Wednesday, April 8, 2009
The capture by Somali pirates on April 8 of the U.S.-flagged, 17,000-ton Maersk Alabama with 20 U.S. crew on board underscores the challenge to international shipping off Somalia. The attack occurred about 280 miles southeast of Eyl, a town in the northern Puntland area of Somalia and a well-known pirate base. The closest U.S. naval vessel at the time was reportedly 345 miles away. U.S.-flagged vessels have largely avoided capture by Somali pirates until now. Yesterday, I spoke at a conference on Somali piracy hosted by National Maritime Intelligence Center and Office of Naval Intelligence. I spoke on "Rise of Piracy and Other Maritime Insecurity in Somalia." A transcript is available here. Image: An undated file photo of the Maersk Alabama container ship, formerly called the Maersk Alva. Credit: Agence France-Presse — Getty Images. Source: NY Times. UPDATE 4/13: East Africa Forum has reprinted the transcript. UPDATE #2 4/13: An article from MSNBC titled "Pirates recapture U.S. hostage after attempted escape" quotes from my paper, as does this story by Reuters.