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Old April 26th, 2009, 08:13 AM
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Default Pirate Attack on MSC Melody Repulsed

This will answer some questions.

Israeli private security repulsed an attempt by Somali pirates to board MSC Cruises' Melody after apparently getting a ladder onto the side of the ship.

Using side arms kept under lock and key in a safe under control of the Captain and the security commander, the pirates were forced to flee (in great surprise I am sure) in their small white boat upon falling under return fire. There is yet to be any word of possible casualties among the pirates. The Captain described it as being in a "war."

There was slight damage to the vessel and no passenger and crew were injured.

Todd
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Old April 26th, 2009, 09:26 AM
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GREAT NEWS! IMO any ship sailing those waters should have a security force aboard. I'm so happy that they were repulsed, and that no one aboard was harmed. Personally, I don't think I'd book a cruise that sails that area anytime soon. I've been shot at enough already.

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Old April 26th, 2009, 09:32 AM
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Ken,

I know someone is going to be thinking this, therefore my opinion on something. Having been around Israeli security from the UN when I was a weapons training officer up in New York, I think it safe to assume that if no pirates were hit in the exchange of gunfire, it is only due to the intention of the Israelis that there be none.

Todd
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Old April 26th, 2009, 12:25 PM
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MSC Cruise Ship Fires Back at Pirates

4-26-09
MSC Cruise Ship Fires Back at Pirates


The MSC Melody security crew, armed with pistols, repelled a violent attack by six men firing upon the ship.

MSC Orchestra, a modern cruise ship owned by MSC Cruises, a part of the Italian Mediterranean Shipping Company, made history today by being the first cruise ship to ever fire back at "pirates," or "hijackers" as we prefer to call them. The ship is carrying 1000 passengers and 500 crewmembers. Just last week (4-17-09) MSC Cruises had publicly announced it would change the Melody's scheduled itinerary to put more distance between its path and the Somali coast.

Today, April 26st, 2009, the ship was sailing 200 miles north of the Seychelle Islands and fully 600 miles from the Somali Coast, further away from the typical pirate zone where other hijacking incidents have happened when this attack occured.

Reports and an interview with the captains tells us that six men in a small white speed boat, apparently operating from a much larger mother ship in the immediate area, seemed to appear from out of nowhere. It was less than five minutes before the small boat was alongside the ship.

The six pirates "opened fire like crazy," according to the captain who described the action like "being at war." The Synday Morning Herald newspaper reports the hijackers were peppering the ship's windows with machine gun fire and other automatic weapons.

"They tried to put up a ladder with hooks. They were climbing up, so we reacted. We started firing. When they saw us firing - we even sprayed them with water with the fire hose - they gave up and went off," the captian of MSC Melody is reported as saying.

The captain had handed out pistols to the ship's onboard security crew as the small boat was approaching. A U.K. newspaper is reporting the the onboard security staff fired the pistols "in the air" and used a firehose to repel the pirates.

Panic broke out with the passengers onboard as a gun fire fight ensued, smashing windows and putting bullet holes in the hull of the ship. The firefight continued with pistol fire and a firehouse being used to repel the hijackers. With the open fire being returned the hijackers abandoned their attempt, momentarily, but they continued to follow the ship and fire at it for 20 minutes. This left the cruise chip crew to wonder what more formidable weapons the mother ship might have and how far this situation could escalate. The captain said in an interview tat he "felt as if he was at war." It is a night he will never forget.

Indeed this is the first time in modern history, since World War II, that we have any news of a cruise even having arms on board, let alone using them for any reason. The ANSA news agency said the pistols had been kept in a safe under the joint control of the commander and security chief.

"When they saw our fire ... they left us and went away. They followed us for a bit but then stopped," The captain told the European news agency Sky News. The ship is now being escorted by a Spanish naval escort from the area.

The nationality of the security guards onboard the ship is Israeli. It is not unusual for cruise ships to hire crewmembers of a specific nationality for a specific job. Many cruise ships use Nepalese Ghurkas, a style of Asian defense discipline that has proven highly effective in one on one confrontations. But it is well known that when it comes to dealing with armed terrorists in this part of the world that Israelis have more experience than most.

Domenico Pellegrino, managing director of parent company MSC said, "We use them because they are the best, and we [now] have a demonstration of that."

Fortunately, no one onboard the cruise ship was hurt during the firefight. The damage inflicted includes just the broken windows, bullet holes and a lifeboat hit by gunfire.

A spokesman for the U.S. Navy 5th Fleet, Lt. Nathan Christensen, said that the location of the attack shows "a sign that they are moving further and further off the Somali coast... a definite shift in (the pirates) tactical capabilities."

Last December, pirates opened fire on a U.S.-operated ship carrying hundreds of tourists on a monthlong luxury cruise from Rome to Singapore, but the cruise liner was able to outrun the pirates. In early April a tourist yacht was hijacked by Somali pirates near the Seychelles just after having dropped off its cargo of tourists.

The Melody was on a 22-day cruise from Durban, South Africa, to Genoa, Italy, when the pirates fired "like crazy" with automatic weapons late Saturday, slightly damaging the liner, Pinto said. The pirates tried to put a ladder on board, but were unable to climb aboard, he said.

Ironically, CruiseMates had just done an editorial last week where we asked if cruise ships should be armed. We didn't mention that it is highly unusual for cruise ships or any ships to carry arms because the insurers are more afraid of what might happen as a result of having those weapons onboard than they are concerned about protecting the ship from pirates.

Now, this stance does make sense considering that cruise ships very rarely go through these now famously dangerous waters. However the Seychelle area is proving to be almost as dangerous as the Gulf of Aden. Another Italian ship, a cargo carrier, was attacked in the same area just last week.
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Old April 26th, 2009, 12:30 PM
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It seemed a bit naive last week when we did the editorial asking if cruise ships should be armed. in light of the fact that the world insurers of ships do not want arms on ships.

This is especially true of cruise ships, because they are more afraid of what might happen in peaceful waters. That is a logical stance.

Plus it is generally illegal in ports around the world for a ship to enter if it is armed. This is also logical.

But, it now seems very logical to keep weapons ready on a cruise ship if they are going near Somalia, and I am very glad to see that MSC made the decision to do so. Kudos to this company for their courage and readiness to protect their passengers.

Nothing like giving these hijacker "pirates" a little taste of their own medicine, "right mateys?"
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Old April 26th, 2009, 01:55 PM
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It is my opinion that those cruise ships lines that place passengers in danger by going to the known areas of violence, should be put out of business.
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Old April 26th, 2009, 02:09 PM
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Mehawk...

That is easy to say, but you are talking about taking the Suez Canal completely off the table as a routing option. The only alternative is to go completely around the continent of Africa and avoid the northwestern horn of Africa completely. That is not realistic.

Furthermore, this MSC ship was just north of the Seychelles. This means they were not in the typical pirate zone - they DID reroute the ship to avoid pirates and the pirates came after them.

Simple avoidance is not the answer in my opinion. Strength is the answer, These pirates should not have the right to inflict such terror in international waters.

I hate to say this - but I see this as the first warning sign that foreign countries see our new foreign policy as based on meekness and obeyance to terror tactics. It is ironic how people faced with real danger suddenly like the idea of armed protection and fighting back. I am not a second amendment guy, but I do know that if someone broke into my house and threatened me if I had a weapon I would use it.

You can bet there are American passengers on that ship. After Obama allowed our military to rescue just one American in captivity, how much pressure would he have had if 100 Americans had been captured by these hijackers? Obama is darn lucky MSC had the courage to fight these hijackers off - or it would have been a very tough situation for the new administration.
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Old April 26th, 2009, 03:22 PM
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Excellent observation Paul. If something isn't done soon, it's only a matter of time before these guys take more Americans hostage.

While world opinion often matters, it is my worry that in our current what I perceive to be, overboard attempts to make nicey nicey with every two bit country in the world not to mention sworn enemies, we're going to end up doing irreparable harm to our security and to our future. I am the first to admit that yes we have at times been arrogant and perceived of being arrogant even when we weren't. A lot of this is because we were and hopefully still are, the world's most powerful nation.

I also dont' personally give a rat's patoie whether any other country decides to negotiate the release of their citizens. ANY student of history knows that dealing with these rogue nations on a normal basis doesn't work! It never has. I for one, don't believe throwing aid at them is going to work. Throwing something else? Well........

The issue runs along the same line as well meaning individuals indignantly proclaiming that this country is only "generating an unnecessary arms race" by creating a missile defense capability. It's a noble premise.... that is until the other guy's rockets start landing on your head.

Todd
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Old April 26th, 2009, 03:26 PM
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Personally and as a journalist I can tell you I have asked and I have never heard any cruise line official even imply they had weapons onboard. But they never denied it either. However, I think that soon they will ALL be carrying weapons soon, at least in that region.

If it were true that they all started carrying weapons after the Achille Lauro I think the Seabourn Spirit or the Balmoral would have used their weapons when pirates approached their ships.

The Seabourn ship took a rocket propelled grenade through her hull and into a stateroom. That should have been provocation enough.

Anyway...

I am personally really glad to see MSC fight back, it isn't as if it is going to lead to an escalation of firepower on both sides (there are still too many other easy pickin's) and I find it ironic that today's "peace activists" now have to look at this incident and think "well, what good would it have done to be passive in this situation?"

Yes, technically the ship should have not had weapons onboard according to international law, but aren't you glad they did? Yes, I understand not using force when guilt is in question, but this was an act of war with a known enemy - if you listen to how the captain described it. And they responded in kind.

The ship would have been captured and 1500 innocent people would have been terrorized indefinitely. Our military would have been in the same position it was with the Maersk, but they would have many more innocent people to worry about. What a public relations disaster for the Obama administration that would have been. At least no Americans were hijacked in international waters under Bush. In the first 95 days we have had three cruise ships incidents now - plus the Maersk.

The only good thing is that it would have also forced the Europeans to get involved instead of leaving it up to us to do the dirty work as usual.

And before anyone jumps on me for my political stance please understand I do not subscribe to either political party. I don't dislike many liberal ideals. What I dislike is people who paint other people with a broad brush of labels like "liberal or conservative" with every belief those labels include just because someone expresses an opinion about one specific topic.
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Old April 26th, 2009, 05:22 PM
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Paul,

The issue is prevention. Preventing these attacks from happening in the first place.

It isn't prudent to wait around for pirates to attack and then have to defend. The best defense is to go after these pirates directly.

The best way to deal with these pirates is to attack their bases and destroy them. To confront their motherships directly and sink them with naval gunfire. To put them out of business permanently.

The best tool for that is large-caliber surface combat ships.

Ships that have the staying-power to be offshore indefinitely, the firepower to obliterate their bases, and the speed and hitting power of large-caliber main battery rifles to sink their motherships quickly and efficiently.

A division of large-caliber warships off shore would end Somali piracy.
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Old April 26th, 2009, 09:30 PM
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How would it differ if a) the cruise lines refused to sail in that region, taking away revenue to the ports i.e. countries who could do more to help, or b) the failure of the cruise lines to do something and have the passengers decide not to sail the line at all as both protest and safety to themselves thereby costing the cruise line revenue?

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Old April 27th, 2009, 03:53 AM
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What can we do to get rid of those Somalian pirates from our waters :evil:
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Old April 27th, 2009, 09:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mehawk
It is my opinion that those cruise ships lines that place passengers in danger by going to the known areas of violence, should be put out of business.
Where is a "known area of violence"? 600 miles off the coast, 1000, 1500?

Do cruise lines stop sailing the South China Sea? The Malacca Straits? The Mediterranean? These areas had over 200 incidents of piracy in 2006 but they were smaller ships and there were either no hostages involved or none left alive. Piracy has always been a lucrative business and over glamorized in modern society.

I have no desire to limit my travels to cruising the Caribbean, where piracy also occurs, I would rather that the company I am traveling with uses a deterrence and defense posture in order to ward off potential and actual acts of piracy. An armed ship and a crew that is well trained, to use the provided armament, would go a long way to accomplish this.

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Old April 27th, 2009, 09:41 AM
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being armed is prevention. If the pirates,or any criminal, has two prospect to attack, one is armed, and the other isnt armed, can you guess which one they are mose likey to attack?
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Old April 27th, 2009, 12:44 PM
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Kudos to the Capt and his staff.

To say stay away from dangerous areas is not the solution, at least IMHO. I think MSCs efforts to travel as far away from the known danger zone as possible was reasonable. The reality is that this situation will not be resolved until the pirates realize that their lives are in danger and will not be spared when they decide to attack.

I used to be the type that felt that you should always avoids armed conflicts, individuals should not shoot people who threaten them, etc. Then my family was robbed in broad daylight in Miami. Rest assured, if I had been armed with anything I would have used it. The reason these crimes reoccur (in any area not just the pirate zone) is because it is easy crime. The innocent are so tightly contolled as to what we can and cannot do it makes it easy for the guilty to get away with murder. After all, once they commit their crimes the attitude of justice is to ensure that THEIR rights are protected, enough of that crap already. If a pirate attacks, shoot them, not one or two but all of them.
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Old April 27th, 2009, 05:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil&Liz
How would it differ if a) the cruise lines refused to sail in that region, taking away revenue to the ports i.e. countries who could do more to help, or b) the failure of the cruise lines to do something and have the passengers decide not to sail the line at all as both protest and safety to themselves thereby costing the cruise line revenue?

Phil & Liz
My thoughts, also. It is nuts to travel in this region, and I wonder how long it is going to take before the bookings are too slim to justify it.
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Old April 28th, 2009, 09:41 PM
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Apparently the Israeli armed guards weren't the only ones defending the ship.

Passengers engaged the pirates in combat as well, throwing chairs, tables, and anything else at hand at their attackers.

Gotta admire their gusto!

http://www.usatoday.com/travel/cruis...=66122423.blog
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Old April 29th, 2009, 02:11 AM
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The latest according to the Seychelles Daily Nation

Joint force seizes two boats in Seychelles’ EEZ

http://www.nation.sc/index.php?art=15666
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Old April 29th, 2009, 10:33 PM
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WOW! Post a simple opinion and I get somewhat hammered. Oh well.
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Good people sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.

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Old April 30th, 2009, 02:15 AM
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Michael,

Please don't be put off. Most people would agree with you except for those of us who get out our world maps.

It has got to the point that, using Mother ships, these pirates are going hundreds of miles out to find vessels to board. On top of that, Somalia's coastline is so long (I believe well over two thousand miles) that were we to use every single ship in our Navy we still couldn't effective patrol it.

As I read somewhere (probably on these boards as a matter of fact) even a carrier wouldn't do the job because the situation requires land based aircraft that can dally in a patrol area for hours and hours at a clip; something very few, if any, carrier aircraft can do.

I personally think the only way to solve this problem is in the same manner as Stephen Decatur did in 1804 when he burned the Philadelphia which had run aground and been captured by Barbary pirates and then later when he returned in 1812 with the Marines and cleaned the lot of them out. It is around that time that the Marines acquired the name "Leathernecks" because they wore leather collars which offered some protection to swords such as scimitars.

Todd
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Old April 30th, 2009, 02:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ToddDH
I personally think the only way to solve this problem is in the same manner as Stephen Decatur did in 1804 when he burned the Philadelphia which had run aground and been captured by Barbary pirates and then later when he returned in 1812 with the Marines and cleaned the lot of them out. It is around that time that the Marines acquired the name "Leathernecks" because they wore leather collars which offered some protection to swords such as scimitars.

Todd
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