An article today by Wolfgang H. Thome of eTurboNews (ETN) raises two disturbing scenarios:
1. It is only a matter of time before Somali pirates hijack a cruise ship, and
2. There are no plans in place to rescue the passengers when this happens.
The article is entitled "Somali Piracy - a Problem from Hell – What is the Naval Coalition Doing?"
The article discusses the recent hijacking of a Saudi supertanker with 300,000 tons of crude oil by what Mr. Thome calls "Somali sea terrorists." This recent attack occurred nearly a thousand miles off the coast of Somalia. A so-called mother ship launched fast skiffs to intercept and capture the tanker.
If Somali pirates can board a supertanker on the high seas, there is no doubt that a cruise ship is also easy prey. If pirates capture a cruise ship, there is the risk that they will execute passengers.
What also disturbs the ETN correspondent is that no naval coalition vessels were dispatched to investigate, safeguard shipping and attack and capture the pirates.
When Mr. Thome asked officials what the naval forces would do should a passenger cruise ship fall into the hands of pirates, "there was little more than stunned silence." He fears that it will take a major tragedy and loss of lives before there is a plan of how to deal with the sea terrorists. Until then, he concludes, "the problem from hell will persist."
I have discussed this issue in a prior blog entitled "Cruise Line Liability for Injuries to Passengers and Crew Members Caused by Pirate Attacks." I have talked about pirate attacks on the Seabourn Spirit and the Balmoral cruise ships, and the failure of the cruise industry to take realistic steps to protect the passengers and crew.
Neither of these unarmed cruise ships could match the pirates' AK-47's and rifles. The Seaborn Spirit used water hoses and the crew on the Balmoral brandished fake wooden rifles to try and scare off the pirates.
When the MSC Melody cruise ship was attacked by pirates earlier this year, the first line of defense was the passengers' throwing deck chairs to repel the pirates who were climbing up the side of the cruise ship. In an article entitled "Cruise Passengers Fought off Pirates with Deckchairs," U.K.'s Telegraph reported how vacationing passengers fought off gun-wielding Somali pirates with deck chairs and tables when the pirates targeted their cruise ship near the Seychelles.
The cruise industry needs to get serious and provide the cruise ships with more than hoses, super-loud sound machines, and fake weapons. Otherwise, we will all be watching CNN broadcast the terrifying story of a dozen Somali pirates with automatic weapons and RPG's holding a cruise ship hostage.
Balmoral cruise ship MailOnline
Melody cruise ship Reuters via U.K. Telegraph