Axe vs. Pirates: The Panic Button

16.12.08

Categorie: Africa, Axe vs. Pirates, Naval, Piracy |

captain-edward-kalendero-of-the-mv-semlow-mombasa-dec-11-2008.JPG

The ships that make the two-day run from Mombasa, Kenya, to Somalia carrying vital humanitarian supplies are frequent targets of pirate attacks — and have been for more than a decade. How have ship’s crew adapted? Same way the pirates have adapted over the years: with simple technology and no-nonsense tactics.

On Wednesday, the small cargo vessel Semlow, an old veteran of the Somali humanitarian route that was hijacked by pirates and held for 110 days back in 2005, prepares for a Sunday run to Mogadishu carrying hundreds of tones of split peas and other foodstuffs. Captain Edward Kalendero gives me a tour of the bridge. In the small, wood-paneled map alcove on the starboard side, he points out the green-and-black screen of a simple ranging radar. Kalendero says he uses it to spot incoming boats. If he decides they’re hostile, he can turn tail and open the throttle.

According to experts in Mombasa, you need to exceed 20 knots to outrun pirates. It’s not clear that rickety old Semlow can make that speed.

Stealth is a more reliable tactic. Kalendero lays out a detailed chart of the waters around Mogadishu and traces the most dangerous zone with his finger. When Semlow breaches this zone, he said, it will be night — and he will rig the ship for silent running. That means turning out all the lights and minimizing noise. Rigged like that, Kalendero says, a pirate can pass within yards and not even know Semlow’s there.

But if they are detected, and there’s no chance of outrunning the attackers, there’s one last measure. Kalendero crosses the bridge to the port side and opens a door to the closet-size radio room. He pops open a tiny cabinet. Inside is a white plastic device shaped like a garage-door opener. This, he says, is the panic button. Press this, and it alerts Semlow’s owners, by radio, that the vessel is under attack.

Now, alerting the owner won’t save the ship from being captured. But it will speed the process of ransoming the ship and crew, and hopefully head off any desperate, violent acts by impatient, panicky kidnappers.

(Photo: me)

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7 Responses to “Axe vs. Pirates: The Panic Button”

  1. [...] Related: Pirates Not Just the Stuff of Legends How Pirates Get Paid Axe vs. Pirates: Convoy! Axe vs. Pirates: “I Fear No One but God.” Chinese Seafarers Kick Pirate Ass Kenyan Navy Fires Rhetorical Broadside against Pirates Axe vs. Pirates: Everyday Kenyans Suffering Effects of Somali Piracy Axe vs. Pirates: The Kenya Connection Piracy Threatens Somalia Aid Effort Axe vs. Pirates: The Panic Button Axe vs. Pirates: Scared onto Land by Pirate Close Call Somali Piracy Puts Squeeze on Kenyans Mombasa Looks Like This E.U. Deploying Vessel against Pirates Axe vs. Pirates: Welcome to Mombasa No Comments so far Leave a comment RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI Leave a comment Line and paragraph breaks automatic, e-mail address never displayed, HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong> [...]

  2. [...] Related: E.U. Counter-Pirate Force Expands U.S. Navy Coordinates Counter-Piracy Fleets Pirates Not Just the Stuff of Legends How Pirates Get Paid Axe vs. Pirates: Convoy! Axe vs. Pirates: “I Fear No One but God.” Chinese Seafarers Kick Pirate Ass Kenyan Navy Fires Rhetorical Broadside against Pirates Axe vs. Pirates: Everyday Kenyans Suffering Effects of Somali Piracy Axe vs. Pirates: The Kenya Connection Piracy Threatens Somalia Aid Effort Axe vs. Pirates: The Panic Button Axe vs. Pirates: Scared onto Land by Pirate Close Call Somali Piracy Puts Squeeze on Kenyans Mombasa Looks Like This E.U. Deploying Vessel against Pirates Axe vs. Pirates: Welcome to Mombasa No Comments so far Leave a comment RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI Leave a comment Line and paragraph breaks automatic, e-mail address never displayed, HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong> [...]

  3. [...] Related: Coast Guard: Prosecuting Pirates an “Excruciating Process” Skewz: On the Trail of Pirates C-SPAN: Somali Piracy Overview Kenyan navy sits out pirate fight Coasties and Marines join Navy pirate-fighters Inside the Navy’s prison ship Video: pirates hijack help World mobilizes to fight pirates Why robots can’t fight pirates Navy’s new “soft” pirate-fighters Pirate-fighting ship’s big problems Japan, South Korea team up to fight pirates Establishing a Somali coast guard? Coast Guard’s tips for beating pirates U.S. Navy Coordinates Counter-Piracy Fleets Pirates Not Just the Stuff of Legends How Pirates Get Paid Axe vs. Pirates: Convoy! Axe vs. Pirates: “I Fear No One but God.” Chinese Seafarers Kick Pirate Ass Kenyan Navy Fires Rhetorical Broadside against Pirates Axe vs. Pirates: Everyday Kenyans Suffering Effects of Somali Piracy Axe vs. Pirates: The Kenya Connection Piracy Threatens Somalia Aid Effort Axe vs. Pirates: The Panic Button Axe vs. Pirates: Scared onto Land by Pirate Close Call Somali Piracy Puts Squeeze on Kenyans Mombasa Looks Like This E.U. Deploying Vessel against Pirates Axe vs. Pirates: Welcome to Mombasa No Comments so far Leave a comment RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI Leave a comment Line and paragraph breaks automatic, e-mail address never displayed, HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong> [...]

  4. [...] Related: Pirates Seize Ship with U.S. Crew Wired.co.uk: Beating Somali Pirates at Their Own Game Piracy War Escalates: Korean Seafarer Shot in Attack Video: How the Littoral Combat Ship Will Fight Pirates Offiziere.ch: Pirate Attacks Decline, but for How Long? Proceedings: Defeating Somali Pirates on Land Video: Kennedy Mwale’s Big (Pirate) Adventure Who Watches the (Pirate) Watchers? U.S. Navy Uses “Smart Power” to Fight Pirates Exclusive Video: MV Faina Released by Pirates Coast Guard: Prosecuting Pirates an “Excruciating Process” Skewz: On the Trail of Pirates C-SPAN: Somali Piracy Overview Kenyan navy sits out pirate fight Coasties and Marines join Navy pirate-fighters Inside the Navy’s prison ship Video: pirates hijack help World mobilizes to fight pirates Why robots can’t fight pirates Navy’s new “soft” pirate-fighters Pirate-fighting ship’s big problems Japan, South Korea team up to fight pirates Establishing a Somali coast guard? Coast Guard’s tips for beating pirates U.S. Navy Coordinates Counter-Piracy Fleets Pirates Not Just the Stuff of Legends How Pirates Get Paid Axe vs. Pirates: Convoy! Axe vs. Pirates: “I Fear No One but God.” Chinese Seafarers Kick Pirate Ass Kenyan Navy Fires Rhetorical Broadside against Pirates Axe vs. Pirates: Everyday Kenyans Suffering Effects of Somali Piracy Axe vs. Pirates: The Kenya Connection Piracy Threatens Somalia Aid Effort Axe vs. Pirates: The Panic Button Axe vs. Pirates: Scared onto Land by Pirate Close Call Somali Piracy Puts Squeeze on Kenyans Mombasa Looks Like This E.U. Deploying Vessel against Pirates Axe vs. Pirates: Welcome to Mombasa No Comments so far Leave a comment RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI Leave a comment Line and paragraph breaks automatic, e-mail address never displayed, HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong> [...]

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  6. [...] Related: World Politics Review: Amateurish Foot Soldiers Belie Sophisticated Piracy Networks Piracy War’s Unusual Friends, Tragic Victims NATO General: Piracy Legal Challenge “Complex” Google, Radio Mix for Pirate Early Warning Pirates Smarter, More Dangerous, More Numerous South Park Goes Pirating Coast Guard’s Legal War on Pirates Mental Floss: Ten Things You Didn’t Know about Pirates Somali Pirates versus the Tuna Trade Esquire.com: Five Pirated Crews who Didn’t Fare as Well as the Americans Pirates Seize Ship with U.S. Crew Wired.co.uk: Beating Somali Pirates at Their Own Game Piracy War Escalates: Korean Seafarer Shot in Attack Video: How the Littoral Combat Ship Will Fight Pirates Offiziere.ch: Pirate Attacks Decline, but for How Long? Proceedings: Defeating Somali Pirates on Land Video: Kennedy Mwale’s Big (Pirate) Adventure Who Watches the (Pirate) Watchers? U.S. Navy Uses “Smart Power” to Fight Pirates Exclusive Video: MV Faina Released by Pirates Coast Guard: Prosecuting Pirates an “Excruciating Process” Skewz: On the Trail of Pirates C-SPAN: Somali Piracy Overview Kenyan navy sits out pirate fight Coasties and Marines join Navy pirate-fighters Inside the Navy’s prison ship Video: pirates hijack help World mobilizes to fight pirates Why robots can’t fight pirates Navy’s new “soft” pirate-fighters Pirate-fighting ship’s big problems Japan, South Korea team up to fight pirates Establishing a Somali coast guard? Coast Guard’s tips for beating pirates U.S. Navy Coordinates Counter-Piracy Fleets Pirates Not Just the Stuff of Legends How Pirates Get Paid Axe vs. Pirates: Convoy! Axe vs. Pirates: “I Fear No One but God.” Chinese Seafarers Kick Pirate Ass Kenyan Navy Fires Rhetorical Broadside against Pirates Axe vs. Pirates: Everyday Kenyans Suffering Effects of Somali Piracy Axe vs. Pirates: The Kenya Connection Piracy Threatens Somalia Aid Effort Axe vs. Pirates: The Panic Button Axe vs. Pirates: Scared onto Land by Pirate Close Call Somali Piracy Puts Squeeze on Kenyans Mombasa Looks Like This E.U. Deploying Vessel against Pirates Axe vs. Pirates: Welcome to Mombasa No Comments so far Leave a comment RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI Leave a comment Line and paragraph breaks automatic, e-mail address never displayed, HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong> [...]

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