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Under Siege 3

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It sounds like the plot for the new Steven Seagal movie. Get his agent on the line quick!

On Saturday the MV Sirius Star, en route to the U.S.A was hijacked by Somali pirates. It is the largest vessel Somalian Pirates have ever attacked. Additionally, at 420 nautical miles, it is the furthest they have ever attacked from their home base.

The Sirius Star on her maiden voyage

The Sirius Star on her maiden voyage

25 Sailors are now being held ransom, along with 2 Million barrels of crude oil. The sailors are the primary concern. Two of the sailors are British, and that makes this a British concern. However a significant threat is represented by the oil. It could either be spilled into the sea, causing untold damage to the environment or it could be ignited, causing one hell of an explosion.

Piracy off the horn of Africa has been a concern for shipping for decades. The nation of Somalia is bankrupt and starving, torn apart by civil war. The only big money spinner for the lawless nation is piracy. Pirates have come a long way since the days of Bluebeard and Kidd. Modern Pirates have motor launches, Global Positioning Systems, and automatic weapons. The money they can make by holding boats and cargoes to ransom runs into the millions. At this time there are twelve ships anchored off Ely. Somalia is a mostly Muslim country and has close links with Al-Qaeda.


Simply put, the owners cannot afford to pay the ransom. They can afford to pay the money, of course, but the fallout would be fatal. The money would be used for terrorist activities, and it would probably cement the war-lords in power in Mogadishu. Furthermore it would tip the balance in their on-going war with Ethiopia.

Fortunately Britain and America both have maritime special forces that could be employed to eliminate the bad guys.

From America we have the Navy SEALS. First activated by President Kennedy in 1962 they were designed to cover low-intensity warfare, swiftly and silently. Their training is some of the most difficult and enduring ever devised by the military. Their battle honours include tours of Vietnam, Panama and both Gulf Wars.

The Navy SEAL insignia

The Navy SEAL insignia


And from Great Britain we have the Special Boat Service. The less famous Special Forces team has the motto ‘Not By Strength, By Guile.’ They are nominally recruited from the Royal Marines and they operate along side the Special Air Service.

The SBS undergoe some of the most intensive training in the British Army

The SBS undergoe some of the most intensive training in the British Army

The rivalry between the two Services is legend, with the S.A.S. referring to the S.B.S. as the ‘Shaky Boats’, who retort with the name ‘Parashites’ for their Airborne brothers. However they fought side by side in two Gulf wars, Sierra Leone, and once secured the QE2 together after a bomb hoax.

SAS and SBS parachuted onto the QE2 to disarm a bomb in 1972

SAS and SBS parachuted onto the QE2 to disarm a bomb in 1972

Under the umbrella of NATO the Special Forces are allowed to act in International Waters if lives are threatened. They are trained to insert by submarine and small dingy then climb up the ship. Once on board they have to neutralize the guards before taking the bridge and releasing the hostages. The element of surprise is crucial. If guns are fired it could rupture the tanker.

We don’t know when it will happen but I am sure Ridley Scott will have his pen and paper handy.

Give it to them, boys.


Written by Nick Gilmartin

November 18, 2008 at 5:03 pm

Posted in in the news

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