Somali pirates anchor Danish family yacht, threaten death

Now it’s a Danish family of five, including three children, that has been taken hostage by Somali pirates who vow to kill them should a rescue attempt be made. The pirated yacht, taken last week, was anchored off the shore of Somalia today.

The 43-foot sailboat was being piloted by Jan Quist Johansen along with his wife, their three children, ages 12 to 16 and two Danish crew members.

A Somali pirate going by the name of Muse Abdi said the family was transferred to another, larger pirated ship.

The decison to anchor smaller vessels then transfer hostages to a larger ship is a common practice by Somali pirates.

“They are safe. They were just transferred from the boat to the big ship,” said Abdi, who has provided information in the past. “They have been added to other nationals in another ship to avoid any possible attack.”

The Associated Press reports a Somali pirate warning that if any attempt was made to rescue them, they would meet the same fate as the four American yachters slain by their pirate captors last week. Like Scott and Jean Adam who were killed by pirates last week, the Johansen family was aware of the pirate-infested waters but believed warships patrolling the area would protect them.

Somalia has not had a functioning government in place since 1991, a situation that has allowed pirating to grow and become ever more dangerous as time has gone on. This is the first known incident where children were taken hostage.

Flickr photo by RubyGoes

10 breeds of pirate – Somalis to Vikings to Japanese Pirate Ninjas

A yacht carrying a quartet of Americans was recently seized by Somali pirates, the latest in a string of hijackings that reaches back millenia. According to MSNBC, the seized yacht, the “S/V Quest,” is owned by Jean and Scott Adam – a couple on a worldwide quest distributing bibles. While they no doubt expected to spread the word far and wide, they were certainly not expecting to be boarded by Somali pirates off the coast of Oman in the Arab sea. The waters along the horn of Africa are a hotbed of piracy, and travelling by boat in this region is about as reckless as booking a 2 week holiday in Mogadishu.

The Somali pirates are the modern day face of an enterprise that has existed for centuries. Piracy has been part of seafaring culture since man first took to the open water. As early as 1400 BC, Lukka sea raiders from Asia Minor began committing acts of piracy throughout the Mediterranean. These early pirates were known simply as the “Sea Peoples.” Aside from these early innovators of seaward sabotage, many groups and clans have sailed under the banner of terror on the high seas. The Vikings innovated the craft, the Barbary corsairs elevated it to an art, and the pirates of the Caribbean made it famous. Many other groups, operating in the shadows of history, took to piracy on the high seas. From dark age plundering to modern day terrorism, some of these groups of pirates include:The Vikings
Hailing from Scandinavia, the Vikings pillaged much of western Europe and northern Africa. The Norsemen covered a range from Russia to Newfoundland in their graceful longships, and pioneered piracy in the middle ages. They were the original world explorers – helmeted plunderers with a thrist for adventure.

The Wokou
Around the same time Vikings were wreaking havoc in Europe, these Japanese pirates, known as Wokou, began terrorizing the Chinese and Korean coast. Most of these pirates were Ronin, merchants, and smugglers. Allegedly, some were even ninjas, throwing a paradoxical spin on the classic “pirate versus ninja” debate. Why choose when you can just be both?

Barbary Corsairs
In response to the moors being ran out of Europe, many took up residence in northern Africa. Some of these displaced seamen became pirates and raided towns and vessels in Spain, Italy, France, and beyond. The infamous Redbeard, Oruc Reis, was a notable Barbary Corsair, and sacked many coastal Italian towns.

Madagascar Pirates
Off the eastern coast of Africa, Madagascar was a lawless place during the golden age of pirateering. Since no European countries colonized Madagascar, the island was an ideal spot for pirates to lay low and plot the next heist. Allegedly, the pirate utopia of “Libertalia” was located on Madagascar. According to pirate lore, “Libertalia” was a communist colony governed by pirates for pirates, where all shared in the booty.

Orang Laut
Originally from the Spice Islands and settling in modern day Malaysia, these sea gypsies began raiding the strait of Malacca over 500 years ago. Eventually, they fell into a protective role, policing the waters for the Sultanates of Johor and Malacca. Unlike many pirates that called solid ground home, the Orang Laut lived exclusively on the water.

Classical Carribean Pirates
The pirate cliche is the Caribbean pirate, and the spokesperson is Johnny Depp’s character in Pirates of the Caribbean. The Caribbean pirate era began when Aztec gold bound for Spain was seized by pirates in the early 16th century. This escalated into the golden age of pirateering in the 17th and 18th centuries. Most Caribbean pirates came from European origins.

Bugi Pirates of Sulawesi
The term boogeyman originated from the orchid shaped island of Sulawesi in Indonesia. The Bugi pirates of southern Sulawesi were so feared that Dutch and English sailors brought home tales of horror to scare misbehaving children. The Bugianese were among the first to explore Papua New Guinea and northern Australia.

Sea Dayak of Borneo
Notorious headhunters, the sea dayaks terrorized the waters of the South China Sea, targeting vessels passing from Hong Kong to Singapore. In the mid nineteenth century, James Brooke and an army of Malays wiped out many of these pirates. Today, these people are known as the Iban and live in the old rainforests of Borneo.

Chinese Pirates
The most powerful pirate ever was a Chinese woman. In the early 19th century, an ex-prostitute named Cheng I Sao commanded a fleet of more than 1,500 ships – larger than many navies. According to CNN, she was an adept business person and controlled her fleet via a proxy named Chang Pao. She developed spy networks, created economic agreements with mainland farmers for supplies, and generally revolutionized the piracy business model. Her crews stalked the waters of the South China Sea.

Somali Pirates
The modern pirate hails from Somalia – a crossroads of the derelict. With more warlords than laws, Somalia is a disaster state. The government has been more a fleeting idea than a real thing for the last 20 years, and it shows. Warlords control fleets that operate out of coastal towns, amassing ships, arms, and wealth. The pirates use small boats and assault rifles to board both passenger and cargo ships, taking hostages, booty, or both.

Piracy causes roughly $15 billion in losses worldwide per year. The most trafficked areas for modern day piracy include the South China Sea, the Gulf of Aden (off the horn of Africa), the Niger Delta, and the infamous Strait of Malacca.

flickr image via cesargp

Somali pirates capture American couple and crew on round-the-world adventure voyage

Putting an abrupt stop to the voyage of a lifetime, a US-flagged yacht with four American citizens on board was hijacked 240 miles off the coast of Oman by Somali pirates Friday.

The s/v Quest, a Davidson 58 Pilot House Sloop, was in year seven of a ten-year around-the-world voyage with American owners Jean and Scott Adam and two crew members.

“S/V Quest was attacked by pirates in the Indian Ocean and the four Americans on board are being held hostage,” Omar Jamal of the United Nations said. “The sailing yacht was reportedly … en route from India to Mina Raysut, the industrial port of Salalah, Oman,” Ecoterra added.

The couple has chronicled the voyage on the their website since 2002. An entry from last December listed their stops in 2011 as “Galle, Sri Lanka; Cochin, India; Salalah, Oman; Djibouti, Djibouti; The Suez Canal; and Crete. That gets us to April.”

Both Scott and Jean Adam are certified by the US Coast Guard with a 100 ton master captains license. Designed by America’s Cup designer Laurie Davidson the S/V Quest is a sailing ship with a backup engine range of 3,300 miles

%Gallery-117152%Their planned course would have taken them into dangerous pirate-infested waters off the coast of Somalia. It is not known if the couple knew of the danger or simply ignored it.

Equipped with satellite Internet access and an Iridium phone for emergencies, the California couple sent an SOS message at the time of the attack. Maritime officials said little, if any, radio contact has been made since then reports MSNBC.

“Djibouti is a big refueling stop,” Jean Adam, a retired dentist, wrote of a stop that they were planning just beyond Somalia. “I have NO idea what will happen in these ports, but perhaps we’ll do some local touring. Due north is the Red Sea where we plan to tuck in when winds turn to the north.”

Earlier on Friday, The European Union’s anti-piracy task force said it appeared that Somali pirates had also hijacked a separate vessel, the Alfardous, and its eight crew members in the Gulf of Adenpire.

The Adams capture also came as Interpol said it would spend $2.17million to help African nations fight piracy reports the Daily Mail.

The first phase of the E.U-funded programme would include a digital fingerprint identification system to make it easier to identify pirates and share information on them.

Earlier this week, British frigate HMS Cornwall has freed five Yemeni hostages held by Somali pirates for three months.