CNN Senior Pentagon Producer
A U.S. Navy ship protecting commercial shipping from pirates seized about four tons of hashish being transported aboard a boat off the Horn of Africa last week, according to a U.S. Navy statement released Tuesday.
The ship, the guided missile cruiser USS Anzio, stopped a small boat known as a skiff in the Gulf of Aden because of suspicions it was a pirate boat, according to the Navy’s Fifth Fleet based in Bahrain.
The Anzio is part of the coalition efforts in the waters off Somalia to reduce pirate’s attacks.
The waters are a major transit point for commercial shipping into and out of the Red Sea and are known for the incredible piracy problems from Somalia.
A U.S. Navy boarding team discovered the drugs on the small boat on October 15th in the waters of the Gulf of Aden about 170 miles southwest of Salalah, Oman, according to the U.S. Navy statement.
Navy officials said the area is also a very popular drug smuggling route with money from the sales possibly ending up in the hands of terrorists in Afghanistan.
According to the Navy statement the haul was worth and estimated $28 million U.S. dollars. The Navy boarding team destroyed the stash by dumping into the ocean, according to the statement.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/africa/08/27/somalia.us.pirates/ship.art.jpg caption="The Maersk Alabama was targeted in an April hijacking that ended with Navy snipers killing three pirates."]
CNN Senior Pentagon Producer
Pirates holding a Taiwanese-flagged ship off the coast of Somalia fired on a U.S. Navy helicopter Wednesday during a patrol flight to monitor the ship, according to a U.S. Navy statement.
The helicopter was not struck and all crew members were safe after the incident, the statement said.
The incident highlights the piracy problem still ongoing in that region even as U.S. and coalition ships patrol the waters off the coast of that country in a counter-piracy mission.
The M/V Win Far has been held by Somali pirates since it was hijacked on April 6th. Navy officials said the ship is being used as a “mother ship,” or a floating base, to launch attacks on other ships, including the U.S.-flagged Maersk Alabama, according to Navy officials.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/africa/04/18/pirates.foiled/art.dezeven.jpg caption="The Dutch frigate De Zeven Provincien tracked seven pirates Saturday back to their mother ship."]
CNN Pentagon Correspondent
A NATO ship receives a distress call Saturday: a Norwegian merchant ship is under attack by pirates. The NATO ship veers off, racing to the rescue. The Canadian NATO ship fires several warning shots, which cause the pirates to break off the attack and sail away. But NATO tracks down the pirates, boards their boat and finds several rounds of ammunition onboard. The NATO crew tosses their guns, ladders and scaling equipment overboard. They question the pirates and then …arrest them? No. Hand them over to a court? No. They let them go. Why? Because there is no formal procedure for NATO forces to follow once they’re actually captured pirates. NATO leaves it up to each individual country, and sometimes those nations don’t even allow crews to detain the pirates they catch. The same day that incident happened, another NATO ship operated by the Dutch intercepted pirates. The Dutch found weapons and freed 13 hostages – then let the pirates go free.
After meeting with the Dutch Foreign Minister, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said releasing the pirates sends the wrong message. “The minister and I agreed we will take this to NATO. If the Dutch Navy had been operating under the EU, they could have turned the pirates over for trial. NATO has not provided the authority to do that.” Clinton also said there needs to be better coordination between all the nations and organizations that patrol the Somali coastline. Right now whether a pirate stays in custody or gets let go on the spot – entirely depends on which ship grabbed him.
Program note: Tune in tonight to watch Tom Foreman's special report on AC 360° at 10 p.m. ET.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/africa/04/12/somalia.pirates.ordeal/art.phillips.navy.jpg caption="Capt. Richard Phillips, right, stands with U.S. Navy Cmdr. Frank Castellano after Phillips' rescue Sunday."]
The Daily Beast
The Navy SEALS are the heroes of the hour after rescuing Capt. Richard Phillips from Somali pirates. But the operation was just the latest in a storied history of hostage rescues carried out by elite special forces around the globe. THE DAILY BEAST brings you six of the most daring commando missions of all time.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/africa/04/10/somalia.ship.crew.member/art.alva.maersk.jpg caption="Pirates hijacked the American ship Maersk Alabama last week."]
The Daily Beast
Somali pirates were just paid $3.5 million—the largest ransom ever—for the release of a ship off East Africa. In an exclusive interview with the Daily Beast, negotiator Andrew Mwangura reveals the secrets of the murderers he does business with.
Andrew Mwangura has the underground world of African piracy wired. Somali pirates trust him. Warlords respect him. And human-rights activists admire him for putting his neck on the line to keep sailors safe on the lawless high seas. “Andrew gets vital first-hand intelligence,” says Cyrus Mody, who runs the London-based Maritime Bureau of the International Chamber of Commerce. “If a ship is running low on food or there’s been some disaster, he often knows about it first.”
Unfortunately for Mwangura, an ex-journalist who lives in a shack without running water on the beach in Mombasa, the Kenyan government doesn’t see him as a hero. On February 4, prosecutors put the 45-year-old Mwangura on trial for exposing the secret of a Ukrainian freighter that was hijacked last fall while carrying $30 million in Russian arms. Although the shipment was part of a secret, back-channel deal to arm Sudan in violation of a United Nations arms embargo, Mwangura is the one accused of breaking the law. The government has charged him with releasing “alarming information.” Says the activist, “They have no evidence. What I said was the truth.”
The same tactic that defeated the German U-boats could work today.
Peter D. Zimmerman
The Wall Street Journal
Piracy never really disappeared; it plagues maritime commerce as much today as it did in the Caribbean in the 18th century and on the Barbary Coast in the 19th century. But until recently, modern-day pirates mostly rustled some cargo and let their captives continue, leaving the crew unharmed.
That's changed. Pirates in the waters off Somalia, and from the Gulf of Aden to south of the equator, are no longer simply interested in seizing ships and cargo. Now they are out for the multimillion dollar ransoms paid by ship operators to rescue their crews. They've come up with a good business model, too, with a low cost of entry: a fishing trawler to serve as a mother ship, a few high-speed inflatable boats, weapons and crews to seize their targets. Very few of these thieves have paid for their crimes despite the presence of a small fleet of warships in the region. One way to deal with the threat is to revive convoys.
A president makes many decisions, but none is more important than those he makes as commander in chief. Committing young men and women to war zones where their lives are at risk is a decision that can't be easily reversed, and the consequences can be fatal.
The second type of difficult decision a president faces is setting the rules of engagement; allowing American troops to do their job even if that means taking the life of the enemy.
Ronald Reagan, a president I served, was beloved by the American military. He rebuilt a military crippled by the nightmare of Vietnam. After the humiliating evacuation from that costly war, we had planes that couldn't fly and ships that couldn't sail due to missing parts and deferred maintenance.
Editor's note: CNN Contributor Bob Greene is a bestselling author whose forthcoming book is "Late Edition: A Love Story."
By Bob Greene
There is a beach in Coronado, California, just across the bridge from San Diego. It offers a beautiful view of the Pacific Ocean, which is why it attracts tourists who are drawn to the sun.
I thought about that beach yesterday, when the news from the Indian Ocean near the Horn of Africa was flashed around the world - the news that the captain of the cargo ship Maersk Alabama had been rescued from Somali pirates by U.S. forces operating off the USS Bainbridge.
That beach in California seems quite placid, even sedate. The historic, red-gabled Hotel del Coronado sits upon it - the place where the Marilyn Monroe-Jack Lemmon-Tony Curtis movie "Some Like It Hot" was filmed. The feeling of the place is one of genteel manners, of delicate tradition. You almost expect to see guests carrying parasols and making reservations to play croquet.