Saturday, May 23, 2009

Doing half the job

(CBS) Canadian Naval helicopters thwarted an attack Friday by pirates in the Gulf of Aden on a U.S. cargo ship, the Maersk Virginia - from the same fleet as the Maersk Alabama, whose captain was held captive for four days in April.

CBS News correspondent Sheila MacVicar is aboard the Canadian warship HMCS Winnipeg, which first responded to a distress call by a Lebanese flagged cargo ship called the Maria K. The crew reported rocket propelled grenade fire from the pirates.

Within minutes, three naval helicopters from the Winnipeg were in the air and on their way to the Maria K, located about 60 miles away. The pirates broke off their pursuit of the Maria K and headed instead for the nearby American ship.

An Italian Naval helicopter joined the Canadian aircraft. With the helicopters hovering overhead, the pirates gave up their attempted hijacking and threw their weapons overboard before their boat was boarded by Italian seamen.

The craft was approximately .75 nautical miles from the U.S. ship before turning away, according to Maersk Lines, Limited, based in Virginia.

Maersk Lines said the Maersk Virginia was not fired upon and that all crewmembers are safe.

I'm glad that both merchant ships are safe but I am left with a question. Why in hell didn't the Canadian and Italian helicopters engage and destroy the pirates on sight?

That is what you do to pirates. You destroy them on sight. The laws and traditions of the sea are unanimous on this for all of recorded history. Whether it was a Phoenician trireme sailing the Mediterranean, a British frigate paroling the Atlantic trade routes in the 18th century or American warships in the opening decades of the 20th century all would attack and destroy pirates on sight.

When did the civilized nations of the world have their balls cut off?