Pirates: The Maersk Alabama
As of the middle of April 2009, Somali and other pirates on the Indian Ocean near the Gulf of Aden held 18 cargo ships and some 300 sailors hostage. Pirates had seized at least ten ships since the beginning of the month. Pirates had attacked 80 ships so far in 2009, successfully hijacking 19 of them, up from 111 attacks and 42 successes in all of 2008, when 30,000 ships passed through the Gulf of Aden.
Among the more notable of these recent hijackings are two the French resolved.
On April 10, as the Maersk Alabama saga unfolded to the south, French commandoes rescued a yacht, the Tanit. Two pirates and a passenger were killed, but the French took three pirates prisoner and brought them to France for trial.
On Tuesday, April 14, French forces responded to a distress call from the Liberian container ship the MV Safmarine Asia, under siege by two small pirate ships. A helicopter crew from the French frigate Nīvose saw the skiffs return to a mothership. Nīvose officers forcibly boarded the mothership, detaining 11 men and towing the ship and skiffs to Mombasa as evidence against them.
But such successes may be provoking the pirates.