October 31, 2007

US Navy Protects All Shipping From Piracy, Even Our Enemies'

While the Senate debates the Law of the Sea Treaty that could wind up hamstringing our Navy, the men and women at sea now continue their mission to protect trade routes. In one recent instance, they rescued shipping that belongs to a nation not exactly enamored of American naval power:

Sailors from the Norfolk-based destroyer James E. Williams boarded a North Korean merchant ship that had been hijacked by pirates off the coast of Somalia, while two other Navy vessels tailed a pirated Japanese ship in the same region.

The Williams, which left Norfolk in July , was about 50 nautical miles from the ship Dai Hong Dan in the Arabian Sea when it received word of the pirate attack, said Lt. John Gay , a spokesman for the Navy's Central Command in Manama, Bahrain.

The Williams dispatched a helicopter and ordered the pirates to give up their weapons via a bridge-to-bridge radio. The North Korean crew, which had retained control of the steering and engineering spaces, then confronted the pirates and gained back control of the bridge, according to a Navy news release. ....

Hundreds of miles away in the same region, two other Navy ships were tracking a Japanese-owned ship seized by pirates over the weekend, Gay said.

The spokesman said that two "coalition" ships from Combined Task Force 150 had responded to the hijacking of the Golden Mori , a Japanese-owned ship registered in Panama.

The US Navy helps protect shipping around the world, for a variety of reasons. For one, it protects American trade abroad and ensures that vital resources (such as petroleum) reach our shores as intended. A global economy requires security for all such transactions, and the stability of global markets remains a vital American interest. We also want to stop terrorists from pirating ships that could be used to stage massive attacks on American ports, and that requires constant vigilance and quick response.

National security requires a robust American presence in international waters. Whatever LOST does to limit that can and probably will result in unpleasant consequences, and not just for the US. Even our putative enemies such as North Korea will wind up losing from a constrained US Navy in the long run.


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