That’s what it’s come to in this upside-down, be-afraid-of-shadows, never-sleep-well world of ours? Stinkin’ pirates?
We already have to be afraid of terrorists, drive-by shootings, a sagging economy, drug addictions, the IRS, cancer-causing ingredients in nearly everything we ingest and reality shows dumbing down our society. Now we have to worry about Capt. Jack Sparrow and his wily mates swooping in and taking our ships hostage?
Suddenly, “Talk Like a Pirate Day” is way less enjoyable.
Like many of you, I was drawn to the story late last week of the Somali pirates attacking the Maersk Alabama, and the subsequent drama that played out as a group of pirates made off in a lifeboat with the ship’s captain. There was a feeling of helplesness as we watched, read and waited for news that the captain would escape unharmed.
I recall finding myself chuckling a few times in disbelief. I had read several articles about the growing piracy problems in that area, and it stood to reason that an American ship would eventually be a target of their efforts, but ... pirates? Really?
Are stage coaches going to start getting robbed next? Will Ocean View be pillaged by marauding rebels after that? Well, when I say that, I mean by people who aren’t serving on the Ocean View Town Council. See, what I was going for there was a subtle dig...
But I digress.
Back to our pirates for a minute. I remember seeing a news update that the captain was ultimately brought to safety, and that three pirates had been killed during the rescue. As the story began to clarify throughout the day, we learned that three highly-skilled U.S. Navy SEALS had taken out the pirates with three nearly-simultaneous, perfectly-executed shots.
From a Navy ship. Bobbing up and down in the water. Without giving any of the pirates enough notice to shoot the captain.
Now, for the record, I served in a highly-trained unit in the Marine Corps. Granted, I may very well have been the Gomer Pyle of said unit, but it was a very good team, and performed well in combat. So I tell you the following with a certain amount of knowledge:
Those were good shots.
I mean, really good shots. Forget for a second that the Navy ship had to have been bobbing up and down a good 5 to 8 feet, and that the lifeboat was moving quite a bit, as well, and at a slightly different rate than the Navy ship because of wave patterns. Take into account, also, the salt water potentially slapping against scopes, as well as splattered across the one window on the lifeboat that one shot had to pass through to hit the target perfectly. And the sheer precision required to pull off the operation without allowing the pirates to execute the ship’s captain.
Wow. Well done.
And, suddenly, the world seemed to be just a little better place as we saw the ship’s captain reunited with his crew, and heard from joyous family members who were thrilled with the news of his safe return. We had beaten the pirates — which isn’t a very big deal in the National League, but seemed utterly important in the real world.
And then, news hit that pirates had attacked another U.S. ship Tuesday night — this time with rocket-propelled grenades and automatic weapons. The ship, loaded with “U.S. food aid for African nations,” according to a CNN.com story, was never boarded by the pirates, and was quickly put under escort by a coalition ship. But it did sustain some damage from the attack, and the crew was understandably shaken up by the experience.
I can’t get the image out of my mind of marauding pirates menacing the waters off Bethany Beach this summer — boarding Boogie boards in search of booty. Or, is that boarding booty boards in search of boogy? Whatever.
The important thing to remember here is that shipping is still a viable and used form of commerce, and it is up to us to protect those waterways if nobody in that region is willing to tackle the pirate situation.
Pirate situation? Did I really just say that? How is it possible that in 2009 we’re discussing the problem of pirates overtaking the seas?