. If there is a treat to the ship and it's passengers, just pop them.

    April 9, 2009 at 11:50 am |
  2. Don Scheppelman

    Hi! On this Ship takeover, and highjacking, I cant believe this ship company is not thinking of this simple solution, and just giving away large amounts of money. All these companies have to do is equip these ships with two or four guards that are well experienced in warfare, and have camaras with lighting so this ship can be watched from everywhere around the ships outside perimiter on an inside screen, and also on watchguards walks. Also have the guards be equiped with firearms, handheld missel launchers, ect, because the way its going, it just tells the highjackers to keep doing what their doing, because this is just a very easy ransom money to be had. Sincerely- Don

    April 9, 2009 at 10:42 am |
  3. Paul

    Hi,
    I am from Kenya and we hear of these pests every other day. I really feel it for the hostages and my encouragements to their families. Amazingly what happens is that with the ransom money being paid in Somalia, the masterminds of piracy do not stay there.....for obvious security reasons. They stay in Nairobi, Kenya as "refugees". Here, in the capital, this money is laundered in real estate, where the "chief pirateers", own shopping malls, upmarket homes and huge oil import-export businesses. Of course this money is used to compromise authorities. The worst bit is the local indigenous Kenyan can no longer afford property due to sky-rocketing prices. They have laundered the ransom money and prices of property is totally out of reach for locals. It is unfortunate, if the US pays the ransom.....you will continue harming those downstream....the local, simple Kenyan!

    April 9, 2009 at 8:54 am |
  4. Rick, Indiana

    They are going to have to arm crews or have special guards for these ships. Insurance is going to get so high these ship owners are not going to be able to afford it. The Navy will probaly wait it out, If the weather gets ruff the pirates will get pretty sea sick and give up.There in a bad situation.

    April 9, 2009 at 7:05 am |
  5. Dan A

    As another Dan (W) asked, why is it these ships carrying such valuable cargo cannot simply defend themselves? Terry, TX mentioned that an armed vessel cannot enter worldwide commercial ports – that makes sense. But what about personal small arms to protect the individuals who are on board these vessels?

    I initially read about this a while (about a year) ago, and it was a problem then – why has nothing been done? A change of policy, a mention in main-stream media, nothing – until now. Has the US become so xenophobic that we are unwilling to look at an international hazard and TRY to help, or only if it affects us directly?

    -Dan A
    North Dakota, US

    April 9, 2009 at 5:50 am |
  6. Bobby

    This sickens me to see this happen again, and again. This is happening to Americans now for the first time which I hope would get someones attention to do something about this.

    It takes multiple plane crashes to make someone say we need to ground these planes to fix them, multiple car crashes to recall bad parts and the list goes on.

    Why does it take casualties for use to get our stuff together to make things happen? We are putting our troops in countries that they don't need to be in. Why not put some there?

    Our fellow Americans are now in harms way and someone better freakin do something to get them back.

    April 9, 2009 at 5:19 am |
  7. Curtis Garver

    I agree with "Mag", above. I don't understand why a task force isn't established to provide fighter aircraft support to protect these ships. The hours that it takes for a ship to reach the pirates would be cut to minutes, once an alert was sent out; and they would not stand a chance against a single jet, which could easily blow them out of the water before they could board and take control of the merchant ship . Faced with certain failure, and death, these pirates would soon find other means of earning a living.

    April 9, 2009 at 4:24 am |
  8. J.V.Hodgson

    Well this is really becoming serious, and serious talk is the answer.
    1) It's the Somalia economy stupid (and government so called) that is the core problem.Local law enforcement in Somalia has a role, give them help if needed!
    2) There's a risk to lives here and money payups do not solve the problem.So remind these PIRATES you will be attacked with lethal force by Delta force, Navy seals,or SAS types and Killed if necessary.
    Some innocents will suffer in the process of course.
    3) If the Somalia government will not do it block the major ports. Nothing in or out unless they pass inspection. Ships in or out of Somalia require a pre registered call sign to the international monitoring force ships( all of them) and route plan.Off plan you are open to pre-emptive strike.
    4) A few drones to monitor the coast for small vessels departing the coast and a relatively few Helicopter enabled gunships could do most the rest.
    5) A quarantine zone temporarily imposed on shipping lanes to all including fishing vessels and small boats with no registration notified to the protection vessels and you will be attacked pre-emptorily.
    If the risk factor of death increases, the economics become less attractive compared with the risks involved.
    Give Somalia with whatever help necessary 60 days to comply or risk an internationally backed invasion to control the problem.
    This is economic terrorism at its worst and demands a tough re-action and solution or the next step is the straits of Hormuz or the Suez canal being closed by a very few Islamic extremists.
    Regards,
    Hodgson.

    April 9, 2009 at 3:28 am |
  9. Susan Abbott

    Gee Whiz, call me crazy, but I am willing to bet that a sharpshooter or two on the deck of the Navy ship that takes out some of the Somalian pirates in their boats would slow down those acts of piracy REAL QUICK. Oh, did I say something naughty.

    Susan

    April 9, 2009 at 2:38 am |
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