North Korea and the United States work together, at least when it comes to
pirates. Real "steal the ship and kill the crew" pirates. On October 30th, a
North Koreas merchant ship, the Dai Hong Dan, was boarded by pirates off the
coast of Somalia. The North Koreans managed to get off a distress message. The
ship was in international waters, 108 kilometers off the coast, unloading sugar
to smaller boats. This offshore unloading arrangement was supposed to protect
the North Koreans from pirates. The pirates were actually armed guards hired to
protect the crew from real pirates during this unloading operation.
An American destroyer, the USS
James E. Williams, was nearby, and rushed to the scene. When the U.S. warship
got there, they demanded that the pirates surrender. Meanwhile, on the ship,
part of the North Korean crew had managed to barricade themselves in the engine
room, where they controlled the speed and direction the ship could move in. But
the seven pirates had taken control of the bridge, and refused to surrender.
Seeing this, most of the 43 man North Korean crew stormed the bridge, killing
two of the seven pirates. Three crew members were badly wounded, and the
destroyer captain, using a Korean-American sailor as a translator, offered to
treat them. The North Korean captain agreed, and the destroyers helicopter was
sent to get the wounded men. American sailors came aboard, applied first aid,
and the three wounded North Koreans were transferred to the destroyer for
Meanwhile, a U.S. destroyer is
shadowing another merchant ship, the Golden Nori (carrying a flammable cargo)
that was captured by pirates on the 28th. The Somali government asked the U.S.
warships to enter Somali waters and capture the pirates. But an attack on the
ship is dicey, because of the benzene cargo. Perhaps U.S. Navy SEALS are being
brought in. In any event, the reaction to the two latest pirate attacks off the
Somali coast will give the pirates something to consider. Of late, the pirates
have become so bold that they have been using a larger mother ship, and going
outside Somali territory waters looking for prey. That will probably halt if
foreign warships are allowed to operate close to the Somali coast.