Another pirate attack - the minimum 49th this year off the coast of Somalia - has left a Hong Kong chemical tanker in the clutches of armed Somali privateers.
The Associated Press also reported today that French Special Forces had rescued a family whose sailboat had been hijacked by pirates earlier this month.
Since June, Canada has held the command of the Combined Task Force (CTF) 150, a multi-nation joint naval patrol force, based in Djibouti, created to monitor shipping in the Indian Ocean as a part of the so-called War on Terror. (Denmark takes over command of CTF-150 this month.)
However, because CTF-150's main target is al Qaeda, not Somali pirates, and because shipping companies often quietly pay the hefty ransoms to get their boats back, combating piracy in the region has been a tough task.
An article from today's Globe and Mail describes Canada's role in tackling pirates:
"The three [Canadian] ships - the Iroquois, along with HMCS Calgary, a frigate, and HMCS Protecteur, a supply and refuelling ship - spent the past 3½ months serving in a multinational force known as Combined Task Force 150, with the Iroquois serving as the flagship of what is usually a 15-ship group. Their mandate stretched from the tense waters of the Strait of Hormuz, where coalition warships were often in close quarters with the Iranian navy, to the Egypt's Suez Canal.
"[Canadian] Cmdre. Davidson admits that 15 ships can do little to halt piracy among the 20,000 ships that annually travel in the Gulf of Aden, especially when CTF-150 had other tasks as well. He said the flotilla's main goal was just to make its presence felt in those otherwise lawless waters."
Earlier this year the UN Security Council passed resolution 1816, proposed by the UN's International Maritime Organization (IMO), which allows CTF-150 to operate within the territorial waters of Somalia in order to race down pirates before they can escape.
According to the Kenya-based East African Seafarers' Assistance Programme, there are at least 160 pirate groups operating in the waters off of Somalia and the Gulf of Aden, with an estimated 1200 pirates.
For a rundown of some of the pirate attacks in the world's waters this year, see this site.
For further reading on the world of modern piracy, the Tuque Souq recommends "The Outlaw Sea: A World of Freedom, Chaos & Crime" by William Langewiesche.
[The Tuque Souq wants you to know that we resisted all urges to use "Aargh, matey" in this posting.]