Tuesday, November 18, 2008


CNN.com reports that pirates have hijacked a supertanker off the coast of Africa.

NAIROBI, Kenya (CNN) -- A hijacked supertanker carrying up to $100 million worth of crude oil -- the largest vessel seized to date in an escalating regional piracy crisis -- was believed to have anchored off Somalia Tuesday, its operator said.

The Sirius Star's crew of 25, including British, Croatian, Polish, Filipino and Saudi nationals, are reported to be safe, according to Dubai-based Vela International Marine.

"Our first and foremost priority is ensuring the safety of the crew," said Vela President Salah Kaaki. "We are in communication with their families and are working toward their safe and speedy return."

The Saudi-owned vessel was seized on Saturday more than 450 nautical miles southeast of Mombasa, Kenya in what Saudi Arabia's foreign minister called "an outrageous act."

An outrageous act? Yeah, you might say that. Seriously, this is the kind of thing that seems pulled out of a summer action flick.

For a long time, it seemed to me, the term "pirate" was increasingly being shifted to people sharing music and software illegally over the Internet. Cheers to these entrepreneurial types for taking the word back!

Actually, this is pretty scary, and I'm sure the families of the crew (who are all reportedly "safe," although I think that's a bit of a stretch for the term) wouldn't appreciate me making jokes about it.

What this actually reminded me of was a conversation I had a year or so ago with my brother Zach. We'd been sitting outside talking about the world and our lives and what we were eventually going to do with ourselves, and he brought up the concept of the Merchant Marine.

"These guys actually go and fight pirates off the horn of Africa," he said.
"Wow... can you imagine how cool a job that would be?"

We decided that it would probably be extremely dangerous, but it would be a great response for when you get asked about your line of work at a bar. Further, we figured that if everything goes pear-shaped for us, we'll just have to sign up with the Merchant Marine. Fighting pirates isn't a bad fall-back plan.