To some, this is International Talk Like A Pirate Day, a lighthearted parody of a holiday that is likely being celebrated in bars by a lot of people murmuring "Yarrr" while drinking rum. Perhaps some of those revelers will pause for a moment to remember that piracy remains a very real and very serious problem for thousands of people across the globe, and that the last few weeks have seen some dramatic incidents unfold, including the death of at least one suspected pirate and the arrests of several more.
Yesterday saw the Canadian frigate HMCS Ville de Québec arrive in the port of Mogadishu, Somalia, escorting the freighter Golina which was carrying aid for the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP). The reason for the frigate's journey from Mombasa, Kenya, was to deter pirates from targeting the merchant vessel, and the warship's ability to enter Somali waters marks another small step in addressing the issue of combating the menace of sea robbers.
In the last few years, the shaky entity that is internationally recognized to be the government of Somalia has refused to allow foreign warships to enter its sovereign waters. This has allowed Somali pirates to lurk inside the twelve mile limit of territorial waters, essentially thumbing their noses at warships. Though there are at least eleven vessels, and their crews, currently being held hostage by Somali gangs, this week has seen signs of a more robust effort by the international community when it comes to piracy, at least off the Horn of Africa: First there was the raid by French commandos, then the crew of the Danish frigate Absalon was reported to have captured ten pirate suspects at sea and, finally, the Ville de Québec was allowed to escort the Golina to the pier. What happens in the next few weeks could prove crucial in showing Somali pirates that the West will not allow their attacks to go unanswered.
Agence France-Presse (AFP) has a short piece on the arrival of HMCS Ville de Québec in Somali waters, here.