DOD won’t re-route ships
November 21, 2008
ARLINGTON, Va. — To hell with pirates: The Defense Department isn’t going to re-route ships to avoid the Gulf of Aden.
"We’re not going around the Cape of Good Hope," Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said Wednesday.
Several shipping companies this week announced they would do just that, in an effort to avoid pirates lurking in the waters off Somalia. But the U.S. government is not considering such an option for its ships.
"Ultimately that’s not the solution to this," Morrell said. "And that, to me — in scenarios like that, the pirates win. And they should not be allowed to win."
Twice this year, security teams aboard Military Sealift Command ships have fired warning shots at perceived attackers.
This year, 39 ships have been hijacked in the Gulf of Aden, eight in the last week. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Wednesday that pirates off Somalia had taken in an estimated $25 million to $30 million in ransom in 2008. Recently, pirates seized a Ukrainian ship carrying tanks.
Morrell dismissed a reporter’s question about why the U.S. Navy was not doing more to confront pirates, noting that the British recently killed several pirates and the Indians sank a pirate dhow.
"And I also take issue with this whole notion that it’s incumbent upon the armed forces of the world, the navies of the world, to solve this problem," he said.
"We have an obligation to protect international shipping lines, but the companies ... also have an obligation to secure their ships to prevent incidents such that we’ve been seeing at alarming rates over the past several months."
The Associated Press contributed to this story.