23 Jan 2006

Skinny Dipping

Wonderful news for Kenya’s tourist industry – the US navy has intercepted a Somali pirate ship, fired across it’s bows  and detained 10 ‘skinnies’, the US forces nickname for Somali gunmen. They also freed 16 Indian crewmen the pirates had captured. Sailors aboard the dhow told the US  Navy that pirates hijacked the vessel six days ago near Mogadishu and  then used it to stage  attacks on merchant ships.

It was not long ago that our tours industry suffered a major blow when these same Somali  pirates attacked an American cruise ship on it’s way to  Mombasa.  Naturally everyone in Kenya is relieved and I doubt we will be hearing the usual  anti-American chatter from our  biased news media.

My Compedium of African Geography (1858) describes the inhabitants of the Somali coast as “treacherous ,boisterous and turbulent” and warns the coast is to be avoided and the people “ best left well alone.” Nothing much has changed.  Most Kenyans will be hoping the US Navy keeps up it’s attacks and patrols on these sea-vermin.

In an excellent irony, the pirates were captured by the USS Winston S. Churchill, named after a renowed someone who knew a thing or two about chasing fanatical Muslim tribesmen around , see for example “The River War”.

What of the punishments for piracy these days?  "The disposition of people and vessels involved in acts of piracy on the high seas are based on a variety of factors, including the offense, the flags of the vessels, the nationalities of the crew, and others,"  said a very PC-sounding Lt. Leslie Hull-Ryde of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command in Bahrain. Whatever happened to  that old favorite, walking-the-plank?

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